Are you like me — a mom trying to remain stylish post-children but without draining the college fund? Well, put away those macaroni-and-cheese-stained yoga pants and check out this easy seven-step plan:
Step 1: Inventory your closet. Sort through everything you own. Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the last year, that doesn’t fit quite right, doesn’t make you look good or is beyond repair. Don’t keep clothes that aren’t “you” anymore. The No. 1 rule: Dress for who you are now, physically and emotionally. Sorting will show you what you do have so you don’t buy repeats. Then take your cast-offs to a consignment store to raise money for new duds!
Step 2: Research. For inspiration, turn to resources like the following books that will help you develop personal style on a budget. My faves: “How to be a Budget Fashionista” by Kathryn Finney; “The One Hundred” by Nina Garcia; “Frumpy to Foxy in 15 minutes Flat” by Elycia Rubin; and “Wear This, Toss That” by Amy Goodman. Then...
Step 3: Shop the sales. You can find great duds for low prices if you’re patient and shop the sales at stores like Nordstrom, Old Navy and Macy’s (I’m addicted to their 70 percent off sale rack). Wait for the items you love to hit the sale rack or search online for a store discount. Don’t forget online sales at sites like bluefly.com. Combine sales with coupons, discounts and rebates for cosmetics and hair products, too.
Step 4: Designer Consignment. We have great consignment and resale stores in Central Ohio. My faves: SohoFX in northwest Columbus, Second Chance Consignment Boutique in Grandview, Dress Code in Lancaster and Clothes Mentor (in Columbus and Westerville). Buy gently used pieces that otherwise might be out of your budget. Or stock up on basics and fun accessories for less. Even consignment stores have sales, so you may be able to snag an even better deal with a little planning.
Step 5: Thrift it. Yes. You heard me. The thrift store. My pal Stephanie has this down to a science. She takes pages she’s torn from fashion magazines to a store with her, then sorts through the racks until she finds well-made pieces with similar cuts, colors and fabrics. I’ve seen her “make” a designer-looking outfit for $20. Many thrift stores also have special racks stuffed with labels like Bebe, Calvin Klein, DKNY and French Connection. You can save even more on a store’s monthly half-off day.
Step 6: Invest. I hate to use this word for anything other than mutual funds, but when it comes to shoes, undies and jeans (the absolutely necessary things we wear every day), it pays to buy quality, so invest (wisely) in a few high-quality items.
Step 7: Take care of your clothes. Proper cleaning and mending make your best clothes look better and last longer. Take the time to properly care for your clothes (find a tailor to replace broken zippers) and you will save even more money and time in the long run.
- Denise Trowbridge is a self-professed money geek who writes about personal finance, banking and insurance for The Columbus Dispatch, bankrate.com and middlepathfinance.com.