It’s a vicious cycle and a catch-22: You’re cash-poor and don’t want to rack up a lot of credit card debt, so you skimp out on buying quality clothes. Unfortunately, your ill-fitting, cheap-looking wardrobe doesn’t earn you respect at work or do much for your self-confidence, so you get passed over for opportunities that could get you a raise. But without career advancement, you won’t get the money you need to afford clothes that can make a good impression on your boss and coworkers. Sound familiar?
Fashion journalist Andy Paige (a former fashion and fit model) specializes in rescuing women from this cycle by teaching them to dress well on a budget in her book Style on a Shoestring: Develop Your Cents of Style and Look Like a Million without Spending a Fortune. She recognizes that looking and feeling good in your clothes boosts your ego along with your earning power. She also knows that a “bargain” that doesn’t fit, feel or look right is going to end up relegated to a corner of your closet as an unworn, unrealized wardrobe investment.
Style on a Shoestring is more than just a fashion guide. Paige grew up in a household where cash was scarce, so she learned frugal habits early. She knows how to scour sales racks, supplement a clothes budget by selling clothing to consignment stores and pick out killer accessories at thrift stores. She breaks down frugal fashion strategies so that even the most clueless shopper can build a great wardrobe on a small budget.
Still, the book offers a lot of good basic, and not-so-basic, fashion and style advice, such as minimizing figure flaws and enhancing your assets by choosing the right clothes. Paige also skewers various fashion faux-pas, such as overdoing accessories and animal prints, while showing you the right way to wear both.
Style on a Shoestring Highlights
- The chapter “Mark Your Calendar” is worth the entire price of the book. There’s a method to the madness of department and chain store sales, and Paige makes it all crystal clear. She explains the retail cycle so that you understand what time of year retailers want to move out old merchandise (by discounting it) and bring in the new stuff. With the information in this chapter, a bit of advance budget planning and some patience, you can score exactly what you want at the best prices even from the “good” stores.
- Paige insists that you give some wardrobe staples, such as good, supportive undergarments, priority in your fashion budget. If you spend a bit more on a bra that fits right and panties that don’t show visible lines, you’ll look impressive, even in bargain basement duds. On the other hand, bulges and ripples show through even high-end fashion, thus cheapening your look.
- Alterations, alterations, alterations. Paige explains that one of the most significant differences between quality (read “expensive”) garments and cheap knock-offs is fit. Good clothes simply fit women’s bodies better than budget items. But that doesn’t mean you’re restricted to expensive clothing lines if you want a good fit. Go ahead and buy that $20 blouse, then spend $15 at your local dry cleaners to have some darts put in. For $35, you have a blouse that looks like it cost $70.
I strongly recommend this book to women and teenagers who appreciate practical fashion instruction delivered by someone who knows what it’s like not to have unlimited cash reserves. Unemployed or on a super-frugal budget? Check it out from your local library. Style on a Shoestring will help you get it together clothing-wise so that you feel better, look better, spend better, and even earn better.