A new season means it’s time for new clothes. But how do you refresh your closet without blowing your summer budget? Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice your trip to the beach just to get that new pair of sandals. Use these tips to create a budget and strategically plan out your purchases.
Sell What You Don’t Need
If you’re working with almost no budget, turn your old clothes into cash for new ones. Go through your wardrobe, gather gently used items you no longer wear and sell them on secondhand sites or to consignment stores. Use the money from these clothes to refresh your closet with new pieces.
If you’re like me it’s been a couple of years since you’ve really taken stock of what’s in your closest, and it’s probably worth taking another look, freshen it up a bit! There are probably some things that you can get rid of to make room for some new clothes. Look through the back of your closet and the bottom of your drawers, and if there are things you have forgotten about or haven’t worn in years, I think it’s safe to say you won’t miss it them if they’re gone.
If there are pieces that you think you might wear again, do the hanger test. Hang all of your clothes the same way and when you wear it turn the hanger the other way. Check back in a couple of weeks and see if you’ve worn them. If not, you can probably purge them too! Another good test is to box up your “maybes” and check back in 30 days to see if they are still in the box. If they are, clearly you do not need them.
Take a look at your clothes that survived the purge and get organized. I like to organize my clothing by type (dresses, pants, tops etc.), but some people prefer a system based on color. Whichever way works for you, I highly recommend getting organized, as it will help you assess what items you need, what you want and what is truly missing.
It will also help you to identify the styles of clothing that you gravitate toward, helping you figure out what works for you when it comes to purchasing new pieces. Are you looking at a closet full of dresses? Or are your drawers full to the brim with tees and shorts? This will help you understand your personal style and adjust your shopping list accordingly. After all, there’s no need to replenish your shorts supply if you really prefer to wear dresses and skirts.
Next, evaluate your closet to see if you’re missing any true staples. Did you finally have to get rid of your favorite maxi dress because it was just too worn out? Did that favorite pair of denim cutoffs finally have to be retired? You’ll want to replace these pieces because they are classics that you can build your summer looks around. Start making a list of everything you need to buy, based on your inventory. If you realize you already have your basic maxis, shift dresses, shorts and tees, you can simply add shoes and accessories to your list.
Build a Budget
Once you know exactly what you need, plan out a careful budget that encompasses your shopping list. Rather than going to the stores and roaming aimlessly, give yourself an exact number to work with for each piece. For instance, if you know you need a new dress, you might budget $50 maximum for it. If you happen find the perfect dress at a higher price point, revisit your budget and shopping list and eliminate another item or two to make up for the added expense. Having a defined budget—and keeping track of exactly how much you spend on what—will help keep you from wasting money on impulse buys and clothes you’ll never wear.
Now, to the fun part! The new clothes. Buying new clothes can be a daunting task, especially if you are on a limited budget. Check out your local vintage stores or shop secondhand sites online. With consignment stores and sites, you can find quality pieces at a fraction of the typical cost. Shopping secondhand means there’s a better chance you’ll wind up under budget—which means more money for summer fun.
With some advanced planning, it’s easy to stay on track of your clothing finances and get a whole new wardrobe at half the cost.
Catherine Claire is a stylist and a fashion blogger who can create amazing outfits on a small budget. She is the cofounder of The Crystal Press and also writes for thredUP.com, an online/offline consignment and thrift store with a large selection of wallet-friendly women’s dresses.