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    Dress Tips for a Meager Budget

    Inexpensive clothing, for the most part but not always, lacks the quality and workmanship of a better priced garment. I’m not telling you to spend money you don’t have, I’m telling you to shop discriminatingly.

    There are certain thrifty things that you can get away with.

    Natural fibers like cotton and some wool can stand up to the scrutiny of a cheaper price tag. But be careful of color and sizing. White is usually OK across the price board, but typically the buttons and seaming don’t pass muster.

    If the seams are skinny and ragged, forget it, there is nothing to do. But if the buttons are cruddy, just replace them with better buttons.

    Cotton T-shirts (any white T-shirt under $20 is probably as good as its designer counterpart) and most lightweight wools are almost price undetectable.

    Dark colors like black and navy can look rich in moderate priced color — if you keep a watchful eye on the dye lots!

    Cheaper black fabric can lose the color density of a better grade black fabric which gives it the appearance of a navy, green, purple or charcoal cast, rather than a true saturated black. Take note when coordinating “blacks” together that they all match.

    Navy also can be rather tricky to match if the colors aren’t exact. Middle range, pastels, and bright colors really need to be reviewed case by case.

    Synthetic blend fabrics are fine for “disposable” one-season only trends, even top designers use these blends but the quality is different.

    Buying for endurance- go for fabrics with the most natural fiber in them. Synthetic takeoffs on cashmere are something to always steer clear of. Hold out for real cashmere (thrift shops are a great bargain resource) or opt for another fabric.

    Sizing and design can also be iffy in lower priced clothing. Well known companies usually have a better grip on fit and construction than unknown novelty companies, so you may want to explore off-price retailers.

    In cheaper clothing, the size tag doesn’t necessarily represent how the garment will fit on you. Sometimes moderately-priced clothing is more fully cut than its fashionable counterpart. All you have to do is downsize until you get your desired fit, and maybe add a few nips and tucks to contour it a bit.

    Junior clothing offers a wallop of trendy style but the garments are cut small for a junior figure. Try going up a couple of sizes until you find your fit.

    Tailored pieces really can be troublesome with bargain basement quality, so you typically have to invest a little more here. Check out national chain “boutiques” store sales, outlet and off-price stores for suits, jackets, and more structured clothing with panache.

    Interesting accessories and a clever mix of more cherished “better” pieces can spruce up a moderate-priced outfit. Stretch your wardrobe by shopping your closet for forgotten items, then you can update with a few new inexpensive pieces.

    The best cost-saving advice I can give you is to use some style ingenuity to put together an outfit that looks so well on you that its dollar value is virtually undetectable! You can find a good bargain if you have an eagle eye.

    Published on January 01, 1998

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