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to spend or save on clothes?

to spend or save on clothes?

I mentioned in my winter capsule wardrobe post that I purchased quite a few new things this winter. I really identify with my personal styling clients who have a hard time spending money on their wardrobes, because it's hard for me. There's a constant push and pull between my naturally frugal nature (thanks, mom and dad!), our family's financial goals, and my desire for a quality wardrobe. For many years, I fell into the trap of only buying bargains, regardless of whether they were items I loved and wore. Even now, I am uncomfortable spending money on my wardrobe, and am more likely to try to talk myself out of buying than into spending. Of course, intellectually, I know that I need quality items and that they often cost more. 

mindful closet - mens and womens personal styling

When discussing this with mr. mindful closet, he and I decided that it would actually make things easier for me if I had a set amount that I could (and probably should) spend per month on clothes. We decided that I can spend about $200 per month and that that money can be distributed however I like, i.e. I can spend $600 one month and then none for three months (and yes, my winter spree means I won't be buying anything for several months). For people who are very focused on fashion, this amount may not seem like enough. For others, this might seem like a lot. For me, it feels like a good balance between permission to spend without feeling frivolous. In addition, I'll add in any money I get from selling clothing that's not working for me and any store credit I've earned from using reward programs. (P.S. I did have a budget a couple of years ago, but had recently tried to stop buying altogether, which did NOT work. I still spent, but felt guilty about it. I'm definitely a moderator, not an abstainer.)

To maximize my budget, I had to get creative. I stalked items on The Real Real, a online consignment store. I followed a designer I liked on Instagram and was able to snag a sweater I'd been eyeing for 60% off at a warehouse sale they advertised via their Instagram account. Most of the items I bought were all natural fibers. I tried really hard to buy things that will last longer than their predecessors. I tried to resist things that were bargains but which won't hold up. 

Keep in mind that this is where my priorities lie. Your priority might be eating lunch out often and spending less on clothes, but I do think we all need to allocate a little money towards what we wear. As one of my new favorite frugal bloggers says, "you can afford anything, but not everything". 

Do you have a clothing budget?

(P.S. Here are a few more of my tips for buying quality over quantity at a discount, why we're "swimming in clothes", and have closets "filled with regret".)

transitional dressing: postpartum

transitional dressing: postpartum

Several of my friends are getting to the postpartum oh-shit-I'm-no-longer-pregnant-but-nothing-fits stage. Well, guess what? Nothing should fit. Anyone who says differently is delusional or had a very unique experience. You just grew a human with your body! I didn't fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans until around 11 months postpartum and I'd say I'm pretty lucky. And it's not just your tummy that's different, your body is holding onto fat stores all over (this article explains why). Here's my advice (and I don't say this very often): buy new stuff. It's the only solution. You need real clothes for the size you are.

You don't have to go all out (and you probably don't have the time). Budget a small amount. As I mentioned in this post about transitional dressing, this is one time it's ok to buy clothes that are inexpensive. See this post for nursing basics and why you want to buy things that you don't care about getting ruined.

When I started looking for a few examples for this post, I got a little jealous. I honestly feel like there are better options now than there were for me last summer! At minimum, you should have 1 or 2 pairs of jeans or other bottoms, a few fun non-clingy tops, a couple of decent basic tees in neutrals to dress up with jewelry and scarves, and a couple of nursing friendly dresses. Leggings can still work when you add one of these tunics for a little polish.

Here are a few of my picks for an affordable, indestructible, nursing-friendly wardrobe. Click the arrow on the right for more. Anyone else care to share their experience or advice?

(These images are affiliate links, which generate a few cents for me when you click but don't cost anything for you)


joie rancher top for less

joie rancher top for less

The Joie Rancher top has been on my wishlist for awhile. It's a great basic top that can be easily dressed up with an interesting necklace or scarf. Of course, for my current place in life, a silk top is no longer an everyday wearable item. While on a recent shopping trip, I saw an affordable version of the Joie top at Forever 21. I hesitate to say "knockoff" since it's obviously a simple design, but the shirts are very similar.

Click images for sources

Click images for sources

The Forever 21 tops are on the left above, and the Joie tops are on the right. I picked up four of them, one in each color shown above, and two in white (insurance against certain staining). They are flattering, washable (100% polyester), and nursing friendly. I love that these tops are as easy and comfortable as a tee but a bit more polished. They may not look or feel quite as luxurious as the higher quality version, but they are infinitely more practical.

Here's the patterned version, with Gap jeans (which were on sale in store for $13), thrifted necklace, and Target sandals.

winter uniform

winter uniform

Baby or no baby, this is my standard casual winter uniform: chunky sweater+skinny jeans/pants/leggings+boots. Depending on the weather, long underwear underneath it all, of course ;) I've had to dress up more than this for the last couple of weeks, so I'll be living in it this weekend.

I'm wearing Old Navy maternity tee, Zara sweater - on sale now!, Old Navy maternity leggings, and Steve Madden bootsI've been living in these leggings, so much so that when I saw another pair of them at a consignment store for $5, I picked them up too. I've had the boots for years and I'm always surprised on how many compliments I get on them - they're way on sale now too! Something else - does anyone still think that black and brown together is taboo? I see it all the time, love it, and think that that rule has gone the way of the "match your purse to your shoes" rule.

On another note, I just finished a big project and feel the need to reward myself by shopping. The thing is, when I stop to think about it, I REALLY don't need anything. Anything I would buy with this impulse would probably get worn once or twice and then purged in the next few months. So, I'll do a little online window shopping and pinning, and take a nap. That's what I really need :)

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october budget and maternity basics

When I found out I was pregnant, I made a list of the basics I thought I'd need. The idea of maternity dressing is an odd thing. I know that I might not feel my best, and I believe having clothes I love and that fit can make me feel better. On the other hand, I try to buy things for the long term, and the idea of buying things I'll only wear for 5 or 6 months pains me a bit. My plan is to buy basics, use things I already have, and accessorize the hell out of them. Then I'll treat myself to a few things when I start to get the itch to change it up.


Here's my list of basics I think I'll need:

  • Skinny jeans - am looking on ebay for a deal on AG maternity skinny jeans, my favorites so far. If that doesn't pan out, will go with something from Old Navy or Gap (after all, they won't need to last for long!)
  • Leggings - purchased from Old Navy
  • Yoga pants - purchased from Old Navy
  • Dressy dress - will be able to borrow from sister
  • Cute top(s) - will buy when I start to get bored with everything else, hope to find ones that will work even after pregnancy
  • Tanks - one purchased from Old Navy
  • Tees - one purchased from Old Navy
  • Striped tee - my staple and I can't go months without one! I like this one from ASOS.
  • Coat? - would like to try to find at consignment or thrift
  • Jewelry - to keep things interesting when I get bored with my basics

Keep in mind that I work from home and don't have to get dressed up or even business casual very often, so that helps. My sister (who has two babies) recommended that I add a pair of nice black maternity pants to the list for dressy occasions. I already have chunky sweaters, long cardigans, a maxi dress, and several flowy tops that should work all the way through.

So, with all that said, here's a belated list of what I bought in October: above, maternity long sleeved tee, tank, yoga pants, leggings, and a gauze scarf (not pictured). Because of a discount code and rewards for using my gap card, the total for
these five items was $30!

october purchases.png

In addition, I bought a chunky cardigan at Zara ($60) and a necklace from Etsy ($31), for a total of $121 for the month. I actually returned the Diane von Furstenberg dress from my September purchases ($175), so I'm coming out ahead, which is great, considering all the new expenses I'm going to be running into soon!

If you're just joining us, my monthly clothing budget is $200. I think it's important to have a budget and a plan or wish list of what you need because it prevents you from making mistake purchases. Another reason is that it alleviates any guilt you may have about shopping. If something is within your budget (and especially if it's on your wish list), you don't need to feel guilty about buying it - and who doesn't want that? I started these posts because of Franziska and her Budgeting Bloggers group - here's their latest. Here are my previous months' budget posts:  September,  August, July, June, May, and April.

How are all of you doing with your spending?
Any must-have maternity items I left off of my list?

september clothing budget

september clothing budget

This month's shopping was about filling holes or replacing favorites that were past their prime.  Here's what I bought (clockwise from left):

1) A black A-line shift dress is a piece that never goes out of style, is flattering on most body types, and can work easily for multiple types of occasions. I have/had two: one with three-quarter sleeves from H&M and a sleeveless one from Uniqlo, and they were both getting worn to the point of embarassment. I decided to splurge a little bit on this dress to replace those - Diane von Furstenberg at half off via the Outnet. I'll have it forever. ($175)

2) Everyone needs a fun party dress, and I definitely needed something to spice up my wardrobe a little. Since I mostly seem to be dressed way up or way down these days, this was a good buy for me. It's already made its debut, and prepare to see it at lots of holiday parties IRL. This Parker dress was a find from my new favorite consignment store Byrd. ($80)

3) This white top from JC Penney was probably actually the least necessary of the three items, but after seeing it on fellow St. Louis fashion blogger Pysche with a great statement necklace, I was hooked. Tops like this come in so handy for client meetings or for volunteering at Dress for Success, where I need to look put together, but not necessarily totally business-y. I've also had the photo below (of Ann Fulenwider, editor of Marie Claire, pardon the scan from a magazine page) saved in my inspiration files for a while now, and this is the perfect top to recreate this look. Isn't it amazing how three simple pieces like a white top, black pants, and a beautiful necklace can look so sophisticated?


ann fulenwider.pdf.png

My total this month was $280, a little over my budget like last month, but I'm hoping things will get balanced out over the next few months as I revert back to my winter wardrobe, which should be pretty well set. How do you think I did? Check out all of the other budgeting bloggers on Franish!


august clothing budget

august clothing budget

I didn't really have a plan for my August shoppping and just ended up with three pieces that I knew I'd get lots of use from and which were all really good deals. 

1) The sweater is Vince and is selling at Nordstrom online for $320 right now, but I bought it at Nordstrom Rack for $159. It's cuter on.  I'll probably only wear this, um, 5 days a week during the winter...

2) The white blouse pictured is not the exact one I got, but similar to the silk Theory blouse I got at the new St. Louis Premium Outlets Saks Off 5th store. It was marked down from $190 to $76, and with a sale and a Living Social $20 for $40 deal, I ended up paying $6 in the store (plus the $20 to Living Social).

3) I saw these Lucky Brand boots on a sale rack while I was in Boulder and had been wanting some in this style. They were on sale for $60, and if you like them too, they're now only $30 on! (caution-no free returns at 6pm)

Total =  $245, over my budget of $200

I will admit, I am a little bored of only buying basics, but I swear, I am not seeing colors and prints that I love and I won't buy anything I don't love. Not to mention that every image I'm drawn to in magazines and on pinterest are black basics, accessorized really well. Good enough for me. 

I'm linking up with Franish - go here to see all the budgeting bloggers' august budgets!

Here are my July, June, May, and April budgets.