How to be Bougie on a Budget

Looking good doesn’t mean your bank account won’t

Graphic by Angelica Cruz.

Truth be told, we all want to look as sleek and chic as the men and women in high fashion magazines. But let’s face it, we don’t have supermodel or mogul incomes, we have “basic bitch/college student” incomes. We strive for deals and aim for anything that’s below $20. But today’s your lucky day. I’m going to share a few clever ways in which you can be both bougie and on a budget. Trust me, it’s possible.

1) Boyfriend Jeans

Yeah I know they’re all the rage! Apparently the “idgaf what I wear today,” “these pants don’t fit me,” hipster look is the hottest trend. But let’s be honest, and as a retail manager, I know these jeans are anything but inexpensive. The precision cuts, the one strand of ripped cloth that dangles from the side of your knee, to the perfect high water length, (I’m sorry did I write “high water”? I meant “ankle cropped” length. It’s true everything our mom’s and grandma’s taught us to avoid, we have officially made fashionable) and even down to the detail oriented destroyed pockets that will literally drop anything you place within them, it’s no wonder these jeans range form $55-$89 a piece.

I say fuck that! Steal your man, your dad, your brother or your mom’s jeans (mom jeans are in too), grab a pair of scissors, and maybe an old razor head and rip those baby’s to shreds.

It’s really not all that difficult to do and the best part, it’s free! All you have to do is cut a rip at the knees, pull strands of cloth with your hands or for a more authentic approach, use that old razor head to slowly disperse the strands and fade out the original denim color surrounding the tears.

2) Daily Starbucks

We all know Starbucks can be expensive, and yeah sometimes we do envy those that walk into class/work daily with their white and green cups but there’s a couple tricks to help you join the crowd and be one of those bougie, daily Starbucks holders.

A) Buy a regular iced/hot coffee for $2 on a daily (specialty milk, syrup and flavor not included; creamer milk found on toppings and napkin table)

Or B) do as my coworker Shane does: buy a coffee once, wash and refill with generic, at-home coffee and voila you look bougie AF without spending more than $2.

3) Destroyed denim jackets

You’ve seen all the hottest celebrities wearing them, from RiRi, to Kim K, Bella Hadid, and even Kingston Rossdale. Jean jackets are in, no matter what the weather. And just like the jeans, distressed and destroyed are what make jean jackets trendy. So just like the jeans, grab some scissors, a razor blade and hello vintage jacket!

Truly the only difference between the two items is that not everyone owns a jean jacket, but a simple solution to this answer is to go to a salvation army thrift store and invest at most $10 for an old crappy one, which you’ll transform at home. And if you look extensively through every rack you may even strike gold with an authentic Levis jacket to fix.

4) Blonde hair

Let’s be honest, balayage and ombre are here to stay, especially during the summer season when everyone wants sunkissed everything. But who has over $200 to spend on bleaching hair? It’s a trend but also a financial sacrifice. An ideal and frugal way of dying your hair is with a simple house hold item that costs less than a dollar.

Don’t grab that Clorox yet, that’s not where I was going at all (and that bleach is also completely different than hair bleach). In fact this miracle working house hold item can actually be found in your fridge and if you’re a Latinx like me, then it’s most certainly found in your backyard. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, lemon is a key ingredient for hair dying. No chemicals needed. All you need is sun, water, lemon and a bit of time.

Steal a lemon from your fridge, mom, roommate or neighbor’s tree (if you’re lucky), infuse the lemon juice with 2/5 water, mix, spread evenly through parts of hair you wish to become lighter and simply sit out in a sunny spot. Repeat as often as you like but the more you do it, the lighter and blonder the hair will become.

Unfortunately, this trick is only for natural hair and not hair that is already dyed. BUT it does work on thick natural black or dark brown hair.

5) Lip Plumper

Brace yourself for a Kardashian refrence…that’s right don’t try to deny the fact that you want plump lips like them, only without the $4,000 payment and without that moronic lip suction trick.

So before you spend $4,000 on botox, $500 ending up in the hospital because you busted your lip with a shot glass, or even $30 on FullLips, CandyLipz, or any other overly priced contraption that claims to enlarge your lips, I suggest you finish reading this section to save money and avoid a trip to the ER.

Supplies you’ll need:
A) Vaseline
B) Sugar (any kind will do)
C) Peppermint and Cinnamon essential oil ($3 at local GNC or Walmart)
D) Container to withhold the product

Combine all four until it becomes an exfoliant, place on the lips for about 3–5 mintutes and not only will your lips become plump naturally, but they’ll also become rosey red (normal) and smooth. And there you have it, a natural and inexpensive lip plumper.

6) Teeth Whitening

It’s true we all want that eye blinding Colgate smile but unfortunately obtaining it and maintaining the white smile, costs money. Money which (if you’ve gotten this far into the article) you don’t have or are simply not willing to spend.

So forget spending $200 at the dentist, $70 at a sketchy kiosk in the mall, $50 on 3D whitening strips, and forget spending those extra $5 dollars on whitening toothpaste. Instead, spend $1 on baking soda. You’ve read that right, baking soda actually has whitening benefits and it’s completely safe to use on your teeth as long as it is not done daily.

Simply dust baking soda on your toothbrush before, during or after brushing your teeth. Do this once or twice a week and gradually notice results.

Simple, effective, and cheap.

7) Hydro Flask

Hydro Flask too expensive but you want to look cool while still staying hydrated? No worries! Hit up your local Marshals, TJ Max or if your parents have a Costco card, hit up Costco for some knock off “ThermoFlasks.” And if you’re lucky they may even pay for it.

TJ Maxx and Marshals have some 20 oz bottles for about $15 each. Whereas Costco currently has two 40 oz thermal flasks for $25, WITH a straw lid! Honestly it doesn’t get any better than that because as a owner of a 40 oz Hydro Flask (it was a gift, I’m broke too), I hate that water always spills at the ends of my mouth because the opening is too wide.

But the question remains, how are you to conceal the fact that it’s NOT a Hydro Flask? The answer to that is stickers, lots and lots of stickers to cover that $40 cheaper knock off flask emblem. You’ll fit right in with the hipster HF crowd.

8) Jennifer Lopez 1990’s

I’m not particularly for the idea but hey this is called “bougie on a budget” not “Karen’s opinion.”

Some years ago (actually quite a lot of years ago) when Jennifer Lopez was “homeless” barely making a mark on the industry, a Spanish Magazine came out with a rumor about Jennifer Lopez allegedly “admitting” to maxing out her credit cards in order to maintain a stylish profile. She allegedly maxed out credit cards on an excessively expensive wardrobe, leaving tags on, returning the merchandise within grace period, and creating it into a cycle of endless clothing she never wore twice and never actually owned. Of course before writing this article I made the attempt to find this supposed article, but no luck. Then again whoever came up with the idea is pure genius, that or a major criminal.

Honestly, it’s a loophole to the retail industry. Typically you have a 30 day grace period to return merchandise, as long as it is in its original condition (which it’s not because you wore it) and the tags remain on, you could be styling a new outfit everyday while still raising that credit score or keeping that money in your bank account. You’ll build credit and a fashionable reputation at the same time. Thank me later. Actually I take that back don’t @ me, I’m not about to be blamed for your potential misdemeanor.