Tag Archives: clothes

How to Create and Maintain a Wardrobe Budget

money_savingImage via Flickr

While I’m fortunate to have a job that keeps a roof over my head and food on my table in a very expensive city, I don’t have an abundance of extra cash to spend on my wardrobe. It can be a bit of a tease that New York is such a fashion-conscious city, yet after most people have paid their rent there isn’t much left over to add unnecessary frills to their closet.

I’ve been living and, subsequently, getting dressed in New York for nearly 7 years with relative success. Here are a few of my tips for making the most of your budget without ending up in shoe debt!

Establish Your Budget

I manage my budget on a monthly basis using Mint. The amount that I can spend on my wardrobe changes by the month depending on how much I’ll make (some months I have freelance income and some I don’t) and what other things I know I’ll have to spend on. Generally, I spend no more than $250 per month on clothing, and it’s always the first thing that I scale back on during months that I have a lot of expenses. You’d be surprised at what you can get on a small budget if you are smart about how you spend it!

Don’t Pay Full-Price

This seems like an obvious one, but I can’t stress the importance of researched shopping enough. It might satisfy your shopping needs to just buy on the spot in a store, but I’ve found that there is almost always a way to get what you want for less. Before you buy, check sites like RetailMeNot for coupon codes, Google the style name to see if any other stores carry the same item for less, or wait it out until there is a coupon or a sale. For example, I love Piperlime, but I rarely buy anything there without using the 20% off coupons that they make available every few weeks! I also try to find discounts at stores where I have a gift card — if you can cover most of your purchase with a coupon and a gift card, your out-of-pocket expense is much less.

Set Up Sartorial Savings

Let’s face it: we’ve all lusted after that bag, or that skirt that will blow our monthly budget completely. If you are passionate about owning big-ticket wardrobe items, prove your devotion to yourself by creating a wardrobe savings account that you contribute to throughout the year. Friend cancelled on dinner tonight? Drop the $40 you would have spent into your savings account. I would actually suggest setting this up even if you don’t have something particular in mind right now — better to have the funds saved up if it’s an item that will sell out before you had the opportunity to save for it!

Plan Seasons Ahead

We’re headed into the spring and summer now, but I’m already thinking about things I’ll need to purchase for the fall. I find that especially in the fall, we tend to need more expensive items (i.e. jackets, boots), so it’s best to start thinking about these things as soon as possible and plan accordingly. Likewise, the spring and summer can be heavy on weddings for some people, so planning to pad your wardrobe budget for these items is smart.

Create Wardrobe Goals

Once in a while, go through your wardrobe and assess where it’s lacking. Think about what happened when you were getting dressed that morning: did you put away the first thing you reached for because you didn’t have the right shoes to go with the outfit? Maybe you’re bored with wearing the same outfit over and over. Whatever the case, set aside some time to take a real, objective look at what’s in your closet and play around with new combinations. Your goal should be a wardrobe that feels easy-to-use and versatile. Once you identify what would bridge the gaps in your wardrobe (i.e. some new t-shirts or a pair of neutral flats), make filling them a priority before you spend on yet another one-use top.

How do you plan your wardrobe budget?

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It’s Shocking! Neons for Spring

No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to pull myself away from ne0n colors. Like a moth attracted to an outrageously obnoxious fluorescent light, I keep coming back to this bright and punchy spring trend while never having the courage to just go on and try it. Although you’ll probably (ok, make that definitely) never see me in the lovely Christopher Kane number pictured above, I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate a little more fluo-fun into my wardrobe for spring.

This pair of heels from Zara marries two partners of one of the best color combinations, in my opinion: nude and fluorescent. The neutral color of the shoe balances out the crazy pop of bright yellow, making it completely wearable.

If you haven’t seen and/or drooled over one of Cambridge Satchel Co.‘s fluorescent satchels yet, I don’t really know where you’ve been. I can imagine that wearing one of these bags with an otherwise simple outfit would just make such a statement. The other awesome thing is that you can opt to have your initials embossed on the front of the bag, which I think is so old-timey and cool.

Would I wear this dress? Maybe if I had a really, really good excuse to look like a paillette-ed Big Bird. I can’t imagine how much this sucker by ASOS BLACK weighs, much less how you’d sit down in it without ruffling your sequins into a terrible state, but sometimes there are more important things in life than answering rational questions.

I really love the beautiful, tailored look of this Nanette Lepore blouse, and it’s made just that much better by being bright, neon orange. This is definitely a more wearable option than the Big Bird dress, but obviously not as risky. And let’s face it… if you don’t take a little risk and look like you’re lost and trying to find your way back to Sesame Street, how much fun are you really having?

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3 great designers to shop in Paris

Shopping in Paris wasn’t quite as much fun as it should have been — the exchange rate is pretty terrible right now, so it’s tough to part with your Euros when you think about how much it is in U.S. dollars. Regardless, I had a lot of fun checking out all of the French designers that our stores don’t carry. I ended up coming home with one lovely dress as a souvenir of my visit, but I definitely had to restrain myself from buying more!

Claudie PierlotThis designer really has the Parisian chic thing going on. Every piece I saw looked beautifully tailored, really unique, but classic enough that wearing them was effortless. Their spring/summer collection has a lot of pieces done in the star print that you see on the blazer — I tried on an adorable silk zip-front dress in the same pattern that was perfectly flowy and whimsical!

MajeAs far as I can tell, Maje is super-popular in France. There are a pretty good number of boutiques around Paris, and the line was carried at both Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, two of their biggest department stores. Maje is definitely for the fun girl who likes her clothing to be a little flirtatious. I saw such pretty asymmetric silk dresses, flashy blazers with sequined arms, and these fun red trousers in the collection. They also have a really cool blog called Un Air de Maje that will make you love them even more!

EtamI’m not sure if I would call Etam so much of a “designer” as a “brand.” There are Etam shops all over France and other parts of Europe, but the ones I really liked were their lingerie shops. The underthings and pajamas that they carry are very affordable, and we also saw some adorable bathing suits at the shop as well. I fell in love with the cotton pajama set on the left, but I sadly left without it. Maybe next time!

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Little White Dress

White has never been my best color. I’ve convinced myself over the years that my skin is just far too pale to carry it off, especially when it comes to dresses. I love the idea of a pretty, flowy, feminine white dress, but I picture myself looking more like Ophelia (you know, after she drowned in the river) than like the free-spirited hippie frolicking in a flowery meadow.

I finally got over my fear and ordered a white dress from ASOS last week, but when it arrived today I was disappointed — the color and style were great, but the dress was cut a little awkwardly and the fabric was so sheer that even wearing a slip underneath revealed more than I was willing to show off in public. So now the good news is that the color (or absence of color) looked good on me. The bad news is that I need to find a dress constructed well enough to conceal what needs to be concealed. Here are a few I’ve got my eye on.

Staring at Stars Gauze Dress at Urban Outfitters — This dress is lovely and simple, and the off-white color of the fabric works a little better on pasty girls like me!

Trina Turk Geralyn Dress at Piperlime — Oh, how I wish I could afford this beauty right now. The cut of this dress is so pretty and flattering, and the lace adds a nice touch of class to it.

Sunburst Maxi Dress at Free People — This is definitely something I’d have to wear a belt with so that it didn’t look huge, but I’m really liking the length of this dress and the pleated detail at the bust. It would look adorable with a brown belt cinched at the waist and a really bright bag to add a little color.

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