How Do You Dress Nice When You Don’t Have Nice Clothes?

You’re going to a classy event, but you don’t have any nice clothes. You don’t have the money to buy anything new, and you really don’t want to ask anyone to borrow anything. How do you dress appropriately for the occasion?

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The problem you’re facing
  • A solution that won’t cost you anything
  • Benefits of this method
  • Drawbacks of this method
  • Your next step toward dressing nicely without spending a lot of money

Wear quality pieces that you have and can afford.

Consider your wardrobe as a whole, and decide what your go-to look is. Do you feel most confident in a dress? A blazer over a crisp white shirt? A nice pair of jeans and a button-down top? If you’re not sure, try putting on all of your clothes from the past year (yes, all of them) and seeing what you gravitate towards—this will help you figure out what your favorite outfit is. Once you have this figured out, start to shop for that single outfit, but don’t stop there! Continue to purchase more pieces like these when they come up in stores. You’ll start building up separate outfits around that one piece so it becomes clear what style works best for you.

Invest in a few items each season or as you can afford to.

When you have a limited budget, it’s important to invest in items that will last and are versatile. If you can’t afford an item at full price, wait for the sales or look for discounts. It’s also important to buy when you need something and can’t do without it; don’t just buy clothes because they are on sale. Having some nice pieces of clothing is only going to help you look like a million bucks.

Look for quality basics at thrift stores.

Goodwill and other thrift shops are loaded with quality basics. Sweaters, dress shirts, jackets and jeans fill the racks, but it can be tough to sort through the mess of merchandise to find the good stuff you need. Take your time perusing the racks. Look for signs of quality: clean seams, buttons that don’t show wear or look cheap and a nice fabric that looks like it will last.

There’s nothing more frustrating than finding what looks like a great sweater or jacket only to put it on at home and realize it’s two sizes too big (or too small). When shopping for clothes at a thrift store, always try on the garment before purchasing. If something doesn’t fit right when you’re trying it on at a store, chances are very high that you won’t be able to make do with it later on. Trying things on might seem like an inconvenience when you can just as easily try them on once you get home from your shopping trip but trust me—you’ll thank yourself later for taking just a few extra moments to try something new out before buying it.

Don’t buy clothes just because they are cheap or on sale.

When you are shopping, also think about why you are buying an item. The idea is that you should buy clothes that fit into your current wardrobe and will add value to your style. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you find a beautiful dress for $10, but ask yourself if the dress fits into your lifestyle. If it doesn’t, then even at $10, the dress is too expensive for you. By following this rule of thumb (or any other rules of thumb), I have found that I am more content with my wardrobe and how it reflects my personal style. This helps me feel more confident and allows me to focus more on other facets of my life instead of what I’m wearing.

Take a look at your shopping history and evaluate it.

The first step to achieving a look you love is to perform an evaluation of your past shopping choices. You should take as long as you need with this process, because it’s important to make sure that you are honest and thorough when considering why you’ve made the choices that you have. Have you bought anything that really excites you? Have there been any purchases in the past year or so that have helped make your life better? Do any particular brands/stores come up repeatedly during this exercise? What do they say about who you are as a person and what sorts of aesthetics appeal to you? Are there any items in your closet from your teenage years that have survived through years of use and still feel relevant today? If so, why do these pieces still work for you?

If none of these things seem like the case for your closet—if all of the items inside it seem like they were purchased based on price or convenience rather than because they truly spoke to your tastes—then we can expand our scope. Think about relatives or friends who have closets full of clothing whose style resonates with yours. Take a good look at their clothes—what do they wear well? What do they tend not to wear at all, but keep around anyway “just in case” something comes up where it would be useful (hint: if something hasn’t been worn in the last six months, it’s safe to get rid of it). How can their strengths inform what sort of clothing will best suit your needs while minimizing purchases that will just sit around gathering dust until they’re tossed out without remorse in a year or two?

Use your accessories, hairstyles, and makeup to your advantage.

You can also use your accessories, hairstyles, and makeup to your advantage. This is a great way to take your look up a notch without breaking the bank.

Accessories like scarves or jewelry can be a fun way to add some color and interest to your outfits.

Feel free to mix it up and experiment with different styles until you find what works for you.

Your hair can be another way for you to stand out and add some style or flair. Try different hairstyles until you find one that makes you feel confident. Some ideas include messy buns, braids, or high ponytails.

If you wear makeup, try adding an extra color of eyeshadow in the corners of your eyes or along your cheekbones—this will make it appear as if the sun is hitting them at just the right angle.

Be a minimalist when it comes to color – black and white (and neutrals) are your best friends!

In general, the best thing you can do is stick to a simple color palette. Black and white clothing is generally a safe bet. If you don’t have much in your closet, it’s probably black or white. If you’re not wearing enough of these colors, pick up a few more pieces that are predominantly these hues. The reason black and white is so useful as a base to build on is because they’re universally slimming (and really chic). These two colors are also extremely versatile—you can wear them with anything else! It’s also one of the most classic combinations; think of tuxedos, little black dresses, and classic movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Think about the celebrities who are always best dressed—they almost always wear black and white outfits on the red carpet.

If you want to add color, look into adding accessories! A colorful scarf or pair of earrings will do wonders for your outfit without breaking the bank! You’ll also be able to play around with different accessories every time you dress if you have neutrals as your base instead of having an outfit that only gets worn once because it has so many patterns or prints integrated into it.

Good fashion doesn’t have to come from an expensive store.

It’s no surprise that fashion often comes at a steep price. But you can find nice clothes without breaking the bank. Thrift stores have been gaining popularity in recent years, and there’s good reason for it—there are some real steals to be found there. Hidden gems, if you will. The next time you go thrifting, keep your eye out for a pair of jeans with classic lines or a blazer with nice detailing. You’ll find that these versatile pieces are easy to dress up or down depending on the occasion—and who doesn’t want options?

If thrifting seems too daunting, try checking out your local department store for deals on simple basics like t-shirts and button-ups. While not all high street brands are known for their high quality clothing (think: H&M), there are some big ones that produce garments that wear well and last longer than one season (think: Uniqlo). In fact, Uniqlo is so confident about their products that they offer free alterations on pants purchased at their stores.

When shopping at any store—department store or otherwise—look for items made from natural fabrics like cotton or wool as opposed to synthetic fabrics like polyester or rayon. Natural fibers tend to be more durable than synthetic ones, which will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to replace them as frequently.


If you’re a man or woman who likes to dress well, but are on a budget and just can’t afford all the “right” clothes, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve broken down how to take your affordable wardrobe pieces and style them in ways that will make people think you got them from a high-end boutique. Now that we’ve shown you the ropes of looking like a million bucks without spending it, go out there and wow those who matter with your fresh style!


  • What does it mean to dress nice?
  • What do you wear over a nice dress?
  • What does it mean to dress up?
  • What are good dress websites?

The best place for high-quality dresses is likely going to be an actual store, but if you’re wanting to buy a dress online, here are some options: ModCloth, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx. You can also do a Google search with keywords describing the specific style or function you want the dress to serve. For example “trendy work dresses” or “formal sundresses.” Can’t find what you’re looking for on any of these sites? Try searching Etsy and eBay! There’s often some great stuff there that would fall under the category of “nice.” (Assuming you know exactly what kind of nice you’re looking for. If not…well, that’s OK too.) Finally, if all else fails and nothing in your closet will suffice, there’s always Amazon! You might end up being pleasantly surprised at the quality of the clothing there. With Prime shipping too! Talk about speedy delivery service for when things get dire. Alrighty then…moving on…

  • What are good dress shoe brands?

Your footwear can make or break any outfit—if your shoes are beat up and dirty, even the most beautiful bespoke suit will look ragged. The bad news is that quality shoes cost money; the good news is that they also tend to last forever. If your outfit needs a lift in classiness, try accessorizing—or investing in—some wingtips from Allen Edmonds (which can often be purchased secondhand). Or if loafers aren’t your thing and you prefer sneakers instead (you rebel), give Puma Fenty Rihanna Creeper Platforms a shot; they’re worth every penny just because they were designed by Rihanna herself (and way cheaper than

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