Wow! Has it really been a month already since my last post? I apologize for my inconsistency lately. Many of you already know I work as an Interior Designer by day and offer e-Design services so as soon as the weather feels remotely spring-like, I get an increase of design projects to keep me busier than usual on top of my usual mama duties to my active little 18-month old. I actually have a list of post topics that I've been meaning to write on and can't wait to share with you all soon.
Since I continue to receive requests for fashion-related posts as it pertains to being a classy woman and with spring arriving in just days, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk a bit about investing in the right pieces of clothing for the new season and beyond. Today, I'm sharing 8 tips that will help you maximize your wardrobe and keep you from wasting money on pieces you'll never wear. A classy woman's wardrobe is timeless, classic and filled with well made pieces that best reflect her sense of style and compliment her silhouette. I want to zero in on how you can build that kind of wardrobe.
Do you tend to buy clothing that still have the tags on months after you bought it? Do you own pieces that you realize you've actually only worn one time? This post is for you!
1. Take Inventory and Make a List- Just like grocery shopping, in order to stay on track (and within your budget) it's so important to make a list of what you actually need or are looking for in particular. It's easy to get sidetracked by a sale or all of the cute shoes and handbags only to realize you left the store and didn't buy that new blazer you needed for work. First, take stock of what you already own. So you don't end up with a closet full of the same types of items such as another black cardigan, striped blouse, dark flare denim, etc., look at what you already own and figure out what holes exist in your wardrobe. Maybe you're good in the professional attire department but lack a lot of casual clothes like a great fitting pair of jeans or no longer have a go-to little black dress which is a staple. This will not only save you time and money but it will help keep your closet and drawers more organized when you don't have so many duplicates.
2. Understand Your Body Type- One of the number one reasons why clothes hang in closets with tags still on is not because the opportunity hasn't arrived to wear it but rather that the color or overall silhouette/fit is not right for your body type. A classy woman makes note of what works well for her and what doesn't and steers clear of those that don't flatter her figure and skintone. Using myself as an example, I know that a lot of paler colors such as peach and light gray look terrible on me, they wash me out so I don't even waste my time trying them on. We all have favorite clothes we gravitate towards and wear more than others and it's usually because they are the most comfortable, fit well and we just feel good in them. In order to project confidence, you have to feel good about yourself and how you look in your clothes is definitely a great head start.
3. Quality over Quantity- Before bringing home some new threads, ask yourself if the quality is such that it would endure years of wear? Really, that should be your goal when purchasing anything. Take a look at the stitching. It is stitched securely or loosely with random threads hanging or buttons that don't appear to have a strong attachment to the garment? Zippers should all run smoothly and button holes should be stitched well. Jackets such as blazers as well as structured dresses should be lined. The overall fabric is a great place to start, if it looks cheap, no matter how cute the print or overall design, leave it on the rack.
4. Take a Selfie- Smartphones are the perfect tools to use while shopping, especially when you're going it alone. Snap a photo of yourself in the changing room wearing the new item or outfit you're considering. If you're feeling unsure, take a break and continue shopping elsewhere, trying on other options so you can compare how it fits. Salespeople are usually little help because most are there to make a commission from your sale so they'll almost always tell you something to encourage you to buy. You can also text a friend for honest feedback to avoid a return trip. Of course, if you're buying online (which I often do), you can use the same method in your mirror at home. Sometimes we see things more clearly when it's in a photo vs. on us.
5. Create 5 Outfits- While shopping, make a mental note of what other pieces you already own will coordinate with the one in question that you're considering. Will that new silk blouse you're trying on go with more than just a pair of black dress pants you love? Do you own a skirt that it will pair with nicely or another pair of pants in a different color or pattern? Can it also pair well with jeans or even a pair of dressier shorts? Unless it's an outfit or dress for a special occasion such as a wedding, it's imperative that it play well with other garments in your closet. Once you are home you can put on a little fashion show (as my husband calls it when I pull a bunch of items out of my closet and start trying everything on together) to see what works an what doesn't. If you successfully created 5 or more different outfits with various accessories, shoes, jewelry then the item is for sure a keeper. If you're getting stuck with just two different looks, your money is better spent on something else. This is another great time to pull out a camera and take photos. Store them in a folder on your phone or on your computer for reference when you're feeling stumped on how to wear your new item differently, you'll have your very own look book to refer to.
6. Read the Care Label- Special care of items such as dry clean only garments will need to be factored into your overall budget. As someone who used to dry clean nearly all of my professional attire, I can attest to the fact that it adds up quickly. You may stop wearing various pieces if they need special care and become more high maintenance than you anticipated. If you don't have the time or money to invest in special maintenance, it's best to stick with pieces that are wash and wear. Often times just washing in cold water inside out on delicate and hanging or laying flat to dry can extend the life of your clothing encouraging it to keep its shape and color.
7. Keep the Tags On- Sometimes, despite our best intentions an item just doesn't work out the way we had hoped. Maybe the weather warmed up too quickly/cooled down too fast and we don't envision ourselves wearing it as much as we planned on. It could be that we decided to try a trendy new style but realize that while cute on others, it's just not working for us. Perhaps during another shopping trip, you come across something far better that you know you'll wear more often. In these instances, keeping the tags on and receipt filed away (or clipped to the item's hanger with a clothespin) will make your life easier and allow you to get your money back or at the very least get a credit towards something else in the store instead of wasting good money on something you'll never wear. I keep the 'tags on' items at the front of my closet where I can see them every day reminding me to make a decision. If you really want to get fancy you can add a little sticker to the hanger with the return by date if you have a few pieces there. Lastly, make a mental note of why you returned it/what you didn't love about it. You might see patterns over time and you can use these notes to avoid similar purchases in the future.
8. Do You Love It?- Before spending hard earned money on something new, whether it be clothing; shoes, a new handbag or jewelry, it's important to ask ourselves if we really love it. There is a big difference between something we love and just have to have vs. something that will do and fill a gap in our wardrobe because we haven't come across the perfect piece yet. Especially when you're on a tight budget, the last thing you want to do is waste your money on something that's only so-so when the dream piece you had been looking for showed up in your life a month later. As an Interior Designer, I tell my clients the exact same thing when it comes to their home. It's better to buy slowly and build a home you love vs. spend your money on inferior items that were never your first choice. As with all things in life, never settle. Sometimes we get influenced by a shopping buddy such as our friend, sister, mother or even our significant other, but at the end of the day we have to feel good in it, no matter how wonderful others think it looks on us.
This post was meant to address the actual pieces considered. In terms of saving money and getting the most for your money, here are a few additional tips. Try to only shop only when there's a great sale, which happens quite often so that's pretty easy to take advantage of. Loyalty programs with stores such as Loft, Banana Republic and Nordstrom (just to name a few) offer perks to their customers and special members-only exclusive discounts. Other shops and department stores will often mail coupons but the best bet is to subscribe via e-mail to stay in the know. If you can discipline yourself and not jump at every sale in your inbox, it's a great way of buying several items at a 50% off spring sale for example vs. paying full price. Many retailers are notorious for offering free shipping during their sales also. These days between coupons, in-store sales promotion, online discounts and buying in discounted retail chains, there is no reason to pay full price for anything if you can time it properly. Shipping is obviously an added cost to consider which is why you see me share wardrobe staples from Nordstrom quite often (well, that and the fact that they have a fabulous selection of gorgeous items). They offer free shipping on every single order no minimums and they're return policy is amazing if something doesn't work out, you can simply pop it back into the mail with no charge to you. Another great sources for wardrobe staples that you may not have thought of is Amazon! No longer just for books and electronics, they offer great fashion too. If you're already an Amazon Prime member you get free shipping, their returns are easy too. They have such a wide selections of goods. Get to know which retailers offer free shipping everyday, it can really add up in savings.
Speaking of deals... if you're looking for some classy new pieces to add to your current wardrobe, here are some great spring sales happening online right now that you won't want to miss!
- ANN TAYLOR- $49.50 for select full-price items w/code: SPRINGFIRST
- BANANA REPUBLIC- Extra 50% OFF sale items w/code: BRSPRING
- BAUBLEBAR- Extra 30% OFF sitewide w/code: SPRING30
- BERGDORF GOODMAN- Extra 25% OFF sale items
- EQUIPMENT- 25% OFF the entire collection w/code: EQFRIENDS
- J.CREW- Extra 30% OFF on spring sale styles F&F sale w/code: SPRINGSALE
- JOIE- 25% OFF your entire purchase F&F sale w/code: JOIEFRIENDS
- LOFT - 40% OFF spring styles + 50% OFF sale styles
- LORD & TAYLOR- 20% OFF regular & sale items w/code: SAVE
- VICTORIA'S SECRET- $15 off $100 / $25 off $150 / $50 off 250 w/code: SPRING2015
Now, I'd love to hear from my readers! How do you make the most of your wardrobe investment? Do you follow any of these guidelines while you shop?
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Thanks for stopping by!