Building a stylish wardrobe on a budget

 

Loving to shop isn't anything strange. Neither is wanting to look good. The trouble comes when your love of great fashion starts crossing swords with your love of eating food, putting gas in your gas, or using electric lights in your home. When you have to choose between "looking great" and "living well" there's a problem.

The average American family spends about $1,700 each year on clothing, which actually represents a fairly small percentage of a family's annual expenses. When you overspend on clothing, however, it sends damaging ripple effects throughout the rest of your budget - effects you may not notice until they've grown too large to ignore.

Your best bet, therefore, to be proactive. If you love shopping for clothes, consider these simple tips to help you spend less on the clothing and accessories you crave.

Shop before you need something.
Shopping on impulse or at the last minute can leave you with an overpriced item you don’t like. It’s best to plan ahead and give yourself time to research the best price and buy something you’ll love.

Look for end-of-season deals.
The best time to buy a winter coat is after the winter season winds down and the spring shipment begins to come in. If you buy items during off-season you can save a bundle. The trick is to buy items you will wear and avoid buying something just because it is on sale.

Find bargains at resale shops.
Resale stores carry stylish, gently worn pieces. You can resale your old clothes and earn a few bucks or just exchange what you own for something in the store of equal value. There is usually a fashion buyer on-site to personally inspect the clothes for wear-ability and style.

Checkout great deals online.
Online shopping sites such as eBay and Amazon are great places to buy clothes. To have a successful experience always purchase an item from a seller who has a solid reputation and lots of positive comments; check all measurements to make sure the item will fit you properly; and verify the price is reasonable by researching what it sells for elsewhere.

Mix and match pieces.
Buy items that you can mix and match with a variety of pieces. Make sure you can wear the item for a variety of occasions. This will cut down on shopping trips and cost less money. *A good rule of thumb to buying shoes is to make sure you can wear them with at least five different outfits.

Invest in the basics.
This is an old style rule. Everyone should have a nice, crisp white shirt; a good pair of black, tailored pants; a nice pair of blue jeans; and dress shoes. To cut down on shoe buying get one pair of silver, gold, black, flesh-tone, red, and your favorite color shoes. These are stable colors. You’ll be able to wear them with anything. Don’t buy shoes that are too trendy and it's often preferable to invest in a really good pair since you won’t have to buy new ones for awhile (depending on how often you wear them).

Look for special promotions.
Sign up with your favorite stores to receive coupons and special promotions through the mail or email. Many stores send out coupons to customers who have signed up. This will also inform you of special sales and clearance events.

This is an updated version of an article that originally ran in 2009.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.