Thursday, March 27, 2008

Your Shopping Budget, Broken Down

Yes, consumer confidence is down. But if you're a wise and devoted fashionista, you'll find that it's all about budgeting and editing, because while you're aware of the economic situation at hand, you plan ahead for long-time use. There are several shopping categories; check your wardrobe to see which one you fall mainly into to have a clearer understanding of how to divide your shopping budget:

1. Basics. Jeans, tees, camisoles, underwear, and sweaters fall in this category. The amount you spend on these items depends on whether a) you purchase very few but quality items (e.g. a pair of designer jeans); or b) you purchase several but inexpensive items (e.g. ten tees from American Apparel, or sweaters from J.Crew). Personally, I am of the belief that one should spend only a small percentage of your shopping budget--say, 10%--on basics. Additionally, never spend full price on basics, which always go on sale.

2. Trendy: While I agree with many fashion editors who say that trendy items should be very cheaply bought, one must consider which trends you're following. In fashion, "everything old is new again," and certain trends have historic appeal. Florals, prints, safari, color...these "trends" are actually timeless and will certainly reappear with time. The other important consideration is allowing yourself to satisfy your own fashion aesthetic and not the opinion of some impersonal fashion editor. If you enjoy it, chances are you'll go back to it time and time again. However, if you don't see trendy items as investment pieces, I suggest going to H&M and other inexpensive stores to satisfy your whims. 20-30% of your fashion budget should go to trendy items.

3. Occasion-based: Weddings, parties, galas...Occasion-based shopping is somewhat a hassle, but you must consider how often you attend these events. If major events are a part of your fashion wardrobe, then you've already migrated into #4: Investment shopping. If you shop for these showstoppers once a year, then invest in an item that you can return to years later.

4. Investment: While gowns are certainly investment items, everyday wear can also be high-priced ticket items that have a timeless appeal. If you cannot afford to (or do not want to) purchase items full price, wait until sale season to purchase a few but stunning items. While it may seem absurd to spend 60-70% of your fashion budget on a few items, it is ultimately worth it in the long run. Building a fashionable wardrobe takes time, patience, and strategy. Most women cannot afford to buy everything they want; instead, a slow process of collecting hot items each season will amount to a carefully-edited and stunning wardrobe. Make sure that not all of your investment pieces are occasion-based; choose daytime looks like a detailed dress that works for multiple occasions.

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