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Fashionable and Frugal Moms – Staying Stylish on a Budget

Moms wear a lot of hats, and most like to own lots of clothes. Don’t fret because mommy duty has taken over and your fashion options seem to have been reduced to wearing the construction-paper-and-bead necklace that your little sweetie made or the frumpy sweater that you got last Christmas. If you’re like many moms, funds are not unlimited. Perhaps part of your shopping excursion now includes bibs, diapers, and pajamas with feet. There’s still hope. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a single mom, or a career mom, you can still be fashionable without sacrificing your budget. If you’re lucky enough to have maintained your pre-baby weight, you are already at an advantage. You can work with what you have and add a few inexpensive pieces to keep your wardrobe current and interesting.

If you had to buy new clothes because you just couldn’t quite get the weight off, don’t fret. You can still find quality clothing at affordable prices. Investing in several good quality basics that will hold up through the years will lay the foundation for a great wardrobe. Following trends is not necessarily a priority. The thing about trends is that they come and go. A trend is what it is. They change frequently and their purpose is to give you ideas. Don’t let it be a trap.

Even if you’re into designer labels and have a dollar-store budget, there are ways to be stylish and trendy without breaking open the bank. If saving time and staying home to shop is important to you, both Overstock.com and SmartBargains.com have great discount designer buys. Although shopping online can be challenging because of occasional surprises once you open your purchases, both of these have fairly liberal return policies. Consignment stores are also great for finding gently worn items at affordable prices. The good thing about consignment stores is that they are selective about what they will accept. Items must be clean, in good condition, and a current style. If wearing something that someone else has worn is a little too close for comfort, one trick is scouting out the expensive version of a line of clothing that you like and finding a not-so-expensive knockoff. The key here is inexpensive, not cheap. You don’t want to waste money on clothes that will fall apart after a few times wearing it.

Personally (I’m not ashamed to admit it), I have found some of my best deals at thrift stores—not always a consignment store, but a downright thrift store. If you have the patience to weed through rows of often outdated and undesirable pieces, you can usually find that hidden treasure. My daughter, who’s a bona fide fashionista, has actually commented on many of my findings. “Where did you get that?” she’ll ask, and I love telling her that I found it at one of my “thrifty boutiques.” I have found some of the best coats ranging from $4 to $12, belts for a buck, suits for as low as $8, dresses that still had original price tags on them for $6, and warm, bulky sweaters for as little as $3. Even when you add the cost to dry clean them, you are still saving a bundle. If you find ways to save on clothing, this will enable you to afford other things that you absolutely have to splurge on.

Shoes are a tricky area because I would never advise buying cheap shoes or shoes that have been worn, but if you can wait—again, this is where that motherly patience can kick in—you can find your best deals off-season. In my region (the Midwest), summer sandals are usually on clearance by June, which still gives me plenty of time to wear them during the current season.

Most important in keeping yourself stylish is finding what works for you. What are the best styles for your figure type? What colors are most flattering? Which accessories really bring out your wardrobe? Again, all the latest trends are not for everyone. The purpose of a trend is not for you to copy it but to take the portion of it that you feel works best for you in order to accentuate your own individual style. Short skirts might be in this season, but guess what? Next year, the “trend” will be skirts that fall below the knee. Wear whatever brings out your best features, and you will be a trend within yourself.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of taking care of yourself. Plentiful sleep, a positive outlook (no matter what you may be going through), stress reduction, and a healthy diet are a few of the best fashion accessories—and least expensive ones—that you can have. You don’t have to fall into that “tired, didn’t-have-time-to-brush-my-hair, mom” trap of throwing on that dumpy dress or those “mom jeans.” You know the ones I’m referring to—the ones you should have gotten rid of ten years ago. Make yourself a priority, and you’ll feel better about yourself. Hear me on this—you are not taking away from your children by treating yourself well.

Find what suits you best, maintain your health, work with what you’ve got, add a few new items as you can afford them, save up for something special—that occasional splurge is okay— and you’ll find that you’ll be pleased by what you see when you look in the mirror, as well as what you see when you look at your bank statement.

Oh yeah ... that smiley face sticker that your five-year-old plastered on your forehead before you headed to the train station to go to work—don’t worry. It’ll fit just fine with whatever you’re wearing. When you realize at three in the afternoon that it’s been there all day, just tell those who stared you down all day, “didn’t you hear that wearing a smile is a new trend?”


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