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How to look like a million bucks on a millennial’s budget

Jul. 21, 2015 CNN Money

For too many young professionals, the answer is A, by necessity. Affording designer goods seems impossible when you’re on a budget.

In reality, with a little smart budgeting and a lot of mindfulness, it’s entirely possible to build out a great wardrobe without going broke.

I know, because I’ve done it myself — and on a journalist’s salary at that.

Here’s some tough talk: Most fast fashion is garbage.

If you care about quality, make every effort to stay away from stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Zara. We know all too well that those clothes aren’t built to last — many of us have that friend who put on her almost-new H&M coat one winter day, only to have the buttons fall off or the seams give out.

I personally amassed a wardrobe of Forever 21 blouses and Target (TGT) dresses during college. But I’ve almost completely weeded those cheap pieces out over the years.

Here’s how I’ve replaced fast-fashion brands in my closet with durable, fashionable pieces from Chloe, Marni, Nanette Lepore, Marc Jacobs, and more.

Consider secondhand clothes

Almost none of my most prized garments were bought new. Designer clothes are insanely expensive, and there is no way a young person on a budget can afford them. But you can find secondhand versions — some of which have may never been worn before — for a fraction of the price.

In New York, Housing Works is an amazing charity thrift store chain whose stores are packed with beautiful clothes in great shape. Just a few months ago, I snapped up a pair of almost-new Vince trousers at a Target price of $40. A new pair retails for $265 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Across the country, there are tons of amazing vintage stores, too. And don’t forget about Salvation Army or Goodwill. One of my favorite pieces — a 100% silk, vintage Liz Claiborne dress — was an $8 Goodwill find.

eBay can also be a great resource. My male friends have bought secondhand Brooks Brothers, Pendleton and Johnson Woolen Mills garments for a song. Shop carefully, and be sure you know the return policy before you place a bid.

Click read more to view the following tips.
Comparison shop 
Check the inside for quality material and stitching
Splurge on once-in-a-lifetime items
Don’t buy what you don’t need

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