Buy Only What You Love To Save Money on Clothes
Building a wardrobe on a budget can be a challenge, but the trick is to buy only what you love if you want to save money on clothes.
It may seem like buying clothes is easy, but shopping can be a lot more complicated than it looks on the surface. There are so many potential pitfalls. It’s easy to chase sales and fill your closet with a lot of pieces, until you realize “you have nothing to wear.”
The problem starts with not having goals before you walk into the store. That’s the worst thing a shopper can do: shopping aimlessly. Shoppers without goals end up with a lot of trendy pieces at huge discounts, only to realize they can’t wear any of them outside of a rock concert.
Just because something is on sale and fits in the dressing room doesn’t mean you’re going to love it later. Or even have a use for it.
The best way to approach buying clothes and building a wardrobe that you won’t have to cram under the bed next season is two things:
1. Have a plan
2. Buy only what you love
To start getting control of your clothing expenses, categorize your needs into basic areas around where you will wear different types of clothing:
2. Trendy Outings
3. Sports Activities
4. Casual Outings and Around Town
5. Date Nights and Dinner Parties
6. Around the House
7. Upscale Dining, Holiday Parties, and Special Events
A lot of issues people have when trying to get dressed is looking at everything in the closet equally and trying to assemble an outfit from hundreds of pieces that have no relevance to the activity you are about to do. It’s overload and it’s one of the reasons people stare at their closets for 30 minutes and still can’t come up with an outfit to wear.
Now, look at your closet as though you’re a problem solver. Before you shop, ask yourself key questions about your clothing to determine what you really should be buying.
1. “When do I complain the most about having nothing to wear?”
If you always have something to wear when you’re getting ready for work, but are freaking out with nothing to wear before a date, it’s clear that your next shopping trip should be focused on finding outfits for dates. Don’t buy separates with the expectation of coordinating later. Don’t buy multi-functional clothes that are expected to do many tasks okay and none fantastically. Put together your date night outfit in the store and walk away with something awesome and ready to wear.
You’re probably having trouble dressing on date night because you don’t have a handful of go-to outfits. Build those date night outfits in advance. You don’t need 20 blouses, 10 skirts, and six pants to confuse you. You need five well-defined outfits. The bottom line is to ask yourself when do you have the most trouble getting dressed and shop around that problem, with focus.
2. “Which pieces in my closet have I not worn for three years?”
A lot of clothing experts will tell you that you should toss anything you haven’t worn in a year. That’s not realistic when you work from home, work part-time, or have a variety of activities that you don’t always engage in. For example, just because you haven’t worn your hiking pants and fleece jacket in a year doesn’t mean your life won’t shift and you’ll start having free time next fall to start hiking again. Yes, keep those clothes tucked away somewhere that you can retrieve later. If you decide you hate hiking and don’t want to set foot on a mountain again, by all means toss the items into the resale or donation pile.
Also, you what if you used to be in an office but started to work from home? If you have 20 suits hanging in the closet collecting dust for a year, there’s no reason to get rid of them. Just be aware that you’ll probably need to update them with modern accessories and shoes if you start wearing them again. Be prepared to recycle trendy designs that have dated colors or details.
3. “Which items do I continually move to the back of my closet?”
If you have several shirts that you genuinely never wear and they always seem to be in the way, it might be time to send them to the resale shop or donate them. Haven’t touched them in three years? It’s time. They need to go. They’re taking up space and crowding your other clothes. If you just can’t bear to part with them, put them into a sealed plastic storage bin and store them in a cool, dry place. If you come across the bin after totally forgoting the clothes were there, they failed the test. Get rid of them!
4. “What are the 10 items I wear the most for each clothing category?”
This is where you realize just how few clothes you wear. Pull out the 10 items in your closet that you wear the most for each clothing category. Place them on your bed. Look at what’s left in your closet. Think of the 80/20 rule. Now make that 90/10 for clothes.
You wear 10% of your clothes 90% of the time. 90% of your clothes sit in your closet for years, taking up space. Why does this happen? Because of unfocused shopping. You’re buying things on sale, but not things you dearly love. Consider packing away all those extra clothes and making your closet life easier!
Seriously, try stowing away 80-90% of your clothes as an experiment. The items you go digging for are the ones to add back into the closet. The rest of them should be put on probation.
5. “Which items in my closet do I feel the best in?”
This is how you get a feeling for your personal style and the kind of cuts, colors, fits, and fabrics you should be buying when you shop. If you’ve bought several flowing blouses of a sheer fabric and you never wore them, that should tell you something. Do you love your cotton/poly shirts and have been wearing them everywhere? When you’re shopping, remind yourself to select items that are similar to what you love. And not another item like all the things you rarely wear.
Just because something is gorgeous, trendy, on sale, and in your color does not mean it’s a good buy. Train yourself to only buy items you could see yourself wearing again and again. No matter how great the deal or how cute the style, if it’s not your style you won’t feel comfortable in it and you won’t wear it.
Mint.com shared a wardrobe infographic that suggests the best way to build a wardrobe based on simple pieces. This method recommends you buy a few coordinating items to keep your wardrobe simple and inexpensive. We’ve included the infographic because it has some valuable tips, particularly the theme of streamlining.
The one thing we’d like to emphasize is that while the infographic is helpful, only buy items you love. Don’t buy something just because it coordinates. If you don’t like khakis, don’t buy khakis. They’ll sit in your closet dying a lonely death. Buy what you love instead.
Wardrobe Tips for Buying Clothes on a Budget
Building a wardrobe and shopping for clothes isn’t easy. It’s also very expensive if you’re continually adding pieces to your closet without a plan. It takes some analytical thinking and some hard decisions, but looking at your wardrobe with a critical eye can help you streamline your choices and spend less money on clothes you’ll wear more often. And feel great in.