Pop Culture

Let your cheap flag fly:  'The Cheap Chica's Guide to Style'

Who says you have to spend huge amounts in order to be stylish? In "The Cheap Chica's Guide to Style," Lilliana Vazquez shows you how to be fashionable while staying frugal at the same time. Here's an excerpt.


There are certain words we’ve come to recognize as bad words. You know the ones. The ones you say when you stub your toe against your bed frame. Those words. Somewhere along the way, cheap became one of those words, and I’m single-handedly trying to redefine it!

While some people prefer to hide their cheapness, I like to let my cheap flag fly, and I want to help you be proud of your savvy style too. But in order to help you unlock the secrets of shopping cheap and looking chic, first we need to identify what type of shopper you are.

Take the following quiz to get a better sense of your spending style.


1. you’re at the mall and you see the perfect leather jacket, priced way out of your budget. you . . .

a. walk right past it, headed straight for the movie theater.
b. buy it with zero hesitation. every celebrity is wearing these Acne jackets right now!
c. ogle it, pet the leather, and vow to start saving your money so you can come back and get it in a few months.
d. get it . . . then return it two days later. luckily, on your way out of the store, you see another one just like it for much less—and you deserve a pick-me-up after the week you’ve had!

2. When your credit card bill comes every month, you . . .

a. pay it off in full. No carried balances here!
b. pay the minimum balance. You’ll have money one day, but right now, this is the only way to maintain the kind of lifestyle you want.
c. pay as much as you can for the next few months until you cover the cost of the Céline purse you splurged on.
d. were ready to pay it off in full, but then you went on that shopping spree when you and your boyfriend broke up . . .

3. Do brand names and designers matter to you?

a. Nope! As long as it looks OK, I don’t care where it came from.
b. Definitely. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a no-name label.
c. Sometimes, but I have a mixture of highend and low-end items in my closet.
d. I don’t care too much about where it came from; I just love that high I get from buying something new.

4. When do you do most of your shopping?

a. Only when there’s something I absolutely need.
b. The question is, when don’t I shop? 
c. When I get a notice telling me my favorite store is having a sale.
d. When I get a promotion at work—I earned it!

5. How do you rationalize your spending?

a. No need to justify anything—I got only the item I needed at a price that was within my budget.
b. When I’m older, I won’t care as much about how I look. Now is the time to dress my best!
c. I brought my lunch to work every day this week so that I could get the bracelet I’d been eyeing.
d. My friends all dress a certain way, and it’s not fair that I shouldn’t be able to, too.

6. your go-to button-down shirt is starting to look a little worse for the wear. What do you do?

a. Keep wearing it regardless. I want to get as much mileage out of it as I can before having to shell out for a replacement.
b. Head straight to Theory to pick up another.
c. Disguise it as best I can under blazers and with bold accessories until the Gap e-mails me a coupon.
d. Go buy one . . . along with a new skirt, belt, and watch to wear with it! I lost three pounds this week, so I’m feeling good!


If you answered mostly A’s,

you’re a Sale-Only Chica.
This Chica is frugal and always diligent about her purchases. She most likely pays her credit card off every month and doesn’t spend money she doesn’t have.

Fashion may or may not play a large role in her day-to-day life. She likely doesn’t realize that having style doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank, or she doesn’t see the value in dressing her best.

If you answered mostly B’s,

you’re a Splurge Chica.
This Chica loves fashion and worships labels. She has to have something if it’s the latest trend or the hottest brand. She generally doesn’t think about the cost and is willing to have credit card debt to get what she needs and keep up with her crew fashionwise. She needs to learn what havoc her spending habits might have on her financial future and be educated in all the lower-cost options that exist.

If you answered mostly C’s,

you’re a Sensible Chica.
This is a Chica who loves to shop, enjoys fashion, and likes having nice things— but she does it within her financial limits. She saved long and hard for her Miu Miu leather jacket, and she’d be devastated to know that the same coat sold for nearly half the price online. Though she’s a good mix of sense and style, she could make her money go further by educating herself on other options.

If you answered mostly D’s,

you’re a Spontaneous Chica.
Whether she’s bored or just in need of retail therapy, this Chica shops with her emotions, spending money she doesn’t necessarily have on things she doesn’t necessarily need. It’s important that she recognize her spending habits and learn new and helpful ways to shop more for what she really needs and less to fill a void.

From The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style by Lilliana Vazquez. Reprinted by arrangement with Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Lilliana Vazquez, 2013.