I want to share with you today how to clothes shop on a budget. It is important to be wise and thoughtful with your clothes spending as you would in any other area of spending. These are some guidelines I use for myself when buying clothes and getting the most out of my dollars. So, let’s get started!
Before even shopping, you need to first evaluate your current lifestyle needs and how you like to dress. You can do this by looking at some key areas and answering some basic questions. As we go along, I will also give you examples of how I answer these questions and use this guide.
How Much Can You Spend On Clothing?
You need to begin by setting a realistic budget of what you can afford. Determine a specific amount of money you are able to spend on clothes over a designated amount of time. Your budget can be set up in a variety of ways. You may have a dollar amount set aside for clothes shopping each month, each season, or twice a year. Use whatever time interval works for your specific needs. I usually set a little aside to shop for clothing each season.
What Is Your Current Lifestyle?
What do you spend most of your time doing? Do you work in an office setting or at home? Do you have a more strenuous job that will put a lot of wear and tear on your clothing? If you are a stay at home mom running after little ones, you may want more stylish active wear that holds up to the rigors of being on the go and is stain resistant. If you spend the majority of your day working in an office, your dress code has to be appropriate for your work environment. Dressing for what you do the majority of your time will play an important role in where most of your fashion budget will go. I work at home so my wardrobe is pretty casual. I have learned after years of being a stay at home mom that casual can be fashionable and look put together. I also like to keep some dressier outfits in my closet for special occasions like a date night, a wedding, or travel.
What Is Your Fashion Style?
Do you prefer to dress in classic pieces, or do you like to follow the latest fashion trends? Do you tend to be drawn to feminine pieces, boho pieces, or something more edgy? Maybe, you are a trend setter or are eclectic when it comes to what you wear. A whole other post could be dedicated to this topic! However, don’t get too stressed out if you are not sure what your fashion style is. The most important thing is to pick styles you enjoy and feel confident wearing. Besides, I think the majority of us are attracted to more than just one style. For instance, I am definitely not a trend setter but do like to follow the current styles. I also really like feminine, classic pieces, especially when I need to dress up for a special occasion. My wardrobe style tends to be a blend of classic pieces I keep for years and the latest trendy pieces.
What Do You Value The Most?
Think about what is most valuable to you in terms of your wardrobe. This is where you really have to focus on what is most important to you. It will determine where you are willing to spend or save within your budget. What items do you enjoy shopping for or wearing the most? When buying these items, is it more important to have superior quality, more quantity, or both? If you are someone who likes to keep up with all the latest trends, what you value the most may be finding great deals on clothing without breaking the budget. If you don’t care about keeping up with trends, you may focus on buying the best quality pieces you can afford that will last for years.
A good example for me as to where I am willing to pay a little more is shoes. I love shoes and would have a whole closet full of them if my budget allowed. When I was younger, I could get away with spending less on them and having more pairs. As I have gotten older, my feet are a lot more finicky. I value investing more for the comfort of my feet as well as my feet looking stylish. I would rather have five pairs of cute, comfortable shoes than seven pairs of cute shoes that are so uncomfortable I won’t wear them.
A way I save is on handbags. I don’t carry a purse with me unless absolutely necessary! I can just hear the gasps of all you ladies who love handbags! LOL I only buy one or two handbags to carry throughout the year and don’t spend much of my budget on them.
What Is In Your Closet?
Finally, you should go through your closet periodically. Set a schedule to clean out your closet regularly for clothes that are worn out, no longer fit, or you just don’t wear. I will often make a clothes shopping list of what I need. While I know this may not sound very fun, it is sometimes necessary if you’re on a tight budget. For me, going clothes shopping without a list is like going grocery shopping when I am hungry. When I’m grocery shopping hungry, I end up overspending on a lot of delicious looking food. I can’t eat it all before it goes bad. When I’m clothes shopping without a list, I may end up overspending on more than I can wear in a season or what I don’t need.
I also try to shop with a certain color palette in mind. I choose colors that go well together to mix and match items. Now, this does not mean your wardrobe needs to be all the same color or only neutral. Start by picking your favorite colors or ones that look best on you. For instance, I generally look best in jewel tone colors, but there are also pastel shades that I like too. When shopping, I try to find clothing with these colors in mind. Whether buying a whole outfit or just a few new pieces, each item I buy will usually go with several other items already in my closet.
I will now go through the basic items we all have in our closets. I will give examples of how I try to stay within my budget for my lifestyle.
Shirts are where I like to express more of my personality, add color, and follow more of the trends. I usually shop for the best deals I can find when buying tops. I have more of them than any other item in my closet. Be careful though not to buy something only because it was a great deal. If the item does not hold up or you don’t really like it, it will end up costing you more in the long run.
Jeans And Pants
I tend to spend a little more on jeans than I do on shirts. Now with my lifestyle, I must specify that my closet is full of jeans with a few pairs of pants. Obviously if you work in a formal office setting, your closet is probably opposite of mine. As I have gotten older, it is getting harder and harder to find jeans or pants that fit well. So, I will spend a little more to get a good fit. A little higher cost is worth it to me, even if the style changes next year. With my casual lifestyle, I tend to wear jeans most everyday (except for the summer months), so I will get the value out of them. I have had a lot of success with budget friendly American Eagle Jeans and Earl Jeans. If your budget allows, I know many women prefer designer jeans for a better fit.
In the summer months, I wear shorts most days. I am still able to find ones that fit well at a reasonable price. Since I can generally spend less on shorts than jeans or pants, I will follow trends more when it comes to buying them. While I usually have a few neutral colored pairs that will go with everything, I also like to invest in fun colors and patterns.
Dresses And Skirts
I hardly wear dresses and skirts, especially during winter in Indiana! It is not that I don’t like dresses. I just don’t have a lifestyle that requires I dress up very often. The only time I really wear dresses is when it is warm, so I have more casual day dresses in my closet than formal ones. I will typically spend less on casual day dresses and go for something a little more trendy. If I am buying a more expensive or formal dress, I will buy the best within my budget and get a classic piece that can be worn on multiple occasions or for several years. If I worked in a formal office setting, I would probably invest more in skirts where I could mix and match pieces for more variety in my wardrobe.
As I stated earlier, I love shoes but have very finicky feet. For someone who loves shoes, this makes the process of getting something comfortable and cute within a reasonable budget much harder. I try to plan ahead by shopping sales and using coupons when possible. I also will buy shoes that I know will go with multiple outfits. If that cute multicolored sandal does not go with more than one outfit in my closet, then it stays at the store. Some brands I love for both their comfort and style are Clarks and Born. While on vacation in South Carolina, I discovered Charleston Shoe Company. Their sandals are cute and comfortable!
Jewelry And Accessories
I like jewelry but don’t wear a lot of it being at home most days. I tend to buy quality classic pieces that I can wear for a lifetime. Since I have a smaller frame, I also feel like less is more for me when it comes to wearing jewelry. I usually wear simple pieces. If I do wear a larger piece of jewelry, I keep everything else very simple or just don’t wear any other jewelry with it. If you follow trends closely or love accessorizing, buying inexpensive pieces can be a great way to change up the look of an outfit. Of course, accessories like scarves and belts can add a whole new dimension to existing outfits too.
As I also stated above, I don’t invest as much in handbags. I tend to buy ones in colors that match the season or the majority of my wardrobe. Even though handbags aren’t my thing, I will try to style them on the blog from time to time. Again, this is a personal preference as to what is most valuable to you and works with your budget. You may want to invest in a nice quality handbag that will last for years as often as your budget allows. If you follow trends closely, you may invest less money buying different styles more often.
I tend to wear the same coat for years. I invest in good quality classic pieces that are warm and functional. I am more likely to follow trends when it comes to jackets, so I look for budget friendly options that I will also wear often in a given season.
Avoid These Shopping Mistakes
Buying a piece of clothing that you don’t love or feel confident wearing. Even if it is the latest trend or color of the season, don’t buy it! If you don’t love it or feel good in it, you won’t wear it.
Buying a piece of clothing that fits poorly or is uncomfortable. I have made this mistake one too many times! I’ve loved the item but could not find it in my size. Even though the item was cute, I ended up not wearing it because of the poor fit.
Buying most of your wardrobe at full price. Most all retailers regularly have sales. With a little planning, you can buy most items for less than full price. The only exceptions being when you need an outfit last-minute, for a special occasion, or want an investment piece that rarely or never goes on sale. Also, don’t buy something just because it is on sale, you have a coupon, or a sales person is pressuring you. If it’s outside your budget, you are likely to regret the purchase in some way.
Spending more money than you should on the latest trend. Unless you absolutely love the style and won’t feel like you look dated when no one else is wearing it anymore, save your money. I do follow trends and try to keep my wardrobe current, especially as a fashion blogger. I do not over invest in the latest trends unless it is a classic look that I love. For example, stripes and polka dots seem to come and go in popularity from season to season. Yet, stripes and polka dots are also classic looks that can be worn at any time.
This pretty much sums up all the things I consider when shopping for clothes. For your convenience, I have linked some of my favorite places to shop in my sidebar. I’ve included places that sell high-end designer clothing and places that carry more budget-friendly items. Even if you have a smaller budget, I’ve found many affordable items at all these retailers, especially when you shop their sale category. I hope these guidelines will be helpful to you the next time you shop!
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Giving Back To God
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; Proverbs 3:9
Since we are talking today about budgeting our money, I thought it would be good to talk about giving financially to God. I am not going to focus on how much we give, because I believe that is a personal decision each of us should make at God’s direction. Instead, I am going to focus on some other things that are emphasized throughout the Bible about giving.
First, it is important to God that we give back to him some of what he has given us! In the beginning after Adam and Eve’s fall, the very next story is about their children’s obedience in giving the first fruits of their labor to the Lord. God wants us to trust him completely with every need or want we have which leads to the next important point. Do we give to him first and willingly, or do we give him our leftovers? We should give God the first and best of our labor. Each time we are paid, we should first set aside our offering to give to him before paying any bills or spending on any wants.
Next, we need to be cheerful givers. When you truly love someone, you give to them willingly and cheerfully. God wants to see this love for him in our giving. After all, we know as children of God this world and everything in it belongs to him. We should be good stewards with what he has given us and use our resources wisely. Sometimes that means not being wasteful with his blessings and gifts; other times that may mean being charitable to help others; still other times that may also mean not going deep into debt, which will pull our focus off of him and on to making more money or idolizing material things.
I have heard people say before that they will not give a tithe this week because they have already given a lot of their time to God. They have spent a lot of their time working in their church or volunteering to help others. Therefore, they don’t need to give to him financially too. I believe this is a wrong attitude because God wants us to trust him with every area of our life. We can’t overcompensate in one area and not let him have control of the others. Most importantly, we need to remember that we can never work enough, give enough, pay enough, or be good enough to live in God’s presence one day. Only trusting in Christ’s saving grace of salvation will be enough to walk in God’s presence.