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!
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?! 😉
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, making them barely visible in your shoes. Win, win!
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!
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!
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 are way too big, and the low density is for the ones that 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.
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 use the code “HMPPH” to sign up! There are some serious deals to be had on that app….