Do you need a new wardrobe? Are you tired of feeling like you have nothing to wear or at least nothing that you feel amazing in? Have you been thinking about finally changing up your style, but putting it off because the task just seems so daunting? What if I told you that it wasn’t? That you can build a wardrobe a budget, would you believe me?
Well whether or not you do at this moment I’m telling you it is possible to build your dream wardrobe and stay on a budget, all it takes is some strategic planning and patience. So if you are ready to finally, finally stop hating everything in your closet then keep reading.
Before we get started you need to get rid of the idea that expensive clothes will make for a better wardrobe, which is simply untrue, yes you might get the piece to last longer which is beneficial in some instances, but the reality is you don’t need to spend copious amounts of cash to build your dream closet. Okay? Still, with me, let’s get started on building you your new wardrobe shall we?
How To Build Your Wardrobe On A Budget
Fair warning before we get started, is post is a bit long, but I wanted to make sure I included everything you would need to get started building your dream closet. Be sure to save this post so you can come back to it when you need it. Now that that’s out of the way let’s get started.
Define Your Style
The first step to building your new closet full of amazing styles you love is figuring out what kind of style it is that you want. Is it comfortable, modern, boho, trendy, classic, or elegant? These are just a few of a plethora of words out there to describe the sense of style you’re going for, keep in mind that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one word as a description for your sense of style. Defining it might seem like an overwhelming concept itself, but like creating a new wardrobe it isn’t. As you move through the process, you’ll find words that describe the style you’re going for moving forward.
Analyze Your Closet: In order to define your style, you need to start at the beginning and analyze your closet. What are the recurring themes, colors, or patterns? What did you gravitate towards? (Focus mainly on the pieces that you feel great in or love for some reason, you want to keep that feeling as you consider your style of clothing.)
Style Icons & Inspirations: After you have analyzed your closet, comes the fun part, looking for style inspiration. Instagram is a great place to start. Do you have a favorite celebrity whose style you relate to, again analyze what is it about there style? Are they wearing something you can’t wear due to your disability? If so figure out a way to incorporate the aspects of that piece into your outfit. For example, love the leopard print heels in their photo, but can’t wear them, look for leopard print shoes you can wear or another accessory such as a belt, bag, or piece of jewelry.
One thing when you are looking for inspiration, you don’t have to follow one thing specifically, if you like a style, color or pattern, try it out, but never feel like the only way to wear that piece is how that personal styled it, you are trying to discover your style after all, not replicate that of whatever influencer you are following.
Look At Your Closet Again: Are there any pieces in there that you want to keep, that make you feel happy and confident? Pull those pieces aside, after you’ve gone through your whole closet while doing this look at what’s left in your closet, as you are doing this don’t talk yourself out of the process. What do I mean by that? Well, don’t keep pieces that have you thinking “ I don’t really love it, but…., there is a reason you haven’t worn it in months or it was at the back of your closet. Now that you’ve finished going through your closet it’s time to put a few outfits together using the pieces that you love in your closet, you’ll have a few outfits you love as you slowly build your closet over time. Want to read more about defining your closet? Read my post below
Create A Budget
In order to create your budget, consider your lifestyle, which I like to break down into two parts: Income/ Expenses & Lifestyle itself. After you take care of your expenses: rent, groceries, etc. and put some aside for savings, take some money and earmark it for shopping for your new wardrobe. When starting to build your budget try to put more money aside for it in the beginning, you want to be able build up your budget so you can start shopping soon, you need to save up money, but you don’t want to wait too long and end up spending hundreds of dollars in one shopping trip it’s not helpful to building a lasting style or learning how to budget properly to maintain said style. For example you may be able to save 70 dollars one month and 50 the next, a decent amount to get you started with your new outfits
Find Your Stores That Fit The New Style
Next to finding style inspiration, finding new places to shop has been one of my favorite parts of putting together new style. When you have time, walk around the mall heading into stores that are old and new. Check out the clothes at stores that you’ve been to before, does it fit the style you are going for? If the answer is yes, then you don’t have to worry about the size and fit of the clothes, if the answer is no, that’s okay, your style is changing so the places you shop are going to change too. Yes, considering the size and fit of a store for the first time is tedious, but once you get it out of the way you know whether or not it will be somewhere you can shop moving forward.
This process sounds time consuming and it is, but it is also a lot of fun. You get to really explore and narrow down the things you do and don’t like about a piece or an outfit, like I said, time-consuming. Your goal is find stores that will fit your style for each aspect of your wardrobe from casual Saturdays and laid back sundays to whatever it is you need for the rest of the nds. week, so break down the task for each aspect one go look around stores for tops, then, sweaters, then jeans, then shoes, and accessories, other aspects you break this down to will have to do with your lifestyle. Go several times over a few weeks to break the process down to smaller tasks
If you don’t want to go to the mall often because of the current health crisis, then you can easily get this done online over time, just take breaks even if you plan to space it out over several days, it can be easy to track of time and you don’t want to be staring at screens more than you already do for other things.
Remember this is about window shopping and excluding the stores that don’t fit your style, not spending money. I know it might be harder if you are doing this online rather than in person, where you can leave your wallet in a different part of your bag so it’s harder to get and discourages you from pulling it out and spending money (something I’ve done by the way) when shopping in person. When you’re browsing online, leave your wallet in a different room. it’s still relatively easy to spend the money on an item you like, but try, remind yourself that it’s not your goal right now.
Window shopping for the safety of your own home, but have no idea where to start? Here are a few tips
- Stores you already know are in your local mall or shopping area so that when you feel like shopping in person again you don’t have to start the process of finding stores all over again
- Instagram; one of my favorite features of the platform is tagging from friends to brands. If I see a piece I like I just click on the picture to see the different tags so I know where to look for that piece. Fashion hauls on Youtube are also great because you’ll get to see a few pieces from one store, then you can check it out and determine if it’s for you.
- My most recent favorite Google: If you have an idea of what you are looking for in color and some style details you can type in the search box and you’ll see options for that item in various stores, This is the process I’m currently using to find the winter coat I want.
When Trying To Build A Wardrobe On A Budget, Take A Page From The Minimalist Style & Capsule Wardrobe
Finally!! The fun part, shopping and putting together outfits. As you start looking around for pieces to start off your wardrobe, consider building a capsule wardrobe. This type of closet is defined as a minimalist style that contains versatile pieces you love to wear with inexpensive additions to remain current and stylish each season.
Crafting this type of wardrobe makes it easier to mix and match to create great outfits with little effort especially if you throw some neutrals into the mix. You can build a great closet on a budget without creating this type of wardrobe, but doing so, especially in the beginning can help you create various outfits with a few pieces as you work your way to your dream closet.
Get Your Basics:
I’ve found the best way to start out a capsule wardrobe is to get your basic pieces also referred to as the base parts of your outfit. If you do the research several sites will tell you what your basics should be, I’m not going to do that.
I’m not doing it because our climates for clothes as well as our lifestyles and especially our personal styles are going to be different, so basics that I need or like may not be items that you need for your closet. However, if you need a starting point, based on how I’m building my wardrobe, I’d suggest:
- Shirts in 3 different colors (though if you go for neutral colors and get a white one, years of practice when applying makeup has taught me to get two).
- A graphic tee: this is great for your more casual looks
- Sweaters: a sweater is a great piece to have if you experience all four seasons or if you’re the type of person who gets cold easily.
- Blazers: If they fit style a blazer is a great layering piece and can help you dress up an outfit for a special or business casual occasion.
Jeans: You need jeans in your closet so get a few different looks with them whether it’s the style like straight legs jeans or bell bottoms, or the washes or colors. For my closet, I picked colors so I have white, black light wash and dark wash jeans.
Bottoms: In addition to jeans, you want to have a few other options for professional occasions. A good pair of dress pants can go a long way,
Dresses: If you’re not someone who wears dresses often then you can skip this part.
- The LBD However, if you are, you already know the first piece I’m going to tell you should have is a little black dress. This piece is iconic and versatile, it’s an addition to any closet. There are also several options so you can find one that fits your style.
- Sweater Dress: one of my favorite fashion pieces is the sweater dress, a sweater dress with leggings and boots was my uniform in the winter months during my college years. I loved this easily put together an outfit for when I wanted to wear something other than pants.
- One other dress: There are several other dress types for you to add to your wardrobe, an additional one is good to have so you can dress it up or down for specific occasions.
Shoes: Shoes are one of my favorite parts of an outfit, but in my opinion also one of the most difficult to shop for as a wheelchair user.
- Ankle Boots: If you follow me on Instagram you know how much I love boots. Ankle boots in my opinion can be worn year round and are great for helping you dress up an outfit even if you want to keep the whole look casual/
- Knee High Boots: Knee High boots are a close second to Ankle boots for me. I love pairing them with a sweater dress and leggings in the winter or dressing a sweater and jeans outfit, which is my go to whenever I actually venture outside these days
- Sneakers: Sneakers are a given for me, I usually wear low top sneakers or a converse style, but if I think there’s a chance I could be transferring a time or two, I wear high tops because they support my foot more.
- Sandals: Though I mostly stick to sneakers and boots, there are times when even a cute pair of boots doesn’t fit the occasion and it’s better to go with sandals. As a result of the way my disability affects my feet, it’s difficult to find a pair that suits the occasion and will stay on my feet. I love closed toe or slingback style pairs if I can find ones that fit the occasion.
Layering Pieces: Layering your outfits is another great way to get more use out of the pieces you have, especially if you live in a place that experiences all four seasons like I do. If you layer a cardigan or a crop top over a cami you just created two more possibilities when it comes to do the first part of your outfit and you don’t necessarily have to put the camis in storage as soon as fall arrives, giving more value to a simple and inexpensive piece in your closet.
Accessorize: Accessories are fun to play with because a few changes can help you dress down or dress up your outfit. From earrings, to handbags, to scarves, you have options when it comes to your accessories. I love getting festive for the holidays so you’ll often see me wearing snowman or wreath earrings for christmas, easter eggs for that holiday, you get the picture. Purchasing a few accessories that fit with colors of the season or holiday is a great way to show your festive spirit without spending money on a piece or outfit you will only wear once.
Shopping Wishlist & Know When To Splurge Vs Save
You’ve made it to the shopping part, remember the goal: to build a wardrobe on a budget/ When you find your stores, it’s time to go shopping, but before you do, create a wish list so you don’t get sidetracked. You could even break your list down by wardrobe segment. For example, during your first shopping trip, you decide to get 2 shirts, a pair of jeans and a handbag. Do some research and some math so you can make sure your list doesn’t overextend your budget, depending on how much extra you’ve been able to save I would recommend you start shopping after 2 or 3 months, so you stick to things that fit your budget and aren’t tempted to go haul shopping,
Know When To Splurge Vs Save:
Splurge: Knowing when to splurge vs. save comes down to your lifestyle. For example, as someone who lives where we experience all the seasons it would make sense for me to make sure I have a great winter coat that may last me more than one season. On the other hand it would make sense for me to splurge on short-sleeve tops because they aren’t conducive to my lifestyle.
Know The Purpose: When you are looking at pieces, think about whether a piece does more than fill a space on your wishlist. Do you really need it? How will you style it?
Save: Although you want good quality clothes, chances are you won’t be wearing the same shirts year after year unless you really love it, so can save a bit on those, same goes for accessories, there are plenty of stores where you can get cute earrings without spending a lot of money. You can also save on seasonal or festive items because most likely you’ll only wear them for a few weeks.
Impulse Buys & Sales: Resist the urge to buy things that catch your eye without any considerat about your style or the piece itself. I know it’s difficult when you see a piece you really like while walking through a store, whether you spot it on a mannequin or on the way to purchase items on your list, but don’t buy it not at first anyway. I like to walk around the store making note of the pieces that catch my eye, but getting the pieces that are on my list first. Afterwards I’ll go back and examine the pieces that caught my eye, I’ll consider: the price, the material (will it keep me warm if it’s a winter piece), do I have something similar already?, Does it fit my style or go with anything else in my closet? What’s the purpose of this piece (can I make at least 3 outfits I love with it?) If you can’t answer all of these questions confidently, especially the one about it going with anything in your closet, you probably don’t need it.
Sales: Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Let me repeat that, just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it. It’s kind of like going into Target for one thing and finding out that you spent 100 dollars or going into a Forever 21 planning to pick up some items for one segment of your wardrobe and shaking your head at the amount on the cash register, wondering how it got that high. If you see an item that you’ve had your eye on is on sale great, get it if you want, but be mindful so you don’t lose track of how much you’re spending in your head so that you can stay on budget.
Step 6: If You Truly Like Something Get It: Although I’ve been loosely following the concept of a capsule wardrobe or at the least the idea of sticking to neutrals and a capsule wardrobe, there are some pieces in my closet that don’t fit that mode and that’s okay. This is a process that’s supposed to be about fun and experimenting with your style. If there is something that fits your style that you love then get it, but maybe save for it first if necessary.
Overall, Be patient. I know it’s hard to save and budget vs. just getting the things you want, but building a closet full of items you love is going to take time. However, when you are pulling outfits from your closet that you love, even as you are building your dream closet it will be worth it. Now go ahead and get started building your dream closet, you’ll see for yourself that doing so on a budget is easier than you think.
Now that you have a starting point, it’s time for you to take the first steps to build a wardrobe on a budget, and maybe along the way, you’ll see you are actually honing your style and building your dream closet. Remember to have fun and enjoy the process.
Are you in the process of building your wardrobe while working with a budget? If so, do you have tips I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments.