Fashion on a Budget

I have shared with you all before my love of shopping as a means of reducing stress. I know that for many of you this is unfathomable since shopping and stress are essentially synonyms in your book. But for me shopping is an outlet unlike any other, and it’s guaranteed to lift my spirits. But regardless of whether or not you share this sentiment, most of you can understand the ‘tired’ feeling that your wardrobe gets after certain items have been used and re-used – sometimes for years. It is that feeling that, despite having full draws and closets, you actually like very little of whats in there and constantly feel as though you have nothing to wear. Oh well . . . back to old faithful . . . Sigh. Because in today’s economy, who can afford to revamp their wardrobe every year?  YOU CAN! With a little extra work and an affinity for bargains and consignment stores, you can accomplish a tremendous amount on a dime.  Particularly if, at the end of a season, you find sales at consignment stores. Then the already ridiculously low prices are cut in half. And you can feel good about what you are buying, not only because you are saving so much money, but because you are helping reduce waste by buying second-hand. The best way to demonstrate this amazing potential is to share with you my most recent jackpot. Everything below I got for a TOTAL of $70.00 – the cost of one outfit new at a department store.  Enjoy and happy bargain hunting!

Yellow Dress - $4.80 (found at the Bargain Boutique); Red Dress - $4.00, Red Jewelry - $3.00 (both found at Goodwill), Boots - $3.00 (found at the Bargain Boutique)

Plaid Top - $3.20, Red Top - $2.40, Sandals $3.00 (all found at the Bargain Boutique)

White Top - $3.20, Black Top $2.40 (both found at the Bargain Boutique)

Red Top - $3.20, Purple Top - $2.40, Jean Skirt - $3.20, Shoes - $3.00 (all found at the Bargain Boutique)

Black Top - $3.20, Patterned Top $2.40 (both found at the Bargain Boutique); Jeans - $4.50 (on clearance at Target)

Coral Skirt - $3.20, White Shirt - $1.60 (both found at the Bargain Boutique), Grey Dress - $15.00 (found at Kid's Kloset)

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Utilitarian or Aesthetic . . . or Both?

So many of the things we surround ourselves with in our daily lives are there because they serve a practical purpose.  But all too often, functionality exists to the exclusion of beauty.  Things are placed in one of two categories: utilitarian or aesthetic.  But why can’t they be both?  Wouldn’t life be so much more fun if we made a bit of an effort to dress up the practical and surround ourselves with simple beauties?  Take your office at work, for example.  If you, like me, work in a very small space the size of most people’s closets and every square inch of your desk is covered with papers, filing shelves, computers, phones, pens, sticky notes and general clutter, you may think that there is just no room for frivolous aesthetics.  But most of us use a desk lamp so that we don’t feel like we’re working in a cave all day.  So . . .

Why not switch it from this one . . . . . . . . to this one? (courtesy of Target.com)

Or what about our pets?  Many of us have pets because we love animals and the loyal, no-strings-attached affection that they offer daily.  But does having pets mean we are doomed to a life of mess and smell and having corners of our home that we hope and pray most people won’t notice?  Or perhaps even the practical necessity of a litter box can become a cozy nook in our kitchen or bathroom:

Which would you rather have in your home? (Second image courtesy of Merry Pet)

Or maybe our child’s relatively maintenance-free but awe-inspiring pet fish can go from a small plastic water hazard in his room to a living centerpiece in the home and garner much more attention that way as well.

Practical and pretty!

Unfortunately, most of the time this concept will only go as far as the budget will allow.  The three examples above are all very reasonable ways to upgrade functional objects to a new standard of aesthetic elegance.  But there are always things we daydream about one day being able to incorporate into our generally high standard of beautiful living.  Like some day being able to transform your bed from the place that you sleep to a mid-summer-nights dream.

Of course there are much more cost-effective ways to achieve this same aesthetic, such as leafy wall murals, earthy color schemes and throw pillows. But there is just something magical about this frame that can not be denied. (Image courtesy of theberry.com)

There are so many ways to convert basic, practical, and functional things in our environment into objects of beauty as well.  Just imagining the possibilities can put a brighter spin on your day and your general outlook, knowing that you’re making the world just a little bit nicer.