Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

How to Build a Great Wardrobe Without Blowing a Hole in the Budget

Imagine that by some stroke of luck and shopping reversal you had all the cash you’ve spent on clothes you didn’t wear in your wardrobe-buying lifetime. For most of us, that would represent quite a nice nest egg given our history of making so many back-of-the-closet mistakes.

This problem is, we shop without a plan, and the endeavor boils down to this: If it fits, it’s a candidate. And if it’s also on sale? Done deal. That kind of shopping can wreak havoc on a bank account and fill up the dark side of the closet, too.

Cutting the cost of clothing is less about bargains and more about knowing what to wear, where to buy and when to stop buying.


Everyone needs a “uniform.” This is your look; it’s your signature style. Your uniform addresses your body type, shape and silhouette, your image and color palette.


Clothing is always designed for silhouette first, measurements second, says professional stylist Kendall Farr, author of “The Pocket Stylist.”

Your measurements can change, but your essential frame remains the same. It is your silhouette. Once you know what you should wear for your body type, you’ll stop wasting money on clothes that look great on the hanger but are all wrong in the mirror.

A simple way to describe your shape uses letters and a number: If you are an A, you are smaller at the top than the bottom; V is just the opposite; H is straight up and down, while 8 is curvaceous. The properly shaped garment for your silhouette will create an unbroken line — the sign an item of clothing fits properly.


Your clothing personality is that “look” to which you are drawn most often. It’s your style. You’re either romantic, sporty, dramatic or classic. Stumped? Your favorite outfits hold the clues. Trust your personal taste, then stick with that look.


Each of us has natural coloring. It’s in our DNA and shows up in our hair, eyes and skin. Certain colors will make you look healthier, radiant and more alive even without makeup.


A written plan for exactly the number of pieces you need for your lifestyle will be invaluable. Without a specific plan, you won’t know when to stop buying. You’ll just keep spending mindlessly.


Take everything out of your closet. Try on to audition the clothes you own. Only those that fit your silhouette, style and color palette — and make you feel good — should have a place in your closet. Everything else? Sell them at a yard sale or online at an auction site like eBay. Or donate them to charity and take a tax deduction for the fair market value of each piece.


Waiting for the sales is a great way to stretch your clothing dollars, particularly if you are ready to invest in a few high-end pieces. Typically stores discount spring and summer clothes in June and early July, then place fall and winter items on sale in January and February.


If you stick to your style, shape and color palette, you’ll be able to mix and match to come up with new outfits without buying more pieces. Look to inexpensive accessories to keep up with trends and fads.


The best thing about having a uniform and knowing your shape, measurements, colors and style is that a new world of opportunity in consignment, vintage, discount, outlet, thrift and high-end retail stores, as well as warehouse clubs and even eBay, all hold possibilities for you.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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