I thought I would use this as an opportunity to highlight some of the other places I source my clothes. I love going to thrift stores, and I buy a ton of stuff at my local Salvation Army — that's where I got this awesome vintage polka dot top. I've had it for a few years and I don't remember how much I paid for it — probably $3 or $4. But believe it or not, that's the most expensive piece of my outfit today.
I got these vintage lace-up flats, which I absolutely adore, at a church rummage sale for 25 cents. Rummage sale are by far my favorite place to go for great deals. In my community, they usually offer a great mix of vintage (old lady clothes, since our population skews toward older/retired adults) and more contemporary brands (working moms and their daughters, mostly). Obviously that will vary by community, but if you go back to the same rummage sale over and over again, you'll get a feel for what they have pretty quickly. Rummage sales certainly require more commitment than thrift shopping; clothes are often stacked in piles, rather than on hangers, so you have to be ready to dig in, literally. And they are often crowded with other shoppers, making it tough to browse. But the payoff can be huge. In my area, clothes regularly sell for less than $1 at rummage sales. Even when prices start out a bit higher, almost every sale ends with a bag sale, where you can pay one price and walk away with a bag full of clothes, shoes and whatever else you can stuff into it. I routinely wind up paying between 10 and 20 cents for the things I buy at bag sales. And I went to one rummage sale a few weeks ago where all the clothes were straight-up free. Look for rummage sales in the spring and fall at churches in your community.
I got this J. Crew skirt at an end-of-season sale at a local consignment shop for $1 each. Most consignment shops I have visited work really hard to keep contemporary, seasonal clothing on the shelves, which means they're often pushing older merchandise out the door at lower prices. Ask about sales at your local consignment store. One shop in my town sells clothes for 25 cents each after a certain period of time. Another has huge bag sales in spring and fall, where everything in the store is on sale. I bring lots of clothes in as a consignor, and then wait for the big sales and spend whatever money is in my account. It feels great to walk away with a bag full of "new" clothes without having any money leave my bank account.
I picked up this navy cinch belt at a clothing swap a few years ago. I don't remember where I first came across the idea of a clothing swap, but I did a few in high school with my friends, and we had SUCH a blast. It was super fun to try on clothes for each other, and talk each other into (or out of) taking certain garments. Whatever was left over was donated to a local thrift store. I organized another swap a few years ago in connection with my work. It was less intimate, but just as fun. People were incredulous that they could just walk in and take clothes without paying any money. Again, we donated any clothes that were left over to a local charitable organization, which was also a nice component of the whole thing. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who enjoys clothes (and bargains) to think about having a swap, either with your pals, or in some other capacity. Swaps make really fun fundraisers (you can ask people to make a donation, or to pay a nominal fee at the door). When I organized one for work, we were able to get a local spa to host it. They offered free mani-pedis and mini facials during the swap! It was amazing. In return, they got free publicity for their business, and it gave them a way to show that they were giving back to the community.
This gray sweater was from a yard sale. Yard sales (or garage sales, tag sales, whatever you call them in your neck of the woods) are obviously super hit-or-miss; you never know what you're going to find. I like looking for events where neighborhoods or towns are holding community-wide yard sales; that way you can invest a few hours and have a better chance of finding something useful. The plus side of yard sales is that prices are usually very low, and people are almost always willing to bargain. If they say that all clothes are $1, pick out four or five things and say, "I'll give you $3 for all of these." I swear, 99 percent of the time, the person will say, "Sure," just so they can make a sale. You have nothing to lose by asking. I think I paid 50 cents for this one.
So there you have it — an outfit for less than $10!