Posted on Facebook October 23, 2011
Even though it’s been 175 years since I was in high school, I still have the same reaction when the weather changes from summer to fall. I need to shop. I remember being 15 years old, trolling the racks of baggy argyle sweaters at the Limited, browsing for bolero jackets and acid washed Z Cavarricci’s at Up Against the Wall, and splurging on my favorite striped blazer from Paul Harris (that unfortunately made me look like a referee at an upscale soccer match). I would come home from the mall loaded down with all my shopping bags and try outfits on for my sister, who was never impressed since she was “mod” and preferred long black shirts and pajama pants to my fruity preppy look.
Of course all this shopping was for a purpose: a new school year, so the excitement made sense. Nowadays, though, since most people work at the same place for years and see the same tired faces every day, maybe there is less incentive to shop when the seasons change? Nope. Even though I’m not in school anymore, and shopping for work can be pretty uninspiring (do we ALL have to shop at Ann Taylor and Banana Republic???) I still get the same feeling of excitement in the fall, and some evil force of nature keeps pulling me towards Bloomingdales.
Fortunately, I have learned some tricks along the way, and thanks also to some thrifty and stylish friends, I’ve learned how I can make my wardrobe work overtime for me, and head to the mall only with specific key pieces to shop for. Not only do these tips save me money, but they also help me to find my own “personal style” as well as periodically purge my closets and donate my stuff to some great charities (can you say ‘tax write-off’???). Check out my tips below and let me know how you save money yet still manage to look amazing!
– LOSE IT–Take advantage of seasonal closet changes to go through your clothes and shoes. If you haven’t worn an item of clothing in 2 years, get rid of it.
– TIM GUNN IN DA HIZZY–Invite friends over who know your style and/or friends whose style you like and ask them to help you create “new” outfits with your existing wardrobe. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in style, colors, etc.
– THREADS PARTY–Once you’ve collected a bunch of unwanted items that are in good shape, host a “clothing swap” at your place. Invite friends over with their unwanted clothes and swap your old stuff for their “new” stuff.
– MEGA-MIX– Mix “new” clothes with your existing wardrobe and discover the snazzy outfits you never thought you had!
– GO OLD SCHOOL–Check out vintage stores and mix vintage pieces with new stuff. If you live in NYC, go to Beacon’s Closet for evening wear. I bought 3 dresses there ranging in price from $19-45 and worn them to weddings, black tie events and cocktail parties and ALWAYS received compliments. The dresses are unique–one was a Betsey Johnson dress!–so you always look original.
– LET INSTYLE BE YOUR GUIDE– You don’t have to be a fashionista to check out a fashion magazine once in a while. Seriously, it won’t kill you. When you see something you like—an outfit, a pair of shoes, a high-waisted skirt—rip out that page and then take those pages with you when you go shopping as “ideas.” Let those ideas be you guide.
– KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE–Go shopping with NEEDS not WANTS in mind. If you have a major presentation to give for work, and need a killer suit, let that be your mission. Don’t be distracted by the shiny boots or cashmere sweater (unless it’s on sale and you have an additional 20% coupon on top of it!)
– THE BUDDY SYSTEM– Bring a trusted friend with you when you shop for an important and costly item. You don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on something that’s not “you” or that is too tight, ill-fitting or so last-year. To wear an item once and let it sit in the closet for the rest of its life is a bad way to spend your money. Also, it’s very sad and lonely for the outfit.
– MONEY BABY–Before making a major purchases, tell yourself, “This dress/suit/bathing suit/pair of jeans has to make me feel like a million bucks.” And then accept nothing less than that.
– LOOK GOOD BY DOING GOOD–Sell what you don’t want on EBay, Craigslist or vintage stores. If you can’t sell your pieces, donate them to charity. Be sure you are donating to a charitable organization and be sure to get a receipt so you can write off your donation as a deduction on your income taxes.
– Here are some great charities that will gladly accept clothing donations and offer a receipt:
Vietnam Veterans of America (pickupplease.org)—Will pick up so good for donating furniture.
With your new-old yet original outfits, you’ll be ready to head to that amazing steak restaurant with your Groupon.
Every piece was from the Limited. Posing in the back of a pickup truck…
Also from The Limited. My favorite red “silk” shirt–buttoned up all the way…Obviously I was the life of the party back then.