Putting together a fabulous wardrobe that looks great and doesn’t break the bank can be tough. One of my most important jobs as a stylist is to help my clients use their resources well by learning where to invest their money and where to look for deals. Here are my top 3 picks from each category.
I totally get that it’s not fun to spend a big chunk of your budget on quality bras and underwear, but here’s the thing: Spending money on what people don’t see makes everything they DO see look even better. Think of good undergarments as an upgrade for every item of clothing you have. Shirts hang better, bulges and lines under pants disappear, and all of a sudden your clothes fit better and look more expensive. Quality bras and panties will last longer and be worth the investment in the long run. Besides, the right undergarments can take off 10-years and 10 pounds instantly!
Spend money on the shoes you wear most often for two reasons:
1. Your shoes define your style and it’s worth investing in a good pair or two to give you the look you want. If you spend your life in casual shoes--have good casual shoes!
2. Your feet will thank you. I’m not saying you have to be in lace-up orthopedics every day, but you’ll never regret spending a little more to get some comfort along with your style.
Shopping for pants is hard and there can’t REALLY be that much of a difference between $30 jeans and $130 jeans, can there? Oh yes, there can! Cheap pants have a tendency to droop and sag, giving your otherwise-put-together outfit a decidedly frumpy look. You get what you pay for on the bottom. Good-quality pants and jeans will withstand wear, tear, and care better than their low-quality counterparts. I always tell my clients “You can put a pair of $100 jeans with a $10 top, and look like a million bucks — but it doesn’t work the other way around!” Remember this one rule when deciding how to allocate your clothing budget: To look your best, spend your money from the inside out and the bottom up. You’ll never go wrong following that advice.
Everyday tops, especially tees, aren’t made to withstand lots of wearing and washing. Unfortunately, these are the pieces we wear and wash the most. While I don’t recommend buying the cheapest one you can find, I’ve yet to find an expensive tee that is “worth the money.” Look for sales on mid-priced tees and knits and accept the fact that t-shirts (especially white ones) will last a season or two, at best. I use end-of-season clearance to stock up on my favorite tops for the next year.
Special Occasion Items
Let’s look at this strictly from a “cost-per-wear” perspective. Chances are you’ll wear your fancy outfit once or twice, making it a really expensive purchase. You’re better off hitting the clearance racks or checking a store like TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack. If you know you’ll only wear the outfit once, try a site like RentTheRunway.com where you can rent an expensive designer dress for as little as $30.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look current and wear what’s trendy, but before you go all-in on the latest thing, make sure it’s a trend that YOU like and has staying power for you. Will you want to wear flamingos (or python, or floral, or chevron) print next year and the year after that? If not, consider swapping the pricey item for something a little more budget-friendly.