Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ten outfits under $30.

A while ago, I showcased my bargain hunting prowess by showing you ten complete outfits that cost $40 or less – for the WHOLE outfit. (Care to revisit? Go here: outfits under $40!) 

Well, nine months have passed, and I’ve found myself with a whole new crop of beautiful bargains (plus some that I didn’t show you before). So I’ve got ten more outfits for you!

The same rules apply as last time: no foundation garments – tank tops, etc – as part of my total, for that gets boring and complicated; prices may not be exact, but are estimated to the best of my memory. I am almost positive that I am within fifty cents of each price, and that’s not too shabby! However, I did make one change: this time around, all of the outfits total $30 or less. Yes, I tightened the belt and did some seriously creative (and intense! I almost died at Savers!) shopping, but I happily present to you my top ten outfits under $30!

(a note about the pictures: James and I took them all in one day in different parts of our house, so you get a little tour of our house at the same time!)

dress – Maurices – $7 (buy one get one free)
sandals – JCPenney – $3 (fall super sale)
belt – Forever 21 – $5.80
blazer – Maurices –$2 (half off clearance and $10 off coupon)
necklace – Michael’s – $3 (employee discount)
TOTAL = $20.80

In my last blog about my cheap outfits, I told you all about how Maurices goes on crazy mark-down sprees, and that’s how I score a great deal of my work clothes. The dress was part of a 50% off the lowest marked price sale, PLUS buy one clearance thing, get another clearance thing free. I was able to find two clearance dresses for about $14, hence the average price of $7. The blazer was also part of the 50% off the lowest marked price sale, but I also had a $10 off coupon from using my Maurices stamp card. The sandals were from a phenomenal end-of-September sale at JCPenney. I had just moved from Minneapolis to almost Sioux Falls: I was working in Sioux Falls but couldn’t move into my apartment until October 7, so I was commuting from Brookings (where I was staying in my grandma’s house – vacant since she had moved to assisted living) or Ellsworth (where James lived/was teaching). Most of my income was spent on gas, so the $3 sandals were about all I could afford. I wear them ALL THE TIME, so it was $3 well spent.
shirt – Goodwill St Paul – $2.50 (half off day)
necklace – Forever 21 – $4.80
shoes – American Eagle – $6
pants – Forever 21 – $15.80
TOTAL = $29.10

The secret to the totally awesome Goodwill deals that I manage to find lies within three simple words: patience, location, and sales. You have to have the patience to dig through the (oft calamitous) racks to find a good shirt or two, so it’s essential that you go to Goodwill when you’re in the right mindset. The location also makes a huge difference: I’ve been able to find much better stuff at the St Paul Goodwill than I ever have in Sioux Falls. Finally, go on a Goodwill sale day. Yes, their stuff is pretty cheap without the sales, but it never hurts. Maybe one day a week, Goodwill will offer half off on tags of a certain color. I scored this shirt when Goodwill had 50% off EVERYTHING. That was quite the day.
jeans – Forever21 – $10.80
poncho – Goodwill St Paul – $4.49 (half off all clothes)
shoes – Target – $9.98
pearl bracelets – Helzberg – FREE! 
TOTAL = $25.27

I never thought of myself as a poncho kind of person, but when you find one at Goodwill for less than five dollars, you might as well give it a try. Throw in some super stretchy pants and some Target shoes, and you have the comfiest outfit ever. And the pearl bracelets? James got them from Helzberg for free. Since he bought my engagement ring from them, every now and again, they’ll give him (and by “him”, I mean me) some kind of little freebie: in this case, pearl bracelets. Cool, huh?

trousers – Y’s Buys – $4.79        
shirt – Savers – $3 (half off day)
shoes – Target – $14.98
bracelet – Brookings Summer Arts Festival – $5
TOTAL = $27.77

Savers is a dangerous place. It’s a thrift store in Sioux Falls, and you’ll usually find that it’s quite busy. It has the most obnoxious dressing rooms: there are just a few of them, and they’re located against a wall at the end of a bunch of racks of clothes. Whenever I go there, there’s always a huge line for the dressing rooms, but there’s really nowhere to line up. People line up in between the racks of clothes, so there’s no way to actually look through said clothes. Plus, there’s also no real way to tell who is next in line. You get a dressing room at Savers by being faster than the guy next to you. Anyway, I got this blue shirt at Savers on half-off day. My friends, I almost died. Savers rarely has half-off day, and the store was a complete zoo. I got shoved into racks, run over by shopping carts, and you can just forget about a dressing room. I really like this shirt, so I guess I can tell myself that it was worth it. The pants came from another thrift shop in Sioux Falls called Y’s Buys. The pants were way too long, so – instead of hemming them like a normal person – I used fabric tape to fix the hems. It was pretty messy – especially when I forgot about the tape and put the pants in the dryer. Imagine little balls of melted fabric tape stuck EVERYWHERE. I finally took them to be professionally hemmed, and I warned them about the fabric tape. I said, “If the fabric tape won’t come off, don’t hem the pants.” After all, why would I want hemmed pants with bits of fabric tape stuck to them? Apparently, the alterations lady heard “go right ahead and hem the pants – don’t worry about the hem tape!” When I went to pick up the pants, they were hemmed – but the fabric tape was now on the OUTSIDE of the pants. Thankfully, the dry cleaner was able to save the day, but I know which Sioux Falls alteration shop is never getting my pants again! So even though these pants ended up being way more expensive than I had anticipated, we’re just going with the original Y’s Buys price. Finally, the bracelet. It’s the coolest thing ever: it’s made of out of this super bendy wire, so you can shape it however you want. I got it at one of my favorite places on earth: the Brookings Summer Arts Festival, where you can find good food, good people watching, and great crafts/jewelry/paintings/woodwork/whatever.

t-shirt – Target – $3
scarf – Charlotte Russe – $9.50
schooner charm – Hobby Lobby – $2.50 (40% off coupon)
jeans – Savers – $6.50 (half off day)
sandals – Target – $5-ish 
belt – Target – FREE! 
button bracelet – Claire’s/found button – $.50 
TOTAL = $27

I’m a big fan of Hobby Lobby. They sell all sorts of crazy charms (like this one – a schooner), and I can just slap them on a chain and call them jewelry. The jeans (you can't see in this picture, but they have sparkly back pockets! oh boy!) came from Savers on that fateful half-off day, and my belt is one of those freebies that came on a pair of pants (not shown, because they’re actually kind of dorky and were sent to the consignment store ages ago) that I bought at Target. But let’s talk about the bracelet. Years ago, my mom and I had gone to the Claire’s store in the Watertown mall. I don’t know if they do this anymore, but at that time, Claire’s would have these big clearance sales where you could pick out ten items from the clearance rack and only pay five dollars. Most of that stuff is long since gone – as I was probably eleven at the time, my tastes have changed. However, this bracelet made it through. It’s made of this guitar string-y material, and even though I’ve lost some of the bands over the years (they sort of un-snap), there are four that remain. I threaded a button on the bracelet, and it’s one of my go-to bracelets. But it’s not just any button: it’s a button from an Arlington High School band uniform. I found it on the ground in the band room in 2003-ish, and it’s been on my bracelet ever since. What a dork.
My pants look way too short in this picture,
but they're actually not. Trust me.
shirt – Younkers – $4.50
cardigan – Gap – $7 (40% off clearance)
Seven jeans – Goodwill Omaha – $7.99 
anchor charm – Hobby Lobby – $.99 (1/2 off)
shoes – Target – $7-ish
TOTAL = $27.48

In my last cheap clothing blog, I talked about how it was tough to find good thrift store jeans – that’s why the last blog was heavy on dresses and dress pants. I would like to rescind my statement. Apparently, I was just looking in the wrong thrift store. This is the third pair of SIX cheap jeans that I’ll feature in this blog. All of them but one pair came from thrift or consignment shops, and the one pair that didn’t came from Forever21 (which might be a step below a thrift store, depending on whom you ask). This pair came from Omaha, and they were a little spendy for thrift store jeans (eight dollars, I KNOW), but let me tell you, they are comfy.

Seven jeans – Redeemed – FREE! 
shirt – Kmart – $5.50
scarf – Gap – $10.40 (40% off)
sandals – Gap Outlet – $7-ish
belt – JCPenney – $5
TOTAL = $27.90

I know what you’re thinking – Kmart? REALLY? Yes, really. This all came about because I wanted some new work shirts. I was flipping through a Redbook, and they have this super-handy section where they round up 50 fashion items for under $50. One of their examples was from Kmart, and I was downright impressed. So I went to Kmart’s website, found said shirt, and paid a pittance for it. This blue shirt came about because I needed to meet a minimum dollar amount to get free shipping. WORTH IT. And just how did I manage to wrangle a pair of free jeans? This, my friends, is quite the story. James and I went to Winnipeg for our honeymoon, and we spent some time exploring the different neighborhoods with all their neat shops and restaurants. Our travels led us to a consignment store called Redeemed – it was all women’s clothing, so James chatted up a woman working there while I perused. James let it slide that we were Americans – “Oh, we LOVE Americans!” and that we were on our honeymoon. I found two items to my liking – a blazer and a dress. When I went to pay for them, this woman (who we found out was the store’s owner) said, “Well, I’m going to give you a honeymoon discount.” My total – which would’ve been about $60 – was reduced to $20. She then wrote us a gift certificate for $20 and suggested that we visit Redeemed’s second location. Stunned by her generosity, we headed over to the second location, where I found this pair of jeans and a sweater. We presented our gift certificate to the cashier, and on it, the store owner had written “for their honeymoon!” Upon seeing this, the cashier said, “Oh, I didn’t know it was your honeymoon! I’d better get you a honeymoon discount!” After the honeymoon discount and the $20 gift certificate, the total for the jeans and sweater came to $9. The cashier paused for a second and said, “You know what? Don’t worry about it. Happy honeymoon!” Yep: a sweater and jeans, totally free. I was familiar with the stereotype of the super nice Canadian, and I’m here to tell you that it’s 100% true. The manager of our hotel bought us dinner when he found out we were on our honeymoon. We were greeted with smiles wherever we went. Cars happily made room for other cars to change lanes. Canada was so much friendlier that it was almost a different world. After our experience in Winnipeg, James and I are doing our best to be Canadian: we’re trying to be nicer and all-around better people. WWCD: What Would Canada Do?

jeans – Winnipeg Salvation Army – $5.99
tank – Younkers – $4.50
shoes – JCPenney – $13
telephone charm – Michael’s – $3 (40% coupon)
TOTAL = $26.49

The Salvation Army is one thrift store that I don’t really visit. We’ve got one in Sioux Falls, but every time I’ve been there, I’ve come away feeling like I need a shower and possibly some penicillin. The Salvation Army in Winnipeg was nothing like that. Sure, there were some less-than-savory characters roaming the aisles, but on the whole, it was clean and inviting. These shoes came from the sale rack at JCPenney, and I was originally hesitant about them – they’ve got lime green on them, after all. I bought them anyway, and I am so glad I did. Not only did I decide that the lime green is, in fact, AWESOME, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten more compliments on a pair of shoes.

jeans – Goodwill Brookings – $4.25
Converses – Converse Outlet – $15
sweatshirt – Goodwill Brookings – $3.75
TOTAL = $23.00

Yes, another pair of thrift store jeans. I stumbled across these while trying on jeans at Goodwill, my goal being to find a pair that I could turn into cut-offs for the summer. These jeans were too good to turn into shorts, so they stayed whole (other jeans I bought that day did fall victim to my scissors). The shoes came from the Converse outlet store in Albertville, MN. Outlet stores can be a hit or a miss, but I consider neon pink Chuck Taylors to be a hit.

Forgive my pasty white legs. It is January, after all.
shorts – JCPenney – $7.99
belt – JCPenney – $1.99 
shirt – Younkers – $4.50
shoes– Charlotte Russe – $7
necklace – etsy – FREE! 
TOTAL = $21.48

I do believe this is the first pair of shorts that I’ve shown you on the blog. Well, I wanted a pair of green shorts, and JCPenney happened to have a super cheap pair for me. They also happened to have a dirt cheap belt (and it's REVERSIBLE - there are lobsters on the other side!), which I couldn’t resist. It is indeed from the men’s section, but it’s a belt. You can’t tell. You may be wondering how I managed to get my necklace for free. Online surveys, that’s how. Back when I was super poor, I signed up for these online survey companies. You take little surveys about new products or commercials or insurance or whatever, and you earn money. Not a lot of money per survey, but some. Once in a while, I even got a product test – and when you can barely afford shampoo, getting some free shampoo to test is a Godsend. Anyway, once you get to a certain dollar amount in your survey account, you can cash it out for a check, Amazon gift card, whatever. This particular go-round, I cashed out for PayPal credit, which I promptly used to buy this necklace. So technically it wasn’t free, but it’s my blog, and I’m calling it free.


There you have it: ten outfits under $30. This time around, my finds came from 24 different places: eight clothing stores, five thrift/consignment shops, two craft stores, two big box stores, two outlet stores, one costume jewelry store, one real jewelry store, one summer arts festival, one online crafty/jewelry/a bit of everything store, and one band room floor. Not too shabby.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest thrifty-chic fashion show. Until next time, you can find me digging through your local Goodwill!

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