Whether you’re a fashion maven or all about the basics, buying clothes shouldn’t be a budget buster.
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But just how much of your budget should go toward your wardrobe can vary greatly.
“If you love clothing and prioritize it in your budget and minimize spending in other areas to funnel money to the thing you care about, that is okay,” said Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial.” “It’s about making it balanced with other elements to have a well-rounded financial life…but you shouldn’t be going into credit card debt for clothing.”
Here are some money saving tips on filling out your closet:
To help decide how much to spend on an article of clothing try to assess the cost of wear, recommended consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.
Spending more money on quality pieces that you can wear often and will last a few years can make more financial sense than buying cheaply-made items.
For instance, spending $100 on a well-made blazer that you can wear often and through many seasons makes more sense than having to replace a $40 one of lesser quality every time it fades, stretches out or starts to fray.
“Investing and spending money on good quality material that will last longer can get you more for your money,” Woroch said. “You don’t want to spend $100 on a new blouse that is very trendy and that you end up wearing a few times.”
Create a simple base
Build your wardrobe on foundational pieces that can be used in many different ways.
That means things like classic dress pants that can be worn with a variety of tops, a versatile blazer, or a classic white shirt that can be dressed up or down.
“Everyone has different ways of expressing themselves, but if you keep your capsule wardrobe fairly simplistic, you can layer with jewelry, scarves, shirts and other ways to bring pops of color and ‘of-the-moment’ things,” said Lowry.
Go through your wardrobe periodically to take stock of what you have and what you need.
This not only prevents you from buying a third black V-neck shirt, but also alerts you to what you’re missing so you have time to shop around instead of hastily buying that undergarment at full price because you need it immediately.
And when online shopping, don’t hit the buy button right away. Walk away from the computer and take some time to review whether you really need the item.
‘One in, one out’ rule
One way to really tell if you need a piece of clothing and to avoid wasteful spending is to establish a rule that nothing new comes in without something being removed.
And put the clothing you are getting rid of to good use. Try selling unwanted items at online or brick-and-mortar secondhand shops or donating them.
Some retailers, including the The North Face and Madewell, offer discounts for recycling apparel.
Bonus: You’ll also keep your closets from overflowing with old items you no longer wear.
“Make sure you find a deal, there is always a promo code, percent off or shipping code,” said Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot.
Sign up for any promotional materials from your favorite brands and stores and follow them on social media to learn about special sales and coupons.
“Even luxury brands… they send coupons,” said Woroch. “Asking the store associate if they have a coupon or a deal for you can work.”
To avoid extra junk mail or temptations in your inbox, she suggested having a separate email account to use when signing up for promotions.
Shop end-of-season sales
Stores need to move merchandise to make room for the upcoming season’s offerings. And that usually means discounts.
“You can get 40% to 60% off at end-of-season sales,” said Woroch, who stocks up on basics. “I size up for my kids. So for the summer, I will grab tank tops or a pair of sandals. Everyone knows what they gravitate toward.”
But remember: No matter the discount, it’s not a deal if you don’t end up using it.
What’s old is new again
After staring at our closets every morning, things are bound to feel a little stale.
Bringing in someone with a fresh perspective can help us spice up our wardrobe again by spotting some hidden gems or offering outfit inspiration.
“I love having friends help me put outfits together,” said Lowry.
Take care of your clothes
Before making a purchase, check the care instructions.
“The way you take care of your clothing can affect your overall cost if you are wearing it down,” said Woroch. Washing or drying on the wrong temperature or ignoring instructions to hand wash can affect the longevity of your clothes.
She said she prefers buying higher-quality denim because they last longer and fit better, and because she washes them in cold water inside out and only hang dries them they’ve lasted for more than eight years.
Also take note of whether a new wardrobe piece is dry clean only, that not only adds more cost, but also more time.