How to Affordably Add New Items to Your Closet in a Tough Economy

You probably won’t be shocked to hear that the economy isn’t in the best shape right now. If you listen close enough, you can hear the sound of frustrated hands once again rooting through upturned …

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You probably won’t be shocked to hear that the economy isn’t in the best shape right now. If you listen close enough, you can hear the sound of frustrated hands once again rooting through upturned couch cushions. Essential goods and services like food, gas, and rent have skyrocketed in price. You yourself might be wondering how you’re going to make ends meet.

Even though times are tough at the moment, that doesn’t mean you need to entirely neglect your wardrobe to save for essentials. In fact, clothes are essential, especially fundamentals like socks, underwear, and pants. So read on to learn about a few ways you can keep affording your rent and look good while doing it.

Forgo Fast Fashion

When funds are tight, you may get the impulse to buy cheaper clothing. After all, when you have less money, you should spend less, right? From certain viewpoints, this line of thinking is sound and generally a smart idea. However, there’s a good chance it could lead you into the fast fashion trap.

Companies like H&M, Zara, and Hot Topic are notorious for designing, producing, and selling clothes as cheaply as possible. Now, it’s true that their styles and price tags are appealing at first glance. But clothes from these brands rarely hold up under repeated washings and may start to deteriorate after just a few months. A $15 sweatshirt might not seem like a big expenditure until you find yourself buying it time and again.

Instead of spending a few dollars here and there on low-quality threads, invest in clothes that last. Patagonia and L.L.Bean are just a couple of brands known for their durability and longevity. Though their products can be a bit pricier, one strategy to save is to shop for factory seconds.

Factory seconds are perfectly serviceable clothes with some minor manufacturing error, like a wrong stitch or miscoloration. If you can overlook these minor flaws, you can pick up discount Carhartt jeans and other hardy favorites without breaking the bank.

Set a Budget

Picking up factory seconds is one strategy for affording durable clothing that would otherwise be beyond your reach. But maybe you don’t want a misplaced buttonhole or misaligned pattern on every piece in your wardrobe. That’s perfectly understandable. If you’re going to spend more on your clothes without digging yourself a financial hole, though, you need a saving strategy. And while it’s not necessarily the most glamorous, living according to a budget is one of the best.

There are many ways to go about budgeting, but one effective technique is to separate your money into different spending categories. By using the envelope method, you can allocate your resources more effectively, one category at a time. Once your “basics” envelopes are filled, you can start putting cash toward refreshing your closet. It’s guilt-free spending at its finest!

As you begin filling up your clothing envelope, make sure you focus on the essentials. Just as you’re prioritizing food, gas, and rent over clothes, make sure you’ve got enough socks, underwear, and other basics first. It can be tempting to buy that cool shirt or chic jacket to accent your look. But you don’t wanna start chafing because your boxers are threadbare. Make sure the basics are covered before you move on to other more discretionary purchases.

Focus on Staples

So you’ve been able to meet your financial needs and clothing basics reliably. It’s time to take the next step and make sure you’ve also got plenty of clothing staples. These are the building blocks of style for your wardrobe — pieces that are classic yet flexible and can be paired with many other pieces.

Of course, you could buy a fun $60 designer Chewbacca t-shirt to show off your personality. And maybe you’ve got a great outfit for Comic-Con that really works with Chewy’s face on your body. However, you’ll probably have a hard time pairing that t-shirt with other pieces in your wardrobe. So put that money toward a cashmere pullover or well-tailored button-up instead. Items like these work equally well for the workday or a date night.

A versatile staple of many a person’s wardrobe is a great pair of jeans. For that same $60, a good pair of jeans can be paired with anything from a blazer to a tank top. The staples you invest in will depend on your climate, your lifestyle, and your personal style. But if you focus on quality and versatility, you’ll never lament that you have nothing to wear.

Dress to Invest

It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but shopping for clothes on a budget isn’t about finding the cheapest stuff possible. Sure, if you need a slinky top for one night of clubbing, go for it. One trip to Zara or H&M won’t kill you.

But in general, you’ll want to focus on acquiring a wardrobe that will last. What constitutes a staple for you comes down to your personal style and what pieces you feel you can make the most of. Just remember that dressing affordably is about investing in your closet for the long term, not only tomorrow.

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