Being Fashionably Modest on a Modest Budget by Megan

Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Hello “Clothed Much” readers! My name is Megan Robinson and I blog over at “And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson” where I talk about my life as a young wife, mother and {newly graduated} student. When Elaine asked me to guest post I {almost peed my pants}. That may be an exaggeration but it’s really not. I don’t think I’m even close to being as cute and fashionable as Elaine. But one thing I think I am good at is being totally and extremely cheap in my fashion purchases.

I’m a total cheapskate. As in, I refuse to pay full price and/or more than $20 on an item. I can probably count on one hand the times I paid over $20 for things. And they were only for special circumstances like weddings, reunions or “I just had a baby, aren’t I worth it to get a new pair of shoes?!” Two arguments I used for real.

But in all seriousness, trying to be cute and in style when you are on a tight poor-college-student-and-have-a-baby-to-feed budget can be difficult. So I thought I’d share my tips on how I {try} to dress cute without breaking the bank.

1. Thrift stores are your friends.

You would be amazed at what goods people freal [that’s for real] give away. All of my favorite pieces were found at thrift stores. My tip is to take your time, avoid weekend rushes, and don’t expect too much on one trip. Sometimes it takes multiple trips to find lots of good things. Patience is a virtue! (one I don’t have but I still preach it)

I found this shirt at my local thrift store in the middle of the day when there was no one there. I was able to score 6 more pieces that day too! I’m wearing thrifted top ($5), Forever 21 jeans (sale, $8), Forever 21 belt (came with a skirt, $10), flower from Oli J Accessories (won in a giveaway), and Forever Young shoes ($20, for a wedding so special circumstance!)

2. Turn hand-me-downs into hand-me-ups.

I don’t know if that made sense but the point is to not look down on hand-me-downs. I LOVE getting hand-me-downs. I know that sounds crazy and weird but I’m serious. First of all, IT’S FREE! And second of all, usually you are already {coveting} your sister’s/friend’s/neighbor’s look to begin with that I jump at the opportunity for them to pass along some of their gems. In fact, when I visit my sister or friends I make it a point to say, “Hey, do you wear [insert shirt/skirt] anymore? Can I have it? Is that weird to just ask you such a question?” By the way, it totally is weird but for free clothes I’m willing to go out on a limb.

This shirt is really comfortable and cute but was too big and kind of drowned me out sometimes. So by using a belt to cinch it and wearing skinny jeans with it, the outfit became more flattering. I’m wearing hand-me-down shirt (free), Gap jeans (sale, $20), thrifted shoes ($7), thrifted belt ($3), flower from Oli J Accessories (won in a giveaway), and turquoise ring from Sebastian Designs (gift).

3. Reuse, Repurpose and Refashion.

Mixing and matching has been my biggest savior when I start getting bored with my clothes. If Elaine has taught us anything on her awesome blog it’s that we shouldn’t be afraid to mix patterns and colors to make a whole new outfit. You can also make your clothes last by repurposing or refashioning them when you start getting bored with the look (or if you find an awesome thrift store find that needs some extra umph). Accents and accessories do wonders to making your clothes look as good as new. [Some of my favorite refashions are thisthis, and this.]

This is one of my favorite mix and match outfits that I found when I started getting bored with always wearing this shirt with only jeans or this skirt with only solid colored shirts. With the different colors and patterns it may seem like the shirt and skirt would clash but I think it goes surprisingly well together. I’m wearing a thrifted MTV shirt ($5), Forever 21 skirt ($7), TJ Maxx shoes ($9), vintage earrings ($3), turquoise ring from boutique ($6)

4. You would be surprised what you can get on sale/clearance!

Like I said earlier, I DO NOT like to spend full price on items. Unless they are already insanely cheap then that of course doesn’t even count (Forever 21, anyone?). Whenever I’m in a store, I go straight for the sales and clearance racks. If I can’t find anything on clearance that I like, then I leave empty handed. That sounds depressing maybe but it’s rather rare I leave empty handed. It has become fun for me to see some seriously awesome clothes on sale. And nothing makes my heart flutter more (besides my husband of course) when I see the price tag of $70 slashed down to $7 (Seriously happened one time. I was in heaven!). Again, you may have to have patience but when you come out with 7 items and only paid $25 for it all, you will be totally addicted!

I found this Shade shirt on sale for $7 and the Forever 21 shoes on sale for $7. Total steals! The red skirt is thrifted ($5) and the necklace is made by my sister, Rhi’s Designs (borrowed).

5. Have fun with it!

In high school, my fashion sense was known around the school as “crazy” and “fun.” Once I dressed up my friend for a dance and this guy said, “Wow you look very ‘Megan-like’ tonight!” I decided to take that as a compliment… But either way being modest doesn't mean you need to dress like a nun (or sister missionary?). Dress it up, be colorful, and make a statement. You can look just like the people in magazines with just a little work and creativity.

Another fun mix and match outfit. The tribal print of the shirt and the pinstripe pattern on the skirt make a fun combination. I’m wearing a thrifted shirt ($4), thrifted skirt ($6), Kohl’s shoes (sale, $10), Polish leather belt (used to live there, hand-me-down from sister), and Claire’s necklace (gift).

What are some ways you try and save??

Thanks for letting me share some of my ideas!


  1. Clothing swaps are a great way to save!

  2. These r all gorgeous outfits, i love the second one!

  3. The last outfit is amazing!! I go to charity shops/ thrift a lot. I also go through my parents old clothes and even my grandparents! I nick my sisters stuff and share my hats/scarf's/gloves/accessories with my (girl) friends. You wear it once and get to wear something new next time :) Great post and blog :D

  4. love her refusal to pay full price - i agree! what a great list of budget savvy and eco-friendly fashion tips :) i do all of the above! more people should embrace this mindset/way of buying clothes!

    xo jeanette

  5. JewelrybysebastiandesignSeptember 6, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    Yay Megan!  You are too cute...and I love this post!  {Is that my ring you're wearing?!}

  6. Jennifer FitzgeraldSeptember 6, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    Great finds :)

  7. I'm in love with the last one!!

    By the way,sister missionaries are ENCOURAGED to dress with the current styles while still following the modesty guidelines!! They don't even look like nuns,so make sure to check this out before anyone makes assumptions!! (: <3

    I can't wait to serve my mission!

  8. I love going to the thrift store. It's like a treasure hunt. It does take a lot of patience. I make sure I go through the racks slowly. I save money by refashioning old clothing into other things like handbags etc. When my husband gets rid of his old jeans and shirts, I go through them to see if there is anything I can do with them.

    I usually shop online. I look for the best deal possible and always check to find coupon codes for the item(s) I'm buying. Ebay and Amazon are my best friends ^_^

  9. Great post! I shop the very same way. If it's not in a clearance rack, I don't even see it. If something is priced over $5, I start fretting over the "splurge." Haha.

  10. I  have to agree! All my faves were thrift store finds too. They are the most interesting pieces in my closet!
    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

  11. I'm not the only one! YES! I'm super cheap too. Let us band together, and form an uber cheap girls fashion group.

  12. I absolutely love each outfit! Great post!

  13. YES to the awesome hand-me-downs. :) I have a friend who passes along her aunty's cast-offs. I got a pair of white capris that way, and they have become one of my favorite pants for summer. I never had white pants before, so it was a free and fun way to try out something new.

  14. I enjoyed your post, Megan! I'm a 'cheap-o' as well. I do thrift stores and sales, I'm also a re-purposer and amature seamstress. I'm in the process of making myself a fur purse. Which would run me about $32+, I picked up a purse for $6, bought 2 yards fur on for $28! The rest of the fabric will make a fur vest, can't touch a fur vest for under $50! So I save myself a bundle making things I want, versus buying all the trends. More work? Yes! Worth it? Yes! I'd love if you stopped by my modest fashion blog:

  15. thank you so much for letting me guest post!! it was so fun to do! 

    and thank you everyone for your sweet comments! 


  16. Megan, you're tips are so useful! :D I'm looking to get down and dirty at our thrift shops really soon, and I really needed some of these tips and see outfit photos to hype me up! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm going to start to be smarter about the pieces I buy from now on! :D

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