Sunday, August 25, 2019

Shopping Simplified: Planning Your Fall Purchases...

🍁🍂 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 shared way back in 2012. Because it has helped me so much over the years, I wanted to share it with you again, 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, 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 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.

*Outfit items purchased from Madewell, J.Crew, Sundance, Boden, L.L. Bean, Eileen Fisher, Talbots, T.J.Maxx, or Targét.

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. (Such as the Madewell Fall LookBook that I shared in this post.) 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.

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? 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? Do tell!

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