Recently, I've had some friends ask how I find great style at a bargain. It is the perfect chance for me to start a new feature. This is the inaugural posting of "Frugal Fashion Friday".
I keep hoping that one day I’ll get some windfall from a Fairy Godmother or my Honey will win the lottery. Right now, endless funds are not my way of life. I have to be conscious of what I spend. A few years ago, I gave away and donated what I estimate was several hundred dollars worth of shoes that I didn’t love. It was a real eye opener for me. That single event changed the way I shop and what I spend. I looked at my clothes, my closet and my style. I developed a basic strategy for frugal and smart shopping. Every season I take these steps:
1. Closet Review
· What is worn and needs replacing?
· What am I missing?
· What trends do I love that I want?
2. Make a list of no more than 10 key items for the season.
3. Determine my budget or what I can save to buy. Leave yourself a little room.
4. Do a web search to get started.
5. Continue to search in stores and online until I find exactly what I want.
There are basics that have to be replaced. Things like basic tees, tanks, undies and tights aren’t replaced every season. I also decide if there are any items that I keep wishing I had in my closet. For me, this season, I’d love a couple of additional cashmere tees. I wore my gray one all through the winter. I keep wishing for other colors.
I also decide what trends I really love and what items I want to purchase. See my Spring Picks list for some of this season’s items.
Make a List
I limit my list of “wants” to 10 items. Yours could be shorter or longer. For me, limiting the list keeps me from going nuts or over budget. I can swap out items but I don’t go over the ten item limit.
Oh the dreaded word. I determine what I can afford to spend. If there is a high ticket item I want, I figure out how to save for that item. Going to swaps and thrift stores, help me save on some items so I can spend more on others. It's important for me to leave myself a little budget wiggle room. I still go shopping on a whim at times. Giving myself permission to do that, helps me to stay on budget.
Using my list, I start searching on sites like http://www.shopstyle.com/ , other favorite web sites and magazines. This search helps me to see what's available. There are times I want an item that isn't readily available. I frequent European sites and their fashion can be a little ahead of the USA. I also get a good idea of the baseline cost of items
I love online shopping but searching in stores when there are sales or at discount shops is really important. I keep the list in my wallet. Then when I’m out shopping or surfing the web, I can check for items. It helps me take advantage of coupons, discount days, and sales. I give myself permission to change my mind. Sometimes, later in the season, I fall in love with a style or item and swap it for something on the list. Search until you find what you really want. Don't settle. You'll be happier in the long run.
Keys to My Strategy
I spend less on basics, and super trendy items. Basics are easy to find a bargain price. Trends come and go. If you will only wear something a season or two, there is no reason to spend tons on a high-end version. Stores like Target, Kohl’s, Payless, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Loehmann’s always have trends at bargain prices. I will spend much more on an item that is timeless, classic, and high quality. If I will wear it often and for years, the higher cost is worth more of my budget.
Prince per wear is important to me. A trendy item costing $30 that you wear 5 times, costs you $6 per wear. An expensive item costing $150 that you wear for years, 150 times or more costs $1 per wear. I always use my Chanel sunglasses as an example. I love sunglasses and have many inexpensive pairs. I paid full price for my Chanel shades (approximately $250). I bought them in 2005 and they are one of two pairs of "go to" shades for me. I'm sure I wear them 70 - 100 days a year. The price per wear is around $1 per wear so far and I'll have them for many many more years. Shades might not be your thing. Your splurge might be shoes or a coat.
This strategy isn't fool proof but it's worked for me so far. I hope it helps you a little in your fashion searches.
Picture credit: dollar bill dress - sidewalkisarunway.com