Monday, July 30, 2012

Planning Your Fall Purchases...{Part One}

As we have seen in the past couple of weeks, retailers are now unveiling their Pre-Fall lines, which means lots and lots of new lovelies to get excited about and possibly even purchase. So how does one decide what to add to their wardrobe without going over budget or purchasing pieces that end up as "closet orphans"? It all starts with a plan. I have one that I follow each season, and because it helps me so much, I wanted to share it with you, in hopes that it might help you as well. :)



In a nutshell, this is the way I approach each new season: I evaluate my wardrobe to see just what I have, what is worn out and needs to be replaced, what is needed to complete certain outfits, and also what I might simply just 'want' because it is fun. Then as the fall rollouts arrive in the stores, I can see if any of the items fit with the ones on my list. If they do, then I purchase, but if they don't...I leave them at the store. This has saved me a lot of returns, unwanted purchases, and unworn items. Plus it is excellent for my budget. I also then don't mind spending a bit more on one quality item. I would rather have one item that is well-made and loved, than multiple items that are disposable, and get tossed away or sent to my closet archives. 

Now let's go through the process together step by step:

Step 1: Go through your closet to see what you already own. As daunting a task as this may seem, it is a critical step (even as hot as it in most places right now), and must be your starting point. It will help you see where the gaps in your wardrobe are, help you avoid purchasing 'repeats' of items you already own, and also help you steer clear of items that don't have a place in your wardrobe. (These are the pieces that either require you to purchase several additional items in order to make a complete outfit, otherwise they become your "closet orphans" because they have nothing to go with them, and will often remain unworn in your closet (many times with the tags still on). 


Step 2: Try it all on. I know, I know...UGH, right? Hear me out, as I really feel this is another incredibly important step. Over the course of two seasons, your size and/or shape can change (this seems to happen more easily the older you get), and the clothing that fit you so well last fall, may not fit you as well this fall. This could be due to either weight loss, weight gain, or even a change in your figure due to an exercise routine, or recently having a baby. Whatever the reason, it is important to figure out what clothing is going to work on the body you have now, what items will work with a bit of an alteration, and what items you just need to let go of.

Step 3: Now that you have removed all of the clothing from your wardrobe that no longer fits, it is time to start putting together outfits! Sounds fun, right? Right! Now, you can either do this on your own, or even hire your own personal stylist to do it for you. (This is one of the services I offer to my clients, and I know that many other stylists do, as well.) Either way, this step will not only help you to see just what outfits you have that are already complete (no additional items needed), but it will also help you figure out just what additional clothing items or accessories are needed for the outfits that are not yet complete. (This is also a great way to get more use out of your current wardrobe with minimal expense.) 

  • I also suggest taking photos of the outfits you put together, (or creating a set design if you are on Polyvore), so that you can refer back to them later on when it is actually time to wear the outfits. Not only does this help when planning for each new season, but it also helps to take a lot of the stress out of getting dressed each day. You simply look at your photos (or Polyvore sets) of outfits, decide which look you want to wear, and then pull the items from your closet that are needed to put the outfit together.


Step 4: Make a 'Fall Shopping List'. This is going to be the list that has all the items you need to complete your outfits from Step 3, as well as any other items you may need, or even simply just want. For example, I like to write down everything I need/want to add to my wardrobe, and then pare it down as the season moves on and more merchandise is introduced by retailers.  (As you will see in Step 5, I do put the most needed/wanted at the top of the list to get them crossed off first, then move on down the line as my budget permits.)

Step 5: Prioritize. Now that your 'Fall Shopping List' has been made, the next step is to PRIORITIZE it! As lovely as it would be to purchase everything on the list, for most of us this just isn't realistic, and that is why it is so important to prioritize. Not only does this help to keep you focused on the items you really need/want, but it will also help to keep your budget in check (more to come on that later) as the season actually arrives.

  • The prioritization of the items will of course be different for everyone as they make out their list. Some may put the items they need at the top of the list and the items they want further down the list. Others may put something they really just want at the top of the list, and go on down the line from there. It just depends on which items you feel are the most important for you to get, and also on how much or little of a budget you have to spend on your fall purchases.

Step 6: Decide when to buy. The warm weather is still here, so it is important to remember that you will not be able to wear many of the items on your list right away, and it is possible that you may be able to catch them on sale in a month or two. If the item is something high on your list that you think will sell out in your size, or that you will not be able to find later down the road on sale, then by all means purchase now. However, you should be sure that you are happy with the item at the price you are paying for it, and realize that not only is it taking away from the budget you have set aside for fall, but there is also the possibility that others may be able to purchase it for much less money down the road. 


Step 7: Realize that there are more lovelies yet to come, so try not to spend all of your fall budget right out of the starting gate. Fortunately, most retailers have Fall/Winter Lookbooks that allow you to preview the items still to come. In most cases, you can call or email for more information about the piece you are interested in. This way you can see if the item will fit into your budget, or if it is not doable at all.

  • Another thing to consider when looking at the preview items, is whether or not they fill a gap in your current wardrobe and work with other pieces you already own. After all, the goal is to add items to your closet that enhance it, not items that require you to purchase even more in order to make the item work. So, if the item you are considering does fill a gap in your current wardrobe or works with other pieces you already own, and it does fit within your budget, then you add it to your 'Fall Shopping List' in the order of its priority.

  • Besides the lookbook, another great resource for getting a 'sneak-peek' of what is yet to come at J.Crew is ajc's blog, which you can see here. She lives near the J.Crew Concept store, and takes pictures of the "soon to be released" items to share with us.


Step 8: Stick to your budget, and purchase only when you have the money on hand. This can be a really tough one, especially when there is an item you feel you really, really want, or the 'buzz' is that it is going to sell out quickly. Trust me, I have been there more times than you can imagine! (After all, shopping is part of my job, and something I love to do, as well!) I have made purchases on credit that I shouldn't have, and then felt guilty, or regretted them on down the line. I have justified purchases by planning to sell other items in my closet or 'not spend at all' for a month or two, but that rarely worked out. I also found myself caught up in the buy, return, repurchase at a lower price cycle, too. This was mainly due to the dreaded Final Sale at J.Crew. I felt I needed to buy everything I was interested in at full-price so I could try it on for size, before it hit final sale. I can honestly say that the entire cycle was extremely exhausting, time consuming, and not one that I wish to ever get into again. Instead, here is what I do now:

  • Each month I put my allotted spending amount into my Paypal account. This is the only money I have available for making purchases, since using the credit card is not allowed. If I have spent the money and find something else that I want, I have to wait until the next month when I have funds available again to purchase it. Now this has meant that I have missed out on one or two items that I really wanted, but I am ok with that and feel better in the long run that I did not put them on credit. There are also many times that I choose to spend as little as possible, so that I can build up my savings for the larger ticket items on my list. (I don't mind spending a bit more on one quality item, as I would rather have one item that is well-made and loved, than multiple items that are disposable, and get tossed away or sent to my closet archives.) All in all, this method of shopping and budgeting has been working well for me, and I no longer feel the weight and exhaustion of the shopping cycle I was on before. I am also now much more critical about the purchases I do make. I am very much aware of the 'latté factor', and avoid picking up items here and there that are not on my list, even if they are at a fabulous sale price. (Each little purchase eats into my budget, and is money spent that could have gone towards an item on my list.) After all, an item bought on sale that hangs in your closet unworn, really wasn't such a great deal after all.


Step 9: Do not get overwhelmed! Easier said than done when retailers constantly offer so many new beautiful items, isn't it? As someone who shops extensively, both online and in-stores (not only for myself, but for others), I know firsthand how difficult it can be to not want almost every new item out there! This is where having your 'Shopping List' is going to be extremely beneficial. It will help you keep on track and focused on what items you should be adding to your wardrobe, instead of adding a miscellaneous item here and there. 

Now even with your shopping list in place, it can still be very tempting at times to make a spur of the moment purchase when you see something that makes your heart pound and your pulse race. When faced with the temptation...try this:

  • Stop for a moment, and take a deep breath.
  • Turn off the computer and step away if you have to.
  • Try to think about your list. Is the item on it? Do you need it enough to spend part of your fall budget on it? Will it work with other items in your current wardrobe?
  • If you are at the store, then ask them to hold the item for you until the next day, so that you can go home and think about it. 
Most importantly, remember that you have a set goal in mind...you are in the process of building a fully functioning wardrobe! One that will consist of pieces that work cohesively with each other. One that is filled with only the items that fit well, and that you love. One that will bring you peace of mind knowing that whatever the occasion or event, you will have something to wear! Don't let one 'I need that and have to have it now' moment deter you from the end goal! You are stronger than that!

So what about you? Do you have a plan you follow when deciding on purchases each new season? Are you also a list maker? If so, do you already have a list made out for your fall purchases? Please do share! I always love to hear from you! :)

***Update: Planning Your Fall Purchases...{Part Two} can now be seen here. :)

xoxo,

62 comments:

  1. Thank you FFM for sharing your expirience on planning fall purchases.
    As a matter of fact i was just think about my fall\winter wardrobe and found that i was totally lacking in basics(black and navy sweater,white blouse,long sleeved tees in basic colors).
    Even though it would have been way more fun to buy the georgious colors that jcrew has for the fall(love the kelly green),i ordered the tippi in black and navy. next month i will hopefully get more of my list.
    My husband,who is in atlanta right now,alredy got me the navy polka dotted scarf and a leopard scarf from jcrew.

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    1. Hi Ina! I applaud you for sticking to the basics that you need to fill in the gaps in your wardrobe, and I'd love to see more of your list. I hope you'll consider sharing it. I always find it so interesting to see what other women are looking forward to. :)

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  2. What a wonderful post, FFM, I'm clapping you!
    I did this this weekend. I need a navy jumper, a camel jumper and a camel/tan bag, but none of them excite me - this is my problem! However that's all I'm going to be buying and looking at because I need them to make my other clothes work - humph.

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    1. Thank you so much, Tabitha! I know how boring just looking for the basics can be, so I admire your resolve to stick to just looking for them. Good luck on your quest, and let me know what you find! :)

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  3. What a wonderful and comprehensive article. I am an extremely prolific window shopper, but an extraordinarily disciplined buyer! I am looking forward to part 2!

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    1. Thank you KnitYarns! It sounds as if we have quite a bit in common. :)

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  4. Thank you FFM for this great closet purchasing advise! I've learnd my lesson this year with all the sale frenzy at J. Crew. I was spending too much time on the site, reading the blogs, buying, prebuying, returning. I was exhausted! I'm going to take your suggestions to heart and start developing my list now. Also I love your idea of setting aside a certain amount of money in a separate account and sticking with that budget. I really need to do that!

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    1. straycat: You are welcome! Yes, setting aside the money in a separate account really does make a difference, not only in your overall budget, but also in the way you shop, since you really think hard and long about every single item before purchasing.

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  5. FFM, thank you for posting this. I always think of myself as pretty seasoned shopper and rational/logicalperson and I usually go through someting similar exercise each spring and fall but reading your guide I realized some of the mistakes I make. I buy things on my list too quickly and tend to add more and more, especially when items that were all the way down on my 'maybe' list make it to sale. I also justify spending much more money that I initially alloted to that first haul, like spending the whole season money in the first month thinking that I would stop rigth there but I don't so I end up returning, reselling and forever juggling the money. Instead of enjoying my purchases I end up feeling exhausted, guilty and out of control.

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    1. You're welcome ajc! You just described how I used to feel most of the time, and how I think that many women feel. We spend so much time looking for the next best thing, instead of enjoying the purchases we have already made. It's almost like it's the thrill of the chase instead of the actual catch that makes us the most happy sometimes. I know from experience that it is possible to get out from under the vicious cycle and feel liberated, even though I never thought I would or could.

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  6. Thank you for the reminder that trying on everything in one's wardrobe is a valuable experience. I recently did then when one of my children was at camp and I could use her room: I put all my hanging clothes there and tried them all on. The other terrific thing which happens is that combinations appear by virtue of proximity: two items are put next to each other and, voila, seem to be a good match! So I end up with new skirt/shirt/blouse combos! I put entire outfits together on hangers (has its upsides and downsides) so it is great to pull everything out and mix it all up! I definitely saw gaps: I need shorter cardigans as many of mine are quite long aka rear covering. Those proportions do not work with everything however. I noticed that when I tried to put outfits together.... Can't wait for your Part 2!

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    1. Margaret: Yes, you are so right! The try-on sessions end up producing outfits and combinations that you didn't even realize you had. I also find that sometimes an item that I had grown tired of wearing two years ago, ends up being one of the pieces I am most excited to wear now. It is the ultimate way to 'Shop Your Closet'.

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  7. Great post!! I'm a planner and list maker like you so I've implemented the seasonal wishlist the past few years. It has definitely help me focus my spending although there have been pllenty of slip ups and items that weren't on the list slipping into my closet. I really need to work on #8, sticking to my budget and I never really thought of putting things in order of priority, but I think that's an excellent idea.
    There are only a few items on my fall wishlist, but I'm craving lots of things in burgundy/wine and I want to add more prints, especially in tops. The Gap must be reading my mind because I picked up a burgundy blazer and a cute printed popover this weekend. I was going to wait, but then they issued a discount. Oops, so much for waiting. :)

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    1. Thank you fshnonmymind! I think you make a really good point about occasional slip ups, even when following a list. They do happen...to all of us. No one is perfect, and anyone can have a 'momentary lapse of reason'. I think when this happens it is important not to beat yourself up about it, but to simply get back on track, and try extra hard to only stick to your list the next time.

      I think Burgundy will be an amazing color on you! Gap has really been offering some fantastic items again lately, and the deals there are always good. I have found in the past that many times the blazers go quickly and aren't brought back again, so getting it now sounds like it was a good decision for you to make. :)

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  8. This is so helpful! I really am not in the mood to bring out the fall clothes... so I won't let myself buy anymore fall items (I've grabbed a few things on eBay and sales this summer already) until I figure out the real *needs*

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    1. Thank you fromfcdc! Good for you to hold off from buying until you figure out your needs for this season, especially since there will still be many more lovely things to come. :)

      Did you pick up any 'vintage' J.Crew on Ebay?

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  9. Thanks for such a great post! I am in the planning stages of my fall/winter purchases and this is very helpful. My big problem is when I go into a store and see items in person and love them even though they are not on my list. For me shopping on line is safer and I stay on track better. Also, reading blogs helps, seeing the outfits and reading the reviews can keep me in line. The tips from you and Dani help so much too! I am looking forward to seeing your list :)

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    1. You're welcome, mini! I know what you mean about going into the store and seeing items you love that aren't on your list...it happens to me, too. That is when it is important to implement Step 9 and ask the SA to hold the item for you. Many times I find that once I leave the store and get back to my regular routine, I think less and less about the item, if even at all. I know it can take some willpower to leave it there, but it does get easier and easier each time you do it. :)

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  10. FFM, this may be the best post in the history of blogdom. Certainly the most helpful. It had to be a lot of work to put this together. Thank you!

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    1. Desert Flower: THANK YOU! Your comment has made my day! :)

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  11. THIS IS A GREAT POST, I AM BOOK MARKING FOR FUTURE REFERENCES :) THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR EXPERTISE! :)

    KISSES FROM :
    A SMALL BLOG WITH A BIG HEART
    MRS JACK OF ALL TRADES DAILY where Fashion and Food collide!
    http://mrsjackofalltradesdaily.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you Mrs C! I appreciate you stopping by today! :)

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  12. FFM, what a fantastic step-by-step guide! Thank you for taking the time to detail it for us. I am good at the try-ons and making a list, but then I let the list stretch and the wants take precedence over the real needs, mostly when I am in a city that has B&M stores or selection that's not normally accessible me. Work treat and holiday buying leads to silly frivolity. But this fall is a fresh start. I finished a short list yesterday. I will fix the fact I have 9 great jackets with no tops to wear under them. Have also put photos on my phone of the things I need to match up to, as another guard against the "pretty colour/ print" orphan pick. Dani also helped with a suggestion to keep the 2011 golden schoolboy jacket and pair it with navy (which I already have but had not thought of) after you cured my intitial yen to replace it with an only slightly different shade. Look forward to your actual selections, soon.

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    1. Thank you GetFresh! I'm glad that you've put the photos on your phone. I really think it will help you to be able to keep more focused when you are out shopping. It sounds like you love jackets as much as I do! I have many that I have collected over the years, and look forward to wearing them every year as soon as it cools down a bit. What other colors do you have? Just imagine how many new outfits you will have to wear if you add tops to mix and match with them! :)

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    2. FFM I like your theory! Good jackets are my anti-suit and helped me fit in different environments during one workday. But admit to a slight addiction - the schoolboy in 4 colours/ fabrics, including the Prince of Wales which I just picked up in the last 40% sale.

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    3. Heeheee...well, I have that same addiction GetFresh! I will have to count again, but I'm sure I have that many schoolboys, and even have the Prince of Wales schoolboy, too. :)

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  13. FFM - love this! I have been doing this very thing, though liKely not as well! I will do a post on it this week!

    It really helped me in Boston! I did not deviate and will not purchse more now until September unless my other basic goes on sale (unlikely!)

    Love the idea of the paypal$ - very smart!!!

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    1. Thanks WMM! I'm so pleased to hear that you stuck to your list, even with the temptation of all the stores you were able to visit! It sounds like you were having a wonderful time, and I can't wait to hear all about it! :)

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  14. Hi FFM. This was a wonderful post and I really enjoyed reading it. I think reading this put me over the edge to finally force myself into making a clothing budget! I also really need to go through my clothes and ruthlessly purge. It's hard when things are stored in the off season but you're right, I need to get out those fall clothes to try even though it's 90 degrees! The good news for me is that I am pretty sure I need almost nothing. Yay!

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    1. Thank you J.CrewJD! I am the same way this year. Most of the items on my list will be wants instead of actual needs.

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  15. Hi ladies! I just wanted to let you know that I've updated the post with another little 'tidbit' added to step 3. :)

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  16. this post is full of wisdom my dear. i esp like the thought of buying one real quality piece instead of a bunch of tat (as they say in england.)
    as i look back over my long history of purchasing clothes, i can say with confidence that that is the way to shop!

    i also like that you are working within a budget, a cash budget. i find that i'm super stingy w/my purchases when i'm spending cold hard cash. i'll always find a way to make what i have work instead of frivolously spending.

    thanks for sharing and i can't wait to see your fall list. xo

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    1. Thank you Janet! I am absolutely the same way when it comes to spending cash now, and also find myself making things work instead of spending money on a replacement. I know that you are an expert on both, and I always find inspiration when I stop by your blog. :)

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  17. Thanks FFM for a wonderful and timely post. I just finished a closet purge, hopefully my last, since I have been quite good in sticking to a few rules I have followed in the past two years. A number of these rules we share in common: gaps in our wardrobes go on a list that dictates buying decisions and going for quality than quantity. To make it to my list, an item must fit my FFF criteria: Fit (impeccable, no alterations), Fabric (no synthetic blends), and Forever (timeless, not dated or trendy). This has resulted in a very short list for each rollout and saved me a lot of money and time previously spent shopping. More power to your blog!

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    1. Thanks Marie! It is quite amazing to see how short a list can get when each item must meet certain criteria, isn't it? I find myself getting more and more discerning as time goes by, and really feel that retailers need to earn my money these days. If their product is sub-par or doesn't meet my own personal criteria then it is their loss, not mine, since there will always be something else to come along and take its place.

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    2. Marie, I differ only in the Fit area. I do look for things that fit very well, but if a garment needs only a minor alteration to be perfect, I am all for tailoring. For example, pants and jeans almost always fit too large in the waist. I tailor them and wear them to death. I'll do a little hemming or a move a button. I honestly think it's a rare woman for whom everything fits off the rack.

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  18. Brilliant! Bravo for such a detailed & smartly organized post! I thought it incredibly clever that you budget the money for clothes shopping into your PayPal account - that makes such good sense to me.

    Over the past year or so I've parred down my wardrobe & sold or donated more than I care to admit - but I finally did this to have my ideal wardrobe that actually fits my regular life. Once I cleared out the aspirational clothing I bought for very specific what-if scenarios that will probably never occur, the "essential" stuff that some fashion guru told us "we must have" (camel trench-coat, career slacks), the out-dated trendy quirky stuff (Winter Kate boho skirts), the scrubs (I retired after nearly 20 yrs from my healthcare career last year) & anything & everything that I just would opt to never wear despite having bought it to wear - well all that stuff & more got kicked out of my wardrobe & I never felt more relieved to have it gone.

    Now I am super persnickety about what comes into my closet. It sure has cut down on blogger envy purchases, clothing that maybe-might be ok if I overlook all the things that are wrong with it, the "how could I pass up that great sale deal" stuff & so on.

    I admit it took a lot to look at myself & my true lifestyle & come to grips with the fact that I had bought too much aspirational stuff for a life not my own. Such as - I would first grab a pair of plain old Reef flip flops (cute, simple, comfy) before I would reach for the Jack Rogers (slippery, make too much noise when I walk on tile, rub the tops of my feet). That I hate shirts with collars. That we live out on the boat more than the house. That I prefer to only wear solid colors & not patterns more than not. That I don't own or want to ever wear anything black except work-out tights. That I don't need a ski parka when I live in the coastal south & have never snow skied!

    Facing up to my realistic life did wonders in helping me assess my wardrobe past, present & future!

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    1. Thank you Jane! I completely agree with you about facing up to one's realistic life, instead of dressing for your aspirational life. I have done a lot of shopping for my aspirational life over the years, and still find myself gravitating toward those types of clothes. I know for me it still takes continuous willpower to come back down to the real world, and face the fact that I just don't have the life that those clothes are made for. I just have such a weakness for pretty things! This is another reason that making a list and budget that I stick to has helped me though. It forces me to really think long and hard about potential purchases, and be much more discerning about what makes it into my wardrobe.

      I applaud you for facing up to your realistic life and dressing accordingly! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and share!:)

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  19. Great post. I have a few ideas in mind for fall, but the list is not set in stone just yet. I know what I need and what I want, the issue of budget remains. Plus, of course, shoes :-)

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    1. Thanks Julie! I'm really looking forward to seeing your list! Is the stripe sweater at J.Crew on it?

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  20. Great advice here and I love the no credit card rule!

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    1. Thank you LR! The no credit card rule really helps to make you much more discerning with your purchases. I also think it is much easier to actually enjoy what you have bought when you know it wasn't paid for with borrowed money. :)

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  21. This a COMPREHENSIVE article. Thanks for the step by step practical advice. You and DaniBP should have your own monthly column in a fashion magazine like Lucky or Marie Claire. I won't be needing much in the way of new purchases this fall, but I'll be putting together new ways to freshen up what I have. I do love using my I Phone to keep a photographic record of successful looks, otherwise I get brain freeze when I'm in a rush.

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    1. Awakening my Wardrobe: Thank you! How nice to hear that you are already taking photos of your looks! It really is helpful, isn't it?

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  22. What a great post. Rather than a PayPal account, I have an annual clothing budget. I keep track of it on my phone, noting the starting amount, subtract my purchase, and then see the result. It has worked really well for me. If I want to spend it all at once I could. Very liberating to not feel guilty or stressed about spending. I also put down a note about what I bought.

    I figured the sum during the course of a very long hike with my husband. We negotiated ferociously the whole way. He thought the initial number that I threw out was for the year, rather than the month :-)

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    1. Thank you Hadilly! Yes, I completely agree with you! It is very liberating to not feel stressed or guilty when purchasing something new for yourself. It actually makes shopping truly fun again! :)

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  23. Wow, what a great post! Lately I have been feeling pretty good about avoiding a lot of cheap mistakes (cheap chic, or "the latte factor) but I need some techniques to focus my "investment pieces"--striking the right balance between basic pieces such as the pencil skirts and "wow" items like my much-loved flame Biella loafers.

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    1. Thank you Hexicon! How wonderful that you have also been avoiding the latté factor in your shopping. Isn't it quite amazing how much extra $$$ you end up with when you do?

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  24. I agree with all of the other comments - amazing blog! Definitely going to bookmark this! This is so timely for me as well since we are getting ready to move and I am trying to do a big purge. One of my struggles right now is keeping clothes that are too big (but not necessarily maternity) for *hopefully* any future pregnancies. I so want to get rid of them, but I know that I will need them again! Any good storage advice for such situations? Thanks FFM!

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    1. Thank you Julie! :) Well, as someone who was pregnant or breastfeeding for almost 5 years straight, I completely understand your desire to hang onto the larger size clothes, since you will be needing them again. I had various ways of storing mine over the years. At one point I use the Rubbermaid containers that they sell in Target and Walmart. I laundered everything, folded it nicely, and laid it in the container to be tucked away in one of the bedroom closets. If the container is small enough, you can also store it under the bed. If one small container isn't enough, then you could do 2 or 3. I also used the space saver type storage bags. You know the ones that you put the garments in and then remove the air so that they shrink down to virtually nothing? They are really good for under the bed storage, or for placing on a shelf of in the corner of a closet, and you would be surprised at how much they actually hold, too! HTH! Let me know if you have any other questions! :)

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  25. Very helpful, FFM. I wish I were better about the letting go part. I read this and immediately put 2 dresses in the goodwill bag. I keep thinking I will consign the better stuff but I don't. I don't know how to do ebay.

    Most important advice-- never spend $ you don't have. On anything. The key to happiness. Thanks FFM

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    1. Thank you Lane! When I decide to let things go, I usually try to see if anyone I know can use them first, and if not then I donate them. I have occasionally listed items on the JCA Weekly Exchange, but haven't had much luck with that as of late. Many times I just don't have the time to consign or sell on Ebay, so giving them away or donating ends up being the best option for me. :)

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  26. FFM this post is AMAZING! Thank you so much for taking the time to detail your strategy for us. I am taking it all in and I am going to apply it to my own shopping. I tend to focus on organization by color and in the past that has led to not having enough basic and sensible items. I really get caught up in pretty this or that, and of course the call of the party frock is always loud in my ear!
    I really like your spending strategy too, so sensible. I find that when I walk away from something I think would be "just the thing" the want for it just sort of fades away, it has taken me some time to learn this. Setting aside a certain amount of money in a paypal account is just genius, I'm going to start doing that too (and I wonder how much having a store credit card, like the J Crew card!, leads to over-shopping?)
    I also tend to get excited and order too much at the initial roll-out, I've got a big box of J Crew waiting for me in Atlanta and I bet I'll be returning all of it now that I have a "cooler head". At least I won't have to mail it back at great expense, I can return in store, a first for me. (Though we have J Crew in Toronto we can't return online orders in-store!)
    Again thanks so much, I'll be bookmarking this and setting up a little notebook for myself so that I have a central place to organize my shopping lists and monthly allotments.
    Looking forward to seeing your own list!

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    1. Thank you Dani! Yes, setting aside money has really worked to help me stay on budget. I am a lot less likely to purchase multiple items to try, too. Doing that means more money is gone from my account, and I have to wait for it to credit back before making anymore purchases...even if the item I've been waiting to go on sale does. Now I only purchase the items from my list that are potential purchases. It is so liberating not to be returning things all the time, too!

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  27. Hi FFM,
    Wow, thank you so very much for such an inspiring, knowledgable, thought provoking and impressive post! As always, well written and illustrated too.
    I also appreciate the insightful comments that everyone shared and can especially relate to straycat's and DaniBP's.
    Best wishes!

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  28. This is such an excellent post! I am a wardrobe planner and take stock twice yearly to edit and make a list of what is needed. I'm all about the classic looks so basics are important to me and sometimes I will upgrade from one brand to a higher brand that has a better look, better fabric or construction. I don't always find everything I have on my list and even though my budget is fairly generous I don't spend any leftovers, I just carry it to the next season as part of the base (not an increase).

    I buy what I need and a couple of "just want" items each season. I keep an open mind and shop many different labels to find what I need. I avoid the lure of sales that entice you to spend on things you would never have considered at full price. A hundred here, a hundred there, it all adds up and I'd rather skip those "deals" for something I truly love and will wear for more than one season. Looking forward to part II of this post.

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    1. Thank you xoxo! I am with you shopping different labels to find what you need. I don't think there is any one retailer nowadays that can fill every gap in a wardrobe, and it is important to 'shop the field', in order to get the best quality, fit, and design for your money.

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  29. FFM, thank you so much for sharing both your personal experience and professional insight in this post. At the risk of repeating the sentiments of the dozens of posters above, I would just add that the biggest idea I will put to good use is: having a strategy and a firm budget would actually help me prioritize the bigger-ticket items, vs. the "latte factor" purchases that chip away at my (limited) funds.

    Too many of my purchases are impulsive, fairly inexpensive "latte" items that seem harmless but end up being my biggest mistakes.

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    1. You're welcome ruffles, and I'm really glad to hear you found the post helpful! It is quite surprising to see how much is spent on the latté factor items. I think sometimes we get so used to buying something here and buying something there, that we don't even realize how much it all actually adds up to. I just try to keep my mind set on the 'bigger picture', knowing that I am working towards a goal, and will get there quicker if I'm not stopping to spend a couple dollars here or a few dollars there. :)

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  30. For me, trying on the clothing I already own is *the* most important step. There are things that looked great a few short months ago that don't look good now. My body is still changing and I have to honor that by getting rid of things that aren't quite right. Thanks for such a thorough, helpful post. :)

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    1. You're welcome Gigi, and thanks for stopping by! I still have to try things on every so often because I have found that as I get older my body shape is still changing. Certain styles and/or sizes that looked good on my figure even just a year or two ago don't look good now, so those items get removed from my wardrobe.

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