Fashion Budgeting 101: The Goods

So far in this 101 series I've covered wardrobe culling and determining your cash flow. Now there's only one step left: shopping your budget.

This should be the fun part. Give yourself permission to explore, splurge, and experiment as your new wardrobe takes shape.

The collages below offer an example of my most recent budget purchases. When winter weather arrived in December, I was seriously lacking in the sweater department. I threw away about four tops from last year's stock, then I filled in the gaps with versatility: a cable knit sweater, a thick cardigan, and a lighter graphic print pull-over.

I also wanted a casual coat that would serve as warmer alternative to my trench. I've seen anoraks like the one below floating around several of my favorite fashion blogs. When I spotted this one online during Black Friday, I heeded inspiration and jumped on the deal immediately.

Throughout fall, I often found myself in need of a black shoe and a simple flat, so I consolidated by purchasing these black ballet flats.

On occasion, if funds allow, I'll make a preemptive buy for next season. While I try not to do this before I've reviewed my wardrobe needs, shopping out of season can be a great way to find deals. The crop tee below, for example, was about $5 at Express in mid-January. Crop tops might not be as in-vogue this summer as they were last, but a classic color like white is a safe bet. This will stay in storage until the weather warms up again.

Cable knit sweater - LOFT / Cardigan - H&M / Anorak - Old Navy / Stretch camisole - Grane / Ballet flats - H&M / Merino wool socks - Kirkland / Crop tee - Express

Glitter Tights - HUE / Circle skirt - LOFT / Sweater dress - Max Azaria / Burgundy tights - HUE / Stud earrings - World Market / Graphic sweater - Forever 21

These other purchases were replacements, Christmas presents, or wish-list items from fall. I'm a big believer in putting some time between inspiration and investment. Unless it's the last of its kind, almost anything will still be available a week after the fact. Taking a week will give you some distance to consider whether you really need whatever you were lusting after. (It also removes you from the overwhelming stimuli of the mall, which can cloud any rational decision....) When I first saw the graphic sweater above, I was shopping for my fall wardrobe. Within that budget, I couldn't rationalize buying another top. So, I snapped a picture on my phone, then bookmarked it online. I checked in every couple of weeks for sale prices. I even hinted at it for a Christmas gift. When it was still on my mind three months later, I decided to spring for it. Now I love it all the more!

Absent from these collages are all the items I purchased and then returned over the course of the season. This is another important skill to master. If you take something home and it just doesn't feel perfect, do yourself (and the environment) a favor, and take it back. It will most likely be perfect for someone else, and you take pride in putting their wardrobe soul mate back on the market.

Well, I hope you found these past few posts useful. What are your budgeting and shopping tips? Let me know in the comments!

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