beauty

I Put Together A Date Night Look Using Only Things I Found At The Dollar Store

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

There are two types of dollar stores: those where the items are actually $1 and those where the prices are a wildcard.

No matter which kind you go to, though, the beauty and fashion selection typically leaves much to be desired. The clothes and makeup generally look cheap, outdated, or unappealing.

But do you think that stopped me from creating an entire date night outfit and makeup look from dollar store products?! No, it didn’t. Because if there is anything stylish to be found for $1, by golly, I’m going to find it.

The dollar store is one of my favorite places in the world — the first kind, that is.

The simple fact that everything is the same exact price, and that the price is $1 — well, that deserves a Nobel Prize in my book.

But until now, I’d never really perused the beauty or fashion sections of dollar stores.

I’m no makeup snob, and I regularly shop at H&M, which is like the dollar store of fashion. It just never occurred to me to look for fashionable items at a dollar store. I go there to shop for batteries and spatulas, not lipstick. And from afar, it looks like there’s not much to be found.

But surely there had to be some hidden gems hiding in those aisles…

To find out, I shopped at two dollar stores near me — one of each kind. Then I whipped together an evening outfit using the items I found. I wore the outfit to my evening activities, and guess what? Nobody noticed that I was in a dollar store getup. Success!

Dollar General

The first dollar store I went to was Dollar General. This is the type of store where everything costs more than $1. It should definitely just change its name.

Shopping for Clothes

Shopping for Clothes
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Alas, this is typically the only sort of dollar store that sells clothes. You’re just not going to get away with paying $1 for a dress anytime soon (and if you do, please tell me where).

And anyway, look at these clothes.

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That’s right — that is a bright pink terry cloth dress. Terry cloth.

I began to feel like maybe I am a snob as I heavily judged all the clothing available in this store.

Still, I managed to find a dress that I liked — well, sort of. Technically, I chose a $10 tunic in the plus-size women’s section that I could wear as a dress.

Before you say, “Hey, that’s cheating!” let me tell you that I do the same thing when I shop at any store, dollar store or not. Shhh, it’s my little life hack.

Next, I went to look for some shoes.

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OK, never mind. I can only compromise so much! This is a date night look.

I skipped the shoes, opting to wear my own from home instead, and headed on to the next item on the agenda: makeup.

For this part, I went to Dollar Tree, a beloved slice of heaven where everything is actually $1. Look at that receipt! Miraculous.

I carried home a slightly excessive haul, partly because, well, everything is $1, and partly because I wanted to be able to try out a bunch of different options. I’d never tried most of these dollar store brands before, and I wasn’t sure how they’d look. I bought a few lip options, blush, eyeliner, mascara, and a makeup brush.

Shopping for Makeup

Shopping for Makeup
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Among my choices was a hidden gem (I knew it!): E.L.F. products! E.L.F. makeup is always super cheap, anywhere from $1 to $3, and it’s high quality. It makes sense to find it at a dollar store, and it was pretty exciting to see a recognizable brand I know I can mostly depend on.

First, I tried out the lipsticks.

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Believe it or not, there is actually lipstick on my lips in this photo. Hard to believe, because it is so, so sheer. I tried the other shades to see if they’d have more oomph.

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Umm, no. All of the dollar store lipsticks — which were by the brand L.A. Colors — were super sheer. This was one of my favorites — still very sheer, but at least it showed up.

These lipsticks were also pretty hard to apply. How can a lipstick be hard to apply, you ask? Well, it smudged really easily, and the shape made it hard to see where I was applying it. I think I could use these as a lip tint, rather than a true lipstick.

Lastly, I tried the E.L.F. lip lacquer in the shade Natural.

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At first, it looked like streaky frosting on my lips — too light for my skin, and the consistency was odd. But as it settled onto my lips, it looked like a normal, glossy nude, and I decided to use it for my final look.

I finished up with my regular makeup routine: blush, eyeliner, and mascara. (Sometimes I use highlighter or concealer, but with the dollar store makeup selection, that was not going to happen.)

The Colormates mascara was definitely my favorite out of the five makeup products I used. It applied evenly, and the pigment was a rich black. The Colormates blush, too, was good for my skin tone.

The makeup brush I used, though — the Kabuki brush by Sassy+Chic — was SO scratchy and rough that it felt like self-torture. Meanwhile, the Colormates “auto eyeliner” disintegrated off my face as soon as I applied it. I did a winged eye, but I think it was gone by the time I took the final photo.

The Final Look

The Final Look
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Aaand here it is, all finished. I slipped into my go-to nude heels, just in time to go out.

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The entire look cost $15.

$10 for the dress, and $5 for the makeup.

I guess I shouldn’t have written off the dollar store’s style options after all!

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The dress was comfy, and the makeup was passable. Next time, I’d probably skip the melty eyeliner and toss together a simple mascara + blush + lipstick look.

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Best of all, I felt like a sneaky life hack master the entire night. I kept thinking to myself, They don’t know where I got all this from! Mwahahaha!

10/10. Highly recommend.