7 ways to build your wardrobe without breaking the bank

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The beginning of a new spring season not only calls for warmer weather, but new updates to your wardrobe as well. Before the thought of yet another expense makes you cringe, take a look at these helpful tips to save you money, without sacrificing your style.

1. Start with a budget.

You can’t monitor your spending if you don’t know what you’re working with. Make a list of your monthly expenses, and of the remainder, allow yourself a specific amount for clothes and accessories. Do not neglect to factor in any major wardrobe expenses you are anticipating such as a new trench coat or pant suit. A little really does go a long way. Give yourself a monthly budget and gradually add pieces to your collection, and before no time you’ll have a complete wardrobe for the season. This way, you are constantly adding freshness to your look, without breaking the bank.

2. Make a date with your closet.

One of the best tasks to complete before you are off to the stores. Skim your closet and try on anything you might question, separating the “love it” from the “leave it” piles. Carefully look over what you decide to go forward with, and jot down what you feel you are missing for the upcoming season.

3. Plan of action.

Familiarize yourself with the trends and styles of the season, and once you know the looks you’d like to capture, and what’s left to work with in your closet, add to the list of staples you need. You now have a guide to follow when you are shopping, to keep you focused and on track for the items you truly need. Prioritizing your list is also very important and beneficial. For example, if you are starting to shop in April for wear-now fashion, jean shorts and sleeveless tops should not be a priority. It has to make sense.

4. SALE! SALE! SALE!

I agree, sales are great, but to get a bargain you have to know how to really shop them. Always be aware of the return policy of the store you’re shopping. Many times you will find that sale, particularly clearance merchandise, is final sale. Also, keep in mind that department stores will tend to offer better sales and specials, and more frequently than boutiques. Once again, continue to use your list to guide you. Sales are always tempting, but if you find yourself going after items you don’t really need, you are defeating the purpose.

5. Quality vs. quantity,

I am a strong believer in splurging a little on your classic pieces that you can and most likely will, wear time and time again. These pieces will include items such as everyday work pants, blazers, suit jackets and shoes of course. A good pair of jeans as well. If you are constantly wearing these pieces, it will not save you any money if you are continuously replacing the less expensive choices due to poor quality. These are the pieces you will wear from season to season no matter what the trend. That is how you can diversify. Trendy styles are just that, just a trend that will eventually fade away. Why spend more on these looks, when you can find great deals if you shop around? The lesson, it is okay to spend a little more on the classics, but save on the fashion-forward trends.

6. Mix and match.

Basics are a must-have, and it never hurts to invest in your basic neutral colors, no matter what the garment or accessory may be. You are bound to get the most use out of your basics. A guaranteed match for fashion colors or prints, creating endless options, you can’t go wrong with basic color.

7. How to choose.

You are out shopping finding lots of great buys, so what’s the problem? Problem is, you are on a budget and you need help deciding what to choose. First and foremost, TRY IT ON! Do you really want to spend your evening after work or Saturday afternoon making exchanges and returns? Didn’t think so. Try everything on, and when you do, ask yourself: a. Do I love it? b. Does it flatter my shape? c. Will I really wear it? If you can enthusiastically answer Yes! to every question, you should be easily convinced. Believe it or not, you can easily weed out choices by trying them on. Something that looks great on the hanger won’t always look the same on you. Also, make sure you don’t already own nor have another item selected, which serves the same purpose. For instance, you have two black sweaters that can both be worn to work, with jeans, with your favorite skirt… just pick one. Another important factor is want vs. need. You are shopping on a budget for a reason; make sure you need the items you are purchasing. Make it worth it.

Shopping on a budget may feel restricting, but you can have fun with it and save money at the same time. Use these tips and challenge yourself to be a savvier shopper. You’ll be surprised how much wear you can get out of a dollar.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

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