The Moment of Truth: When You’re Ballin’ On a Budget (PLUS BUDGET-FRIENDLY SHOPPING GUIDE)

OK, let’s get the elephant out the room. I am not spending countless amounts of money on my outfits. I could easily lie and act like I’m dropping it like it’s hot, buying stuff left and right, waiting to show it off. However, that simply is not the case.

Shopping on a budget is my go-to move..always. I don’t want to lie to you, and act like I’m a Public Figure (WHATEVER THAT MEANS) who has it made in the shade. On second thought, I do have a job, food to eat, a place to live and clothes to wear. HMMMM. In all seriousness, I think you get where I am going though.

Subjective Fashion is really just a fun side hobby. During the day, I am a marketing professional working for a large corporation who enjoys stylin’ the most when he’s outside of work. I’m turning 24, which means I am a millennial, and I’m not on Forbes 40 Under 40 (yet).

What does that mean? Well, the average millenial is “fake adulting” or penny-pinching because wages for entry-level jobs continue to dwindle. Thus, I don’t own Gucci hoodies, Saint Laurent boots and Givenchy overcoats. I’m king brandless. And I’m repping that moniker to the fullest.

I’m guessing my average reader is around my age and makes DECENT money (the word decent is relative). You may not wear designer items, but maybe you do. Regardless, as much as I enjoy goin’ shopping for clothes, I am extremely cognizant of my personal finances.

Again, I love stylin’ and putting outfits together, but I don’t want fashion to become an addiction. I could be totally overreacting, but essentially, I want fashion to be an outlet in which I express myself, and I do not want to get caught up in the hype.


If you try to keep up with “X” influencer on IG two things will happen. 1.) I’ll judge you for jocking someone else’s style. Get your own. 2.) Many “well-known” influencers are usually paid for their posts, and you aren’t. Heck, I’m not LOL. So spending all your cash on brand “a”, all to impress someone or some brand…in the long run just is not a good idea. Just stay in your lane. Maybe you should stop doing it for the gram and do it for your savings account that read $0 yesterday!

Now just ’cause I’d rather spend money on an experience like traveling or going to a Bucks game does not mean I haven’t spent a pretty penny on my wardrobe before. In college, I REALLY wanted some foams. So who dropped $220 on some Foams? Yep, I did. Just a few weeks ago, I decided I REALLY wanted some new Chelsea boots. So who spent some bread on some new Chelsea boots? Yep, I did.

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Here lies the gold foams (I don’t even own these anymore. Not versatile enough)


It’s not even that the boots were that expensive, ’cause they weren’t. But for someone who’s a dweeb about personal finances and always trying to find a bang for his buck, you better bet your bottom dollar I was like “So how much will these boots cost me again?” If I can express myself through fashion, but not break my piggy bank, I’m all for it.

MIlwaukee Fashion Blogger
These were the boots I just mentioned as a BTW (shot by @amodm_ )

At the end of the day it is not what you wear, but how you wear what you own. Peace, love and style.

With that being said, here is a guide for you budget-friendly people who want quality goods at reasonable prices. I have shopped at most of the stores at least once.  I will also include places I may not have shopped at just to give you the lay of the land. If you see any stores or retailers I should add, please let me know.



You probably utilize Amazon for everyday items, books, groceries, etc., but did you realize the amount of stuff you can cop for the low low on here? Gear is usually marked well-below retail value on Amazon, and based on their algorithm, you might catch something at a price point so low you activate 1-Click.

Having a plethora of reviews and free returns is also a big deal. The brands currently on Amazon are somewhat limited, but there are some steals if you do enough prowling.

ASOS is a British online fashion and beauty store. Primarily aimed at young adults, Asos sells over 850 brands as well as its own range of clothing and accessories. TIDBIT OF THE YEAR: You can order a year’s worth of 2-day shipping for all orders (no minimum) for ONLY $19. So if it’s Tuesday night and you remember you wanted to spruce up your look for Friday or Saturday night, you can buy some clothes and have them at your doorstep by Friday.

Their items on sale are golden too. Not just dead inventory they’re trying to get rid of in anticipation of a new season. Legitimate stuff. I would recommend buying jeans from here as the quality is always superb and the fit across brands is consistent. I also like how they have different tiers for jeans (slim, skinny, super skinny, extreme super skinny). Hoodies, outerwear, suits and accessories are also prime on ASOS. 60% of my wardrobe probably derives from ASOS! Did I mention free returns? And PLUS + Tall sizes!


From exclusive statement apparel, simple separates, fabulous shoes and accessories, Boohoo is one of the world’s fastest growing online shopping destinations. Providing countless looks for any occasion on a budget, hundreds of new pieces are uploaded weekly! TIDBIT: This retailer always provides HUGE discounts (around 40% off AT LEAST).

But, be weary of these huge discounts. From my experience buying a longline bomber, their quality is debatable. I just replaced my booHoo bomber with an ADPT bomber on ASOS that cost a bunch more. Check to see if there are reviews available too! If you aren’t huge on quality, you can find overcoats and other items at a great price.


Buy and sell electronics, cars, fashion apparel, collectibles, sporting goods, digital cameras, baby items, coupons, and everything else on eBay. I know, I know. Another curveball for you. This may be one of the most underrated retailers for your wardrobe. However, I’ve bought pocket squares, flower lapels, gym shoes and casual sneakers on eBay. The list goes on.

Most of the time the items are far below retail value too, since it’s Consumer-to-Consumer (for the most part). Shoe releases from years ago + clothing that’s outdated (think vintage 90s) is also prevalent on eBay. Don’t sleep on it! Just be careful who you are buying from ’cause people be snakin’.


Express, Inc. is an American fashion retailer that caters mainly to young women and men. For some reason, I could never get down with Express. When I think of Express, I think of Stephen Curry rocking a suit he’s endorsing with some weird shoes. I don’t know. That’s just me.

There seems to be an emphasis on dressy attire here, and “dressing up” does not happen frequently for me. I want items where I am comfortable (like hoodies and joggers). Nonetheless, if you want to shop at a retailer with somewhat reasonable prices and OK gear then do you.

Forever 21

Forever 21 is an American fast fashion retailer with its headquarters in Los Angeles, California. So I’ve been shopping at Forever 21 since high school. And I told you how old I was prior so I’ve been shopping here for a minute! As I have become more cognizant of quality over quantity, I’ve definitely noticed Forever 21’s clothes can be rather flimsy. Throwing “x” in the washing machine could leave your clothes looking worn out after the fifth wash.

However, I would highly recommend purchasing short-sleeved hoodies and long-sleeved hoodies, flannels, denim jackets and jeans from Forever 21. These items have held up over time for me. Forever 21 also collaborates with brands like Jordan Craig, Cease & Desist and Trust The Son and features items at higher-than-usual price points. Their sales online are far better than the sales in-store, especially if your Forever 21 location is smaller.

Milwaukee Fashion Blogger
One of two denim jackets from Forever 21 (shot by @benkustos)


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My other denim jacket & short-sleeved hoodie from Forever 21 (shot by @wistomsin)


I can’t discuss budget-friendly without discussing Goodwill. Home of the nth-hand goods. The quality of some items might be far lower than other retailers on this list (for good reason). However, I’ve purchased a vintage cap and shirt (among other items) from here in good condition. Depending on where the Goodwill is located, you could find some SUPER STEALS.

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H&M offers fashion and quality at the best price in a more sustainable way. I’ve been shopping here even longer than Forever 21 and I’m 95% sure it is my favorite store ever. From dress shirts, longline hoodies, Chelsea boots, bombers, sunglasses, etc., you can never go wrong shopping at H&M.

Their quality is far superior than most retailers on this list. I have dress shirts I bought years ago with collars that are still holding up. You can even get 20% off your purchase if you sign up for their newsletters via email. H&M offers the highest quality items from top to bottom without a doubt.

Nordstrom Rack 

Where style meets savings. Shop online or in store for brands you love at up to 70% off. Nordstrom Rack is the outlet version of Nordstrom. You can find a plethora of brand name items at a phenomenal price. I was tired of carrying around a fat old wallet, so I bought a leather Calvin Klein card case for $12. Yes, $12. Prices like these are hard to pass up!


Sean (@smoothie513) mentioned the steals he finds at Macy’s, especially as it pertains to the clearance racks. Lord knows we all flock to the clearance rack when we’re shopping at a big box retailer. I used to waltz around Macy’s like I owned the place, but then quietly scurried to the clearance rack like it was nobody’s business. This is definitely a retailer worth considering if you want some prominent and lesser-known brands to consider when shopping. Glad I was given this recommendation.


Your Milwaukee neighborhood source for clothing, footwear and accessories since 2004. Ahhhhhh, MODA3. How could I forget you (recently added after the post was published)? There’s a plethora of items to select from in MODA3.

A lot of their product is for the “skater/boarder” crowd if I had to take a wild guess, but that doesn’t mean these pieces can’t be rocked by John Doe. There’s always, and I mean always, shoes on sale. That’s actually how I picked up some Asics Gel Lyte iii for only $60. Shoes, clothes, accessories – MODA3 has a great selection to choose from and you don’t have to eat beans the rest of the week if you do purchase something from here.

Old Navy 

I only recall buying 3 pair of dress socks from here last winter. Those dress socks are still in great shape! I can’t speak to other items in the store, but Old Navy seems like it would be the younger brother of Express. With far less money in his pocket. If you sign up for their emails, you can receive 30% off your purchase. Solid deal.

Plato’s Closet

DO NOT SLEEP ON PLATO’S CLOSET. If Goodwill had an older sibling who cared more about their image, it’d be Plato’s Closet. This place is brand-heavy, but there are some steals on the racks if you have a good eye. I’ve bought shirts from H&M, and I believe Forever 21 from Plato’s Closet.

Additionally, the amount of hoodies and jackets at Plato’s closet is kind of crazy, along with their wide assortment of jeans (albeit not many slim/skinny jeans). On the flip side, if you want to sell clothes you can do exactly that at Plato’s. Don’t expect a huge return though. They squeeze prices as much as possible.


Sean (@smoothie513) also recommended Target for certain staples that can be paired with gear from other stores. This was NEWS to me. I always envision mommy bloggers with their one perfect child strolling through the aisle looking for plain Chobani yogurt and flaxseed. Never would’ve thought to consider Target as a destination to find some decent clothes. I do recall an OK watch collection a few years ago. Looks like I will have to make a trip to Target sometime soon.


I’ve never really been a frequent TOPMAN shopper. That may be due to no Wisconsin locations. Or maybe because I feel like I can find everything in TOPMAN’s rotation in some capacity at H&M. Nonetheless, just from walking into the stores and viewing their gear online, TOPMAN seems to offer quality items at reasonable prices.

TOPMAN - Milwaukee Fashion Blogger
Helpful information about TOPMAN

Urban Outfitters

Chain with a hipster vibe known for on-trend fashions, accessories & quirky home-decor items. Surprisingly enough, I have never bought anything from Urban Outfitters except my backpack. They sell well-known brands like Champion, PUMA and FILA – as well as their own brand. I can attest to “on-trend” fashions based on the cross-body bag I found on their website. Their sale section is filled with a wide array of items too!


Zara, the first Inditex brand, prides itself on bringing up-to-the-moment fashions to its customers, at the right place and moment. If TOPMAN and H&M had a child, it’d be Zara.

How did I come to that conclusion if I’ve never bought anything from this store? Well, my friend, after reviewing their outerwear section it is clear they do NOT ignore quality based on the materials and build of the coats and jackets. Keep in mind that they pass off the high quality in their prices. I saw coats as expensive as $300 on their website. Well worth the price tag though.

Now I’m itching to purchase a coat from here after doing some research. Oops, this is a shopping guide for you. Their other items seem to be a bit pricier, but again, the quality seems outstanding. If you own something from Zara and disagree then please let me know in the comments!

The End

I hope this guide’s been helpful. If you have any other stores in mind then let me know so I can add them. PEACE, LOVE AND STYLE (FOR LESS).

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