Some of you may not even know what an image consultant is, but that’s what I am. Basically, I’m a certified image professional who helps people with their wardrobes and closets. (Have you ever seen the TV show “What not to Wear?” I’m Stacey…just nicer.) My clients range from stay at home moms to very wealthy socialites, yet they all have the same goal. They want a fabulous wardrobe that will serve them well, whether they’re playing with their kids at the park or walking the red carpet. Over the (many) years I’ve been in business, I’ve learned certain principles that I think can help anyone improve their wardrobe no matter what their budget.
Changing Weight Will Be Your Most Costly Expense
It may seem a little odd that your changing weight is what will cost you the most, but trust me — I’ve personally learned this lesson more than once. For most people, 10 pounds is a size. If you’re a little, petite thing, then 5-7 pounds can be a size. If you have a big weight change, then you may run into trouble, as most garments cannot be altered more than two sizes. So if you go from a 14 to an 8, you basically have to start buying clothing again from scratch. This will include intimate apparel as well, which can be a huge investment. If you can learn to maintain your weight, you will save yourself a fortune in clothing.
Dress Nicely & You Can Fake the Jewelry
I must admit that I practice this myself. Not all my jewelry is real — the faux is carefully mixed in with the real thing. Combined with a fashionable outfit and great posture, no one will doubt that all the bling came from a high end store.
You Don’t Spend Enough on Your Clothes
No, I’m not telling you to go out and spend a fortune on your clothing. But I’m also telling you to not always search for the lowest price. Instead, focus on quality, not quantity when you shop. If you end up having to replace your inexpensive black pants every three months because they fade and shrink, you’re not saving yourself any money. Buy the nicest quality you can afford and you’ll get your money’s worth.
Find the Happy Medium in What You Spend on Clothing
By this, I mean find clothes that cost enough that you will take really good care of them, but not so much that you are afraid to wear them. I have seen people buy cheap sunglasses time and time again, and they always end up losing them or accidentally sitting on them. But trust me, if you invest some change in your sunnies, then I guarantee that you’ll actually use the case they came with and take care of them. But don’t go overboard. If you spend too much on something, then there’s a good chance that you’ll actually be scared to use it at all!
Spend More on the Things You Wear the Most
This comes down to the whole cost-per-wear theory. The more you use something, then the cost-per-wear goes way down. For things you use daily, such as your handbag, watch, or basic black pants, spring for the big bucks! But when it comes time to buy a black tie dress that you may wear once, or twice tops, don’t break the bank. It really doesn’t make financial sense.
If It Doesn’t Fit Correctly, You Aren’t Saving Money
Oh, yes…it happens when you’re gazing at that 70% off sale rack. You spot an amazing blazer by one of your favorite designers. It’s a bit too wide in the set-in shoulder, and perhaps a bit too long, but it’s on sale! Words of wisdom: step away! No amount of alterations will make it fit correctly, and wearing it as is will just make you look frumpy. It’s a waste of money. It’s got to fit or it shouldn’t be in your closet.
Many Department Stores Have Personal Shoppers Available for Free
Independent image consultants and personal shoppers, such as myself, are definitely an investment. I understand that and know that most peoples’ budgets don’t have room for such a luxury. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve professional shopping assistance. I encourage you to take advantage of the free personal shopping services offered at many stores, from Loehman’s to Macy’s to Neiman Marcus. You’re under no obligation to buy, so what’s there to lose?
If You Don’t Love It, Don’t Buy It
I can’t stress this point enough. If something is still hanging in your closet with the price tag on it months later, I can guarantee you that you don’t love it. Remember when you were a little child and just had to wear those new shoes home from the store? That’s just how you should feel about the clothes that you buy now. Buy fewer things, but things that you love, and I can guarantee that it will be easier to get dressed in the morning.
Don’t Buy “Orphans”
Orphans are those singular items (often purchased on sale) that don’t go with a single other thing in your closet — the lime green print bohemian skirt, the embellished sweater, etc. Try as you may, these items just sit unworn, without any coordinating items. When you’re contemplating a purchase, if you don’t already own something that goes with it, then put it back on the rack because otherwise it’ll be a total waste of money.
Spend Money on Tailoring
I don’t know why it is that men assume most of their clothing will need alterations, yet women assume that everything should fit correctly directly off the rack. What’s up with that?! Personally, I have to alter 98% of my pants and jeans. I just include that alterations fee in the cost of the item. It’s completely worth it to have the garment fit just right. It will be more flattering on you and it will undoubtedly look more expensive. There’s just no reason for ill-fitting clothing.
No matter what your budget, not following the above rules will result in your clothing budget costing a lot more money than needs to be spent. Remembering them will mean better quality clothing that you love to wear hanging in your closet for less money, and who doesn’t want that? Happy shopping.
(Photo courtesy of owlpacino)