Wardrobe Budgeting Tips: When Your Taste Says Gucci, but Your Wallet Says Goodwill

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a rack of tops

You like to dress well for both work and play, and you’ve got the spot-on taste to pull off both. The problem: your budget is more suited to hand-me-downs than Hermes. Fortunately, it’s totally possible to have a luxe wardrobe without a 7-figure salary and a trust fund. However, you will need to budget and make some smart purchasing decisions (obviously). Here are some budgeting tips for creating a cultivated, stylish wardrobe, without breaking the bank.

Budgeting Tips for the Fashionista

1. Invest in versatile, high-quality core items.

Some people think of core items as their “capsule wardrobe.” These are the clothes you wear often and can’t live without. If there is a splurge-worthy area of your wardrobe, this is it.

Let’s say you need a new white t-shirt. Start by doing some research. (Seriously.) Look at you favorite designers. Don’t discount quality mass-produced brands like American Giant or “post luxury” labels like Everlane. Once you’ve picked your fav, start saving up.

Core items should be durable and versatile. You will wear these pieces for years, so pick neutral colors. Bright mint green may have been really trendy in 2015, but most women wouldn’t be caught dead in it now.

2. Find your best fit (and a good tailor).

It doesn’t matter what size you are: an improperly fitted garment won’t look good. Finding the fit that looks best on you simplifies shopping and will save you money in the long run. Go for mostly classical shapes. A simple shift will look fabulous longer than that trendy asymmetrical dress.

Even though it might be more money up front, you can save cash long-term by finding a good tailor. There’s nothing worse than seeing the perfect item on sale and realizing they’re sold out of your size. Buy a size up and bring it to your tailor. The end result will be flawless.

3. Pick a few accessories that work a lot of ways.

Coco Chanel famously said, “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” For both women and men, true style means being able to edit.

While the other budgeting tips focus on picking timeless items, you have permission to go trendy with accessories. The key is to choose accessories that work with a lot of outfits. For women, a bright silk scarf looks great around your neck, used as a headband, or tied to the strap of your purse. For guys, find a watch that works whether you’re wearing a t-shirt or a tuxedo.

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