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7 Fashion Essentials You Should Always Buy On the Cheap

As fashion lovers, we’ll admit to busting the bank for some purchases, but we’re not crazy—there are some items that don’t need to be designer. Beyond that, it’s actually better if they’re not, especially when you’re talking basics that will see a lot of wear and tear. Some pieces are worth the higher price tag (like shoes that are undeniably more comfortable and bags that were meticulously put together by hand), but others just don’t warrant the credit card charge. Herewith, the closet staples on which you should always spend as little as possible.


1. T-Shirts
A tried-and-true wardrobe staple, the plain white tee was number one on our list of Target style essentials. Stock up, and don’t feel guilty if you have to toss it eventually (due to spills, stains, or other discoloration). A good rule of thumb? If something spends a lot of its life as a layering piece, hidden under other items, don’t make it your investment item.

2. Trendy sunglasses
Not only are sunnies likely to get lost, but the trendier they are, the more likely you are to get sick of them (or they’ll quickly feel dated). Spend more on the classic black pair you’ll wear forever, but go low when doing funky shapes or vivid colors.

3. Ballet flats
As delicate as the name suggests, skimmers take a major beating. Without a thick sole or a material that’s naturally impervious to wear, it’s unavoidable, and, sad but true, the pricey pairs can get destroyed just as quickly as the cheapies. Bonus? When you’re not worried about ruining them, you’ll be better able to achieve the carefree attitude we so associate with French-girl style.

4. Thongs
Yes to spending more for a brilliantly fitting bra. No to shelling out extra for thongs. While it’s important for your undies to feel good, there are too many wallet-friendly options out there to warrant spending lots on something so little.

5. Sweatpants
It’s tempting to reason that if you wear sweats a lot, it makes sense to splash out on a designer pair (plus, beyond-buzzy label Vetements assures we’re about to see a lot more pricey pairs hit the market). Banish the thought though, as there’s little difference between a $20 pair and a $200 one since the cut and fabrication will essentially be identical.

6. Totes
When it comes to bags, save up and spend more on a classic shoulder bag, not a roomy tote. This is your workhorse piece, and it’ll likely take a beating. Plenty of good, well-made leather versions abound that won’t eat into your budget too much, and the minimalistic nature of the style makes it tricky for people to instantly know how much you spent.

7. Trousers
When it comes to your work wardrobe, you’ll get more ROI on unique blouses and blazers than your slacks. Saving here is easy, since options for sophisticated, work-ready pants abound at national chains that cater to shoppers needing a professional wardrobe. The monetary benefit is compounded too, since the wallet-friendly pairs aren’t as likely to have the dreaded dry-clean only labels, saving you that care cost.

More money-saving style tips? Read secrets from shoppers who never (ever) pay full-price.

Photos: Getty Images

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