Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Ultimate Geek's Guide to Fashion Budgeting

Image thanks to staci

The Dilemma
There are a lot of things in life we don’t necessarily have full control over, the price of a latte for example, but something we do always have control over is the state of our wardrobes. Although, you wouldn’t necessarily know it judging by the state of them; heaps of cheaply bought ‘trendy’ high street finds, some literally falling apart at the seams after only a few wears. We shop cheaply and we suffer, so we shop again, and we create a cycle.

Does this sound familiar? Yes? Well it’s no good; we can’t go on this way! If you’re on a budget, you may think that cheaply bought items are just your lot in life because you can’t afford designer. However, if you are realistic about how much you’re currently spending constantly shopping for, and replacing, these low quality items, then you’ll soon see that spending more on great quality items is something that's well within reach, and therein lies the genius of fashion budgeting.

The Solution
You need to put an amount on how much you’re spending monthly on fashion. If you’ve hoarded receipts then this can be calculated accurately, but otherwise a guesstimate will suffice. This amount then needs to be seriously thought out. Perhaps you can vow to have every other month as a "no spend" month meaning you’ll be able to spend more in one go? If you’re a serious fashionista then consider opening a separate account for fashion spends. It takes five minutes online to do this nowadays, and this way you can more accurately budget your spending and not end up splashing your grocery money on those new pumps!

Once you have your budget in place, you need to break it down in order to make the very most of what you’ve got, then you can really begin to construct the wardrobe of your dreams. Here goes…

The Fashion Budget Triangle:

Current Trends:

Where to shop: Forever 21; Asos; Topshop; Charlotte Russe; Urban Outfitters etc.

Where to get inspired: The seasons catwalk; current magazines; your favourite fashion idols.

Where to spend: 15% of your total budget, no more than this is necessary if your aim is to build a beautifully functioning wardrobe – the more you have the more confused your style. Generally, it is okay to buy cheaply in this area because chances are you won’t intend to keep these items for very long (soon enough they’ll be so last season dahling.)


Where to shop: Your very favourite stores; ebay; etsy; thrift stores; Modcloth etc.

Where to get inspired: Your own lifestyle and interests should be enough to inspire you in this area. You might like to include elements from eras that fascinate you, aesthetically pleasing films, literary characters, your hobbies, your job – anything!

Where to spend: 35% Variable. This category should be fulfilled by your buying beautiful key pieces as and when. They should be treasured items, the ones you couldn’t live without and that make you chuckle with smug satisfaction every time you adorn them.


Where to shop: Designer Outlets, Net-a-Porter, Mango, Zara, vintage shops etc.

Where to get inspired: For our basics we need to think versatility, quality, block colours, and sharp tailoring for a great fit. We want the classics: the LBD, a great pair of jeans, a gorgeous leather handbag etc. We want key items that are never out of style. What's great about this is that you can choose to spend on those pieces that flatter you the most and stick with them, rather than having to worry about trendy fads.

Where to spend: 50% of total budget, but when I say spend the most and own the most I definitely do not mean gather a wardrobe choc-full of cheaply bought plain basics – this is a recipe for fashion disaster! I mean invest in key classic pieces that will last for years and pair with your perfect eccentricities.

Won't these sections overlap? 

The short answer is: yes, but this is all part of the fun! When this occurs it will be necessary to use your own discretion in ascertaining the true value of the buy. A fashionable pair of skinny jeans which are very expensive, yet also very much of the current trend, can still be a great investment if they’re good quality and you’ll really treasure them.

[Note: Remember that a lot of quality items, like Levi jeans, can maintain a fairly high resale value on eBay if you keep them in great condition, meaning that even if you do get bored within a few months you can get something back.]

WARNING: You may soon realise that effective fashion budgeting means much less shopping down time and you might worry that you will suffer a loss; but won’t the joy brought on by a gorgeous investment piece inspire you infinitely more than that 10th £15 polyester skirt? Keep in mind that you're doing yourself a favour here, not denying yourself.

Be sure you always refer to the fashion budgeting triangle before undertaking any shopping excursions to ensure you spend wisely in achieving your dream wardrobe!

More, more, more…

♥ I wrote this piece on How to Build a Designer Wardrobe on a Budget for Painfully Hip. 

Do you currently budget for fashion? Or have you fallen victim to the high street spend cycle?


Sherin said...

Wow, this is a great post. Up till a few months ago I used to just spend and spend. But now, I find that if I write a list of the things I want/need, I'll spend less. Its a good system

Leia said...

Great tips! Whether I can follow your advice, however, is a different matter ;)

kim said...

Great article :) I've gotten SO sick of cheap highstreet clothing lately... ugh!

myportobello said...

Great article..and VERY useful too..xxx

secretlybroke said...

GREAT article! Really spoke to my current fashion disaster that I have known for quite a bit that I need to re-organize my spending. Currently its just "browse for the cutest cheapest (but good quality) thing". Not good! I will be reblogging!

College Becky said...

Awesome article! You have a lot of wonderful tips in here that I will definitely try to use and will share with my friends! I really like the fashion budget triangle. I always want to spend the most on current trends, but then they go out of style so quickly! I will be consulting with the fashion budget triangle more often :-)

Twin XL said...

Excellent post with some great advice. But I'm with Leia, now I have to actually MAKE THE EFFORT to stop the overshopping and impulse purchases!

Aury said...

Absolutely awesome post! So helpful. Actually i'm currently renovating my wardrobe and am planning on using this to help me.

Aury said...

Oh yeah I totally love ur blog and follow it devotedly!

Nell said...

I've just found your blog (I was looking for some Milano tips, actually ;)
But, ...this shopping guide is veery helpful, and the triangle has sense completely.

Next time I go shoping (Maybe in Milano?) I'll se how it works ;)

flora deborah said...

Fantastic post.
loving this blog, you are giving some really nice tips :)

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