By Nathalie Gorman
Ignoring the Rule of Three
Your mother told you at one point that you should never buy something if it doesn't go with anything else in your wardrobe. She was right--sort of. Linda Lee, Group Vice President of Macy's By Appointment, the Macy's personal shopping service, says that in her experience, if a blouse goes with only one other item, her clients are not going to get enough wear out of it to make the purchase worthwhile.
Enter the Rule of Three. Whenever you're looking to buy an item, be it earmuffs or a pair of sandals, don't just ask yourself: "Does it go with something I own?" Instead, Lee says to ask yourself: "Can I think of at least three things I am going to wear it with?" If so, snap that up.
Forgetting the Other 50%
Nicole Chavez, stylist to celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rachel Bilson and Katherine Heigl, says the key to spending less money on clothes is to spend more time on wardrobe upkeep. How much? As many hours as you devote to shopping. So, whether you're at a your go-to store every weekend or you buy things twice a year, cut your buying hours in half. Use your newly acquired non-shopping time to tend to the clothes you already have. Hem the pair of pants that you've been avoiding dealing with. Take the shoes that need new heel-lifts to the cobbler. The repairs will cost you something, but it'll likely be less than what you'd spend during a day at the mall. Plus, when you're done, your leaner, cleaner, impeccably tailored wardrobe will feel fresh and new.
Making It a Double. Or a Triple.
Will your husband/boyfriend/best friend/mother look at that sweater and ask: "Don't you already own a sweater just like that?" Bad news: You own a sweater just like that. More bad news: One is enough.
Outfitting the Slightly Better Life
A floor length navy sequin skirt is exactly the right thing to throw on with a casual top for a cocktail party, and of course you'll have one...soon. A silky blouse with an exquisite crossover neckline (that flops open oddly, but never mind) will be perfect for the board meeting...right? When you start telling yourself stories about where you're going to wear certain clothes, you're shopping for the life you want, or the one you think you'll have some day. It's great to dream about that life. It's not great to spend today's cash on it.
To save yourself an embarrassing incident during which that blouse does in fact gape at the neck and expose your bra during the aforementioned meeting, or the pain of having to give away that sequin skirt, which you really love, but have never worn, look out for your excuse words. When your hear yourself ending all your sentences with a hopeful "This might be the year!" or "Someday I"ll..." do not stop, do not pass go, and do not spend $20, much less $200. Hang that item back on the rack.
Sticking to Safe Solids
A closet full of solid, neutral clothes seems like the best way to keep costs down. Think of all the possible matches. Except that these outfits are, well, sort of boring. If you don't own anything patterned, or a single brightly colored piece, you'll feel compelled to buy extra stuff to spice up your wardrobe, and then find yourself confused (and poorer) when another white blouse doesn't do the trick.
The solution? Purchase one or two really vibrant items. Chavez recommends a pair of leopard-print ballet flats, which she says are the key to making even the simplest outfit look lively. A flowered scarf or a bag in a rich magenta will also do the trick. Pair them with your basics, and you'll have so many combinations, you'll never want to shop again. (At least, for now).
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