Besides the fact that I typically want everything I see in Target, I clearly don’t buy it all. So how does one go about having a versatile wardrobe without breaking the bank? I have a few rules for what I buy now. Fortunately, I’ve always been budget conscious and grew up fairly frugal so I’ve never truly gone off the deep end with my spending. However, once we stopped bringing in half of our income, we needed to make changes and these have become my go-to rules for shopping.
First things first. I have to have the money. I realize this sounds silly and may be a ridiculous statement, but I mean it. I have to have the money in my budget. I don’t have a credit card and don’t assume I’ll have the money. I have it at that moment. We have a Clothing line item in the budget each month. When I first started staying home this was about $75/month and was for the entire family. There were months when it was larger because we knew we needed something or months when it was zeroed out because we had other expenses to focus on.
Now this monthly budget ranges from $75-150/month. My husband and I also have spending money that can be used on whatever we want. Often my money was going to dinners and drinks for a girls night out, coffee or breakfast in the mornings and some clothing. As I’ve tried to focus more on clean eating or simple things like eating my leftovers for lunch, it’s freed up more of my personal spending money to use on clothes and shoes. In the months that I didn’t have much to work with, I enjoyed focusing on secondhand finds and still do, when time allows.
It makes me feel great. When I try on clothes either at the store or from an online purchase, if I have to hem and haw about it for a while, that’s a pretty good indicator I don’t love it. I’ve started to simply look in the mirror and ask, “Do I feel good? Do I love it?” If I can’t answer those pretty quickly and confidently it goes back on the rack.
It’s comfortable. So many times before kids, comfort wasn’t always a concern of mine but that’s now a game changer! Whether it’s the fact that I’m constantly bending over, carrying a kid on my hip or just that I’m in my thirties, I want my clothes to be comfortable. My sister still laughs that I used to wear my stilettos to the grocery store regularly.
I can style it and not ask, what am I going to wear this with?! Have you ever bought something that just seemed so cool or trendy and then it sat in your closet with the tags on it until years later it finally went in your donation pile? Yup, me too. Unless I’m buying something for a special occasion, I make sure I can wear the piece in my regular life – on-the-go go as a mom, to work, out for a typical date night, etc.
It’s a good price and on sale. You’ll see that I verrrrry rarely buy anything over $40-50 unless it’s a jacket or some item that has a physical requirement for great quality like snow boots or running shoes – things I’m going to wear out and get my money’s worth. As you’ll see on my Facebook page, there’s always a sale or deal to be had in most cases, so why buy something when it’s not on sale? There’s a few exceptions to this rule for me if I really think it won’t go on sale, has sold out before or I think it will sell out and I really love it. But bottom line is, it’s a good and reasonable price.
I don’t just buy it because it’s a couple bucks. Another mistake I’ve made in the past is buying something because it’s ONLY $5. If it’s only $5 and I love it and/or I’m going to get good use out of it – great! Love that deal! But if I’m thinking, “this looks okay, I could wear it with this… I could pull this off… I could make some adjustment to make it work…” then, the answer is no. These are other items that have cluttered my closet before and just eventually end up being donated.
Window shop. I love to see what’s out there and see what makes sense for my wardrobe and my budget. This means I check out things online, go shopping, try on items in the store…and make a wish list of items I may be interested in buying even if I’m not doing it immediately. This especially helps with those “Love this!” items, the more I keep going back to a particular piece helps me know I really like it and will get good use out of it.
Return when necessary. We all do it, we make impulse purchases and sometimes too much at once. If I spend too much of my money early in the month and there’s definitely something else I’d prefer later in the month I may take a piece I started to question back to the store.
There’s always the capsule wardrobe idea, too, but it’s just not more me! I agree with closet staples but I love the thrill of fashion and always have so I’m trying to enjoy it and be responsible about it. Hope this helps you on your shopping adventures!