Madiha Rizki, an expatriate from Pakistan, recently went out on a fashion hunt. Her mission: find a glamorous outfit, complete with shoes and accessories, to wear at a friend's engagement party.

After combing through racks of clothes, shoes and accessories, she went home with a long black dress from Banana Republic which she bought for half the original price, a silver chiffon scarf from Zara which was also on sale and a pair of strappy stiletto shoes — all for Dh930.

Rizki is suitably impressed with her fashion finds. She would have spent a lot more if she didn't check out the bargain shelves.

"I had budgeted Dh1,500 only for the dress and I ended up getting a better deal... The dress [alone] was originally for Dh1,350 but it was on sale for Dh650… It actually looks amazing on me," she proudly announces.

Rizki, a self-proclaimed fashionista, admits that she loves to keep herself updated with the latest trends. But her budget doesn't usually allow her to buy the latest glitzy dress worn by a popular celeb, so she ends up creating her own glam look for less money.

"I spend my free time watching fashion channels and reading fashion magazines and do a lot of window shopping to know what's the latest in stores, however my budget doesn't usually allow me to spend ridiculous amount of money on these fashion trends, so I always try to find a look for less.

"I believe fashion doesn't have to come with a ridiculous price. It's all about finding bargains and finding a style that looks good on you," she says.

Specific budget

Although her shopping sprees often happen on a spur of the moment, Rizki makes sure she sets aside a specific budget before opening her wallet. And when she hits the shops, she's constantly on the lookout for bargains or discount items.

"You would be surprised sometimes the best pieces are the ones you can find in the sales rack. It's really about searching for the right stuff. I like to go shopping when there is a sale and, living in Dubai, the shopping festivals have really helped," she says.

For Rizki, the key to finding a great piece for less is to know what looks good on your body type, or what colours and cuts suit you best. This way, you can plan your shopping and avoid going over budget.

"The first thing is to find out what looks good on me rather than what is expensive. I know that certain clothing looks good on me and others don't. I have identified a few stores I know have the kind of clothes that I like and usually would always find an item or two that I would pick up when I go there.

"I would never buy something because I saw someone else wearing it… Also I like to imagine the whole outfit in my mind before I buy it. So, if for instance, I like a shirt, I would first think what jeans, shoes, bag and accessories I have in my wardrobe that I can wear it with and then I decide to buy it," she adds.

Rizki also makes sure she invests in classic, good quality pieces that never go out of fashion. "I have my all-time favourite Armani jeans, a Fendi bag and a black dress from Banana Republic that I consider as timeless pieces.

"I bought the jeans at an amazing bargain sale last season. The investment has been worth it since it was a one-off expenditure and has paid off in the long run since I wear it all the time."