5 Tips on How to Become a Fabulously Frugal Fashionista

Just so we’re clear, I do not consider myself a fashionista.

I do not wear designer clothes, I do not shop in the most stylish and pricey boutiques and I do not set fashion trends or follow them religiously. I don’t even consider myself particularly fashionable.

But after years of dressing mostly for comfort and getting told a million times by my far more fashionable sisters to dress better, I decided to take my outfits up a notch (i.e. something other than my usual tee, jeans and flipflops).

But this proved to be a bit difficult, since it required more clothing and consequently, more shopping than my budget and my visceral Chinese thriftiness would allow.

So what did I do?

I became an ambassador for frugal fashion.


The Road to Frugal Fashion

This road is not an easy one.

It takes a lot of determination, self-discipline, and hours of sighing and staring longingly at the glittering yet expensively styled shop window displays.

But the rewards can be great (or at the very least, satisfying). There’s a great sense of accomplishment in completing a decent outfit without spending your entire month’s salary within a weekend to achieve it.

So are you ready to be a frugal fashionista? Here are the tips I have to offer:

1. Be a hunter.
Not every shopper is a hunter.

Just what exactly is a hunter kind of shopper you ask? Contrary to the impulse buyer who feels the need to purchase everything that catches his or her fancy, the hunter, well… hunts. We hunt for bargains and sales. We hunt for out-of-the-way shops that offer quality clothing at better prices. We hunt for outlet stores. We hunt for that diamond in the rough piece amongst generic department store options. We hunt.


It takes a lot of drive, self-discipline and practice to be a hunter. To get your hunting muscles trained, I suggest you head to your local thrift store, more commonly known as ukay-ukay. This is the ultimate hunting ground. If you can find the diamond in this wasteland (like an H&M top or a good pair of Giordano jeans, yes, they’re there), then you are ready for the next phase.

2. Go depo (pronounced deep-oh).
I’m a Gaisano girl, and proud of it.

No, I don’t put your department store purchases in a plastic bag at the end of the cashier’s line, or stand around and chit chat with coworkers outside dressing rooms before you interrupt me by saying, “miss, wala na’y medium ani?”

No. I am a Gaisano girl because I love shopping at Gaisano.

Department stores (which I affectionately refer to as “depos”) are God’s gift to frugal fashionistas.


But not all department stores are made equal. Just as you would find more game in a lush forest than you would in a desert, some department stores are better stocked than others. And for me, Gaisano department stores are lush, lush forests.

The ones I go to, anyway.

Robinson’s and SM department stores are pretty good too. But it’s tough for them to beat the low prices at Gaisano.

3. Budget.
This should be a given. So I will not impress this further. Be smart and budget. Have a fixed amount of money set for shopping and don’t spend any more than that. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.


4. Buy online.

I just recently discovered the wonders of online shopping (ikr? How late am I? But better late than never). There are a plethora of them out there, but I particularly like those that are locally-based. I know a few really affordable online shops, all based in Cebu, which I shall be talking about it another post.

If you need more reasons to try and buy from locally-based online shops (I highly doubt it though, but anyway), here are mine:

    • Since it’s local, you don’t have to pay for additional and sometimes shocking shipping fees.
    • You don’t have to wait long to get your goods.
    • You’ll know it’s a legit business run by a real person once you meet up with the actual store owner to get your purchase.
    • You’re most likely supporting a local individual whose bread and butter is this online shop, not some big brand or established online store that’s already earning plenty from online ads.

5. Mix and match.

The great thing about fashion these days is that it’s so versatile. You don’t have to have the trendiest clothes (though several key pieces wouldn’t hurt), and you don’t have to look like everyone else. You can use the pieces you have on hand, mix them up or layer them with some updated staples and get a whole new look for less.


One last tip, though it’s probably not something that happens often – accept gifts and hand-me-downs graciously. I grew up with three older sisters so for the longest time I did feel somewhat depressed because a lot of my clothes were hand-me-downs: old, worn-out, ill-fitting or just not “me”. But as I grew older and realized how much I could save from taking and wearing hand-me-downs, I learned to love them. I learned to mix and match and accessorize them to make them work for me. The same goes for gifts. You may not like the clothes that your aunt or boyfriend give you for Christmas or Valentine’s, but with a bit of ingenuity, you can make them work. And the biggest plus there is that you didn’t spend a single cent.

If you’re ready to go forth and be a frugal fashionista, I bid you good luck, and tell me about your quest, as I tell stories about mine.


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