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How a Working Girl in Her Twenties Shops on a Budget

It is safe to say that I have eyes bigger than my wallet.

Like many, I LOVE shopping. Fashion has always been something that interests me, whether I’m adopting new trends or experimenting with different styles of clothing on my own. Seeing that I am a 24-year-old living in NYC on a budget, I have been on a mission to figure out all of the tips and tricks on following my personal style, while being able to embrace new trends on a budget. 

Here are some of the questions I ask myself before buying something…
  1. Is it versatile? How can I wear this in the fall and also the summer?
  2. Do I own anything like this?
  3. Can I style this with multiple other pieces of clothing I already own?
  4. Will I wear this multiple times? Is it trendy or timeless?
  5. If it feels like a splurge… Can I find a more affordable version of it?
Here are some of the rules I set for myself…
  1. Do research. Do not impulse buy. There very well may be a more affordable version of what you are looking for.
  2. Don’t shop trendy unless it is something I stay awake at night thinking about. Sleep on it.
    For example:  I lay awake at night dreaming of Arielle’s boots from The Row. These are out of my budget, so I waited MONTHS until finding the perfect pair that felt right and excited me… The winning pair- *drumroll please…* ZARA!
  3. Am I seeing everyone in it? Has it lost its sparkle? If it already feels overdone… skip it.
  4. Do not shop more than once a month, and set a strict budget for yourself depending on the other expenses you have during the time period.
    Side note: When I “shop” I never do a big haul at once. The most I’ve done while living on my own is maybe 4 or 5 pieces maximum… most often from ASOS or H&M. Otherwise 2 or 3 pieces from Zara.
  5. There is no need for me to purchase any investment pieces right now. Any investment piece I have is a hand me down or a gift from an adult in my life. Mix your highs and lows! I wear the same purse basically every day. Just learn how to style differently and mix and match with affordable pieces you already own OR become a Rent The Runway member and swap designer pieces you have been eyeing in and out.
  6. Be flexible with spending on shoes. A good pair of shoes can last you such a long time if you take care of them, and you can re-wear them constantly.

P.S- Use our code RTRSOMETHINGNAVY for $100 off your 60-day trial with Rent The Runway!

A few tips I love while shopping…
  1. Neutral colors feel more elevated, expensive and chic.
  2. ZARA and ASOS are the best places to shop not only for basics but when wanting some trendier pieces that won’t break the bank.
  3. There is nothing cooler than a hand me down. I layer my mom’s vintage gold jewelry like it’s my job. Not only does vintage give your outfit a “cool girl” edge, but it adds meaning and something unique to your personal style.
  4. Sneakers are your best friend and can go with everything. I consider a good white sneaker a basic. Honestly, I would wear a cool pair of sneakers on my wedding day… jk but not really.
  5. Layer, layer, layer! Adding dimension to your outfit can make the most simple pieces look chic and cool. I’m loving the oversized button-down under the sweater trend (ASOS and Storets are mastering this).
  6. Transition this to spring or summer with a pair of denim cutoffs and a cute ballet flat or mule.

Here is a break down of 5 days of fashion with me… SNHQ Edition!

Outfit 1

Head to toe Zara! I love pairing something feminine with something edgy, which is why I paired this dress with a chunky black lug sole boot. I would 100% re-wear this outfit in the spring without the tights!


Budget Breakdown

Dress: Zara ~$45.00
Tights: Zara ~$15.00
Boots: Zara $149.00
Total: ~$209.00

Outfit 2

A pair of Converses have been a staple in my wardrobe literally since elementary school. I seriously think I had at least 5 different colors as a child. The brown velvet with pink lining/laces is forever ingrained in my brain, ha. Now, I styled them with an all-black outfit and a navy coat. The jeans have a slight flared raw hem and I threw a beanie on to complete the look. This was a very “me” outfit.


Budget Breakdown

Beanie: Brandy Melville ~$20.00
Jacket: Vince via Rent The Runway
Sweater: H&M ~$30.00
Jeans: Just Black Denim ~$60.00
Sneakers- Converse $55.00
Bag: AREA via Rent The Runway
Total: ~$165.00 + a Rent The Runway membership, which is SO WORTH IT!


Outfit 3

More Zara, of course. It is an ongoing joke at SN that all I wear is black… which is not entirely false! Black makes up the majority of my wardrobe. I just like the way I feel in it! For some reason it always makes me feel the most put together and myself. Two things I love… leather and a puff sleeve!


Budget Breakdown

Dress: Zara ~$60.00
Tights: Zara ~$15.00
Boots: Frye $298.00
Total: ~$373.00


Outfit 4

I love pairing a blazer with a hoodie if you couldn’t tell from my OOTDs lately, ha! H&M makes the comfiest sweatshirts in the best variety of colors. I literally bought this sweatshirt in 6 colors and they are my uniform both on and off duty!


Budget Breakdown

Hoodie: H&M $24.99
Blazer: Derek Lam 10 Crosby via Rent The Runway
Pants: Zara $39.90
Boots: Doc Marten $139.00

Side note: I have seriously had the same pair since my senior year of high school… Pro tip: if you have the patent material, wipe them with Windex regularly and they look good as new and you don’t have to go through breaking in a new pair!
Total: ~$204.00 + a Rent The Runway membership

Outfit 5

This styling was definitely influenced by what I have been seeing on the runway and the incredible street style during this past NYFW. I kept seeing a knit sweater tied around the neck and shoulder area, whether that be tied in the front or crossbody and I fell in love and found it so chic. Here is my take on it!


Budget Breakdown

Sweater: H&M ~$30.00
Shirt: ASOS $32.00
Pants: Topshop ~$60.00
Sneakers: Stuart Weitzman $295.00
Total: ~$417.00

PS: *These are editorially selected, but if you purchase, Something Navy may get something in return. Thanks

By Sydney Mastrandrea

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