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5 Stylish Clothing Brands for Older Women on a Budget

They make it easy to look your best while spending less.

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woman with shopping bags around her
Illustration: Elena Lacy;(Source: Getty Images (11), Tripplaar Kristoffer/SIPA/AP Images)
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I once walked into Sears to buy a lawn mower and walked out with a skirt that still hangs in my closet many years later. Is it a gift or a curse to find fashion on the way to the hardware department?

To me, it’s simply evidence that fashion, like beauty, truly is all around us. This is why there’s no need to spend top dollar to update your wardrobe as much or as little as you like.

If fashion is your thing — or you simply want to look good while you’re doing everything else — it pays to know the brands that consistently deliver the season’s trends in budget-conscious variations.

We don’t often have the chance to tell you about them in this space because these styles sell out quickly. The minute a fashion forecaster decrees that red is THE color of the year (it is), these labels will be picked clean faster than you can say Tango Red.

So here are some affordable brands you want to pick through as quickly as you can:

Mango: With a limited but growing number of brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S., this Barcelona-based retailer may not be familiar to you yet but it’s worth getting to know. Their design team has a savvy sense for delivering seasonal trends in wearable and accessible ways. To maximize that accessibility, plus sizes are available and prices are easier on the budget.

When midi-length skirts started coming down the runways for fall, I popped onto the Mango site to check out their options.

I was rewarded with a black pleated number in a wool blend for $60. Everyone else apparently liked it too — none were left in stock. Thanks to Mango’s notification feature, I was alerted when the skirt became available again, and immediately pounced when the email arrived. It pairs nicely with nubby cropped sweaters and, for a little edge, black cowboy boots.

Forbes reports that Mango plans to nearly triple its U.S. presence to 40 stores by year’s end.

Banana Republic Factory: If you remember the explorer-chic days of Banana Republic back in the 1980s, you’re appreciating this label’s rebirth over the past few years. That same sensibility has filtered down to its secondary Banana Republic Factory brand, which is part outlet, part independent collection and all style.

Need evidence? Look no further than the viral sensation the Duchess of Sussex (aka Meghan Markle) created last fall when she wore a black cotton BFR dress to the 2023 Invictus Games, backed by a foundation that is one of Prince Harry’s favorite charities. Under headlines proclaiming “Meghan’s $70 Banana Republic Dress,” bloggers gushed about her crisply pleated shirtdress.

I was smitten and can attest that the shirtdress flatters this 60+ figure too. While Meghan cinched hers with a black Bottega Veneta belt, mine was accessorized with a similarly woven (but more affordably priced) option from J. Crew, which happened to be on sale for a tenth of the Bottega’s cost.

H&M: With its nearly 500 stores in the U.S., you’ve probably seen an H&M but figured it catered to your children or grandchildren. But the Scandinavian brand that helped put minimalist style on the fashion map is a great resource to fill fashion gaps in our wardrobes too.

Want to try wide-legged pants? Need an oversized, button-down shirt in a natural fiber? H&M is likely to have it at wallet-friendly prices. They also offer a bevy of longer skirts in midi and maxi lengths, and sleek knitwear with flattering folds and ruching in all the right places for mature bodies. And they aren’t shy about showing them off in ads on silver-haired or plus-sized models.

In the years since my daughters introduced me to this brand, I’ve scored several finds from H&M. Favorites include a caramel-colored cotton sweater that refuses to pill and elicits surprised and admiring responses whenever someone asks where it’s from. I’ve also picked up a couple of scarves there, including an equestrian-themed square that’s a dead ringer for a Hermes (but washable and at a tiny fraction of the price).

If you want to level up, check out their & Other Stories and COS sister brands.

Zara: When the fashion winds first blow a trend into view, Zara responds not just with a single option but a range of offerings to flatter different shapes and ages. Denim maxis? Check. Satin separates? Double check. Statement-making coats? Yes, again.

Last year when long, knife-pleated skirts started flowing onto the scene, I nabbed one in a sandy hue at Zara.com/us, another Spanish fashion brand. Rather than a hefty designer price tag, it came in under $50. And the oversized, white satin shirt to complete the outfit? It was $36 from Zara.

This quiet luxury duo was an ideal summer wedding choice that transitioned into cooler weather by swapping strappy sandals for tall, camel suede boots and the satin blouse for a long, ivory sweater.

When ordering online, Zara offers a delivery option that enables customers to retrieve their packages from convenient neighborhood locations such as a nearby Walgreens. This is a handy solution when travel plans and unpredictable courier cycles don’t align.

Quince: One of a growing number of direct-to-consumer brands, Quince.com is committed to delivering "high-quality essentials at radically low prices." Luxury fabrications like Mongolian cashmere and Italian leather for winter and organic cotton and washable silk for warmer months are among their wide-ranging offerings. All compete favorably against synthetic materials at the same price point.

A fashion editor friend scored an impressive find while scouring the Internet for a versatile and on-trend leather motorcycle jacket. On the Quince site, she came across their oversized biker jacket and was intrigued by the styling and unbeatable price that was less than many vegan versions. She ordered it and was amazed by the quality and buttery-soft leather. We have both added Quince to our fashion watch list.

These five brands make it easy to look our best — while spending less — at every age, during every season. If you like something, order quickly. These great finds go fast!

Do you shop at any of the above stores? Which ones? If not, where do you get your clothes? Let us know in the comments below.

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