Fashion 101: I Can’t Do it Like I Used To (But I’m Better and On a Budget)

Fashion and shopping…I enjoy them.  At times I’ve found strength, albeit temporary, from them. But I can’t do it like I used to. Way back in the 90s, an era of economic bountifulness, parental dependency and self-inflicted fiscal tomfoolery I was a shopper’s shopper. I knew the women at Casual Corner, who would call me off of my good paying TV job to stop by and see a couple of pieces they thought “would be perfect for me”. In my humble little life, and meager little wallet I could give Olivia Pope and First Lady Michelle Obama a run for their suit money back then. I love fashion. To this day, somewhere nestled away at my parent’s house are a few notebooks I kept my high school days noting everything I wore to school and when (as to not be repeated too often). Why? Because I was honing the future journalist/writer/organizer/historian in me and didn’t even know it. Plus I loved fashion.


Not to place blame, but rather to trace roots, I must admit that I get my passion for fashion honestly. I get it from my father who is a shoe connoisseur, lining his leather, Italian or Johnston-Murphy shoes up around the wall and being able to buff polish them like nobody’s business, and who can easily outlast me at any outlet mall. I get it from my mother who should be on a first name basis with the likes of Michael Kors, Versace, Juicy and Louis Vuitton. I don’t blame either of them. They’ve worked hard, saved hard and sown even harder from everything God has granted them from my daddy growing up picking cotton, both of them living in the projects and them collectively sacrificing to get out of debt decades ago. Yes, their fashion bug has lived through some of the worst of circumstances, but for some of the best people I know. Salute.

Sometimes people comment on how nicely I dress (I’m in no way bragging, so please don’t think otherwise). I say “thank you” appreciative of the compliment, and often share where I scored my latest find. Some look at me like I’m Pinocchio when I divulge that most of my clothes are old, hand-me-overs (from my sister) or come from Ross Dress for Less, Wal-Mart, JC Penney’s and Belk. I rarely pay over $20 for anything. I place things in the back of my closet and pull them out years later. I wear items given to me by others and add my own spin. I do what I have to do because I can.

Take a look at what under $30, some savvy closet shifting, a bit of regifting, a dose of gratefulness and a dollop of self-esteem can do.


$1.97 from JC Penney… Let that marinate in your mind for a minute.


One of my high-end pieces… Ross’s “yellow label” Calvin Kline dress for $29. (I cringed at the register paying this much for this dress.)


It’s Fashion’s finest frock for just $11.


This little 2005 Newport News catalogue purchase gets to come out of the closet every now and then. I call it “Vintage”.


Purchased from an “urban” boutique (a mall store in Atlanta) for the low price of $13.99.


Ross Dress for Less at its $14.99 best.


Wal-Mart all day, every day! (I have a blue and black one too.) #GeorgeRocks


H&M for only $19. (I took a “dress” and made it a shirt.)


$17.99 from Ross Dress for Less


$19 semi-formal wear from Ross Dress for Less


$14 from Ross Dress for Less (sultry wig not included)


$16 Easter Dress from Ross Dress for Less (the $38 crutch cost more than the entire ensemble)


One of my two most expensive purchases in 2015… A $49 gown from Belk. (The tag said $200)


Straight from the YWCA’s My Sister’s Closet resale boutique for only $9.


A fab deal from a little shop in the ATL for only $30-something dollars.


Hat and Fringed sweater from the $.99 Store in Alabaster and Homewood. Sweater $14. Hat $2. Saving my hair from an initial downpour at the Magic City Classic=Priceless.


My second most expensive purchase of 2015… A $400 hand-beaded gown from Belk for only $49.

When it comes to fashion and shopping, as mentioned, I can’t do it like I used to. I’d like to think I do it better and on a budget! I’m so grateful for the times I’ve been in allowing me to value me far more than the value of a dress, some stilettos or a handbag. I’m so grateful for the ability to whip up a Target/Ross/My Sister’s Closet ensemble and rock it like it came from Nordstrom, the real one, not Rack. I’m so grateful for the little girl at Ramsay High School who cared enough to try to carry herself like her best, always trying to put her best foot and face forward regardless of what she was facing and having to gumption to write it down for the world’s (not really the world, but indulge me) remembrance. I’m so grateful for a spirit that stays in me that says where I am is not my final stopping point and the only one who can stop me from getting there is me not being ready, head-to-heart-to-toe.

What won’t be happening is me looking like what I don’t have and missing out on what I could have. I dare you to take that stance. It’s fun and fruitful. Trust me I know!



3 thoughts on “Fashion 101: I Can’t Do it Like I Used To (But I’m Better and On a Budget)

  1. Pingback: I Can’t Do it Like I Used To | Life Gets Better

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