It’s spring here in the Lehigh Valley. I’m ready to give my own wardrobe a refresh. Problem is, where is the money coming from for me to fund this new wardrobe that I so dream about? I realize that style and fashion, although affects our every day lives, affects our mood, and how we feel about ourselves, is often looked at like as a luxury ticket item. And until recently, I never really understood why people didn’t carve out more time and allocate additional funds to investing in a new wardrobe.
It wasn’t until I started my own business, and started using my disposable income– that was once allocated to self-care, wardrobe needs, and fitness and health– become money that I used to invest in my business. The business coaches, training programs, and continuing education took precedent for the past few years. As much as I hate to admit it, especially as a personal stylist, but maintaining and updating my wardrobe had to take a back seat. Now, that I’m feeling more grounded in my business and career, I knew it was time to start putting some serious cash back into my closet.
Funding Your Dream Wardrobe When You’ve Got Other Plans For Your Money.
I’m a stylist, so obviously I have a close relationship with fashion and what I put on my body and have a strong passion and feeling that what I wear is my personal mission statement spoken to the world and everyone I encounter on a daily basis. Many people do not feel that way. And it always gets me! Because, if you think about it, you wake up every day, and you put on clothes. You go to a special event, and you wear a specific dress. There is attire for almost every activity in life, and yet so many people downplay fashion and the power that it has to change our mindset, and empower us to be the people we want to be in this world. But, I digress.
One of the first most important questions I ask when working with someone on updating their wardrobe, or revamping it all together, is what’s their budget? So I know what I’m working with. Now, fashion — despite what the fashion world has shown you, does not have to be expensive. I believe in investing in quality items, versus quantity. When you invest in quality items, those items can take you many places, over a long period of time. Much like investing in a well-made car with great gas mileage. However, I understand the other thing that plays into managing money for a wardrobe update or overhaul is considering where your money is already going or thinking about ten other things you’d rather drop $1,000 on.
I can easily, and very happily drop a grand in Sephora or on clothing and feel like a million bucks. But I realize, there are some people that don’t see the importance of investing in your clothes. I’m not here to convince you otherwise, but I will call out a few things to state my case.
I took a hard look at my budget. I had income streams that were already allocated to living expenses, working expenses to run my blog and invest in the growth of my business, savings and paying down debt, but without an additional income stream for spending I didn’t know where the money was coming from to truly create my very own minimalist, versatile wardrobe that I’ve helped my clients create.
Get Clear On The Money You Can And Are Willing To Allocate To Creating Your New, Much-Needed, Balanced Wardrobe.
First things first: I needed a part-time job specifically for fun and spending. I follow one of my favorite money bloggers, The Finance Bar’s advice on Instagram and one of her post’s gave me great financial exercise to get really clear on my monthly budget.
She suggested to follow these five steps to see if you were earning enough based on your needs, wants, savings, and your desired lifestyle. Follow these five steps and answer the questions honestly to get clear on how you’re going to fund your new, very necessary wardrobe. I say necessary, because we all need clothes to wear, so why not choose ones that make you feel good and empower you to feel confident and sexy and acheive what you really want to acheive in life? Like, dating the woman or man of your dreams, landing your dream job, getting that well-deserved raise, basically insert your most wanted desire here ______ .
- Ask yourself: Do I earn enough based on my lifestyle?
- List necessary monthly expenses. I.e. Groceries, cell phone, rent and utilities, public transportation, working expenses, etc.
- List things you enjoy doing, buying each month.
- How much do you want to save/invest each month?
- Add up each list. Are you earning enough based on your desires.
Basically, I realized my income streams allocated to my living and working expenses, savings and debt pay-off were not, and could also be the income stream used to build my own dream wardrobe, and sustain my beauty, self-care, fitness and healthy lifestyle habits. So, I needed either a passive or active additional income stream where I could afford to build my wardrobe on a budget and still maintain my self-care, beauty and healthy lifestyle habits. This is a good budget to take out of because these things aren’t necessary spending items. It’s nice to have certain perfumes, lotions, but I’ve also had to be very mindful and seriously cut back on spending at times. So, I know how to do it, and I also know that if/when I lose my lifestyle that doesn’t mean I also lose myself. I just default to boho chic opposed to feeling well-dressed and balanced. I don’t recommend it, because it takes a serious toll on your psyche, especially when you’re trying to level up in life. But it’s time to invest in my closet. Because it’s currently a very lonely, sad place that neglects to cater to anything other than a sizzling summer season.
Identify Where Your Wardrobe Is Weak, And Start Spending Your Money There, First.
So, now where do you begin? Once you’ve got your income stream and budget allocated to build your dream wardrobe, it’s time to set aside an amount of money each month that you’ll be using to build your dream wardrobe.
I’m starting first with the most under-represented areas in my closet, aka: my biggest wardrobe gaps where I need to invest the most. I love Edith Head’s book, How To Dress For Success, where she makes identifying your wardrobe gaps very simple. Here’s what you do:
Design A Wardrobe That Is Works For You By Making A Blueprint Plan.
Edith Head has an amazing step-by-step process to identify where you’re wardrobe needs your money, time and attention. We’re going old school for this one. You’ll need a pen/paper to make a chart of your activities and the clothing requirements they call for. She recommends to never buy clothes without a plan, that it usually results in spending money and investing in pieces that contribute to your already unbalanced wardrobe.
STEP 1: Answer the questions below using one of these answers:
Everyday. Frequently. Quite often. Hardly ever. Rarely.
STEP 2: Ask yourself, how often do you:
Go to business? Choose: everyday, frequently, quite often, hardly ever, rarely.
Go to market?
Go out dancing?
Go to the theatre?
Go to informal dinner?
Go to formal affairs?
Go to picnics and backyard barbecues?
Go to sporting events?
Go on trips?
Go to dinner in a restaurant?
Go to bridge or card parties?
Entertain at home?
Go to school functions?
Participate in church activities?
STEP 3: Take all the clothes out of your closet and separate them into six different categories: at home, semi-fancy, working out, black-tie, daytime and work.
STEP 4: Make piles of all six categories of your clothes and see how many costumes you have that are right for business, dancing, etc. Do you have too many for those marked rarely, or hardly ever? Does your wardrobe lean in one direction? Is it top heavy with things you don’t need and sparse in frequently and often? Start rebuilding your wardrobe with the under-represented areas in your closet.
Build A Successful Wardrobe By Following This Formula by Edith Head:
- Make a blueprint of all your activities.
- Check your entire wardrobe to see if it fits the blueprint of your life and activities.
- Be sure your closet contains the foundation items you wear most often.
- Build soundly on this basis by buying to a plan that is right for your life.
- Don’t get carried away by the latest craze or the biggest bargains, particularly if they don’t fit into your plan.
- Think in terms of a livable wardrobe– one that is not only aesthetically pleasant, but one that works for you that you feel good in and makes you look right in every situation.
Here’s What To Do Next.
Make a list of things you’ve been wanting like, new underwear, a halter top or strapless bra, a new swimsuit, winter boots, a spring trench coat, just reflect and think about the things that you say you need to yourself. Think about when you get dressed now, do you ever say to yourself, damn I wish I had this to wear. Put those things on your list. Think about the things you wish you had that would make your life so much easier. For me, I’m constantly carrying around this free Sally Hansen beauty bag that holds my business books and laptop for when I’m working from cafes. It’s not my style and it’s lilac purple, but again when you’re investing your money in your business and not your wardrobe, you tend to make do with what you have.
Make your list. Identify your most dire wardrobe needs and put those onto a shopping list and start making purchases every month to fill those gaps. Check out my blog post, 3 Ways To Shop Your Personal Style And Stay On Budget here, to read why it feels so damn good to spend money on clothes that make you feel good, while staying on budget!