How to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank

How to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank

Couple weeks ago I had a wardrobe review with a client (let’s call her Ann) and it came to discussing the budget. We had a shopping list ready and I took her through the simple exercise mentioned  in the previous post to calculate the amount we’ll need for the shopping session. It came to just under 1200€. Ann’s face dropped and she said there is no way she could afford that amount straight away.

On a big scale of things it makes little difference to me how big or small is the client’s budget. There are ways to work around any amount. However, I had a feeling Ann was completely misjudging the investment already sitting in her wardrobe. Maje, Reiss, Claudie Pierlot, Ted Baker, Joseph, Mint Velvet and Jaeger were just some of the brands residing in her closet. Needless to say, the price point of those brands is a good bit higher than lower end high street. According to Ann, she only shopped once or twice a month, mostly because she ‘had to’. There might have been an event coming up that she needed a dress for, she might have seen something nice that she couldn’t leave behind, she might have spotted a top that ‘would be handy’ or might have picked something as a panic buy before an important meeting. You know, the usual.

When I’ve summed up all the purchases made over the last 6 months, the total came up to just shy of 2 000€. Ann was looking very pale and kept repeating she couldn’t have spent that much, especially that she still had trouble getting dressed in the morning! When reality started settling in, it became pretty obvious – Ann was spending anything between 150 to 400 euro a month on clothes. Her shopping habits didn’t seem extravagant to her as she was adding only one or two pieces at a time. She thought she was doing the right thing by going for quality over quantity. However, because there was no plan to how these purchases were made, they were all pretty random pieces, even if the quality was very good. She was now dealing with a wardrobe that had lovely bits in it but they weren’t working to their full potential. So she needed to put more investment behind it to justify all the previous mistakes.

While we’ll be talking a lot about how to make the wardrobe work and avoid the random-bits syndrome, what I want to focus on in this post is what to do when you find yourself in a similar situation – needing a lump sum of money for a wardrobe update and not having it.

STEP 1 – DECIDE ON YOUR PRIORITIES

What are the items that you are absolutely stuck without right now? What items would give you most options for mixing and matching?

These are the pieces that would not only fill in the gaps, but would help you create a good few looks with clothes that are already in your wardrobe.

Everything that is not an emergency buy or gives you only limited options, should be pushed towards the bottom of the list.

STEP 2 – ALLOCATE THE MONTHLY BUDGET

Decide how much money you can put aside for your wardrobe update every month. Look at your overall budget and see where you can cut costs to preserve the finances until this process is over. This amount will give you a rough idea of how long the whole update will take you. It might be 2 months or 6, depending on where you are financially. The biggest challenge you’ll face is staying on the right track.

Another option that works in some cases – see if you can sell any of your clothes/accessories that are not the right size or are not working for you. You can often raise some funds that way.

STEP 3 – LOOK FOR THE BEST PRICE/QUALITY RATIO

It could be an easy solution to go and buy your whole list in H&M or Zara. But you have to be realistic about how much wear you are going to get out of these pieces. You will find yourself in a similar position a season later with having to do yet another update because a lot of the pieces are looking tired. So my recommendation is always to buy the best quality you can afford. Especially if we are talking about a carefully put together shopping list. There are items on that list that can solve a lot of issues in your wardrobe (hopefully!) so you can expect to wear them on a regular basis. Invest in quality that will give you durability!

I always recommend waiting for sales if possible. You’d be amazed by the quality you can get without going over your normal price point.

If you updating the wardrobe at the start of the season when it’s too long to wait for sales, consider the following places for shopping:

  • TKMaxx
  • Outlets
  • Online discounted stores (like www.outnet.com, also some brands have their own online outlets like www.jaegeroutlet.com)
  • Ebay
  • Depop

The point is – there are always options out there to buy quality without pay full price. All it takes is a bit of a commitment and time.

 

It might seem like a much easier option to just keep going out and buying random bits that ‘will do’ for now. But you have to understand that by doing that you are ignoring the problem and just trying to deal with the consequences. Instead, put some time, effort and investment behind your wardrobe and trust me, you’ll be really glad you did!

Natalie x

P.S. Oh in case you were wondering, I’m not bitching about Ann behind her back. She happily agreed to be used as a case study. ‘As long as my husband doesn’t find out what a fool I was, I’m fine with the rest of the world knowing if it saves other women from committing the same mistake’, she said to me. So there you go, ladies, don’t repeat Ann’s mistake and go about your wardrobe budget the same way you’d go about planning the purchase of a car. You’d be surprised that sometimes it’s not much less of an overall investment.

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