The phrase "shopping on a budget" means different things to different people. To some, a $20 budget might only buy a tube of lipstick. For others, it can buy an entire dress. Fashion aficionado Tim Gunn
can tell you what it won't buy. "Not to sound disparaging toward anyone, but when people cite J.Crew as budget shopping—it really isn't," he says.
Long before Project Runway
, one of Gunn's students at Parsons The New School for Design reminded him of what budget shopping means. "I can remember during my teaching days a very sobering moment in class," Gunn says. "We were having a discussion, and one of my students from upstate New York said, 'I just want all of you to know'—meaning all of you in the class—'where I grew up, the Gap was considered exotic shopping. For me, going to the Gap was like going to Bergdorf Goodman because the only other options we had were Wal-Mart and Kmart.' She said it was a specialty store, so don't knock it, everybody."
Gunn is sharing his fashion advice for every budget, advice anyone can benefit from. "I'm all for budget shopping, no matter how deep your pockets may be," he says. "I really feel people who shop on a budget and who are mindful of that make better decisions than people who just can spend recklessly—because that's exactly what they do. They end up having reckless items that really don't work together."For the generous budgetFor the moderate budgetFor the nonexistent budget