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Rags to Riches

One woman's words of Wisdom

By Leeza CooperPublished 10 months ago 4 min read
Leeza, wearing a $15 skirt from Vinnies, belt $10, cardigan $5, shoes a gift.

If you find for any reason - the most usual being domestic violence - that you’ve suddenly got no money, there’s still no reason not to look fabulous....

Leeza Vinnies Dress $20

Let me tell you a quick story. A brilliant movie director who came from Eastern Europe had to escape overnight in order to save his family and his life. He had almost nothing other than the clothes in which he and his family landed in London. He was totally broke. Reassuring his wife and children that he knew exactly what he was doing, he spent his last few pennies buying a suit, shirt, tie and shiny shoes. Then he went to the Ritz Hotel, and just sat there, drinking tea and eating a sandwich. He looked amazing, like a millionaire. And it didn’t take long for people to introduce themselves. They then began to introduce him to influential people, and soon he had offers of work to make adverts and movies. He quickly became established, wealthy and successful. Even the look of success breeds success, trust me I know.


It’s an illustration that if you look poor, you’ll act poor and people probably won’t respect you. But if you spend a few bucks carefully, choosing your clothes from OpShops and charity stores, with care and an eye to what makes you look good, then you can look fabulous for a minimal cost. And if you look fabulous, you’ll be fabulous. When my ex- robbed me of my home, my possessions and I was forced to pay his debts because he’d forged my name on bank documents, I had nothing…literally nothing. I lived in a caravan with four young children. But I spent a handful of dollars on beautiful second-hand clothes from OpShops and charity stores, and I looked and felt great. My children also learnt the value of a dollar and how to be creative and inventive, and not just in dressing themselves but in every aspect of their lives.

Discovering my artistic side gave me the courage to face my adversities, and succeed.

Leeza, Vinnies dress $25 worn in The Patriot Pageant.

Clothing is much more than how we dress. It’s how we present ourselves…how we look to the world, and how the world looks at us. And yes, it’s how we sell ourselves. It shows others how we respect ourselves. No, it’s not trivialising. It’s a first impression, which opens up people’s minds and colors their view of us and who we are. People are aesthetic creatures. You’re evaluated in the first few seconds of being looked at and met. After that initial judgement, then you will be assessed on the basis of your character, personality and energy.

Leeza, Garrage sale dress $15, shoes Facebook $10

One of the saddest moments in my life is when domestic violence women i mentor say to me that they look and feel lessened because of their new circumstances, because they’ve been deprived of the funds they used to have. They feel dowdy and reduced as women.

I immediately take them to a charity shop, spend half an hour carefully choosing their clothes with them, and watch their reaction when they see themselves in the mirror. It changes their whole outlook on life and what’s happened to them. And without fail, they walk out of that shop more positive and determined.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re tall or thin, large or slender….all of us, anybody, can look fabulous for a few bucks.

Almost every day, I walk in somewhere, and somebody looks at my dress or suit, and remarks on how fabulous it is. I take enormous pride in telling them that it cost me, “Five bucks.” The look on their face is priceless. And I feel proud in telling them. So if you look at ALL the pictures on my website and in my instagram and Facebook, not a single outfit cost me more than $30.

It really isn't the end of the world if you cant afford designer dresses or bags because clothing shouldn't hold a certain value based on its price rather the feeling it gives us. Vintage and well loved fashion that is donated holds a certain kind of energy that can be comforting and warm.

I am a women who has lived both sides of the fence and back again, and now I choose to utilise my money for holidays and experiences that bring me joy and happiness. I've had the flashy expensive clothing and shoes, designer bags, and everything else that goes with it including the high maintenance husband. But the truth is none of that gave me the love I needed, or the thrill of the search, or the artistic explosion of my senses as I discover hidden treasures from yesteryear, or the joy in my heart as I sit in a cafe looking at my finds minus the guilt of spending too much. When I put together an ensemble that I know no one else would ever be wearing and then head out the door looking a million bucks but costing $30 or less.

I may dress cheap but I am never cheap, there is a HUGE difference!

I am also unique and eclectic because I can be!

You can too can thrive by living a thrifty life!

If you haven't tried it, don't knock it or me until you do!

Love & Light


Leeza in markets Paddington Sydney


About the Creator

Leeza Cooper

Leeza Cooper, a devotee, artiste, creator of published literature & poetry; Studied Degree CU, founder/president of Wheels & Dolls SMC; raising funds for DV, lover of travel, nostalgia & anything vintage.

Ms Australia International 2023.

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