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Money Talk with Nimi: Can You Be Frugal & Fabulous?



There is a common misconception that you have to spend huge amounts of money to look good. I am no fashion expert but I do know that being well dressed doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you invest some time in careful planning and treat your clothes like an investment, you will be able to stretch available funds and still look amazing.

Here are a few tips that will help you to make the best of what you have and not go broke.

Include clothes in your budget
Behind rent, transportation and food the next big chunk of your budget is likely to be for clothing, particularly for women. A reasonable clothes budget depends on your income and it varies significantly from person to person. What do you want and need in your wardrobe? Do you absolutely have to buy new clothes as soon as you get your salary? How much can you afford to spend on clothes and other fashion accessories. If you create a budget for clothes you will be able to afford them without having to dip into money set aside for other essential purchases.

Organize your wardrobe
Learning to manage your wardrobe has many advantages. It can save you time, make you look stylish and well groomed, and most importantly it can save you money as it makes you make the most of what you already have.

Have you gone out and bought a new top only to find that you already have an almost identical one in your wardrobe? Bring everything out of your wardrobe. You will be surprised to find things tucked away at the back of your wardrobe that you have long forgotten about. Many fashions will come back every few years and some never date. The pair of trousers that has been lost in all the clutter could become a key piece. It is useful to do a clear out every so often so that at least you are aware of what you have and need.

Arrange your clothes for convenience and easy access, properly hung and ready to wear; trousers, jackets, skirts, suits in groups or by colour, this way, you can see at a glance what you have to work with. Have some fun whilst you are at it, and treat your wardrobe like your very own private boutique.

Know what suits you. Have a well-dressed and honest friend go through your closet with you and try things on to get a second opinion. She might even help you to combine pieces that you might never have thought of.

Why not de-clutter your wardrobe and touch some lives by giving away pieces that you haven’t worn in a year. You need to do some spring-cleaning from time to time to keep your clothes in order and simplify your life. These may become someone else’s favorites and bring much joy. Seriously consider this as the festive season draws near.

It’s about quality not quantity
It’s about quality not quantity when it comes to style. Buy the best quality of clothes and accessories that you can afford. Quality lasts longer, looks better, washes better, and ultimately will save you more money than if you buy lots of cheap clothes of inferior quality.

Don’t be tempted to follow fashion trends doggedly, or you will find yourself constantly spending just to keep up. Rather than splashing out on several new outfits every time the fashions change, invest in a few classics. Wardrobe staples such as the proverbial little black dress or other versatile party dress, a navy blue blazer, well tailored trousers and skirts, good quality white shirts, and a smashing pair of jeans are a must have. You can then complement these with a few key pieces. Classic pieces will not date easily and will keep you looking elegant.

Wardrobe Maintenance

Treat your clothes with respect and handle them with care. Follow washing labels and use the best available dry cleaner otherwise the fabric in your clothes will be stripped of their natural sheen. Iron and fold or hang garments up properly with good quality hangers, not the wires you get from returned dry cleaning. Store them appropriately. Your clothes will remain in good condition for so much longer. Women who look after their clothes will always look more stylish and well groomed.

Mix and match
Opt for mix-and-match separates. By using the clothes you already have in new and different combinations, you can give yourself lots of new options without having to buy several new pieces. This will help to curb impulse buying; when you buy on impulse you end up wasting money on things that don’t really go with your existing wardrobe pieces. You could also build a wardrobe around a color scheme of a few colors that look good on you. This will allow you more mix-and-match opportunities.

The power of accessories
Accessories can spruce up the overall look and they are the first things people notice. Invest in a few statement pieces, like brooches, belts, scarves, timepieces or jewelry. If you are a hard core bag lady on a tight budget, a classic statement designer handbag in a restrained colour such as black, brown or blue and without logos plastered all over the bag will get you much farther than a bright one.

Invest in good quality shoes. Some serious back and muscle disorders have been linked to inappropriate, poor quality, or ill-fitting shoes. You don’t want to buy cheap shoes that are bad for your feet only to have to spend a fortune on a chiropractor in later years.

Buy on sale wherever possible
Shopping off-season or in the sales will save you money. Visit your favourite stores just before the end of the sales and earmark some favourites; on the closing days of the sales, many items are slashed even further and you can pick up some really good bargains. Designer “seconds” shops offer quality pieces at affordable prices. But beware of seductive sale prices. Don’t be lured by the 50 percent off tag. Just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean that you have to buy it.

Shop with a list
Be strategic about building your wardrobe and shop with a list. Dressing well demands a good knowledge of your wardrobe and what you need to purchase to compliment your existing choices and lifestyle.

If you shop on impulse and without a list you will easily lose focus and end up buying things that you really don’t need, that you may never wear, and that will not enhance your wardrobe in any way. If you are more selective you will enjoy your wardrobe for much longer.

Pour through fashion magazines and observe well-dressed ladies to identify the looks you seek to achieve. You will find that you already have some key parts of a favourite look. Make a list of some of the things you need that can systematically be added to your existing wardrobe to recreate some of the looks that attracted you. An old piece when combined with a new accessory will suddenly have a new lease of life.

Aso-Ebi – Dare say no?
Do you have to “take aso-ebi” for every friends wedding or event or can you be a bit more selective? It is nice to indulge once in a while and for very close friends and family you might feel “obliged” to show solidarity at a wedding, funeral or other major event; this is really what aso-ebi seeks to achieve. But you must learn to say no if you can’t afford it. Nowadays it is common to have a colour code and you will probably already have something in your wardrobe that lets everyone see that you “belong” without new spending.

The truth is that to a large extent, money has little to do with it. Looking good is all about how you feel about yourself, being fulfilled, and carrying yourself with confidence. Surround yourself with good positive people. Your mood and demeanour when positive will reflect in your appearance much more than the most expensive designer wear in the world. Look after yourself. Drink lots of water, get some sleep and exercise as if your life depends on it. Health is wealth.

Being on a budget and shopping economically doesn’t mean forgoing style. Be creative in looking for new and simple ways to look and feel good. You do want to look the part, but try not to break the bank whilst you are at it!

Photo Credit:

Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private banking and wealth management. She is passionate about encouraging financial independence and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance and wealth management issues. She is married with 3 children.Find out more via

Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private wealth management. She seeks to empower people regarding their finances and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance.


  1. Great

    October 14, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Well said

  2. Oleiray

    October 14, 2013 at 9:59 am

    this is absolutely true…especially about getting rid of clutter. I have a policy of giving out clothes every 3months.that way I know what I have…

  3. Mz Socially Awkward...

    October 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

    “Treat your wardrobe like your very own private boutique”. Absolutely.

    Visiting and following certain good fashion/style blogs can give you really great tips on how to incorporate pieces you already own into different new looks. I decided to stop buying new clothes back in August and to see how I could get more wear out of everything I have in my wardrobe. I’ve been discovering new outfits in the last couple of months.

    Also? Don’t visit shops or the home/car-trunk of that person who brought “things for sale” if you have no business being there. You need to consciously avoid situations and places where you’ll be tempted to spend money you don’t have.

  4. duvy

    October 14, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Great Article Nimi, principles I live by too. Nice read for a Monday morning.

  5. Organics by MelVee

    October 14, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I agree with Nimi 100%!

    The primary motive of any woman should be looking good. And trust me, you can wear a 5k dress and look like a million bucks!

  6. Babe

    October 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Well said. I couldn’t agree more.

    Especially about saying ‘No’ to Aso-ebi. Lol! I have done it before and the friend looked surprised that I didn’t want to ‘do like everybody else’ and just pay for the aso-ebi. We are not that close and besides it was not even for her wedding, but her sister’s wedding. I keep saying ‘no’ to things she trys to sell to me. I don’t feel bad at all, because if I know for sure I’m not going to make use of that product or item, then why should I buy it? The tried that with me when Bodymagic first came out. Person no fit hear word again. Everywhere Bodymagic.So called miracle product to give you curves and boobs while hugging you in all the right places! Yeah right!!! I just was not interested! My good ol’ Spanx which are 4 times cheaper have never let me down. I refused to follow the trend! Now fast forward 2 years later a couple of friends who bought the Bodymagic have dumped the thing ‘cause of frustration plus they admitted to buying it cause of peer pressure.

    Well to each his/her own, but I’m not spending my hard earned money on stuff I know I will regret buying. I have had to learn that ‘No’ is actually a complete sentence.

  7. Aibee

    October 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    This is absolutely true. I periodically declutter my wardrobe, especially after I lost some weight this year. Left the essentials and gave out the rest. And I don’t buy clothes on impulse. I used to but I stopped going anywhere near a clothes store with my atm card. I can’t shout abeg.
    I used to be a victim of aso-ebi madness! A wardrobe filled with lots of sub-par Ankara and laces I can’t wear anywhere else because the colour ran or the style I sewed was too ‘partyish’ for church, Fridays at work etc. Now I don’t buy aso-ebi again oh. Which is why I don’t have a single velvet wrapper in my wardrobe. Imagine buying the aso ebi finish and seeing ghe same fabric in the market for half the price you bought it. Hian! I buy good laces and headties that I can wear anytime within the next 3-5 years without being old school. Got some dresses too for those other events and that’s it. I eat before going to your party so it’s not a case of b’owo Ankara o’je semo (if you aren’t wearing the aso-ebi, no food for you).
    Shoes used to be my vanity. Until you find out you have 6 black pumps – covered and peeptoes. For what na? On a salary of how much? So I made a concerted effort to stop buying shoes, no matter how much of a sale there is. It’s easier giving up the clothes than the shoes for me sha. I’m still dreaming of the black pumps I saw in store the other day and the gold glitter T-bars that will be perfect for the next wedding. It’s a lot of patience restraining myself. Hopefully by Christmas, the prices would have come down some more sha.

  8. Bella Noire

    October 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Great article!

  9. ayo

    October 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Totally Agree especially on the Aso-ebi aspect….that thing drains a lot.

  10. frances

    October 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks a lot.
    Great tips! Especially d asoebi issue.
    Once someone dats not even dat close to u wants 2get married,its “You nor go buy,u nor go buy?” Its not bad but most times,d pressure is sometin else.u collect on credit and wen time reach to pay no money for pocket.we cud save d unavailable cash and wear sometin good u have already instead.look great but don’t use debts to achieve that.
    Thanks 4dis.

  11. Funmie

    October 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    my closet is overstuffed – i don’t remember half of what i have in there… i dont even SEE them #sigh

    off to get me a standing hanger to re-organize 🙂

    …awakening……… LOL

  12. yemi

    October 15, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Thank you so much 4 dis article..God bless u!

  13. Cristin @ Eve of Reduction

    October 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    You make some really great points! Quality is definitely better than quantity because we feel better and will use more something of higher quality. I had to train myself not to buy something just because it was on sale. I really had to want it.

  14. Tamara

    October 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    love love this article… God bless you much!

  15. Ty

    October 22, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I agree with her 100%…….these are very much my philosophies when it comes to clothes and styling

  16. Vivianne's Blog

    October 24, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Yes! I totally agree with all the points made. I wrote an article here: about work style outfit suggestions for
    less than $100. I hope it helps you guys too. xx!

  17. FOTO

    March 6, 2018 at 9:07 am

    I totally agree with all the points made ma. Great read!

    Why buy new arrival clothes & won’t wear until after 6months, meanwhile your pocket has become so lean that you have to seek financial support just to be able to keep body & soul together before the next payday. I find it very funny.

    I declutter my wardrobe every now & then thankfully but I need to be more intentional about it.
    However, an area I need to visit is my Shoes. I’m not a freak but I realized recently that I had bought bigger sizes just because I had to go back to work after having my baby. Apparently, I wasn’t completely back to my postpartum body. What a great disservice to myself! Now, I’m going to have to give them out or sell them…God help me find buyers for the ones not used. Still rocking my old shoes though and in due time, I’d get more lovely shoes in my perfect size & diff colors.

    Last year, I can proudly say I didn’t buy any asoebi as I set it as a goal & was disciplined about it especially when I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend the event. I’m still on it & hope to maintain it but with a few exceptions once in a while.

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