Millennials are accused of killing off everything from golf to beer to even napkins, but the reality is that they spend their money in mostly the same ways as their parents. The real reason for millennials’ alleged industry-killing spree is that millennials have less money than their parents did at their age.
Which is why you need to be smart about how you shop for the stuff you need. You can and should dress your best, and that means getting great dresses. Here’s how to shop for dresses as a fashion-forward (and maybe just a little bit broke) millennial.
Know where to shop
Tightening a budget means skimping on luxuries, and there are certainly plenty of people who believe that fashion is a luxury. But it doesn’t pay to look bad: dressing poorly lowers your self-esteem and causes you to make a worse impression on others, and that leads to lower happiness and less career success. So dressing well should still be a part of your budget.
And there are a few things to consider when buying clothes on a budget. First, and most obviously, there’s price: if you’re on a tight budget, you need to look for affordable clothes. But don’t forget about quality. If you buy all of your dresses from fast fashion outlets, you might pay less, but you’ll also have to buy a whole new wardrobe next year when those clothes wear out.
Aim to buy dresses at online boutiques. Smaller online outlets combine the focus on hipness and quality that you’d find at brick-and-mortar boutiques with the low prices that you’d expect from larger online stores. Take advantage of great online return policies to try clothes on and check them for quality. Check the stitching and look for other signs of a quality garment.
Master your timing
Fashion is fleeting, and so are sales. When you can get the timing right, you’ll build a better wardrobe.
This means two things. First, you need to know when to shop. Buying clothes out of season can lead to huge savings, and pouncing on big sales can work wonders for your budget. This includes sales at obvious times like Black Friday, and less obvious sales that you might miss unless you’re on the right mailing list.
Timing also means knowing when to buy certain styles. If a certain style has been “in” for years, be wary, because its time could be running out! Think about how daring you want to be with your fashion, remembering that the classics age more gracefully than the super-hip and highly stylized stuff. Getting the timing right and recognizing the difference between a very of-the-moment piece and a timeless classic will help you shop more effectively, especially in out-of-season sales.
Buy less, but buy better
One dirty secret of the fashion-forward set? They don’t actually own that many clothes. The stereotype of the fashion-obsessed woman is the overflowing closet: the same dress in multiple colors, the shoes cascading all over the floor, the accessories bursting from the jewelry box. But that’s not the reality! Stylish women often have very few clothes.
That’s because they buy really high-quality clothes and think very carefully about what they’ll actually wear. Think about it: experts agree that we wear a relatively small percentage of our clothes most of the time. Stylish people with lean wardrobes recognize this and trim the fat from their closets.
Buying fewer clothes will save you money, of course. That means that you can buy better clothes when you do shop, while still staying within your budget.