On the Cheap

Although I do blog (primarily) about fashion, I feel it’s worth mentioning that I do not own one piece of Chanel, Prada, Chloe or YSL. My budget really doesn’t allow for a $510 skirt. I just can’t fathom…

I recently received an email from a sweet reader (Anisa from OH) asking how in the world I managed to find chic items at stores like Forever 21. And then I got to thinking..maybe this would make a decent blog topic? Eh?

It's every fashionista's mission, including mine: Shopping for cheap while still managing to look, well, un-cheap. I'm far from an expert and my personal taste isn't identical to yours, but here's how I find "jewels in a junkyard":

Visit Their Online Stores
I NEVER shop in-store at Forever 21. Here’s why: Between the obnoxious hipster tunes blaring from the speakers, to the lavender-haired tweens with their leopard print skinny jeans and messenger bags, the whole place makes me want to yack. (And leaves me popping Excedrin Migraine tablets in my car, afterward.)

Longline Jacket - purchase here // Striped Stud Button Shirt - purchase here

But, F21 does have amazing clothes. Clothes that really do last longer than one wash cycle. Most importantly, clothes that are trendy and seemingly expensive. All of this, my dears, you can find on their site.

I do the same with Old Navy. Rarely ever do I go in Old Navy, simply because the lighting in their dressing rooms is atrocious. Online though, you can find little gems, like these suede gray oxford heels that I wore for some recent outfit photos.

Women's Faux-Suede Oxford Heels - purchase here

Go a Size Up
Cheap clothes run small. Let’s repeat that again, cheap clothes run small. Always go a size up at stores with less expensive items. Here’s why: Cheaper clothes are typically made of synthetic fabrics like Lycra or Polyester; fabrics that aren’t frequently known for their figure flattering qualities. (These are usually the types of fabrics that create the dreaded “stuffed sausage casing” look. Never okay, girls. No ma’am.

My favorite go-to cheap stores:

Forever 21 – I love F21 for their skinny jeans and their sweaters. Their sweaters are typically really great quality and also really soft, like the more expensive labels. Their $10 skinny jeans really do wear like an expensive pair of J.Brand.

Essential Braided Knit Sweater - purchase here

Classic Skinnies - purchase here

Target – For accessories and shoes, this is my go-to. I highly suggest their men’s section for beanies, too.

Mossimo Women's Long Sleeved High-Low Sweater - purchase here // Rhinestone Cluster Earrings - purchase here

Ebay – Yes, ebay. Although you do need to be diligent about reading feedback from previous purchasers, it’s a great way to find current pieces that are a fraction of what they cost in stores. Lots of times, if I have a specific piece in mind, I just type in “inspired by (insert name of designer”. Generally, this works.

Geometric Pattern Sweater - purchase here

Sosie – I adore this online store for blouses and skinny trousers, most of which work for the office, too. Don’t flip out when you first visit – lots of photos of daisy dukes and leather bodysuits. Keep clicking and soon enough, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Spotted Jag Cardigan - purchase here

Groopdealz – For jewelry. I buy a whole mess of my baubles from Groupdealz. They do a pretty good job of featuring pieces that look similar to J.Crew or Anthro, but for a mere $6 price tag. Join and shop. Then come back and thank me.

Bow Tie Necklaces - purchase here

If anything, cheaper stores are a great place to buy super trendy pieces for prices you won’t regret later.


  1. Might be one of the best posts! Not sure how I would feel about not trying stuff on first, but thanks for sharing!

  2. Hey lady! I think you've posted about it before, but which Forever 21 skinny jeans do you wear? I bought a pair recently that are SO short so I need to try something that I know someone has been successful with!

  3. Leslie, this post is so great and helpful! Thanks so much for offering budget-friendly tips for catwalk looks. I'm telling you, girl, you could work for Elle! :)

  4. I LOVE this post. This is EXACTLY why I follow you! This momma IS NOT spending $500 on a skirt! Let's get real, this momma isn't spending $100 on a skirt!!


  5. Brandi - I love the classic skinnies! I just put up the photo with link, so be sure to check them out. I'm only 5' 4" though, so if you're taller, I might suggest contacting them to see if they offer a longer length!


  6. This is a great post! I'm with you on the anti-going into F21 for all the same reasons. happy Wednesday!

  7. Love all these tips. And totally agree with you on all of them! There's certain things - i.e. staple items - I am willing to plunk down a little cash for (albeit not cash of the Chanel, YSL etc. variety), but the super trendy items are not them! F21 is a great resource for picking these items up on the cheap. And so CUTE! Purchased skinnies from them after you blogged about them forever ago, and have loved them ever since. Wear them ALL the time!

  8. Great tips! I love these less expensive stores! I also find Ann Taylor Loft has great sales regularly and get a lot of things from there for a small price tag! Have a great day Leslie!

  9. Great tips! Also, Modcloth and Shopruche have some great clothes for cheap prices as well!

  10. What an awesome post. Forever 21 is one of my go-to's as well, but ONLY online. Total gag-fest in the store. And I agree, one size up is needed!


  11. I was wondering too, how you look SO great and can afford it. And now I have my answer! Which is great because that means that I too, can look good for cheap ;)
    I'm getting a big chunk of change refunded to me that I wasn't expecting so I think I am going to have to hit up these websites to get some deals!

  12. I came over here from Kelly's Korner when I saw you were from NWA! I love finding other Arkansas bloggers, so consider me your newest follower :)

  13. Thanks for the tips - very helpful! I too love online shopping at F21, it's the only way!

    Looove your "I'm Leslie" picture!


  14. Thanks for the awesome tips! I can't wait to check out Groopdealz!

  15. Great post! Sosie is my favorite online shop. I've gotten some of my favorite pieces from there. And high five on the Forever 21 in-store experience. I can't deal with it either.

  16. Thanks so much for giving us your insight! I'm joining Groopdealz now!

  17. Excellent tips. I haven't heard of groopdealz. I'm on it!

    I also always want accessories from F21, but I hate going in there. I'll check them out online. I check everyone else out online, why not.

  18. Even having the money to splurge on clothes I find myself being more sensible.

    I honestly have a closet full of Louboutins that I hardly wear (i know, it's like a crime against fashion!)

    I've really gotten into the habit of mixing high and low. Expensive accessories can make any outfit look more luxurious, and I rarely buy designer jeans.

    People are usually shocked when they hear my clothes are mostly from Target.

    Great post!

  19. I have a slight addiction to groopdealz. You really can't beat their prices. I'll definitely have to check out F21 online. I too always stay away from their stores. Thanks for the tip!

  20. Thank you for this, all of this. I always love your style and love that you are SO down to earth about your selections and realistic and affordable!

    Thank you also for the cheap clothes run small. I know I've gained weight but at the same time not enough to put me into another clothing zip code. I feel better knowing this.

    It's refreshing to read fashion blogs about clothing I can afford, vs. someone talking about a new skirt they got that cost $200+ I just can't afford that, even if it was a forever piece, I just can't. (I'd rather go on vacation).

    Thanks darlin! ox

  21. I meant to mention too that I've tried time and time again to go shopping at forever 21 and get the same feeling as you. I go into sensory overload, I can't focus on all the racks and everything is always shoved together. If I'm going to shop there I need at least 3 hours to get through it all and I don't have the patience for that. God Bless the Internet!

  22. Thanks for sharing! I'm a fourteen-year-old girl, so I definitly don't have a designer's budget. I love getting to see what you and my other favorite bloggers put together. Then, I try to recreate it using pieces from my own closet.



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