Jennifer is author of You Are What You Wear: What your clothes reveal about you. Here she shows you how to manage your wardrobe wisely.
These are tough financial times that we live in, but having a small budget does not mean that we need to skimp on style. Contrary to popular belief, you can build a fabulous wardrobe without compromising your credit! Here's how:
- Assess and Clean the Slate: The best wardrobes are built on items that are already in your closet. Before you shop, examine what you already have. Keep what works for your lifestyle, age, body, and coloring, and what actually makes you feel good. Remove anything that does not work with other pieces in your closet, has not been worn, does not work with your external self, and does not enhance the internal. The clothes that you choose to sell or consign will give you the seed money for new pieces.
- Find Your Look and Stick to It: Don’t walk out the door to shop until you know what your look will be. Use the pieces that remain in your wardrobe as a guide. Determine what your wardrobe classics are, not the ones that you are told are classic. If you are still having trouble, take the time to create a style file with magazine pictures or online images. You will notice a pattern of items and looks that you prefer, and it is those that you should shop for. Anything that doesn’t fit within your look, whether it be colourful or monochromatic, classic or trendy, safari or nautical, should not be purchased. This ensures that all items work together, and you will actually get wear out of what you buy.
- Less is More: Paradoxically, the fewer pieces you have in your wardrobe the more options you have. Spearheaded by Donna Karan in the 1980s, a capsule collection was composed of the least amount of pieces that would create the most outfit options. When you are on a budget you should focus on capsule pieces, such as a sheath dress, jean, blazer, or trousers, that will work in all seasons, for different events, throughout weight fluctuations, etc. These pieces must be multipurpose and multifunctional…and machine washable! If you must change things up for the season or trend, switch your shoes, jewellery, handbags, and other accessories that are often less expensive items.
- Shop Smart: Before you swipe that card or take out that cash, answer one question as objectively as you can: Is this item a need or a want? If it is a want, and you are concerned about your budget, put the item back. If the item is a need, buy if you are able to afford it. When buying during sales or in discount or second hand stores, where you may be more tempted to buy inexpensive items, ask the same question. This also holds true when shopping with friends or sales associates who might influence you to buy items when you don’t truly need them. Treating oneself is important, but if your financial situation does not allow for extravagances, buying out of want is merely a waste of money that is better suited for a need.
Read more on Jennifer's blog on The Psychology of Dress here.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @drjennyb