ne big part of becoming an adult is learning to dress like one. But, that can be slightly overwhelming when so much adult clothing can be rather expensive. There are ways to work around expense, though, and there are many stores that can help you to dress professionally without breaking the bank.

How to identify quality clothing

The first step of dressing like an adult is identifying what quality clothing looks like, and how you can determine if you are getting the most out of your money. You want to look at the material that the clothes are made of, the seams, the stitching, and the colors. Remember, more expensive does not always mean better quality, and name brand does not mean the quality is better than non-name brand items. 

What does ‘dressing like an adult’ mean?

It is important to note that dressing like an adult is not going to look the same for everyone. This does not necessarily mean going out and purchasing business clothing, suits, and other things you may never wear if you are not in a situation where you may need them. Dressing like an adult means leveling up your closet, learning how to shop properly, and having an outfit for every situation you could have in your everyday life. 

Clothing store with many colorful clothes hanging from racks and the walls
There are many things that you can do to find quality and adult-appropriate clothing on a budget, you just have to look around.

Tips for shopping for quality on a budget

There are a variety of things that you can do to shop on a budget, while still looking put together and classy. Whether this means finding more for less, or splurging on one quality piece, everyone has a different way of budgeting. But, there are a variety of ways to save money.

Shop out of season

Shopping out of season will ensure that you are getting better deals on the same things that will be back on the shelf in less than a year. If you choose timeless styles from the clearance section, they will never go out of style and will likely return in next year’s collection. Don’t let this fool you– just because it is last season, it does not mean that it is going out of style anytime soon. This is what many stores lead people to believe because they want you to think that you have to purchase full price, when really, this is not the case at all. 

Four jackets hanging from a clothing rack with a white hat hanging on the end
Finding reward programs that can help you to save money is a great way to shop on more of a budget.

Rewards programs

Do not underestimate the power of a rewards program. There are several rewards programs that are a scam, but some of them can rack up a great deal of free and easy money if you allow it to. Places like Express and JCrew have pretty good rewards programs that can help you buy more for less. Look for programs that you can earn points in more ways than just spending money. 

Rack of neutral clothing with a plant next to it
Doing a closet clean out will help create room in your closet for new clothing.

Do a closet clean out

It is a good idea to go through your closet and decide what you want to keep or let go of. Not only is this activity freeing physically and mentally, but it will also help you to get a better understanding of what you do and do not need in your closet. 

Another great reason to do a closet clean out is because you can sell your old clothes for money when you decide that you do not want them anymore. You can utilize the money you make from selling your old clothes to purchase new clothing. Places like Plato's Closet will allow you to sell your clothes and get money back, or you could turn to websites like Depop or Poshmark and sell your clothes online. But, with the second option, you have to figure out shipping, which can be confusing. 

Stacks of jeans at a clothing store
Thrifting and shopping at outlet stores can be a great way to find discounted clothes that are also good quality.

Turn to thrifting or outlet stores

Thrift and outlet stores can be a great option for shopping on a budget. If you know how to thrift, then you know that sometimes you have to dig quite a bit to get to the good stuff. This also sometimes can mean that you have to go from store to store, and maybe even town to town, to find what you are looking for. Thrifting is also great for the environment, because you are giving pre-loved items a new chance at life. 

Outlet stores can be a bit easier in this capacity because they are selling everything that the actual store sold at one point, but for a discounted price. For example, the Ralph Lauren outlet sells all of Ralph Lauren’s out of season clothing, or sometimes items that are slightly defective. This might mean that a hem was sown wrong, or a seam was too short. Usually, these are things that an untrained eye would never be able to see, so it works out because you are getting almost the exact same clothes for a great deal cheaper than what it would have originally been. 

Rack of pants in a clothing store
Making calculated purchases is a great way to save money and make the most out of the clothes that you are buying.

Think before you buy

If you are on a budget, you really want to make sure that you are thinking before you purchase something rather than going on shopping sprees often. If your purchases are well thought out, they are going to be more easily justified and you will wear those clothes more often, as opposed to things that you purchase on a whim. 

Being mindful of what you purchase is also a great way to be sustainable and help the environment while you shop. Stopping to think about where your clothing is coming from and being sure to not repurchase things that you may already have in your closet is important for saving money and the world. 

Woman going through rack of clothing
Curating a capsule wardrobe based on your lifestyle will not only help you to save money, but it will also save you time when creating outfits.

Build a capsule wardrobe

Building a capsule wardrobe can seem intimidating, but once you get an understanding of what you need, it makes your life much easier. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothing items that are curated to work together in many different ways so that you do not have to have a great deal of clothing. This is a concept that is being driven by the minimalist movement, but this is also a great option for shopping when you are on a budget. 

This means find a few pairs of well-fitting dress pants, a few blouses, one suit (whether you are a man or a woman, everyone needs a power suit), a few basic colored ties if you are a man, a pair of dress shoes, one or two pairs of good fitting quality denim, and basics, such as black and white simple t-shirts that can be dressed up or down, neutral colored tank tops to wear on their own or under other things, and whatever else you may need that would fit your own personal lifestyle. 

If you're looking to add some versatile accessories to your capsule wardrobe, consider including beach hats. You can choose from a wide range of designs, including wide-brimmed hats, floppy hats, or straw hats, depending on your personal style and preferences. With these in your collection, you'll be ready to enjoy sunny days while staying fashion-forward.

Open sign in shop window
There are many low-priced clothing stores, but it is up to you to choose which one suits your lifestyle the best.

Which clothing brand is the best, but cheapest?

Ultimately, the “best” clothing brand is subjective, because it depends on the style that you enjoy and your price range. But, we have compiled a few of our favorites that are great for different aspects of what you may be shopping for.

  • Forever21: Great for purchasing many items at once for a discounted price
  • Uniqlo: Great for reasonably priced basics
  • Amazon Fashion: Great for reasonably priced clothing, but you have to make sure you read reviews before purchasing clothing
  • Zara: Great for dress clothes at a discounted price
  • Cider: Perfect for staple pieces, but again, read reviews before you purchase. The quality can vary
  • BooHoo: Can be a great option for going out or casual adult clothing
  • H&M: The quality of this store’s clothes has gone up a lot lately, and they have much more business professional clothing than they once had
Person going through a rack of blue and white clothing
Don’t let saving money take the fun out of shopping for you.

There are many options when you are looking for a way to dress more like an adult, build your capsule wardrobe, and save money. You just have to be willing to work a little harder when shopping and be mindful when looking through your closet. It is much easier than you think, so get to saving and shopping! Don’t let it be too serious, remember that shopping for clothes should not be a strenuous task.

Apr 12, 2023