Monday, April 12, 2010

Recessionista Out of The Closet

Tough economic times have forced a lot of people to cut back, not just on little luxuries, but even on essentials. But any way you look at it, we all have to get dressed in the mornings. And as many of us face increased stress at the workplace, the possibility of layoffs, debts, budget cuts, and uncertainty concerning our investments and pensions, expanding our wardrobes is not necessarily top of our priority list. But here are a few simple ways to keep your closet lean and fabulous (just like you!)

1- Take stock

Get into the closet! Take a look around. Sift through the different seasons and try to find pieces that you haven’t worn in a long time, that are worn down, out of style or simply don’t fit. Make a keep pile and a toss pile. The toss pile should be packed in a box and immediately dropped off at a goodwill service or donated to charity. Don’t procrastinate on this one! Getting those old clothes out of the closet helps to give you perspective and fulfill the next exercise on this list.

2- Do an inventory

Once you can see some clear space in your closet, this will give you a good idea of where the gaps are. Every woman needs a wardrobe that’s well adapted to her busy lifestyle: work, the gym, socializing, special occasions, family functions and lingerie. Depending on your current priorities, you will need different types of clothing at different times. Don’t wait for a special occasion to pop up before having a dress handy; last minute purchases leave much to be desired and often lead to closet remorse. Also keep in the mind the seasons. Be strategic about your purchases. Think about what you will need and when and give yourself plenty of time to get what you need before it’s time.

3- Make a list

Be strategic about your purchases. Think about what you will need and when and give yourself plenty of time to get what you need before it’s time. Shopping is fun, but it’s not a hobby! Watercolour painting is a hobby. You need to make a list of the things that you need and look for them. This is a simple concept that most of us know, but many of us don’t apply it to our wardrobes, but this is just as important as it is for anything else. You wouldn’t leave the house without a grocery list, right? Right…

4- Prioritize

Do your research! Compare prices. Shop for clothes out of season. Look online for bargains. Think about what you absolutely need and what can wait. This might be the year that you need a new winter jacket and some weatherproof boots for those Canadian winters. This might be the wrong year to purchase a new suit for work since you’re traveling less and not attending so many meetings. Try to anticipate what your wardrobe needs will be and prioritize. Just like the list, we apply this rule to many of our other goals in life and it makes sense to do so.

5- Splurge vs. Bargain

There are some big ticket items that you should splurge on, even when times are tough. As always, moderation is the key and it is a question of need vs. want. But when you have to decide between splurging and picking up a bargain, these rules work well:


Splurge on a designer bag made of real leather that you can wear with any jacket during any season. Black is the one colour that is fashionable every year. Look for something durable with good lining and which is versatile, complementing your jeans on the weekend and your suit during the weekday.


Purchase bargain bags of various colours, shapes and sizes that may go out of style as early as next season. It’s better to have one good quality piece rather than dozens of out of date trend pieces. Maybe the girls in Hollywood can get away with matching their shoes and bags for every little dress and every little occasion, but that’s just dreaming for the rest of us.


Buy a couple of nice, tailored suits. They should be in neutral tones with conservative, office-friendly cuts and be tailored to fit your shape and size. Avoid flashy details like colourful accents and stick to slicker, more solid colours. Buttons are preferable to zippers because they’re easier to repair.


Buy off the rack suits. Because they’re not tailored to your size and shape, they look sloppy and have more wear and tear. They also don’t last as long as tailored suits from better stores and rotate every season, whereas the classic cuts are always in vogue.


Invest in outerwear. Make sure that your coats are appropriate to our four seasons and that you have some quality transitional pieces.


Buy an array of transitional off the rack pieces. They clutter your closet and often go out of style. As well, for the time that you invest in them, they are not worn as often as seasonal wear, so it’s not worth hoarding them.


Invest in underwear. Nothing is more uncomfortable than a badly fitted bra or underwear that rides up. Good lingerie can also make the difference between a nicely fitted outfit and a bunched up disaster.


Skimp on the bras. You don’t want to let down some of your best assets.

Do’s for Bargains

The items above give you the most bang for your buck. The items that you can let slide are accessories. Belts, jewellery, hats, scarves and the like can all be picked up for rock bottom prices and still look fabulous, emphasizing quality pieces and adding punches of colour. These can also be recycled and borrowed among friends; clothes and shoes may be a no go if your best friend is tall when you’re short, but accessories can be passed around and reinvented. Socks are also an inexpensive and often cute addition to outfits, particularly with your weekend gear.

Lounge wear and sports wear are also places a lot of us can trim. Unless we’re training for marathons, most of us don’t need more than basic shorts and tees to go to the gym. And jogging pants can double as lounge wear or active wear, making it unnecessary to double up on these items at the cash.

Going out need not be expensive either; there’s nothing more classic than a little black dress and many of these can be picked up at any store. And assuming that you don’t have an audience when you go to bed at night, pajamas are one part of the wardrobe that can be cheap, comfortable and sometimes, completely ignored.

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