Savings Savant: An aspiring art teacher turns cheap shirts into chic outfits



Myles Ma

Myles Ma

Senior Managing Editor

Myles Ma is a health care expert & personal finance writer for Policygenius. He edits the Easy Money newsletter.

Published July 23, 2018|2 min read

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We try to make money easy here at Policygenius. As such, a lot of our advice covers financial basics everyone should be able to follow. But some people go way past basic in their attempts to save money. We wanted to tell their stories too. They're not cheap. They're Savings Savants.

Meet Francesca

Francesca Shiirey, a recent high school graduate from Michigan, was at the mall with her friends when she had a realization.

"I just had no money," Shiirey said. "I realized I couldn't buy the same things they were getting."

Shiirey started shopping at her local thrift store. She found they carried a lot of cheap clothes, even some apparel with the tags still on.

What did the aspiring art teacher do with her thrift store finds? She started cutting them up.

The Savings Savant Technique

Shiirey discovered she could sew cheap outfits out of larger men's clothing. Basically, she buys big shirts, holds them up against her body and tries to figure what would look good. Then she tailors them down to size with a sewing machine.

She started a YouTube channel to document her process.

The key is to search the whole thrift store, Shiirey said.

"I look for patterns, thickness and textures that I like and I look through everything," she said. "I look through men's shirts, I look through dresses, even tablecloths."

How much it saved

On one trip to the thrift store, Shiirey bought a few shirts costing no more than $3. She spent about $20 and estimates she saved as much as $350 versus buying the outfits new.

Trying this at home?

Shiirey wants her YouTube channel to show people they can look good on a budget. All she needed was a sewing machine — and the bare minimum how-tos on using it.

"I can only sew in a straight line, so you don't need to know much about sewing," she said. "I don't even know how to change the stitches on my machine."

Since the only input is fabric, it's important you select good fabric if you're trying this at home, Shiirey said. That means look thoroughly through the thrift store.

"Look for thicker material and look through everything," she said. "Every single item in the store. It helps so much."

Why thicker fabric?

"Thinner fabric tends to rip," Shiirey said. "I've already ripped a few seams trying to sew them."

If you're looking to tailor clothing to yourself, look for larger items. Try to look at clothes not just for what they are, but what they could be, Shirey said.

"Everything can have a purpose," she said.

Have too many clothes? Try using an app to sell them.

Images: Francesca Shiirey