High Style, Low Budget

Okay okay, so today I’m going to get a little bit real with you. You know that feeling when you’re browsing the website of one of your favorite brands? You know the feeling where it’s love at first sight. This is it, this is the dress you didn’t know you needed until that second. But then the horror seeps in: You forgot to set your filter to price low-high.

Now that perfect dress isn’t looking so hot at $350. You want it. You really really want it. You think, “No no. $350 isn’t that expensive… At my minimum wage part-time job that’s only one entire paycheck! I can earn that back in two weeks.” Then you’re thinking, “What the fr*ck?! This dress is half cutout! There’s like no fabric here? What justifies this price? I refuse to support this blatant exploitation of the masses!” Now you’re starting to calculate what you need to give up in order to have this dress. Skip breakfast for a week? You don’t really need to buy your best friend a birthday gift; they’ll understand. And you really don’t need to go out with the girls this Friday, or really any Friday for the rest of the year. And now you’re just sad. “I wish I was rich! Why couldn’t I be one of those girls that just gets to live in the lap of luxury? Why do I have to work 20 hours a week at a $9/hr job just to be able to clothe myself in this harsh, harsh winter?”

Finally the acceptance kicks in. That model on the website is not you. You will never have that dress. You will never get to prance around in all its flirty glory. So you take a look at your shopping cart and then remove it. And probably everything else too. But not being able to have that one specific dress doesn’t mean that you’re forever doomed. There’s always the option of finding something similar, and that how I prefer to shop.

Personally, I like to visit all of the more expensive brand websites first: Topshop, Zara, ASOS, American Apparel, etc. (Disclaimer: These brands may not be expensive for you guys, but for a broke-ass college student like me they’re way out of my price zone!) Not only do they give me a general idea of what’s trending this season (a word of caution: what’s trending now isn’t always what you’re going to love tomorrow!), but higher end retail stores tend to have a higher quantity of product photos at a much higher quality. Online stores like ASOS that allow me to see how the clothes would look on a catwalk are a dream come true for a girl that cannot try on the product in store.

Now the next step is to really get into what you love about the piece. Is it the color? The shape? The material? Why do you think this dress would look good on you? If you can’t pinpoint the source of it’s IT-factor, then it was probably going to be returned or sent to the back of your closet. Something I always have to restrain myself on is impulse buying. Try to find out why you want what you want and it’ll save you loads of money (and loads of fashion disasters) in the long run!

Chinese retailers through ebay and aliexpress were my favorite in high school, and even now sometimes I’ll snag a good find. But from experience a lot of it is what you see is not what you get. Although other retailers might be more expensive, it offers a lower risk. The key through searching other websites is to use your filters wisely and to know what exactly you want. As an example I’m going to use this beautiful lace bra by Rumi Neely’s brand Are You Am I.

Links: [x]

It looks wonderful, but $120 is probably the cost of my entire underwear drawer. I love the lash detailing and the light feel it gives off so these are the keywords I’m going to use: Lash, Lace, Sheer, Bralette, and Bra.
Of course you should always check to see if a product is on sale or if there are any coupons out there. Usually I just google “website name coupon” and I’m referred to groupon or another couponing site. However, this time there isn’t a coupon available so I’m going to check different stores. Before I go to cheaper retailers, I check the sale sections of higher end stores. That way you maximize your quality to price ratio. So off to Topshop, Nasty Gal, and ASOS I go!
Sometimes looking for a cheaper look-a-like comes easy. Topshop only had three pages of bralettes and only offered me one option:

Links: [x]

Nasty Gal offered me the most variety. It also makes for a good example of searching everywhere. Normally you think “Bralet, okay. I’m going to check lingerie.” However my favorite out of this selection was actually under tops. So don’t forget to broaden your horizons. You might want a skirt, but sometimes a skort looks perfect. Other times you might think you want a blouse, but its listed as a sweater or croptop. Don’t let your options be limited and search for keywords everywhere! But don’t go overboard. You’re not going to find those cute chelsea boots you had your eye on in swimwear.

Links: [x][x][x][x]

Finally, ASOS teaches us that sometimes keywords don’t work. For ASOS I had to play around with the filters. I looked in lingerie, specifically in bras, for something black and under $120 (because who wants to pay more?).

Links: [x][x][x]


Now for the cheaper brands: Forever21, H&M, and Charlotte Russe.

Sometimes you’re lucky in finding something that’s a steal. Other times you’re not. A quick search of Forever21 showed almost nothing similar with this being the only true eyelash lace detailed piece:

Links: [x]

H&M had a lot of options and I even found something that was equally as cool:

Links: [x][x][x][x]

Charlotte Russe only offered one option with lash lace, but lots of similar options using regular lace. However lash lace was the reason why I was interested so I chose to ignore the other bralettes. However, if you’re willing to settle for substitutions even more (and cheaper) options are open for you!

Links: [x]*
*There’s a 20% off promotion going on too!

And for added dramatic effect I’m going to check Walmart and Target for a similar item! They’re mainly a stretch, but they do offer a similar vibe to the original product (black, lace):


Links: [x][x][x]

I hope that you guys all found this helpful! Which bra do you think makes for the best dupe? Personally I love the Case for Lace Bra by Nasty Gal and I think it replicates the AYAI bra perfectly. For those of you that want to know how I use Ebay and Aliexpress in a smart and safe way, I’ll have a tutorial up for you in some time. Meanwhile, I want to know your fashion budgeting secrets. Tell me how I can save some more money in the comments! Seriously, please! My wallet will thank you. 😉

See you soon,

3 thoughts on “High Style, Low Budget

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