Four Ways to Update Your Wardrobe on a Budget


Four Ways to Update Your Wardrobe on a BudgetWhen the Army uprooted my sister Meg from the South and planted her in Germany, she was not prepared for the cold winters and she found that her wardrobe was out of date. Since I’m more interested in shopping than she is, I acted as her personal shopper and filled a few gaps in her wardrobe that helped her feel more comfortable traveling in Europe and attending military functions.

These are the steps I used to guide her through updating her wardrobe without costing her a fortune.

1. Evaluate your wardrobe basics. Wardrobe basics are the multi-seasonal staples that you use to lay the foundation for your outfits. If you invest in timeless, neutral pieces, you can then add color and flair with accessories and inexpensive trendy accents. Neutral colors that can mix and match with everything include : white, grey, camel, olive green, navy, brown, and black. You can save money by choosing one or two neutrals that look great with your skin tone. For example, instead if buying dressy boots in black and brown, maybe you just need the black. Work, lounge, and athletic attire varies from woman to woman, but casual basics for most women include :

  • Jeans
  • Tees and tanks
  • Cardigans
  • Black pants or leggings
  • Little black dress
  • Shorts and skirts
  • Boots
  • Sandals
  • Flats
  • Heels that make you feel pretty

2. Make a shopping list. Look at the list of wardrobe basics and see where you have gaps. If you’ve moved to a colder climate you might supplement your collection of tanks with some long-sleeved tees. If you are like the average woman and have eight pairs of imperfect jeans in your drawer, maybe it’s time to lighten the load and invest in one great-fitting pair. Make a list of everything you need. Add some fun items to your list like a pretty dress or trendy top if your basics are covered but you feel you need to liven things up a bit. When you find a sale, refer to your list to focus in on what you need, but also be open to new ideas that will complement your existing wardrobe.

3. Plan to save. Just showing up at a store can be hit or miss. Use the following tips to make sure you’re getting the best deals:

  • Hit the clearance rack, usually located at the back of the store, first. On your way there, look around for signs indicating extra percentages off, or ask a salesperson if there are any specials.
  • Department stores like Belk, Macy's and Dillard’s are great for getting everything for the family in one place. Belk and Macy's have fantastic one-day sales. And did you know at the end of most fiscal months Dillard’s marks their clearance clothing an extra 30-50% off?
  • End-of-season sale time is also a good time to shop. Right now, think winter coats, jeans, warm tops, and boots for next year. The same goes for the end of summer. Items like swimwear, shorts, and dresses will be at bargain prices.
  • Old Navy offers higher discounts on their clearance items during their end-of-season sales. I've found clothing for only a few dollars there. At those very low prices you can try trendy items that you may not normally splurge on.
  • Target is another place to discover good bargains. They seem to have a high turnover and clothing makes it to clearance racks pretty quickly. Often they have racks that are marked 30% off toward the front of the clearance clothing section. Start further back at the 50-70% off racks first.
  • Marshall's, TJ Maxx, and Nordstrom Rack offer beautiful designer clothes for a steal.
  • Subscribe to stores’ email lists or join free shopping clubs to have access to discounts/coupons. As with any coupons, make sure you check expiration dates and see if they can be used with other discounts or coupons. And, it never hurts to ask if they have any promotional discounts at checkout.
  • If you like shopping at local boutiques, follow Facebook pages or Instagram. Sometimes a shop will post discount codes and specific sales for their patrons that have followed them on these social network sites.
  • Use store apps on your smart phone to check for discounts.
  • Some stores match prices. Walmart does this so if you find an item advertised for less at another store, Walmart will match the lower price.

4. Go shopping. Now that you’re armed with a list of what gaps you have in your wardrobe, discount codes and coupons, and knowledge of the right time to shop, you’re ready to go out and find what you need. Here are some tips to follow when you’re out and about:

  • Always try on sale items before you leave the store. If it’s a perfect fit, within your budget, and something on your list, buy it. Never buy an item on sale that you wouldn’t pay full price for or that you think might fit better someday. Still, always check the store's return policy before you buy anything. Local shops often have specific details about returns or final sales policies. If you have buyer’s remorse, return or exchange items so you’re not stuck with something that’s less than perfect.
  • Shop weekdays or later hours during the weekend when there are fewer people.
  • Shop when you have time to browse.
  • Let your family or friends take care of the kids for a couple hours to allow you to focus on shopping.

Now you can navigate what can often be the dreaded task of shopping. Make it fun. Discover what you can get for the smallest amount of money. And don't worry if you don't find anything at one place. It just means your deal is at another store. Now put on some comfy shoes and get to power shopping!

***Disclaimer: I was not endorsed or paid to advertise any of the companies mentioned in this article. It’s all just my experience as a customer.***