Dressing like a Million on a Pittance

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By Cathy Rae Smith
Founder of Culture Magazine

Recently, I was asked to speak at a university, addressing the MBA Business School students on how to “Dress for Success” on a student’s budget. For years I have advised people on their purchases, whether regarding wardrobe or décor.

“Quality over Quantity” is my primary mantra. Select items of superior materials. In the case of wardrobe choices, this extends further to the issues of line, fit and coloring of clothes that best suits your figure. However, if you have items that are of inferior quality, it can fit well and still look cheap.

I have long delighted in the thrill of a good treasure hunt. Depending upon your budget, you could seek out a handful of your favorite designers, perhaps some local to you, then harkening back to the days of going to the salons of Paris, indulge in private fittings. However, if your budget is less extravagant, factor in some thrift store, estate sale, and yard sale shopping. Then have a skilled seamstress within your dial list of resources. If you find a wonderful piece that is not quite a perfect fit, adjustments can make all the difference. As example, I found a beautiful, shimmery silk skirt that was about double my size. It features a gathered waist, which I just had altered – reduced waist size and increased volume to the full skirt. The designer label tag was still on the skirt: $298 … I paid $12.99.

Amazing how far the budget can be stretched on this kind of purchasing practice. It can be more time consuming, but I am never in a panic to get something last minute. I always have a vast supply of sumptuous choices, whether dressing up for a formal affair or donning fitness attire for a workout. Just keep your eyes open for opportunities and then enjoy the hunt. It can be a dose of entertainment that costs little to nothing, depending upon what you may find. Just remember, prepare for the life you dream of versus waiting to catch up on the unexpected opportunities. As you have seen, it can be done without breaking the budget.