Tina hunts fashion bargains full-time. Here are 5 insider tips for shopping on a budget.

Tina Abeysekara has been sharing her affordable fashion finds for almost a decade.

In 2013, while working as a hydrologist, she started an Instagram account called Trash To Treasured after her friends suggested she post her bargain buys and outfits online.

These days, Tina's account boasts over 130,000 followers, and she's gained so much credibility for her affordable styling that she's turned what was once a side hustle into a full-time job.

Watch: Here's how to style one midi skirt, five ways. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

We asked the content creator to share her five best insider tips, so you too can get the best pieces for your wardrobe without blowing your savings. Here's what she said.

1. Pick well, style often.

When sifting through the racks for a bargain, Tina suggests picking out pieces you can style multiple ways to get the most wear out of them.

"When you're looking at something, can you actually style it in two or three different ways with things that are already in your wardrobe? So you're not buying something that's affordable [that needs] a whole bunch of other things to make it wearable," Tina told Mamamia.

One scroll of Tina's Instagram shows her preference for printed midi dresses - and it's no accident, given all the styling options they allow. 

Take a midi dress with buttons, for example.


"I can play with the neckline and the hemline - I can create a split in the skirt by unbottoning the buttons and I can play with the neckline [making it] deeper or shorter. Then if it has a long sleeve with a cuff, you can wear it long or roll up the sleeves and wear it cuffed up at your elbow. And if it comes with a fabric belt, you can always remove the belt and add in your own."

"By adding in a bit of embellishment, like a gold buckle [for example], you've changed up the look and you've made it look more expensive... that's just one dress and you've already created slightly different looks."

2. The 80/20 rule.

When looking for pieces to add to her wardrobe, Tina follows what she calls the 80/20 rule.

"[It's] where 80 per cent of my wardrobe is timeless and 20 per cent is trendy. I find that if my wardrobe reflects that it's always timeless, but it leaves room for playing with the trends," she said.

As for those timeless pieces, Tina suggests you look out for "nice cut jeans, blazers, leather jackets, denim jackets and dresses that have a timeless print or colourway to them" - and do it when the sales are on for added savings.

If you want to try out trends without splurging on them, Tina recommends Kmart, Glassons, Cotton On and Target.

"They tend to have trends at a cheaper price point, [so] can try something that's only meant to be around for a few months]."


3. Bargains are everywhere.

When it comes to hunting down those affordable finds, apart from the stores listed above, Tina says she looks "everywhere" and leaves no fashion stone unturned.

"Uniqlo is amazing for basics," she said. "Other than that, I've found bargains when shops do flash sales, and suddenly, everything's come down by 40 per cent. The other place is The Iconic. It's fantastic, a one-stop-shop."

There are also a few tools she suggests you use to find the best deals on offer.

"There are great apps out there at the moment such as Shopback - follow me as I share a lot of deals - and I would also [sign] up to newsletters or places like," she said.

"They have all the sales in one spot. Have a look at that before you go hunting."

"One more thing is to get the 'Honey' extension if you're shopping on your computer," she added. 

"It's a Chrome extension that you can have on your web browser - you just shop as normal but when you get to checkout, Honey does a scan of the internet to see if they can find you a promo code."



Listen to Tina on Mamamia's fashion podcast What Are You Wearing?, where she takes on the ultimate style challenge on a budget. Post continues after audio.

4. Choose the right fabrics and colours.

"There's a lot of cotton and linen coming through now, especially in the more affordable stores," Tina shares. Her tip? Look for retailers using the Better Cotton Initiative, for sustainably and ethically sourced cotton.

As for the colours and prints Tina gravitates towards, it's all about neutrals punctuated with brights and patterns that will transcend trends.

"My scale of neutrals goes from your basic black, white, beige and grey but it also includes navy, khaki and tan," she said. "I think all of those colours work really well together and also with pops of colour." 

"I would also say stripes, gingham, polka dots and abstract floral prints - they're all very timeless," she added.


5. Add a third.

Once you've bought your bargain, here's how Tina suggests you style it to make it look expensive.

"I have something called 'add a third'. It's a little phrase I use with my styling clients," she told us.

"Say you've got a white top and black pants, add a third colour. You could take that from your neutrals - so you can add tan, beige, khaki or navy.

"The fact that you've got three colours that are complementing each other together, it makes you look put together."

"The flipside to that is to go tonal," she said.

"Maybe you pick tan or beige and you just stay in that kind of colour palette where you go tan, beige, cream - all the colours that work together. 

"If you go tonal, it always looks quite put together and expensive."

Ok - who else is in the mood to shop?

Feature image: Instagram/@trashtotreasured/Canva/Mamamia.

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