How to Build a Wardrobe on a Budget

How to Build a Wardrobe on a Budget

In the article How to Successfully Invest In Fashion, I shared the importance of fashion in everyone’s lives…even if someone doesn’t like or care about fashion. Fashion, in the form of what we wear, is something we all think about. That’s why the ability to build a wardrobe on a budget is critical!

Since we need clothes to leave the house (obviously), what you put on should be a reflection of you and your personality. Fashion can be a form of expression, so dressing for who you are and how you want to be perceived, can say a lot about you.

While the focus of today’s article isn’t on the importance of fashion, it’s always good to get a reminder as to why what we wear is so important. Shifting gears slightly, I want to share how you can build a wardrobe full of fashion essentials on a budget. Some pieces (read 4 Fashion Pieces Worth the Investment) should not be skimped on, but you can get a lot of great essentials for a really great price. Keep reading to learn how to build a wardrobe on a budget!

Step #1: Determine Your Budget

Before you go spending-crazy for your new wardrobe, it’s important to understand what you can afford to spend. In order to build a wardrobe on a budget, you actually need to have a budget! Will you be saving up to get all of your items at once? Will you allocate a certain amount of money each paycheck to your wardrobe and pick up things as you find them?

Deciding on how you will leverage your income to build your wardrobe should be done first. If there are a lot of pieces you need to revamp (or build up) your wardrobe, I suggest you start saving for a larger shopping trip. If you only need a few pieces here and there, then there is nothing wrong with adding “Wardrobe” as a line item in your budget and buying pieces as they come.

So, how much should go towards building up your wardrobe? It all depends on your situation. I suggest you ensure the basics (like bills, debt payments, and savings) are covered first.

Then, look at what should be remaining. Factor in any other discretionary spending you may do, like going out to eat or celebrating an event, then use whatever is remaining towards your wardrobe shopping. It may not be a lot, but like anything, it will add up over time.

Step #2: Start with the Must-Haves

When you have decided what your budget will be for shopping for wardrobe pieces, you can start pricing the must-have items. The must-have items are essential to any woman’s wardrobe. These essential pieces come in a variety of price ranges. You absolutely can find good quality essentials at a great price. Here are a few must-haves to start with when building up your wardrobe:

  • A black blazer
  • A white t-shirt
  • A long-sleeve button-up
  • A pair of jeans
  • A pair of slacks
  • A black dress
  • A quality coat
  • A pair of pumps
  • A pair of flats
  • A pair of boots
  • An everyday purse

First things first when building up your wardrobe is to ensure you have at least one of each item listed above. A quality wardrobe thrives on the listed pieces. A lot of these pieces can be picked up in stores like Forever 21, Express, Macy’s, and others, either on sale or for a great price.

Having the essentials listed above ensures that any other fun, crazy, or otherwise amazing piece you incorporate here and there will help pave the way for a great look. Different situations call for different essentials, but you never want to be caught off guard.

Step #3: Go Bulk for Basics
When picking up essential basics, like white tees, regular cotton tees, button-up blouses, and jeans, you will always want to buy in bulk. With the exception of denim, which can be costly depending on where you shop, most of the basics will be worn more frequently than other pieces. This means you will go through them faster, wear them out quicker, and need to replace them more often.

Most of the time, basics are sold on sale when you buy them in bulk. This makes them the perfect bulk buy when building up your wardrobe. You can also get these bulk pieces in multiple colors and patterns to give yourself a variety. Keep the spending light on these basics though. Since you will go through them faster, you will need to replace them faster – which can add up if you aren’t keeping the cost of these basics low.

Step #4: Organize Your Space

As you build up your wardrobe essentials, you will want to ensure everything is organized. Your closet should not be a wreck. It will make things hard to find, allow you to forget about your pieces, and could result in quality pieces being ruined. With an organized space, your essentials will always be easy to find and preferably front and center. You should always know where your items are in your closet or drawers.

An organized space also makes it easier to pinpoint what pieces need to be added or replaced within your overall wardrobe. This will allow you to pick up things you need before it’s too late.

You don’t want to wait until the last minute to shop for a necessary piece. I’ve done that plenty of times and have been forced to purchase something that I didn’t really like or want. Do yourself a favor and ensure your wardrobe is neat and organized! Read 6 Tips for a Perfectly Organized Closet and Maximize Your Closet Space for a few pointers.

Related: Create Your Own Capsule Wardrobe

Just like anything – when you have a plan of attack, you can ensure everything gets taken care of accordingly! The same applies to building a wardrobe on a budget. You can get everything you need, at the right price, if you plan and prepare ahead of time. Building a solid, quality wardrobe doesn’t happen overnight, but starting with the essentials will go a long way! How did you build up your wardrobe? Do you have any tips for newbie shoppers? Share your thoughts, tips and experiences in the Comments section below!

The CGS Team



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