Three Frugal Ways to… Build a stylish wardrobe on a budget

Introducing the ‘Three Frugal Ways to…’ series! In this series, I will outline my top tips to maximising the value derived from your possessions, holiday experiences, lifestyle and needs while minimising the cost.

‘Three Frugal Ways to… Build a stylish wardrobe on a budget’ is the first of the series, with many more to come. Follow ‘The Earnest Addiction’ to keep posted!


Fashion and frugality are not usually words you’ll see in the same sentence. They are often words to used to juxtapose a life of extravagance and excessiveness verse a minimalist and intentionally simplified life. For many people, especially women, clothing still continues to be a means of expressing individuality, beauty and personality and often the most difficult part to cut down when following a path of financial independence or minimalism.

Although (seasonal trendy) fashion fades, style is eternal. Having style has nothing to do with the number of zeros in your bank account, the quantity of designer tags in your wardrobe or how often you frequent high end boutiques.

Building a wardrobe using classic, basic pieces as the foundation will allow you to have a versatile wardrobe that can be worn year in, year out and remain fresh and modern. Once you have the essentials down, they become the foundations if any (unnecessary but) decorative and seasonal pieces want to be added to the collection.


Here are my three frugal ways to build a stylish wardrobe on a budget:

ONE: Acquire basic pieces that transcend seasonal trends.
Built a capsule wardrobe of quality basic in classic, clean shapes which transcend seasonal trends. Focus on neutral or toned down colours such as black, navy, khaki, white and beige, which will become the foundation colours for a versatile wardrobe. Although a wardrobe essentials are individual to each person, my recommended 15 essential pieces are:

> Good quality trench
> Wool coat
> Little black dress
> Wool knit cardigan
> Stretch-knit long sleeve top
> Good quality t-shirts
> White button-down blouse
> Tailored trousers
> Skinny Jeans
> Tailored shorts
> Low heeled ankle boots
> Simple black heel
> Ballet flats
> Medium-sized leather bag
> Large sunglasses

I recommend stores such as Everlane (online only), Uniqlo and COS as a starting point for finding good quality, affordable, basic pieces.

Credit to The Lust List

TWO: Focus on quality, not quantity.
Invest in quality, not quantity; less is more. It’s better to have one high quality piece instead of multiple low quality pieces. Set high expectations about the longevity of each wardrobe essential – I expect mine to last at least 3 years with regular wear (at least 2-3 times per week) and washing. Each wardrobe essential is an investment, and the capital return is that it should be durable, well tailored and still look modern after many years of high wear.

I try to buy pieces that are made from natural fibres, as they’re more breathable and more durable. As an example, I own only 2 t-shirts from COS, however both are made from 100% silk stretch and still look and feel silky after regular wear. My Ninewest ballet flats are 100% leather and I expect these to last at least 2-3 years with daily use.

Scrimping on wardrobe essentials by buying low quality products may save you money now but will cost more in the long run as low quality, ‘fast fashion’ brands will disintegrate after a few washes and lose shape quickly, costing more to replace after a few months.

If you’re unsure what brands to look to for good quality and longevity, I highly recommend watching the ‘Testing Basics’ series by Lizzy Hadfield who buys high-street to high-end basics and tests each piece for return on investment.


THREE: Have pieces that mix and match easily
Buy pieces that easily mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe to increase the number of outfits you can get out of each piece. Especially for travel or work, each piece should be able to have multiple uses and work well with most pieces in your wardrobe. Minimalist blogger ‘A Small Wardrobe’ does this particularly well.

This means that you won’t just need less items but you’ll get more wear and return out of your wardrobe investment. A good quality, well thought out wardrobe will be more versatile for different occasions, transition easily across the seasons and cost less in the long term.

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 1.53.12 pm.png
Credit to The Lust List


Do you have any wardrobe essential tips, advice or questions? I’d love to hear them so please leave your comments below!


xx Miss Piggy

Cover illustration by Lena Ker

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I like idea of simplifying a wardrobe and keeping it pared down to only the bare necessities. Very frugal suggestions! 🙂

  2. Miss Piggy says:

    Thanks OFE! 😊

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