7 Items that every bargainista needs - betweentheracks.com

This is probably going to be one of my most useful posts EVER. I’ll start by stating the obvious about me: I don’t like paying retail. If I could walk into Neiman Marcus and try on every shoe and buy anything I wanted, this post probably wouldn’t exist. However, I prefer to score 90% off deals, and a lot of it is done online, which means that not everything I get will be perfect. I have rounded up all of my tips and tricks on how I make my items work on a budget (that require little to no skills, unlike sewing…I have a tailor for that)! A lot are obvious, but I think these are essentials for anyone who shops like me. All items can also be purchased on Amazon (free 2-day Prime shipping anyone??), and may even make some good gifts for fellow bargain-hunting friends…

Last month, my trusty steamer broke after 3 years on constant use. I immediately bought another one, and couldn’t live without it. I own a lot of silk tops that I found for cheap, and the biggest pain was having them wrinkled. It’s not as easy to iron silk as it is cotton, so I went ahead and purchased a Rowenta travel steamer. This thing goes everywhere with me. It works best on silk and thin cotton, so if you wear a lot of flannel, stick to ironing. It doesn’t hold a ton of water, so it will only do 1 or 2 shirts before you have to fill it up again, but it’s quick and easy to do and use. You can get it through Amazon for $22, or from Target for $30.

I’ve mentioned this stuff quite a bit in previous posts, and for good reason: it’s so useful. It can keep that pesky wrap-top in place to keep it from showing too much, keep straps over your bra straps to make sure they don’t peek out, hold a perfectly cuffed sleeve in place, hem pants in a jiffy….seriously, it’s useful. I keep a package of the Commando Matchsticks fashion tape in my purse at all times for emergency-use (ex. in case a button pops off or won’t stay in place). For delicate fabrics, I use the Commando tape, but if I need something to really stay in place with denim or a thick fabric, I use Topstick tape. It’s meant to keep on a man’s toupee, but hey…it works wonders. I used this to help keep my wedding dress in place!

7 Items that every bargainista needs - betweentheracks.com

This gem was my most recent purchase, and it made my sweaters look brand new! I was hesitant to purchase one of these and I was afraid I would manage to ruin my sweaters, or it wouldn’t work very well. I am SO thankful I gave in, because I sat down for a few hours and used it on all my sweaters…I was having fun believe it or not! I used it on everything from cheap acrylic to cashmere. I showed a before and after of one of my Equipment cashmere sweaters that had a lot of pilling (after only a couple minutes of using the de-fuzzer). As the reviews talked about, the Conair model I got does need some management of the fuzz. The compartment fills up fast, and the fuzz also gets stuck in the head. I cleaned it out 3 times per sweater (after each side and the sleeves). It’s a bit of a pain, but it worked miracles, so I was fine with it. I can’t comment on long-term use yet, but I already feel that I got my $13 worth. This has also made me completely OK with buying a previously-owned sweater that has pilling. After all, it just means I’ll get it for an even bigger discount, right?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

7 Items that every bargainista needs - betweentheracks.com

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As I mentioned, buying secondhand online sometimes means that the shoes doesn’t fit perfectly. Heel liners and foot pads can be used to solve the issue of a shoe being a bit too large. I have used these heel liners on a ton of my shoes, and will use them on plenty more in the future. These aren’t exactly revolutionary, but there is a key to making them work best. I had tried heel liners in the past, but my foot was still slipping. Why is it different now? The ones I was using were covered in fabric, and the ones I use now are gel. It is VERY important to get the gel heel liners, because otherwise, your heel will still slide out! Not only are they cheap, but they are also clear,ย making them barely visible in your shoes. Win, win!

7 Items that every bargainista needs - betweentheracks.com

Now that you know how to fix a shoe that’s a tad to big, what do you do about the ones that are a tad too small? Stretch them, of course. A friend told me about this trick a couple years ago, and I’ve never looked back. You can get this done at a cobbler, but being able to control it yourself makes a huge difference (a cobbler may stretch them too much). I got this pair of shoe stretchers for $24 that stretches both the length and the width (a bit nicer version can be found here for $43, which I will probably invest in if my current ones ever break). You stretch the shoe as much or as little as you please, and leave it for 24 hours. It works on patent, regular leather, or suede, and you can stretch a shoe up to one size. I have used it to stretch the length and toe area of my Louboutins that were just a bit small. This also works amazing if you have one foot that’s slightly bigger than the other (like me), so if you buy the version to fit the smaller foot, you can slightly stretch the other one to make it perfect!

7 Items that every bargainista needs - betweentheracks.com

I bought some boots last year that I loved, but barely buckled around the ankle. I thought they would stretch out eventually, and they were such a good deal, so of course I had to get them. Well, the ankles didn’t stretch out…I was on The Purse Forum asking if Nordstrom Rack (where I bought them) could punch extra holes in them, and someone mentioned I should get a leather puncher. DUH. Why hadn’t I thought of that?? 2 days and $18 later, I had my leather puncher, and boots that fit around the ankle. It has a range of hole sizes, and it incredibly easy to use (it’s hard to mess up). It makes a clean punch that looks like it was done by a professional. Tommy has also enjoyed getting to punch some more holes in his belts!

7 Items that every bargainista needs - betweentheracks.com

The most questionable item in this set is clearly the roll of foam tape – and I actually have 2 of them. What is it for? Hats. In my new obsession for hats, I’ve discovered that the one-size option is usually too big on my head. Since I’m cheap, I haven’t bought many hats that actually have size options. I looked for some hat sizers, and basically found a few inch piece of foam tape for $5. Instead, I spent $5 on an entire roll of foam tape that will cover many more hats! I got 2 different kinds of foam tape: a high density and a low density. The high density is for the hats that areย way too big, and the low density is for the ones thatย almost fit (it compresses a lot easier). I cut a few inch strip, and stuck it in the back of a hat. Voila! They fit me, and don’t blow off in the wind. The foam may not stick forever (it’s not super-duper sticky), but after all, that’s why you have an entire roll at your disposal. I have worn my hats 3-4 times so far, and the tape is still going strong.

7 Items that every bargainista needs - betweentheracks.com

Now, if you put all of these in your Amazon cart, you’ll end up with over a $100 total. While that may seem like a lot (I bought mine over a period of a few years), I have saved more than that on ONE pair of shoes I’ve bought secondhand. To me, these are things I’ll always need to keep buying on a budget! I would love to hear any one else’s experience with these products, or if they have found other versions that they like better! Plus, I’m always up for learning you’re tools and tricks you use to make your budget-friendly finds work.

PS. Speaking of budget shopping, everyone knows I use Poshmark. For a limited time, they are offering $10 (instead of $5) off your first purchase if you useย the code “HMPPH” to sign up! There are some serious deals to be had on that app….

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31 Responses

    1. Aw yay thanks! The defuzzer is definitely one of my favorite things now. I just bought another sweater on Poshmark the other day that showed pilling so the price was low, and I can’t wait to defuzz it!

    1. The steamer is the oldest thing on this list, and I’m in love! I wish I would have known about the shoe stretchers before…I’ve passed up on great deals for shoes that are too small! It helps so much!

  1. Alicia

    Great tips!! I love my sweater shaver. It’s actually soothing to use and watch the sweater look like new again. Now I need this shoe stretcher!!

  2. Reading your post took me back to my days in theatrical costuming. All of the tools you mentioned are things we used on a regular basis and I never thought about how much I would need it in my own wardrobe until something happened and I didn’t have the right tools to properly fix things! Steamers, shoe stretching supplies, and pretty much everything you mentioned are essential to maintain keep your wardrobe in tip top shape!

    I would also suggest if you need to iron your clothes, use a mix of half water and half vodka to spray on the clothes to get the wrinkles out as much as possible. This mix also helps deodorize clothes and works better than Febreeze. You can also tape the foam tape on the other side of the sweatband to help cover it up.

    Great ideas and thanks for sharing these tips to help people upkeep things properly!

    1. Wow, I never even thought about these being used in costuming, but it makes total sense! I have definitely come to find that as much as I like to buy everything perfect, there’s something fun about finding something for a good price and being able to tweak it to your needs.

      I’ll have to try that tip with the iron! Although I need to buy some vodka first haha ๐Ÿ˜‰ That’s awesome that it deodorizes the clothing too. That will come in handy! Thanks so much for your response and the tips! I love hearing that people use these already and have successes as well!

  3. Jessica

    So many great tips on here!! I’m definitely going to pick up some of these items-I need a leather punch and this one looks perfect!

  4. Also love heavy duty sewing needles, for replacing buttons on jeans, cords, and suede. I once scored a pair of Armani cords for $15 because the button was missing. Easy fix.


    With heavy gauge needles, you also need a spool or two of heavy thread.


    XOXO, Rebecca

  5. So 1. I really think you are my spirit animal (person) and I intend on writing you a very long email or comment to tell you all about it but I’m in my business law class (aka on posh of course) so I don’t have much time and 2. What was the original steamer you had for 3 years that broke (assuming it’s not a portable?) please let me know I really need one!

    1. Haha, thanks Amanda!! I look forward to the email/comment ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had the same Rowenta travel steamer previously, but it was just an older model. It was a little different, in that I used to hold the steam button down continuously when you use it, but the new version is more of a “pump every 3 seconds” sort of thing. It works just as good though ๐Ÿ™‚ I am looking into a large Rowenta steamer that’s not portable to keep in my closet, but I haven’t gotten around to purchasing one yet.

  6. Jen

    I bought the shoe-stretchers, and they have made such a huge difference. I can actually wear my louboutins (I’ve now stretched 3 pairs) without cursing at them after a couple hours. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

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