Build a wardrobe you love while sticking to your budget
For most of us, budgets matter. And one thing that can easily eat up your budget or get out of control is your wardrobe budget. Whether you just want to add new things to your wardrobe, or you need to start over. It’s easy to lose control of spending or wonder where you should be spending instead. As I’ve said so many times, we never, never, ever go in debt over our clothes. A house? For most of us, yes. A car? Sure. Shoes? Never. And I love shoes. Most of us have a budget of some variety that guides our spending and the number one source of guilt and conflict for many of us is allocating our resources.
How do I spend my budget and I maximize my purchasing power? In some cases, how do I replace an entire wardrobe without breaking the bank? Once you have a clothing budget, how do you get what you want and stay within your means? How do you stretch those dollars and buy what you love? I definitely have tips on getting great deals, but that won’t help you unless you know these tips first.
This is the time of year when we start to think about our fall wardrobes. I know that sounds insane because it’s like 100 degrees outside, but we do because it’s back to school season. We get started on our fall wardrobes much earlier than one would think. And if you’ve got clothing shopping on the brain, whether for yourself or for the kids in your family going back to school, these tips will help you make the most of your clothing budget.
This article and the video below are taken from the Stunning Style Weekly Style Snack! Join us Wednesdays at 1pm ET on the Stunning Style Facebook page or the FREE Capsule Wardrobes for Classic Style Facebook Group.
Avoid the "good deal gremlins"
How many times have you said something like, ‘Oh, what a great deal this top is on clearance!’ or ‘This is designer and it only costs this amount!’ Well, if you’re anything like I used to be, passing up bargains feels like turning your back on the shopping fairies who have delivered the deal to you. We must not offend, lest they abandon us. But here’s the thing. Do you actually like it? Love it? Would you pay full price for it because you love it so much? How much will you wear it?
You would be shocked at how easy it is to nickel and dime away your budget. $25 here, $10 there, $50 with this. And before you know it, it’s gone. There is a difference between shopping fairies and good deal gremlins. Even if you consider bargain shopping an Olympic sport. Hey soul sister, I love it and I’m with you. Chances are that you’re spending way more money on clothes you don’t actually love or wear.
Look at the items you purge, the ones hanging in your closet with the tags still on them that give you a wave of shame every time you walk in. The ones you wore once and never again. Were they really good deals you couldn’t pass up, and that’s how they landed in your closet? Not because you actually loved them? I know how hard it is to resist an amazing deal, even if it’s on a crazy print skirt. Do you even wear skirts in a color that doesn’t suit you? Does it go with anything else you own or will you have to buy something to go with it?
Is that top super cute? Oh, it is. But is it perfect for you or someone else? Or what about a pair of shoes that pinch your toes but are otherwise perfect? Will you really sacrifice comfort for style and live with pinched toes? Maybe you will. I sometimes do, I confess. But many women won’t. And is this a shoe you’re supposed to wear on a regular basis? Sure, we can deal with pinched toes for special occasions, but not every day.
Knowing your boundaries is so important, so my first tip is to avoid the good deal gremlins. Really ask yourself, why am I tempted to buy this? Try shopping without looking at price tags first. Once you see what you actually love, you can look at the price tag and decide if that works in your budget. Don’t buy things just because they’re a good deal. If it’s a great deal and you love it, then you just hit the jackpot. The shopping fairies are with you! Otherwise, it’s the good gremlins and they are trying to eat your budget.
Shop With A Plan
The next tip might make you roll your eyes. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” That’s a very popular quote from Benjamin Franklin. Over quoted perhaps, but still very true. Shopping aimlessly and buying “whatever” is the fastest way to have too many clothes, nothing to wear and an empty bank account. Is your wardrobe cohesive? Do your items mix and match easily or is it full of wild card items you can’t pair? Are your wardrobe staples covered? Do you know what you actually have and what you need?
We have six kids, and this weekend is our tax-free weekend for back to school shopping. I’ve asked my children to do what I used to and go through their closets to see exactly what they have and love to wear. When I was in middle school I would make a list and then go through the newspaper ads, because this was pre-Internet. I would write down what I liked, what I wanted, what I thought I would wear for the upcoming school year. So I asked my children to do the same thing. I am not wandering the stores aimlessly with six kids, five of them teenagers, on tax-free weekend and trying to get them to tell me if they need pants and t-shirts. No, no. We are making a plan or they’re going to come home with nothing to wear for back to school.
You can do this for anybody, but you can do it for yourself, too. Have you ever come home with a new top only to realize you have three others just like it that you forgot about? I have done this so many times. My closet used to be so packed with things I didn’t love and wear that I couldn’t even see what I already had. And then I had another one and less money.
When you shop without a plan, you buy a lot of great (or not so great) things, but not necessarily what you need. And even if it is something that makes your heart pound faster, does it actually fill a hole in your wardrobe? Are you going to get any more mileage out of your wardrobe with the addition of these items? So my second tip is to shop with a plan. It will save you so much time, frustration and money and you come home with what you actually want and need.
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Shop Your Closet First
My next tip is to shop your closet first for items you already have that match your style. Pull out everything you really love, you feel great in, that suits your coloring and fits your lifestyle. Take an inventory of what you have, starting with the basics first. Then see what special pieces you have. I guarantee there are lost gems hidden in the racks in your closet, dying to come out and be loved.
Put them all together at the front of your closet. Don’t bother with a purge, we are not getting caught up in the ‘if you give a mouse a cookie’ cycle. That’s a story about me, I know of what I speak. Do not let this become a spiral into this enormous project that overwhelms you and makes you give up. This doesn’t have to take hours. Just go through and pull out what you like based on your gut reaction. Don’t overthink it. Pull out these things, put them in the front of your closet where you can find them easily, and make outfits that you will feel fantastic in. The rest of it can come later if you want it to.
Find The Gaps
Tip number four is find the gaps. Now that you have your collection of what you have and love, what’s still missing? Do you really want what feels missing or do you only think you should have it? You know those lists online that tell you 50 items that every woman should have in her wardrobe? I cannot tell you how many frustrated women I hear from who have followed these lists and have this “ideal wardrobe” that they don’t like. And that’s because you’re not a list. You’re not a clone of anyone. One list of 10 or 20 or 50 items is not going to work for every single woman.
So what do you actually want to fill your wardrobe? Would you wear it often? Does it fill a hole in your wardrobe, or is it just something you like and you would wear occasionally? Those are fine too, but if you don’t have a complete wardrobe, that is not where we start. Would these items expand your outfit options or provide some much needed variety? Is there something that you could purchase that would tie together several other pieces in your existing wardrobe and create many more outfits? Those are the gaps we’re trying to fill.
shop with intention
Tip number five is shop with intention, and this is what I’m doing with my children this weekend. Now that you know what you are missing, make a list so you can shop with intention for a workable wardrobe that you love and can make outfits from easily. It’s common to go shopping and grab whatever makes you swoon, and still have nothing to wear because it’s not what you actually need and none of it goes together.
Impulse shopping without a plan is one of the biggest reasons why so many women have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Prioritize your basics and pieces that will that you’ll get the most wear out of and the most versatility in your wardrobe. I have a clothing budget and my shopping budget has not changed in seven years. I now buy fewer, but much nicer, better quality clothes that I truly love instead of being the clearance rack queen.
I’m not saying I don’t hit the clearance racks, because I do, but I have my priorities in order and I can step away from the things that aren’t really going to work for me. I can walk away from good deals all day, every day, if it’s not what I really need. This allows me to spend more money on fewer and nicer quality items because I’m shopping from a list instead of picking up whatever I think is a good deal or looks really cute. I prioritize quality over quantity, and by quality I mean not only construction and fabric, but also what I truly love and will wear over and over again.
Which is really a better deal? A $20 top that will end up collecting dust in your closet or a $60 top that you adore and wear for several years? The answer is clear. Even though when you’re looking at the price tag, it may not seem that way, that a $60 top is a better deal. Because that $20 top was $20 in the toilet. You never actually wore it and you’re getting value from the $60 top, because the quality is so good that it will last and put up with that kind of wear.
When you’re more selective about what you buy, you get more value from the pieces you love. You’ll get a better cost per wear and you’ll have to replace items less often. You won’t be spending even more money trying to fill the hole you didn’t fill with the $20 top that you don’t wear.
If I won’t wear it, it is not a good deal. No matter how inexpensive, I’m willing to invest in things that I will wear over and over again. Does that mean I don’t still love a great deal? Oh I do. Does that mean I pay full price for everything and need it all to be the best brands? Absolutely not. But I won’t buy something just because it’s on sale and I’m willing to save for what I want. My point is the price tag does not get to 100% determine what you purchase. Definitely stick within your budget, but when you’re more conscientious about what you’re spending and you’re not frittering away your budget on things you don’t really love, you can make the most of your budget.
The Done-For-You Solution
The Stunning Style Classic Wardrobe Guides are a done-for-you wardrobe plan. It comes with a shopping list, an interactive shopping portal with links to anything you might need, and 100 outfits already created for you. The wardrobe is cohesive, mix and matchable, and with the weekly Style Steps I walk you through the process of curating your seasonal wardrobe and customizing it to your preferences and needs.
The very first Style Step we take is a try on of the featured items so that you can make a better decision about whether you want to buy any of those items. The second Style Step we take is showing you how I shop my closet for the items in the guide, because I don’t I buy all the things. I try them on for you just to check them for quality, color and fit. But then I send them back. I shop my closet every season and I give you ideas on how to shop your closet as well.
In the Stunning Style Society, we focus on shopping our closets first. We have a plan. We stay away from the “good deal gremlins.” With the shopping list, it’s easy to fill in the gaps after you’ve shopped your closet because you have a list already made for you to work through. This intentional approach saves the members of the Society so much money because they have purpose, and they’re getting things they love, and getting dressed has never been easier, and they get access to a community of incredible women and a whole lot of fun!
The doors to join the Society are currently closed, but the waiting list for the Fall season is open. You can learn more about the Society, the wardrobe guides and and join the waiting list here. The great thing about joining the waiting list is, after the members, you’re the first to know when the guide is available, so you definitely want to be on the waiting list so you don’t miss out.