I learned lots of useful things in college. Things like, in Economics, you can probably pass the test by answering “supply and demand” on every question. Or, when it comes to lit classes, SparkNotes- plus anything you might have retained from high school- is usually good enough to get you a B.
There’s a moment I remember quite vividly, though, that has little to do with academics. It was in statistics class with one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Gann. She showed us a problem on the board: if you own 3 pairs of pants and 4 shirts and 3 cardigans, you can create a total of 36 different outfits.
Dr. Gann stressed to us that, as fresh college graduates, we would appreciate the ability to make a month’s worth of outfits with only a few pieces.
I know that concept applies to just about any broke 20-something, but now that I’m a teacher, it’ll pretty much be a way of life. Since I don’t want to literally own only four tops, I’ve found a few others ways to maximize my wardrobe and stretch my clothing budget.
1. buy straight-leg pants
I live in Mississippi, y’all. It gets hot. But it also gets pretty darn cold in the winter, too. During the cold months, I obviously want my legs completely covered. I’ve found, though, that if I buy straight-leg or skinny pants- as opposed to boot-cut or wide-leg- I can roll up the bottom hem and easily and temporarily convert my pants to capris. One garment, two ways. That’s the kind of math I like.
2. try twice
One of the easiest ways to save money on clothing- and lots of other purchases- is to buy used. For a variety of reason, buying clothes secondhand might not be a realistic or desirable option for you. For me, there just isn’t a local use clothing store that sells business-like clothes in good condition.
Whatever your reason for not shopping at thrift stores, twice is a perfect alternative. Twice is a consignment website that sells used women’s and men’s clothing. Not just any used clothing, though. Twice only sells higher end brands: Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Polo, etc. Twice is an ideal way to buy quality pieces of clothing at deeply discounted prices (from your own home!).
Note: I own several dresses, tops, and pants purchased from Twice and have always been 100% satisfied with the quality of the clothing, the speed of shipping, and the ease of returns.
3. avoid unique accessories
Before you buy a piece of jewelry, consider what in your closet you’ll wear it with. If you can think of only one or two outfits, it’s probably best to put that piece back in favor of something that’s more versatile.
The same goes with shoes and scarves and belts; avoid buying any of those things if they can’t be worn with the majority of the clothes already in your closet.
On the flip side of that, don’t buy a dress or an outfit that also requires the purchase of new shoes or a specific cardigan. To make the most of your wardrobe, everything in your closet should be able to be worn with most everything else.
What tips do you have for making the most of your wardrobe on a budget?
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Nicole Roberts says
Yes, I’m with you on Mississippi being hotter than all get out, at least here in Meridian it is, but as for it being cold… no! I grew up in Jersey and SW Virginia, and there it gets to zero many night, so winter here is a breeze for me. I like convertible snaps, which allow me to take pants, particularly straight leg jeans, and turn them into capris, too! I recently also went through my closet last month, as part of my no-spend month challenge, and cleaned out my closet to 40 hangers worth of items, and what I purged sold on like twice, ebay, and thredup! Great article!
Thank you for your kind words! I’m from Oregon, and before that New Hampshire, so I know Mississippi isn’t as cold as other places, but that still doesn’t mean I want to wear capris or cropped pants in January. I’m in the process of doing some major closet purging, too- it’s way overdue!
Pamela Smith says
Great ideas! I agree with buying thing that will all go together and buying more classic items will help your wardrobe last longer. I am visiting from DIYDreamer.
Thank you! Yes, it definitely helps to avoid fads and pieces that won’t be “in” for very long.
Great tips! These are also great for when you’re looking to purge your closet- only keep the things that can be used in multiple outfits. Thank you for sharing these!
That’s a really good point! I’m often guilty of keeping that one piece that “maybe I might want to someday wear”.