There are some really fantastic articles out there about how to build up a work wardrobe. Learnvest has a great one on work wardrobes, and Real Simple has a helpful article (with pictures!) about all the “basics” you need to keep on hand in your closet. I’m not going to advise you on these things because I don’t consider myself a “fashion” expert, but I am going to tell you how I replenish my closet season-to-season on a budget!
Figuring out the “magic” number
I’ve mentioned before about how this Learnvest article says the average American household spends about 1800.00 per year on clothes. I still feel like this is a lot for just one person, but looking back over my bank statements I’ve passed this mark…easily. Usually I try to do 300.00 per season or 100.00 per month. You can either a) shop at the beginning of the season (like back-to-school or Spring) and swear off shopping for three-six months or b) shop a little every month. I’ve tried both approaches and gone over budget every.single.time-so my suggestion is find a number/approach you are comfortable with and stick to it.
I will throw in my two cents and say that both are equally fun (what’s better than shopping you ask? An all-out shopping spreeeeeeee), but if you want the most shopping pleasure for your dollar it is probably best to divide your money into smaller portions. Not shopping for six months at a time can be really hard for some people, and then they binge and it all goes to hell in a hand basket.
Take Inventory Of Your Closet
Depending upon the season and what you shopped for last year there could be a surplus of items in one category. After living in NYC for two years I have now have more sweaters and boots than I need in this mild southern climate. Also after two years in NYC all my shoes look horribly ragged from my adventures traipsing the concrete and subways. I notice I am in dire need of basic white t-shirts (I’m taking recommendations). It just depends on the person, but I’m willing to bet you have a lot of one item. I write down the things I’m missing, maybe a few items that need to be replaced (my trusty flats! a black tank top!). It usually comes out to about three tops and three bottoms based on trends and how quickly I wear things out. I shop a lot, but I also “wear out” a lot of items-as I try not to have too many clothes (See my Ten Items of Happiness page at the top!).
I also allow myself to “shop” magazines twice a year to see what the trends are. I had to cancel my monthly subscriptions since getting help for my shopping addiction but in the Fall and Spring I get to indulge. Based on what is in style I pick two-three of my favorite “trendy” pieces and write them down. For this Fall? A chambray shirt, a pair of “smoking slippers”, and a “duffle” shaped leather bag.
I take the number of items I “need” and divide my total budget by that number. If I need 10 items…300/10=30.00 per item. It doesn’t always work out this way, normally I only get to about half the items on the list, but it keeps me from spending too much on any one item, and turns staying on budget into a fun game, a hunt if you will. I want to see how far I can make my dollar go, bitches. Even though I have my “wish list” items above, I rarely buy them full price as I can usually buy similar items for cheaper. Still, it helps to have something specific in mind when you are hunting–Pinterest is great for this. It keeps you on point and cuts down on buying things “just to buy” or something that looked good in the store but wasn’t what you actually wanted. I’m all for falling in love at first sight and happy shopping accidents, but usually I pick out what I want beforehand and rarely change my mind.
Things I don’t include in my budget when I’m looking to add to my closet: underwear, belts, and gym clothes.
Once I’ve bought my new clothes for the season I need to make room in my closet. Clutter drives me nuts, and I like to be able to clearly see what I do/do not have. I have these awesome garment storage bags from The Container Store. I wrap all of my seasonal clothes in tissue (I never buy “new” tissue- mostly I just have it from presents or former shopping trips) with a few dryer sheets to keep the mustiness away. Wrapping them in tissue is an extra step, but in the cute storage box/bag it makes it feel like that much more of a present when I unwrap six months later. Trust me, no matter how long you have had an item if you box it away it will feel “new” again as opposed to you staring at it in your closet. There are so many things I’ve found in those boxes and said “oooh! I forgot I had this”. And who doesn’t like tricking themselves into thinking they’re getting a present?! It’s an awesome feeling. And it’s FREE!
How do you replenish your closet?