Fitness & Beauty

How to Look Good for Under $101

Ryan Ong



Bad taste leads to crime. It seems self-evident to me. Almost every ah beng, American hood rat, and English chav (any kind of street life you care to name really) is known for the following: Bad jewellery, discount rate body art, and music that sounds like an involuntary vasectomy. You don’t want to fall to those standards. So here’s how to look good, even when you’re cash strapped:

Our Expert Consultants

Just to be clear: My only connection to the fashion industry’s being whacked with a rolled up copy of Her World. The following tips come from grooming guru Mia Tan, who owns fashion and beauty portal Styleshoppes, and Styleshoppes writer Ms. Riza Maurene Manzano.


1. General, Free Tips to Looking Good (For Women)

Ed: Okay, let’s start with the basics What are some free ways to look good for women?

Riza: Pick the right colours and patterns when it comes to clothes. If looking slimmer is a priority, wear black. And wearing vertical stripes will create the illusion of a slimmer body; avoid horizontal stripes as it will make you look bigger.

You should also buy the right size for your body type. Always try the fitting of the outfit before buying. Or if you purchase online, you can check the measurements first.

Looking good always starts with finding the right fit. Find the outfits that complement your individual body shape.

Mia: You don’t have to wear black all the time though. Wearing brighter colours can add more vibrancy to your overall look, and even lift your spirits!

Riza: Besides that, tame your eyebrows. Well groomed eyebrows are pleasant to the eyes, and adds definition to your face.

You should also work out and eat right. And be confident! Confidence is the best accessory a woman (or man) can outfit herself with.


Measuring waist
“Hmm, halved since the last time. Are you a resale flat salesman?”


2. How Women Can Look Good for Under $101

Ed: I’m told this is easy to do. Why is it easier for women to look good on a budget?

Riza: That’s because women are more free to mix and match. We can blend formal with casual pieces of clothing, as there’s less social restriction on our wardrobe experiments.

Women also have a wider variety of fashion products catering to them, so standing out, even on a budget, is easier.


Ed: Okay, so where would a woman shop with a $101 budget?

Riza: To stretch every dollar, you should shop in flea markets or street stalls. The ones in Bugis are not bad. There are also a lot of local blogshops you can browse.

Riza and Mia put the following together with a $101 budget:


Angelina Jolie Look
Total Cost:
Kiss Jane Nude Maxi – $33
Kollidea Flower Bracelet – $15.90
Tracyeinny Beige Heels – $28
Total – $76.90


And also the following:


Styleshoppes photo
Asos Quilted Metal Bag – $21.90
Dressabelle Peplum Dress – $31
Ohvola Doux Heels – $31
Alyssandra Elastic Belt – $9.90
Total – $93.80


Ed: That’s pretty good for under $100. Maybe all the high end brands are overrated. Maybe they’re…not even necessary?

Riza: To a certain extent, high end brands are overrated based on the price tags hung on them. Alternatives could be available at a much cheaper price. And they’ll still look as good on you as any branded piece…sometimes better.

But it’s hard to deny that the quality of high end brands are outstanding; they tend to last longer. Cheaper items might not stay in good shape for a long time.

Mia: My $60 clutch bag, which I bought in Hong Kong, is made from recycled packet drinks. It’s gotten more compliments and attention than my $3,000 Bottega Venata:


Recycled packet drinks bag
$60 from Hong Kong. $30 from Moneysmart, if you don’t mind ants and having to using a glue stick. A lot.


Quick Summary for Women

So, remember that:

  • You have leeway to mix casual (cheaper) articles with formal (more expensive) ones, like a $20 scarf with a $500 dress. Use it to lower costs in general.
  • Stuff you find in flea markets and street stalls can replace branded items. They don’t last as long, but you’ll still look as good.
  • Picking the right cut and colour is enough to make you look good, even with a $101 budget.


3. General, Free Tips to Look Good For Men

Ed: Okay, let’s move on to guys. What are the basic ways for men to look good?

Riza: Invest in a good cologne? I would say it’s pretty much the same as for girls. Confidence, the right fit, taming your eyebrows…

Mia: Actually, I’ll add to that. Boys do need more help!

You need to invest in three things:

  • A good haircut
  • A good cologne, and
  • A crisp white shirt

In case it needs to be said, shower and shave often to look fresh.

Men should also be bold when experimenting with colours and accessories. You can look more vibrant with attention to small details, like using a quirky tie with an otherwise unexciting outfit, or using unique buttons.

And be sure NOT to wear Crocs.


Ed: Right! Well I understand the bad news is that, for guys, a $101 budget is a lot harder?

Riza: Men tend to buy a few, expensive items, rather than plenty of cheaper ones. So retailers have adapted to that. Men also have a much more limited range of choices.

That said, it’s not impossible:


Zac Effron's Look
Asos Chequered Shirt – $17.30
The Urban Loft Simple Berms – $16
Veinelyts Black Shoes – $40
Total – $73.30


Want Something More Formal?

If you need something for work or an interview, try a tailor.

At which point, you’re cringing because you assume tailored stuff will require a second mortgage. And indeed, the mortgage specialist at SmartLoa….nah, just kidding.

Men’s clothes are pretty tough to squeeze into a $101 budget, but some tailors are cheaper than off-the-rack clothes. Check out tailors like Reizo, where at least the shirt and pants are under $100 each. MoneySmart readers get an exclusive deal with them too.

Riza: For guys, besides street markets, flea markets and online shops, it’s all about timing. Take notice of the sales events in shopping malls, and stock up at sales. Buy ahead.


Ed: Since it’s so tough for guys, should we get a few of the ole’ fakes? You know…Rollex watches, Dolce & Banana, Birkin Stick. I think “Chinese imports” is the right term.

Mia: No, you shouldn’t. They say imitation is the best form of flattery, but we should respect designers and their work. Though I wish they’d respect my wallet in turn.

Anyway, there’s no need to conceal poverty when you can still look like a million bucks. Try the recommendation that we put together!


Image Credits:
Art Comments, quinn.anya

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.