Mission: Creating The Stylish Wardrobe With Shopping Rules


   I changed my entire approach to clothes shopping, and am now working my way towards my dream wardrobe full of flattering, stylish pieces that I love (and that love me back).

    A while back I stumbled onto this post from No Signpost On The Sea. With horror I realised that this post could have been about me. I mentally scanned last month´s purchases and multiplied by twelve, and my numbers approached hers. And, just like her, I had spent more than I wanted and wasn´t satisfied with my wardrobe.
   I seem to be buying tons of cute, inexpensive stuff to avoid buying the stuff I actually need. This sounds totally weird, but it´s true: I balk at paying for a slightly pricier piece of clothing that has been on my wish-list forever, even though every month I regularly spend the same amount on a bunch of cheap, cute but non-necessary stuff. I call it the horror of actually getting what I need. Somehow my brain has a problem with the "quality over quantity" thing.

    To clarify: I´m not getting into debt or a shopping addiction. Like many Europeans I don´t own a credit card and have a wardrobe instead of a closet, both of these set important boundaries. The most expensive piece of apparel I ever bought cost 65€ (on sale, it was a pair of boots that ironically are really crappy as compared to a thrifted pair for 12€). I thrift a lot and rarely buy stuff that isn´t on sale. So I guess my shopping habits are pretty modest. Yet, these little purchases add up: both in terms of money as well as wardrobe space. I managed to spend more over the course of the whole year than I was comfortable with. "Crap, that's how much a flight to Brazil would have costed" is what I though when I looked at my years spending on unnecessary stuff. I wish I could say that at least I'm stylish and well-dressed. But in reality I have a wardrobe full of lovely stuff, yet I lack quite a few important pieces which I have identified ages ago yet never bought.
   When I do my half-yearly clothes swaps, I always have tons of stuff to give away. A lot of it I got for peanuts, but still. Giving away that much stuff on regular basis made me pause and be more selective about what I bring in. I really want to be a lady with only supremely-flattering pieces in my wardrobe!

The period of "quantity over quality" did have its merits.

   I brought very few clothes with me when I moved to Germany. Later on I went through two pregnancies, with my size and body shape shifting constantly. So it made sense not to hold on to clothes too much. Also, I could experiment with clothes and learn what I like and what flatters me.
    Now my body size and shape has more or less settled down. I have managed to collect lots of lovely pieces, and I would call my wardrobe abundant. Now comes the time to fine tune and optimise my wardrobe. My goal is to have a cohesive wardrobe where everything is flattering. Life and finances are too short for anything else. 
     No Signposts On The Sea made a list of shopping rules which inspired me a lot. So I made my own version:

My list of shopping rules:

  1. I will buy no more than 2 clothing items and accessories per month.
  2. Max budget for the month: 50€. This includes all non-essential clothes and cosmetics.
Strictly-necessary buys (socks, hiking shoes, soap, oils, cleanser etc) are exempt from this, as well as gifts, swapped stuff as well as thrift finds for 2€ and less (for the sake of experimenting).
    The 50€ that is my monthly fashion allowance was calculated as the average what I spent each month last year on such stuff. This amount may appear very small or big to many of you -- it happens to be right for me considering our income, priorities and local prices.

And how does it work?

    This February I bought three pieces of clothing (not quite my goal, but not bad for the first month): a clutch for which I had been eyeing all month (originally 40€, on sale 12€); a red turtleneck for 2€ (second hand), and an aubergine shrug for 2€ (again second hand). So I crossed my clothes limit, but at least all three items are from my wardrobe wish-list! So I spent 16€ on clothes, which leaves me 34€ on cosmetics. I spent around 8€ for cosmetics, and the rest I actually didn't spend since I couldn't decide between the stuff on my cosmetic wish-list. I have added this saved amount to my March budget. So, yeah, it worked so far, here's hoping to a stylish me at the end of 2012!

     Interestingly these shopping rules had curious side-effects -- but more on this another time, so stay tuned!

      Now I'd love to know how you manage your clothes shopping: do you have shopping guidelines? A shopping buddy? Any tips for me? I'd love to get inspired and learn from you!

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