Forget Jan. 1. With the whole back to school thing in full swing, September has always been my month to take stock of where I’m at and what I want to change. Typically, my wardrobe is high on the list. With last year’s fall and winter outfits played out, I’m always tempted to overhaul my closet and start over. Still, that’s not the best strategy if you’re on a budget.
“Unless you’re going through a major life transition, such as working at a job you’ve never done before, updating your fall wardrobe doesn’t require a major investment,” says Lisa Tumbarello, a stylist in Columbia, MD, for StyleForHire.com, a network of personal stylists across the country hand-picked by Stacy London of TLC’s “What Not to Wear.” Here are small things she says you can do to revise your wardrobe for less.
Shop your closet first. First, take stock of what you’ve got from last year and what you can salvage. “Try things on, because fit is so important,” Tumbarello says. Once you have an idea of where the gaps exist in your wardrobe, you can map out your shopping list. “You have to have a plan,” Tumbarello says. Build from the pieces you already have, including summer stuff. “Don’t just automatically cast them aside,” Tumbarello says. Think about adding layers. If, for example, you’ve got a maxi dress from summer that isn’t a tropical print, think about adding layering pieces underneath, such as a long-sleeved T-shirt, tights, boots, or a pullover V-neck sweater.
Look for major multitaskers. When selecting clothes and shoes, think about what they’ll go with; you should be saying to yourself: “I can wear that with this and this with that.” “Everything you buy should have at least two options,” Tumbarello says. To pull that off, work in a common color palate, but not black. “Softer colors such as navy, burgundy, olive, and chocolate are easier to mix and match,” she says.
Shop at thrift stores. “They’re great for one-off things you won’t find at major retailers,” Tumbarello says, such as a funky jacket. “Even if you just end up wearing it once that’s OK, because it was $5, not $500,” she says. Keep your eyes peeled for classics, too, such as name-brand blazers, skirts, and boot-cut jeans. Look for durable fabrics, such as cotton, wool, and cashmere.
Shop in the middle of the week. Lots of stores these days are doing mid-week sales to generate traffic, so don’t wait until the weekend to shop, when stores are more crowded. Make sure you’re on the e-mail list of your favorite stores, too.
“Many stores are getting on the flash sale bandwagon,” Tumbarello says. The sale could be Wednesday, lunch time only, 50 percent off everything. Be ready. Flash sales can be addictive though. Whether you’re shopping during a flash sale at your favorite store or at a flash site on designer brands such as Gilt Groupe or Rue La La, watch for sales on items on your shopping list. Stick to the plan to avoid buying on impulse.
Pay less for trendy pieces. Some of the upcoming fall trends include shiny leather and brocade fabrics. Take advantage of these looks for less by buying the department store celebrity collaboration knock-off, such as the Kohl’s Jennifer Lopez version.
Still confused about what to buy/wear? If you don’t have a fashionable friend to bounce ideas off of—or in my case, two tween daughter divas—a personal stylist can help you get your act together. A stylist will help you inventory your closet and go shopping with you. You’ll typically pay around $115 per hour. The process takes roughly four hours. If it saves you from costly fashion mistakes, that could justify the investment. What fashion advice would you want, if you could hire a stylist like Lisa Tumbarello?
Next week: More of Lisa Tumbarello’s top saving secrets!