As a wardrobe stylist and personal shopper, one of my jobs is to help people create their seasonal or annual clothing budget. For many new clients, who normally shop here and there throughout the year, they sometimes have sticker shock when they start shopping “in bulk” twice a year. Although they have more than likely spent more overall with their previous shopping strategies (and wound up with a less cohesive wardrobe), it still can be a mental hurdle to overcome.
When push comes to shove, I often encounter people resisting the finishing touches on their wardrobe, namely the accessories. (And let’s clarify that by accessories, I mean items such as your jewelry, handbag, shoes, hats and scarves.) In my mind, this is a big mistake, as accessories not only complete your look, but they can really save you money in the long run. How is this possible, you may ask? Well read on.
The concept of cost-per-wear
First of all, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on all of your accessories to look like a million bucks. It’s all in how you mix things. You can have on the most fabulous $25 necklace from Zara, but paired with a beautiful handbag the necklace suddenly looks way more expensive.
So how do you decide what accessories to invest more money in? Well the answer is that the more you use something, the more it makes sense to spend a bit more. For example, take your watch — you use it every day. If you take the cost of your watch and divide it by the number of times you use it, then the cost-per-wear goes way down. Yet if you drop a bundle on a pair of special occasion earrings that you only wear once a year, then the cost-per-wear is very high and doesn’t make as much sense.
In my experience, I’ve found that one’s watch, handbag, and a couple great pair of shoes are things that are worth spending a good percentage of your budget on. The rest of your costume jewelry is really the all-important icing on the cake. I recommend that all my clients grow their jewelry wardrobe with pieces that really complement their personal style. Whether you’re the classic dresser who adores monogrammed bracelets and a variety of pearl necklaces, or the romantic who craves shimmery crystal earrings, be advised to have these items in your closet. Your look will not be finished without these personal touches.
Accessories are with you through thick and thin
If you’re like me, or most women in America, your weight fluctuates. When it comes to wardrobes, this can be a very expensive shift. But one of the great things about accessories is that regardless of a weight change, they still “fit!” Granted, there are certain, limited exceptions, but for the most part, that necklace will look as great on you now as it did 15 pounds ago. If you keep your clothing relatively simple and use your accessories to put the “wow” into your ensemble, then your clothing dollar will really go farther. Don’t forget that you can find fabulous, inexpensive accessories anywhere from Kohl’s to the local flea market (can we say vintage jewelry?!). Personally, I’ve gotten more complements on a couple of my scarves from Target than on some of my designer wraps.
Accessories can span casual to dressy
Back in the day, certain types of jewelry or accessories were reserved for certain occasions: pearls and rhinestones were thought of as dressier and flat sandals were for more casual days. This no longer holds true, so once again, your money can go farther. If you find the perfect pair of metallic ballet flats, they will look as chic with a pair of skinny jeans as they will with a beautiful cocktail dress. The same holds true for an oversized cocktail ring (which can be from the junior’s department in your local department store.) Wear it with confidence to a black tie party or to brunch with your girlfriends. The concept that you don’t always need certain accessories for certain areas of your life will save you money. Think of your accessories as multi-taskers!
Accessories can last longer than many current fashion trends
When people find out what I do for a living, many undoubtedly say, “Oh, that’s so cool! Tell me what the latest trends are that I should be buying.” My response is that I can surely list them for you, but why? Odds are that most of the current trends won’t be suited to your personal style or body type anyway. To save money in the long run, you need to buy things that are consistent with your own style, not what the magazines are telling you to buy.
Developing a strong sense of personal style will save you a lot of money, because you won’t be wasting your valuable dollars on something that will be “oh, so last season” in a matter of months. When you find the scarf that has just the perfect colors for you, or a necklace that is SO you that you can’t pass it by, then go for it! These items will be worn and enjoyed for years. Granted, at some point some of these items may seem a bit dated. But unlike bulky coats or other clothing, most accessories, especially scarves and jewelry, can be stored away for future use. Just the other day I pulled out a couple of inexpensive silver rings that I wore daily in college (yes, over 20 years ago!) and have added them back into my current rotation. Because they are very much a part of my personal style, they look just as stylish and relevant as they did all those years ago. And, I didn’t need to hit the mall to find them. Money well spent.
So next time you find yourself out shopping, don’t just cruise by the accessory department thinking of it as “only if I have some cash left over.” Really start realizing how dollars spent on accessories can truly save you money in the long run. Plus, you’ll look tres chic!