Spring is officially here and that means sunny skies, warmer weather, and of course new clothes! This month, many of us will be transitioning our closet from the Winter essentials to the Spring necessities. And for some of us, we may even engage in some shopping! (This the best part of Spring, in my opinion) But before you go out there and spend your entire savings on a new wardrobe I wanted to provide you with some tips to help you update your closet without emptying your bank account.
Commandment VIII of Financial Empowerment: Be a savvy consumer; never pay “retail” and avoid “impulse shopping”.
Recently I sat down with two fashion experts who also happen to be members of the D.R.E.A.M. Team, Ashley Rudolph (Chief of Business Development) and Calvin Saunders (Chief Compliance Officer). They provided me with insights on how to do Spring shopping for less, for both genders. Here’s a recap of our conversation:
1. What are some ways to update your closet this season without breaking the bank?
AR: Ladies, evaluate your needs for the season. Whether you see things you like in magazines, on blogs, on your favorite websites, etc, take that list of wants and separate them into categories: basics, trendy, classic/investment pieces.
For trendy pieces like specific prints/patterns or silhouettes (like the high-low dress), I'm more conservative about what I choose to buy. My number one rule of thumb is not to splurge on trendy items that will only last for a season, so I shop sites like Pixie Market, NastyGal, H&M, and Zara. Zara also has an app now that's extremely easy and convenient to shop, which could be dangerous!
For classic and investment pieces, I research. I have to evaluate whether I'll be able to use the item (most likely shoes, a bag, or a coat/jacket) for multiple seasons and whether that use justifies the price. If it's an item I've been stalking for awhile and I absolutely know I want it and it meets my requirements, then I buy it. But if it's something that I love for a day and ultimately decide not to buy it, I thank my evaluation process.
2. Where can I get designer looks for less?
CS: The Internet can be a great resource for bargain shopping, and can also save you time from running around going from store to store. The drawback is that you can't try things on, but most online retail companies have pretty liberal return policies these days. There are always promo codes floating around the Internet, and websites such as Dappered.com and retailmenot.com provide this complimentary information to their patrons and followers on a daily basis.
The advent of online shopping coupled with a more discount-minded customer than has created a new niche in the marketplace. Flash sample sale sites offer a wide range of products and designer brands at significant discounts for a brief period of time (24-72 hours, 50% - 80% off the retail price). The catch is, many of these sites are members-only and popular items can sell out very quickly. Luckily, membership has gotten a lot less 'exclusive' at most of these sites, and there is a constant flow of new products on a rolling basis. Some heavyweights in this category include gilt.com, hautelook.com, and ruelala.com.
3. Any advice for someone looking to make a complete overhaul of their wardrobe this Spring but on a limited budget?
AR: Do a full closet audit before you start shopping. Take a look at what you currently have, then separate that into clothes you still plan to wear and things you won't wear anymore. Categorize the things you know you won't wear anymore into two groups: worn and barely worn. Everything in good condition can be sold. Try taking the items to a consignment store, thrift store, or selling them on Ebay or a social "closet shopping" (sites like Poshmark or Material Wrld). Selling your items may seem like a hassle, but if you choose to use a platform like Poshmark, it's as easy as snapping a photo with your phone and uploading the item the the Poshmark app - they even supply you with prepaid postage! You can add the money that you make off of the items you sell to your shopping budget for the season and prevent burning a hole in your wallet. :-)
CS: I would first recommend gradually transitioning into a new wardrobe, especially if you are on a limited budget. This is likely a new style or direction you are taking in life, and so some degree of familiarity and comfort with the clothes must be established before exploring more aggressive styles. Some things might not work out the way you may have envisioned. It is important to understand what works for you, your body, your lifestyle, and your personality, so some trial and error may be required. Start by amassing the core staples of your new desired look which will be the foundation for everything else as you build towards a more complete wardrobe.
Fast fashion retail chains such as H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo can be great resources to experiment with on-trend styles at affordable prices. Another option is visiting your local thrift, consignment, or vintage store. These are all great places to find quality items at cheap prices. It may take some time to scour through the racks where there will inevitably be a great deal of things you will pass on, but there can be some hidden gems, hardly worn or even unworn items that people have decided that they no longer want.
Above all, be patient, shop smart, and have fun!
About the Contributors:
Ashley Rudolph is a New York City girl with a penchant for travel, shopping, and good times with great people. Her blog What Would Ashley Wear? covers shopping, personal style, emerging designers, and fashion-related events. Ashley has professional experience in social media management, consumer research, marketing, and media buying and is currently the Associate Director of Marketing & Digital Media at Uncommon Schools.
Calvin Saunders is a member of the men's accessories buying team at Ralph Lauren. He has also worked as a consultant on trend analysis, market intelligence, and visual merchandising standards.
About the Author: Femi Faoye is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of D.R.E.A.M. He’s a staunch and passionate financial literacy education advocate.
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