For most of us, frequently buying fashionable new clothes is a luxury. I’m the first to admit that I could go for years without buying anything new and still have plenty to wear. But economic crisis or not, the change in season has caused me to long for something new to brighten up my cold weather wardrobe. Given my profession, staying away from stores and sitting out a season is not an option. Telling myself sternly that “there will be no new clothes” backfires the same way “dieting” always has for me. It also makes me joyless and negative and unable to participate fully in the celebration that is a shopping day for my clients. I’ve developed some techniques over the years that allow me to modify my spending as needed and still continue to feel enthusiastic about fashion.
At the moment, there is a lot of ink being devoted to spending less on clothes. Vogue Magazine suggests ingenuity, and a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle coined the term “Recessionistas.” Many of the articles I’ve read are focused on how to shop for deep discounts. After over twenty years of helping women shop during economic ups and downs, I have some suggestions of my own.
The most important money saving advice is to choose wisely and selectively. Make sure that whatever you buy really fits. No compromising. One pair of perfectly fitted pants is the best bargain of all, because nearly every top or jacket you put with it will look great. The garments that almost fit are the most expensive, because you have to buy additional items to make them look right.
My second piece of advice is to evaluate what you genuinely need and will wear most often. My fall/winter daily go-to outfit is jeans, a long sleeved washable top, and a sweater, jacket or vest. I’ll be looking to see how I can update these staples with an unusual color combination or unique layering effect, but I won’t be straying into styles that I am attracted to but know I will rarely wear. I want to be practical and still have fun.
My final suggestion is to buy one thing that lifts your spirits, something in a great color or pattern that makes you feel happy. A scarf or necklace might be just the thing that ties your garments together and gives you a needed lift. You can download the chapter on Accessories in Growing More Beautiful: An Artful Approach to Personal Style for more inspiration.
The most important thing is to buy something that really satisfies you. Even though that may seem obvious, it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Take your time. Enjoy looking. Let luscious color and texture lighten your heart. And remember: When it comes to buying clothes, satisfaction is the key to not wreaking havoc with your finances. On the other hand, if worries have got you down and you don’t feel like you can effectively focus, just treat yourself to what I call a “cheap thrill,” and pick up a little inexpensive something that is useful or makes you happy in the moment. If it is a great deal, write and tell me about it and I’ll pass it on.