Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thrifty Fashion Tips: Part 1

We all want to look good, right? I mean, fundamentally, we want to feel good about ourselves in the things that we are wearing. We choose clothing to express our style or our mood or the presence we want to convey. You usually won't see a anyone exercising at the gym in her business suit and you probably won't find a woman in a bright flashy dress at a funeral. Not one with tact anyways. Our clothes help define who we are. Or they are at least our message to the world.

I'm going to start a little mini series of sorts on building a wardrobe on a budget. I want to share with you how I get by on a minimal clothing budget and how I do that with as much style as I can muster. I want to share with you my tips and tricks for dressing the best that I can on a tiny amount. Hang with me and let's chat about looking gorgeous while keeping your green in your pocket.

The first thing I want to share is how to build your wardrobe.
We're going to dive in on how to:
  • find our personal style
  • the top pieces you should own
  • sorting through our closets
  • developing a personal wardrobe shopping list.
In upcoming posts, I'll share with you my tips and tricks on shopping, where the deals are, and we'll even include how to care for those new duds. I'll show you photos of my own clothes - including my recent outfits I bought - and how I'm extending my wardrobe. Remember, I'm on this journey too. Look for these posts coming soon!

So let's begin, shall we?

Developing YOUR Style
Isaac Mizrahi, the fashion designer, wrote a new book entitled "How to Have Style". I picked it up recently at my local library and read it through. He took 12 very normal women with very normal dressing challenges (budget, body type, etc...) and helped them develop their unique sense of style while working through and around their challenges.

The thing I really walked away from his book is this: Know your style.

What if you don't know what your style is? Well, you can certainly read the book (I recommend it!) or you can do what I'm sharing with you. This is per Isaac's instructions.

In a nutshell, you're going to make a style inspiration board. Grab a bunch of magazines. Find clothing catalogs. Maybe even search the web at some of your favorite stores. Pour yourself a Pepsi and rip out the things that inspire you. It could be a color. A haircut. A great floral skirt. A ruffled blouse. Pink Converse sneakers. Whatever you like. Perhaps it is a photo of an actress you admire. Or a band that you rock out to. Whatever it is, gather your pictures. Paste them to a piece of poster/Bristol board or pin to a bulletin board. What do you see? What are the recurring themes?

When I began, I found that bright colors ran through my inspiration board. There were choppy haircuts and lots of people smiling. I seemed to be attracted to coats and found that I was pretty particular in the cut of shirts that I liked. This inspiration board helped me to focus my attention on what really suits me. In discovering what your style is, it will help you focus where you want to shop (Northern Reflection as opposed to American Eagle).

Evaluating Your Closet
Now that you have an idea of what you are looking for, head to your closet. Let's start really evaluating what you own. Tim Gunn of "Project Runway" and "How to Have Style" recommends that women have these 10 essential items in their closet:

  1. A Little Black Dress (or LBD for short)
  2. Trench Coat
  3. Dress Pants
  4. Classic Shirt
  5. Jeans
  6. Any Occasion Top
  7. Skirt
  8. Day Dress
  9. Jacket
  10. Sweatsuit Alternative
  11. Bonus Item: One Indulgent Trendy Item

I would really suggest you hope on over here to read the descriptions of what each of these pieces are and Tim's suggestions on them.

Do you have these items?

Do a check of your wardrobe. Try things on! Evaluate how you look. Are there rips or tears? Ill fitting? Or do you just plain look fabulous? Take note. If it's not the best and you don't feel your best, put into a bag for donation. Don't be afraid to get rid of some pieces. If you don't feel your best or look your best, there is NO sense in hanging on to them. (Only donate clothing items that are not ripped or stained.)

During this time, take note of how many items you have a particular color or style. For example: Do you have 12 pairs of black pants? Well, we know who doesn't need to buy more black pants, don't we? Or maybe you are on the opposite spectrum. Perhaps you have every other color of pant under the sun except the black pants. Put that on your list of items to buy.

Why is this so important? Well, here's why. Shopping without a focus is just not good on your wallet. Especially right now in this economy, we want to be the best stewards of our money. Right? Well, there is no sense in buying another white blouse when you have three more at home...even if it is way on sale. That's not thrifty. Stay focused on the pieces that will build you a great wardrobe.

So here's what I'm doing this week:

  • I'm listing Tim Gunn's top 11 pieces that a woman should have.
  • I'm evaluating my wardrobe to see what pieces that I need.
  • I'm trying things on and PURGING.
  • I'll be packing away the darker, heavier winter duds in favor of lighter, brighter spring options.

How about you? Do you need to evaluate your look? How does your closet look? Could you bless someone with clothing pieces that just aren't "you" anymore?


Tracey said...

Mandy, love this post!! I try to do all the things listed, but often get away from this list and buy things that "I might get into someday", because I love the article of clothing. YOu bring out great points to stick to a list, colors that flatter, things that actually fit and fundamental pieces of a wardrobe to build on. thanks for this great post, I;m going to print it out and use it next time I go shopping, Can't wait for the next installment.
Blessings to you for a great week ahead.. Tracey

Small House said...

What I really need to dois loose 25 pounds to look better in the clothes that I have.

These will be great post's to follow. I'm looking forward to them. I'll work on the 25 pounds, and you'll inspire my clothing habits.

Have a great day.

Shannon said...

What a great post!! Loved it!

I don't think I have seen your new blog design either... I love it!!

Ruby said...

I love your post Mandi, I will definately be checking in to see the latest instalment. You've given some great tips. Hugs, Ruby x

Lucy Marie said...

What a great post. I'm looking forward to the subsequent parts. These are awesome tips, I will have to try to live by them more, I am somewhat of a splurge shopper.

Rona's Home Page said...

I have to clean out my closet this month. I don't like buying anything new till I do that.

~ Lisa @ AbidingThere~ said...

This is a great post, Mandi! You are so creative and so CUTE!

Tim said...

Mandi, while IO read most all of this post, it was just one that I find myslef speechless when it comes to commenting. Maybe because Im a guy? LOL

Love and Prayers,


Anonymous said...

This is such a wonderful post - inspiring us as usual :-) We're actually in the process of moving to a bigger apartment, and it's such a perfect opportunity to take these tips and put them into action.

Definitely going to go through my wardrobes and see what items could be given to charity. As you said, somebody else will surely make good use of those clothes.

Will be watching out for more posts on your wardrobe purging and style-finding! Thanks for all the useful tips and creative ideas :D

Amanda said...

Great post Mandi - can't wait for more! I just purged a TON of clothes and it feels so good! Thanks for the great tips and links!

Holly said...

This is a course I need to take...I did not get a fashion gene! This will be fun. Thanks!

Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful said...

Looooooovvvvvvve it! I sing my words with excitement too. (hahaha)

Good luck at your craft show girlie!


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