How do you define “affordable fashion?”

How do you define "affordable fashion?"

Happy Friday!  Today, I am asking for your input, How do you define “affordable fashion?”

This term is used throughout fashion media land, and I am just curious as to what it means to the clothing consumer located here. 

What is affordable to you may not be affordable to me.  So, what does the headline with the words affordable fashion say to you?


How do you define affordable fashion?

For some, it might mean shopping at retailers with lower price points.

Often low/fast-fashion price points make it possible for women to own more trends and styles.

How do you define affordable fashion?

For others, it might mean purchasing higher quality clothing with low cost -per- wear in mind.

For many of these consumers, clothing purchases are about less trends, and higher quality pieces which meet their needs and personal style.

Perhaps this consumer is more willing to pay a higher price because it is all about wearing clothing they love (no matter the trends) that is well constructed and will sustain time.

How do you define affordable fashion?

Or affordable fashion to this same consumer may mean finding high quality at great sale prices!

Everyone loves a sale…right?

How do you define affordable fashion

So, where do you fall?  Of course, you do not need be solely one or the other.  Many fall a little bit into all three camps. 

But you certainly know what the phrase “affordable fashion” means to you when it appears in a headline or post.  Please explain what that would be.

Also, does your opinion have anything to do currently with higher prices (in everything from gas to groceries) and your outlook has recently changed?

Please share…I believe this is an important discussion for all of us.

 And….here are a few more Mother’s Day ideas for you…..


Older adults must not be silenced...our time is now!

Last month I launched a monthly newsletter on the first day of each month with new content In it.  That newsletter comes out later in the day tomorrow and will begin with inspirational content around the theme It’s Our Time! 

You can only read that content in the newsletter…so if you are not subscribed to the blog through email, then sign up on the home page in the box at the top of the page.

If you have previously tried to sign up and run into problems…I have worked with my web designer and she says it is fixed, so try again today if you want tomorrow’s newsletter!  It’s a good one!

Please share your thoughts on today’s topic….come back tomorrow for Would You Wear It….and always…….


By Pamela Lutrell


  1. This is a good question. I’m pretty firmly in the “cost per wear” camp. That’s what makes something affordable. It circles back to dressing for my lifestyle because when I purchase according to how I really live, I will get more from those purchases. I over think a lot and that’s not a real good thing, but carefully thinking over fashion purchases has proven to work for me. I don’t really consider the cost of gas, groceries, etc. because that cycles. I just change what I need to in my budget to accommodate the crazy cycles. Clothing purchases are a separate budget category. If prices get too crazy, and they certainly might, I will make adjustments accordingly.

  2. Just one more thing, I noticed how the lady with the walker in the photo is dressed so beautifully! So encouraging to see older women still making this effort to dress up. I love her jacket!

    1. I saw her in the store, Karen, and loved that she was out and about.. but did not notice her in my picture until I got home. I agree that it is so nice to see her decked out for a shopping adventure!

    2. You bring up such a good point about dressing well for all the stages of life. I struggle with finding garments for my mother in the nursing home. Items she wants are so difficult to find at a reasonable price point and of durability to stand up to institutional laundry. Light cotton, not knit, nighties. Classic styled women’s under shirts (lingerie.) Easy fitting, three quarter length sleeve button up blouses, in a cotton/ polyester blend, no rayon, that won’t shrink or wrinkle. Classic styled, pull on elastic waist pants in a substantial twill polyester, not cotton knit, again that won’t shrink. Jackets and sweaters to match. Slippers that look like shoes but with adjustable Velcro fasteners in larger sizes. Does anyone have good sources of such garments? There are mail order catalogs with some of these styles but the blouses fade and wrinkle and don’t stand up to wear.

      1. Sue, my mother is 83 and loves shopping the Blair catalogue. They offer affordable fashions that she has found work well for her. She always looks stylish and put together, and is comfortable. Undergarments have been harder to source since our local Penney’s closed down and she insists on seeing and feeling for herself before purchase.

  3. technically i think the term means stylish clothes below the level of say, Chanel suits, and other big name designers.
    but to the rest of us i believe it means what you can afford without worrying about it.
    say when i first started in the job sector, for me that was Lerners. during my single years but still working upwards it was Casual Corner. now i think ive arrived at what is the top of what i can pay within my own limits, such as Chicos, Macys, etc.
    my own limits are different for different pieces…say 100 dollars for shoes, if i paid that much they would be real leather and i would be absolutely in love with them, but im not falling for those 400 pumps so maybe someone can see the red bottom or something…raised by a depression era Mom and also ive worked from the earliest oppurtunity, my rule of thumb is how many hours did i have to work for this item.
    blouses, jackets, jeans i have a limit in my head that i rarely cross over, and thats affordable fashion for me.

    1. I do a cost per wear. I also watch for sales for most every purchase. I will preview the monthly offerings in my favorite shops. Especially with Covid and not visiting stores in person, I want to stick with tried and true sizing. I evaluate how it fits with what is already in my close and then I just check back for a 30-40% off price.

  4. I think I fall in the “price per wear ” category. I just won’t settle for inferior quality. ( aka cheaper) fabrics, poor stitching , or poor design. I’d rather go to a good consignment store, and find something to fill that need.
    Have I ever purchased inferior? Yes, you bet! And I always regret it. A few timesin the laundry and the piece is all out of shape, or little holes suddenly appear (no not moth holes).
    Prices are soaring and I no longer buy online as I find quality fading on clothing even from some reputable sites. I must go to a store, try a garment on and if it feels and fits right, it comes home with me.

    1. Affordable fashion for me is purchasing higher-quality classics that are well made, ideally from natural fibers like cotton, linen, or silk — I wear these often and have in my closet for years, so the cost-per-use is low. Most of my wardrobe is made up of basic separates which I can mix and match for work, casual, and travel. I have few statement pieces that can make an outfit come together. I sometimes find most items on sale, but I am not afraid to pay full price for some items. I have a couple of Ming Wang jackets I paid full price for based on your recommendation, Pam, and I love them as they make me feel special and are so comfortable to wear. I don’t spend much on trendy pieces and only buy a trend after I have considered if it is right for me or will suit my style and lifestyle and then usually spend less than $30 on the item. I used to shop at retailers who offered items at a lower price points, but over time I realized these items did not fare well over time or last long in my closet, and I found myself throwing them out because they faded or shrank or donating items that were not comfortable to wear.

      I will be working for a few more years, but I am not purchasing work clothing much anymore as I have plenty to get me through retirement. If I am considering a purchase, I really think about if I will wear it in retirement or for travel. I have passed on many purchases that are more suited for work as I know that I will not get the cost-per-use I want. I have been editing my closet and have sold 100 or more nice quality items I no longer wear on Poshmark. I sold my last skirt suit recently as I don’t wear those any more.

      I am now using my clothing budget to up my accessories, and I am investing in items that will last a long time particularly handbags in classic styles and shapes, classic and comfortable shoes, and fine jewelry. I purchased a gorgeous coat I was lusting after on sale at Nordstrom’s as my dressy coat. I have saved up and made a few luxury purchases to mark career milestones like a big promotion. These items really make my classic basics look elevated. For the luxury purchases, I did a LOT of research and considered the purchase for a year or more so I would not have any regrets. And I am purchasing with retirement and travel in mind, not work needs. I have been very pleased with the itmes as I know I will use them for decades.

  5. I am retired so the fixed income thing has become very real for
    me. I never buy full price at my pre-retirement stores: Ann Taylor, Talbots, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales etc. I shop sales but I also shop the outlets. I have to drive 45 minutes to reach them but I do it twice per season. I also have become a fan of Savers ( similar to Goodwill but way more organized and edited.) I rarely purchase anything from less expensive brands for two reasons: they don’t last and they don’t fit. I wear a petite 0 and only the better brands seem to carry clothes that small. I’ve found some pretty and small clothes in ( gasp) the junior department and in the lower price range brands , but they don’t look as good new and don’t launder well…pilling, fabric twisting, fading.
    I also ask for gift cards to my local favorites, Talbots and Ann Taylor and Loft so I can add in something pricey then. Or use it at sale time to stretch the gift.
    It doesn’t seem reasonable to me to go for the cheaply made stuff that will get donated after a season or two.

    1. I have to jump in Susan….Goodwill San Antonio is super organized and amazing! The best managed Goodwills in the country!

  6. Affordable fashion has usually been dependant on the job I was in and how much the item was in dollars earned. Now affordable fashion is considerably more often the best fabric and style that I can find in thrift or consignment stores. I have found that I have to be able to feel and check the items before I purchase and online items have not always been what I would have purchased in person. I really hate returning things after being disappointed. Shoes are an item that I have learned to spend a bit more on but not the designer type, just good quality and well made.
    Glad the chance to subscribe worked this time, I had given up trying.

  7. Though I consider myself just as a ‘hobby sewer’; items must meet my expectations in quality of fabric, workmanship and style in accordance to its price range. As an example and for myself, ‘affordable’ means regardless it may be a high end label it doesn’t necessarily dictate that its ticket price is reasonable and not inflated. I could go into greater detail but I feel what it all comes down to, is being a shrewd shopper.

  8. I consider affordable fashion is the best quality I can find for my budget and quality pieces. My “fun fashion” or trends is something I won’t spend much on because it won’t last or stand the test of time. It is wear I pay full price for something and shoes are the exception. My feet have taken a pounding from running so I need to invest in quality shoes. I do love consignment shopping and wait for sales for quality pieces. Pam, thank you for your promotion of Goodwill. I recently purchased four high quality and brand name summer blouses for $7.00. There was a green tag 75% off sale. This fits my budget and supports sustainability.

  9. Interesting topic Pamela. There is a blog post for women about faishon and style which I used to follow based in Texas, for women in their 50’s and 60’s a nd now I am no longer subscribing to it because of the high prices. I would find the posting of items just ridiculous of items costing in the $300/400 mark so complete outfits mentioned would be easily in the $1,000-2,0000 range. I actually found it insulting that money just did not seem to be a consideration. Affordable to me is a piece of clothing that I can wear happy in the knowledge that I can wear it without stress, something that gives me joy and makes me feel good and attractive.Lately I have been following a blogger who shows alternatives to faishonable styles at reasonable prices I picked up a pair of sandals for $49 at DSW which looked identical to a pair costing $155 and I recieved a ton of compliments. Nice 🙂

  10. Affordable fashion to me is a code word for low priced. I feel it really doesn’t describe much, but if I read the post that touts it, I expect to get sale items, Amazon finds, or mass merchandisers like Target or Walmart. I’m not against any of those things, it’s just what I would expect to see. I tend to buy from a very few retailers, because I shop mostly on line and know their fits: Talbots, Chico’s, JJill. I feel in general, these brands are still fast fashion, but higher quality (though that is not always the case). If I want something very trendy, I will look at the mass merchants. For example, I want a large, funky straw tote right now, and I know I will beat it up, so I won’t want to spend on it. If something is going to shrink, fall apart, be ill fitting, or sit in the closet because the fabrics are too synthetic or the fit is off (which has happened with Amazon), it is not affordable fashion. I am on a journey to skip the sale racks (my personal nemesis) and get the size of my wardrobe down to fewer, higher quality, versatile clothes. I find myself skipping posts that are focused on affordable fashion. I think in the end I will actually save money.

  11. Like Sheryl, I was raised by a depression era mother. She enjoyed sewing and made most of her own clothes. I did the same when I was young. Now I buy ready made and no longer need to be particularly concerned about price, but I don’t want things that look worn out too quickly. I mostly shop Talbots, with some impulse purchases from Marshall’s. I could have pricier clothes, but find I don’t need or want the designer or luxury brands.

  12. I, too, am in the cost per wear camp. Easy home maintenance vs. dry cleaning, also, plays a part in affordability. Living in a a region with 4-seasons, the goal is that the majority of pieces work for 3. Also, versatility is important. Can the item be dressed up and down? Will it coordinate with a minimum of 2 to 3 other colors. This falls apart come summer when print tops limit me to 1 to 2 colors that coordinate. Also, summer tops are mostly just that, summer only. Still, the quality of the items enable multiple years of wear. I rely on all manner of toppers over base layers and accessories to move from casual to dressy. Over time base layers have expanded from 2 to 5 color ways. Most items, not shoes or outer coats, are purchased on sale and from referencing a list of what’s needed.

  13. As I have gotten older, my definition of affordable has changed. As a teenage, affordable meant cheap. It might have been a high quality item purchased off the sale rack for really low price, or it might have been a $3 t-shirt at the discount store. Now, I am one of the cost per wear ladies. I still look for a bargain on the sale rack at my favorite stores, but I will spend more for a item that I know I will wear often & that will last a long time. Since I am not big on trends, shopping for things off season can be very affordable.

  14. Affordable fashion actually rings a cautionary note for me as it too often means cheap disposable clothes that fill our landfills and exploit their workers in the making. I am all for quality items on sale and consignment shopping however.

  15. I tend to shop high and low, though for me the low is more mid-range than truly low. I learned early on in my twenties to “invest” in the skirts, jackets, shoes and handbags that saw me through the first decade of my career. Blouses or sweaters were of a lesser quality and price point as I wanted more variety. Now as a young-ish retired person, I I still look for quality pieces but also don’t mind dropping a few hundred dollars here or there on seasonal additions or purely vacation wardrobe pieces. With those, I may only wear a skirt 3 or 4 times a year, but have it for a dozen years!

  16. Affordable fashion means fashion I can afford! Lol. Seriously, I think everyone has their price points that they won’t go above, so affordable means to me, not above what I think is expensive. We probably all define that a little differently based on our income/lifestyle etc.
    My average cost per item that I think is “affordable” is about $45. That means that I think a $30 item is affordable as well as a $60 item is affordable depending what the item is and of course, as you mentioned, the quality. I will spend over $100 on something if I really want it, but rarely go over $200 for one item. Again, it depends what the item is. I don’t equate affordable with cheap necessarily. Some of the retailers I enjoy shopping from seem expensive, but I’m always waiting for their sales or discounts. Then they become “affordable.”

  17. I had to think about this as “affordable” (as with most of us) has meant different things throughout my life, I’m retired now but we’re fortunate that “affordable” still gives me some flexibility, yet I realized as I contemplated your question that I’ve always been very much in the cost per wear tribe. When I say this I always think of a pair of Perry Ellis black patent pumps I bought on sale at Nordstrom (in Texas!!) for more than I paid for my first car. They looked terrific in any situation & fit perfectly & I wore them until they literally fell apart & by that time they were down to pennies/wear. I’m not into trends or following what’s “in” beyond a general sense (I’m still wearing jeans I bought 25 years ago & I bought my everyday leather shoulder bag in 1979!). I don’t buy cheap, poorly-made clothing at any price & have never been really tempted by sales — I’ll check out a sales’ rack but won’t buy anything that doesn’t fit impeccably & that I don’t love & NEED (that last bit is, admittedly, a recent change as I simply don’t want closets full of clothes any more). Not sure that answers the question, though. Affordable to me has always meant I could work it into my budget comfortably OR that it was so perfect that I bought it with a long-term view, knowing the cost/wear would be low. I once paid almost $1000 for a custom-made trench coat I wore for 20 years: it blew up my short-term budget for an entire summer but the cost/wear worked out to about 2¢ by the end 🙂

    1. Oh, and I want to add that the trench coat was the first real lesson I learned about how quality shows & can be worth the cost. It was beautifully tailored & looked sensational on me, even at the 20 year mark. I got more compliments when I wore that coat than I think I have for anything else I’ve ever bought.

  18. I had to think about this question for a while.

    Affordable fashion to me is purchasing the best quality garments I can at the best price I can. As a 60+ woman, my clothing choices have certainly changed over the years. I now value quality and comfort. If a garment doesn’t have either, it isn’t worth spending on.

    I’m still working so my purchases need to be office-acceptable (although business casual makes this so much easier). I enjoy dressing well so shopping well is a priority!!!

  19. Affordable to mr means decent quality and a name brand on sale or even thrifted .. I refuse to pay over 100 for tops that go on sale for 29 the next day .. I love good quality but will only pay up for a jacket or basic item I will wear more than a year at least . I’m never on a retired teachers income going to. Buy 1000 dollar outfits every season when I want to spruce up my seasonal look . I shop chicos sales and look at thredup site for like new items too. Someine in retail told me once eveything goes on sale monthly .. you can be well dressed with buying only sake Itens from name brands

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