• Ania Schwartzman

That time someone asked me to find a dress for $50 or less

$50?? I nearly choked when my client told me that her budget for a summer dress is $50. How would I ever find something reasonable for $50? Turns out, it wasn’t that hard.

People like me who love and live fashion can get caught up in the interminable trends and styles ever changing and the prices associated with them. It’s easy to forget what’s normal. The same happens to me when I shop too frequently at a specialty grocery store like Citarella, and then run into a Shoprite or Acme and see their prices. Holy crap! My Citarella strawberries cost 3x as much as at these stores!

I like to tell myself that you get what you pay for and so if you want top quality you need to pay for it. This is the message most high-end brands covey to us and how they are able to charge a fortune. While that rule of thumb is mostly true, I have to say that I’ve had plenty of high-end items with buttons that fell off or zippers that broke. That said, not every article of clothing one owns needs to be the highest quality, especially if it’s the top trend or an item one wears for only a few occasions.

I set out to find pieces that were of decent quality and super affordable. Decent quality for me meant items that won’t fall apart after several wears and washes. Since I’m always looking at Zara—because they have great updated seasonal styles, I scoured the internet for some new sites. My journey started at TARGET. I came to find out that TARGET offers collaborations with great brands. I especially loved the WhoWhatWear brand. WhoWhatWear offers a website with tons of information on the latest clothing trends and where to find them. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in what to wear now. Their items at Target are stylish and modern and definitely budget friendly.

I next found Mango. Mango is a brand from Spain and that offers items that can be worn over many years despite changes in trends. I loved shopping at Mango stores when I was a college student living in Spain. Their prices are great and they offer many varieties of unique tops and dresses.

Lulus is another website I found that carries mid-price items. Though I am not familiar with the quality of their clothing—I stuck with items that were made from cotton and/or linen. I was able to find a few pieces to suggest to my client from their website, which she loved.

I always suggest getting an item fitted to insure a perfect fit. It will make the item look more expensive and you will feel confident knowing it’s flattering. You can go to your local dry cleaning shop and have their tailor work on it. It shouldn’t cost more than $20.

And finally I scoured the internet for sales happening everywhere. Great items can still be found at 60-80% off their original prices! When purchasing sale items, I tend to stick to the clothing that seem most classic to me. This way, they will last longer and can be worn over many years. I also look for items in darker colors like blue, black, green, and red so that with the right blazer or boot it can transition to colder seasons.

So what did I learn? Turns out $50 can buy you a great blouse or a great dress! Stick to natural materials that include cotton, silk or wool. Make sure it fits well. And with the extra money you saved—you can buy the shoes to match!


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