Repost: Recession Proofing Your Closet This Fall

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The Budget Fashionista’s Annual “Being Broke Ain’t Cute” Series features tips and advice to help you improve your personal financial health. For more personal finance information, please visit our Financial Health Series.

1. Develop a Signature Piece. This is the piece you’re going to be known for—sort of like your calling card. It could be fabulous shoes, earrings, blazer, dresses, etc. Focus your shopping dollars on these pieces. My signature piece is crazy necklaces, which I find at thrift stores and stores like Forever 21.

2.  Use the Cost per Wear When Shopping. Frequent TBF readers know this is something I’ve been preaching for years. Value is the key when building a great closet and The Budget Fashionista’s cost per wear formula can help you get the most bang for your buck. The cost per wear is the price of an item/divided by the number of times you think you’ll wear it. So if an item costs $100, and you wear it ten times, the cost per wear is $10. The more you wear an item, the cheaper it becomes. This tip is especially important as it forces you to focus on the utility of an item, ie the usefulness of an item to you, rather than just the price. Paying $5 for something you never where is $5 wasted.

3. Limit Trips to the Dry Cleaners. This is a real money zapper, even for yours truly, until I learned, and this may come as a shock, that you’re only suppose to dry clean your suits two to three times per year and even less for items like coats. So how do you keep it fresh in the meantime? Spritz it with a bit of fabric freshener like Febreze.

4. Learn to Sew. Okay, I don’t mean learn how to create amazing pieces ala ‘Project Runway’, but learning how to hem your own pants, fix slight holes, and other minor alterations will not only save you money, but also save your garments.

5. Follow the 70/30 Rule. 70 percent of your closet should be classic pieces that never go out of style, a great white shirt from Old Navy or even a nice black suit that you can wear over and over again. The other 30 percent should be fun trendy items like a plaid skirt, funky bomber jacket, or a cool fedora.

6. Create a Shoppers Savings Account. I have a special, interest bearing savings account, that I put my shopping dollars in. I ONLY purchase items with the money in this account and it can go all the way to zero, which is fine, cause it is not connected to my REAL checking account (the one I pay bills from)

7. Swap Parties. My Friends and I have swap parties where we bring our used, but still stylish items and swap them for “new” items (which are our friends old slightly used items). It’s a great way to have fun AND get new items in your closet for free.

8. Use Giftcards. I use this tip especially during the holiday season. I put my entire Christmas budget on a visa giftcard from my bank and once the money is gone, I’m finished shopping. Also works well for back to school.

P.S. The segment isn’t confirmed, but once it is, I will let you all know when it will air.

P.S.S Please note these tips are copyrighted (we’ve noticed a lot of folks who never cared about budget shopping before all of a sudden trying to be “frugal” experts and using my tips. Not cool.)

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  • Great tips! I love the Cost Per Wear concept. I do this all the time with my groceries and other items but I never thought to do it with my clothes! That makes some of the items in my closet pretty expensive by themselves…

    • TBF

      It does totally change the way you look at your closet. Items that seemed “cheap” actually become quite expensive because you never wear them.

  • Leslie Perry

    Wow, these were some really great tips, will certainly make me rethink and reevaluate what I have been doing for way too long!!!!!!!!! I appreciate your work…………………….

  • I absolutely love these tips, especially number 6. I’m surprised that you didn’t include thrift store shopping (consignment and vintage stores are not for frugal people). Last but not least, hand me downs. Yes, I shop my Mom’s closet.

  • Thanks for the great tips.