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  • Dallas Rogers

"It was 99 Cents!" || 3 Tips for Styling on a Budget

It's not often that I get to analyze Macklemore's music for sake of a blog. I'm thriving!


You better believe I'm referencing his 2012 hit, "Thrift Shop" to highlight these three tips for styling on a budget.

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Macklemore goofily jumping from used chair to used chair in a Goodwill (source: "Thrift Shop" music video)

"They be like, "Oh, that Gucci, that's hella tight" I'm like, "Yo that's fifty dollars for a t-shirt"

To build my portfolio and differentiate myself as a photographer, I knew I needed to do more than just take good photos. Two years ago, if you asked me how I approached styling, I would have told you: "the more expensive the garment, the more fashionable." EH, WRONG!


"I call that getting tricked by a business!"

As these quotes from Verse Two prove, recognizable "name brand" clothing like Gucci or Louis Vuitton sell at elevated prices. Especially if you're buying their products NEW!


These "tee-shirts" and other garments are oftentimes of equal quality (in materials, assembly, etc.) to those you can find elsewhere for less expensive. You just have to know what you're looking for.


With two years styling experience, I've learned a thing or two about how to style inexpensively and make models (and myself) look like a million bucks.



Tip #1: Use What You Have - Upcycle Your Wardrobe


I know, this first tip feels like a cheap response. It figuratively and literally is.


Listen to me closely: What you have in your closet creates multitudes of outfit possibilities. Don't believe me? Then, believe Benulus (watch THIS video)!

This is Karina-Berenice, a fellow Arizonian and Scorpio, and one of THE MOST ingenious stylist I have ever seen. Her TikToks changed the clothing game for me.

I MEAN, WHAT?! A scarf as a shirt? It hit me: I've been looking at clothing as finite, with "correct" and "incorrect" ways to be worn. The tag goes in the back, no exceptions.


YES EXCEPTIONS. Berenice constantly redefines how we wear garments, and her styling method revolutionized how I style myself and my models. Layering various pieces, she blends colors, textures, croppings, and forms to create stunning, cohesive, truly one-of-a-kind outfits. And she looks f-ing phenomenal doing it.


In creating each outfit, she sources from her wardrobe and reuses thrift finds. This message is what Benulus and even Macklemore promote:

"Dressed in all pink, 'cept my gator shoes, those are green"

All this to say, find new ways to wear old and told pieces in your wardrobe. You can find tutorials ALL over the internet of ways to repurpose and restyle garments, so they become something you enjoy wearing again. For examples, watch these fabulous ladies:

  1. "10 Ways to (re)Wear a Dress" ~ Ashley (a.k.a. bestdressed)

  2. "No-Sew Ways to Upgrade Old Shirts" ~ Matildah with Fashion Wizardry

  3. "Reworking and Rewearing my Closet (High Fashion)" ~ Elizabeth with ForeverUrMuse

  4. "Rewearing Old Pieces" ~ Jazmine with ThatCurlyTop

  5. "Tie-Dying My Clothes With Bleach" ~ Jenna Marbles


Tip #2: Thrifting (Buying Used or Second-Hand Clothing)


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"I'm at the Goodwill, you can find me in the bins"

We talked repurposing your clothing. What if you need to fill in accessories and pieces in your wardrobe or outfit? Thrift it!


It's no surprise that thrifting ranks as a top tip for finding fashionable items on a budget. My favorite thrift stores in Arizona include:

  1. Goodwill (locations near wealthier cities will oftentimes carry higher-quality, name brand items)

  2. Savers

  3. White Dove Thrift Shoppe (Shop Scottsdale or Phoenix locations for AMAZING vintage finds)

  4. Clothes Mentor (this store is a thrift and boutique hybrid carrying gently-used, trendier name brand items)

Thrift Conventions and clothing swaps, too, are growing popular in Tempe and Phoenix to encourage elongating clothing's lifecycle.


Why Thrift Stores?

Thrift stores contain garments and accessories ranging in uniqueness and quality, making these shops appealing to stylists like me who dress clients and myself in one-of-a-kind looks. These lovely ladies were styled by me, using a combination of thrifted pieces and items from their or my closet:


Between these examples and Benulus' work, know it is possible to create high level outfits using your currently owned and thrifted pieces.

Tip #3: Rent (or Borrow) Clothes


If you ABSOLUTELY need to get new clothing or desire to shop from specific brands, I recommend using a rental service like Rent the Runway or even rent from friends and family.


"That shirt's hella dope And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don't"

Macklemore references an embarrassing phenomenon when shopping from fast fashion stores: identical twinning! It's okay to twin and like the same fashion as others. However, if you enjoy wearing distinguished outfits, you significantly reduce the chances of twinning with others by thrifting and even renting clothing.


Too, I recommend using services like Rent the Runway because they reduce the barrier for trying new styles. If you've always wanted to experiment with say, a square neckline, flare jeans, or a neon-yellow hoodie, you can order 4 to 16 items to try out for your next outing or just because!


If you weren't convinced: Rent the Runway is Macklemore approved, offering tons of faux fur coats and plaid-shirts:


The Takeaway


If you walk away with ANYTHING from this article, know...

  • You CAN style yourself or others inexpensively in quality apparel!

  • You DON'T need to buy trendy clothing to be considered quote-unquote fashionable or produce fashion photography.

  • You CAN find innovative ways to make your resources work for you and your ambitions.

STRUT in that stuff "From that thrift shop down the road!"

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