The Greatest Frugal Fashion Makeover Ever: Refresh Your Wardrobe for $25 or Less


We're all busy. When you're busy, it's hard enough to do basic things like eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise. Keeping up a quality wardrobe that lets you show off who you are in a fun, refined way often falls by the wayside. If money is an issue, it's even easier to let things slide, since browsing when you can't buy anything is just plain depressing. (See also: 10 Steps to Update Your Look on a Budget)

But all of us in need of a revamped wardrobe are in luck, because it's cheaper and easier than most of us think (or, at least, easier than I thought!) to refine your look and make sure you're saying what you want to say every time you get dressed.

Before You Shop

One of the best ways to revamp your wardrobe is to start with what you have. Think this is backwards? Let me show you how it works.

Analyze Your Wardrobe

Before you do anything else, look through your whole wardrobe. This means everything, including the clothes you have stashed away in the back of your closet. Look even at items that are too big or too small, as they can give you clues to what you like and don't like. Then, put all the clothes you don't like or that don't fit into one pile, and prep the rest for laundry.

Deep Clean Your Clothes

Depending on the age of your clothes, what they're made of, and your usual washing practices, you may need to do different steps here. The idea is to make your existing clothes look as good as they possibly can. Bleach your whites, and treat for armpit and other stains. Make your colored items pop and your dark items look crisp. Wisk DeepClean Power Blasts are known for helping with this project, but you can always treat stains with a Tide pen and add OxyClean to your detergent for all around cleaner clothes. (See also: Defensive Laundry: 9 Ways to Help Your Clothes Last Longer)

Revamp Tired Items

This can mean any number of things. Cover holes or stains that you can't get out with applique, patches, or handmade flowers; or mend them. Go over the stitching on boring items with a contrasting color, or add ribbon. You can even shorten or remove sleeves, change a hemline, or restyle a T-shirt. When it comes to revamping your clothes, you're only limited by your creativity.

Trade-In Time

Find a local consignment store that has items you'd like to own, and take in any clothes that you own, but don't wear, for a trade-in. Keep in mind that many consignment stores are choosy, and will only take clothes that are in good condition, made by name brands, and/or in the particular style that the store specializes in.

Host a Clothing Swap

If you like your friends' clothes, and you're all around the same size, host a clothing swap. There are many ways to do this, but the gist of the idea is that everyone comes together with the clothes that they don't want anymore and everyone gets to shop from the other closets. Anything not taken home is generally sent to a thrift store or donated elsewhere.


Once you've done everything listed above, it's time to do a bit of shopping with your $25. It will help if you decide what you are looking for before you go, so you don't end up spending money on something you don't like or that will not be useful to you.

Shopping Second-Hand

One of the best ways to find quality clothes at a much-lower-than-retail price is to buy items second-hand. This takes some extra time and energy, as you often have to look through hundreds of items that you don't want to find a few that you do, but you can often buy several name-brand items for less than $25. Be sure to go to thrift stores when you have some extra time, so you won't feel hurried as you browse the racks. (See also: 10 Things to Look for Every Time You Visit a Thrift Store)


If you generally feel good about your wardrobe but you just want to spice things up a bit, jewelry can be just the thing. $25 can get you a decent statement necklace, or a couple pairs of new earrings or a new bracelet. With a limited budget, you won't be able to buy a lot of jewelry or even whatever you want. With some patient searching, though, you should be able to find a piece or two that will help you say what you want to say with your clothing.


Scarves are similar to jewelry in that they can change or enhance a look without much effort on your part. Again, you won't be able to buy many scarves or even every scarf you want, if you're on a limited budget. For interesting choices (and often lower prices) try an ethnic market. African, Indian, Mexican, Native-American, and Asian markets often sell scarves in fabrics and prints that you won't find elsewhere. (See also: Affordable Accessories to Kickstart Your Style)

The Skinny Belt

A simple skinny belt, in black, white, brown, or grey, can add versatility to many outfits. Belt a shirt or a dress under the bust, at the waist, or low around the hips, for three entirely different looks. Experiment with what you like best and what looks best on your body. You may find that you like the belt worn several different ways, or you may prefer one or two. Either way, you've added versatility to your wardrobe.

Revamping your wardrobe on a budget takes some focus and intentionality, but you'll feel better about the way you look when you're done. Don't be afraid to take your time so that you can figure out your style and what looks good on your body, and buy accordingly. Happy hunting!

What are your favorite, frugal ways to freshen your look?

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Guest's picture

Buying second hand or defective ones are best way to save good amount of money. Look out for deals where you get little or slight defects but at heavy discounted price, keep a watch and eyes open. Nice tips also I like the idea of swapping clothes with friends, I will arrange for it and see how it goes.

Guest's picture

I always shop for seasonal clothes at opposite times. For example, I try to load up on Fall clothes at the start of summer or summer clothes (t-shirts, etc) starting in September. This way I get the most discounted clothes. Thrift shops will even have a large sale to clear out these items, so you can generally find some really good deals. I'm avid thrift shopper, but I've also had really good luck with Target and Kohl's clearance on occasion. A good tip for when you're looking for great work clothes is to look for a second hand shop in a high end neighborhood. I have a Savers located in a wealthy area and I cannot tell you how many great steals I've come away with (although Savers can be pricey at times!). Thanks for posting this, I am desperately in need of a wardrobe pick-me up!