Tom Ford made a great point when he said that “dressing well is a form of good manners” –meaning that a person’s clothes are a reflection of both respect towards others and of self-respect. There’s a lot you can tell about what someone makes of themselves and of others by the way they dress. Ford also explained that great style does not have to do a lot with money, that one can look cheap in expensive clothes and that you can also look fantastic if you’re on a budget. Surely, having close to no money makes the task more difficult, but generally speaking, you can look great even if you don’t have lots of clothes in your closet.

Thrift Stores

Thrift stores, thrift stores, thrift stores. These are your best friends for value. You can get some incredible bargains at thrift stores. Most of them have pretty hard maximum prices within their various categories — so, for example, a men’s wool suit with no obvious damage might automatically be priced at $25, regardless of whether it’s a Gap suit that originally cost $75 or a Brooks Brothers that cost $600.

The big disadvantage of thrift stores is, of course, the selection, which is why you need to approach them with reasonable expectations. Be ready to make a lot of trips that don’t turn up anything. Remember, you need to find something that’s both useful stylistically and in your size, or at least close enough that you can adjust it to your size. You can often find the best pickings at thrift stores near the nicest neighborhoods and suburbs. Don’t just limit yourself to Goodwill — lots of private businesses run thrift stores, as well as various charities.

Keep an open mind

It’s also important to keep an open mind while reviewing your options. Maybe you have that shirt from a previous impulse buy and you have no idea why you bought it. Sometimes, it may be the case that you don’t really have what to do with an item. In these cases, you can maybe repurpose it by having it reconstructed by a tailor (think of the upcycling trend) or maybe you can rethink the way you put outfits together. There are many interesting combinations you can go for: think of the mixing high and low idea or of incorporating workwear into your looks. Workwear can be fashionable too, especially if you style it up with dressier pieces and quality accessories. For example, think of a pair of workshop pants: put together with a cool dress shirt and suspenders, they turn into a holiday piece.

Go for the basics/classics

Another great tip is that, when you go shopping, opt for classic and basic pieces, which you will then style up with smaller ones or with accessories (for example a classic pants-shirt outfit can be styled up with a great tie, a watch and a belt or with colorful socks). The idea is that you can never go wrong with a classic. When shopping, always opt for the basic items first, those you can match with anything and won’t force you to put on something specific. You need to have a list of essentials in your wardrobe, things you can always fall back to.

Be careful with online shopping

If you want to make the very best of the clothes you buy, it’s important to make the wisest decisions. When it comes to online shopping, this is always full of risks, as you never know how the piece will eventually look on you. If you do get a piece that doesn’t fit, returns can be a hassle and you’ll already have wasted time and money. This is why you should opt for shopping from stores as you can try out the item and see the fit, plus you get a good feel of the material.

As a tip, you can try on something in a store and then, if you find it at a better price online, order it from there.

It’s the fit that counts

Some people make the mistake of assuming that just because a piece of clothing isn’t expensive, it’s automatically bad. In the end, it all comes down to how the piece of clothing looks on you, really. You can buy an expensive shirt that looks awful on you. On the other hand, at an outlet mall you can get something for third the price that is a perfect fit and looks much better than the expensive one. Always pay more attention to the fit and overall appearance first.

In conclusion, it can be said that looking good is not hard if you think clearly about your outfits: make sure you have some basic items that look great and that you can style these up with some accessories that showcase your personality. Ties, bow ties, pocket squares, scarves, hats and watches all have the power to make or break an outfit.

Investing not just money, but also energy in yourself is definitely worth it, as looking good will also make you feel good, which will give you a better attitude and put you in a better mood. And that’s what fashion is all about.