If you have a strict fashion budget, you can still dress like a million bucks -- even when you have only pennies to spare.
Rent a designer bag.
Remember, in Sex and the City: The Movie, when Jennifer Hudson's character Louise got all her fabulous bags by renting them? You can do it, too. Not many of us have a couple grand to spend on a new designer bag every season. So, just rent it. Check out Avelle (the new Bag, Borrow or Steal) to rent handbags, jewelry, sunglasses, watches and more. There's no shame in renting. Celebs borrow jewelry when they walk the red carpet, too.
Take advantage of flash sites.
On flash sites or sample sale sites, you can get designer clothes, shoes and accessories at a fraction of retail price. The emergence of these websites in the last few years has eliminated the need to fight for designer bargains in brick-and-mortar stores. Gilt Groupe, Haute Look and ideeli are three of our favorite flash sites, but dozens of these websites are available, and invite codes are easy to come by all over the Internet. At flash sale sites, designer brand merchandise is available at up to 80 percent off. These sales last a very short time with limited inventory, so you have to keep on top of things by signing up for their email sales alerts.
Head to thrift shops.
Gently used, high-quality goods are better than brand-new, cheap, shoddy products. Familiarize yourself with the thrift stores and consignment shops in your area. Find out what day of the week they usually stock their latest inventory. This way, you'll get the first shot at the best clothes, jewelry and accessories. When buying merchandise from thrift shops, check for tears, stains and other damage. Some things are easy fixes (such as a broken zipper) but others (such as an offseam rip) aren't worth the trouble. You can find real vintage designer handbags, jewelry and other items at estate sales, too.
Instead of shopping on a whim, do a little research and preparation to get the best deals. Shop out of season for discounts on designer apparel. Also, sign up for email alerts from all your favorite department store websites and other online retailers. Websites such as Shop It To Me let you know via email when your favorite designer brands go on sale in your size at various stores. When shopping online, consider shipping costs. Get acquainted with designer clothing lines available at budget retail stores such as H&M, Target and Kohl's.
Though we aren't encouraging you to buy knockoff handbags due to copyright infringement, child labor and poor workmanship, there's nothing wrong with fashion jewelry. Instead of diamonds and authentic gems, wear cubic zirconia and other synthetic stones. CZ jewelry is high in quality these days; no one will know you aren't wearing diamonds but you.