Where to Shop – Wardrobe Essentials on a Budget
Tuesday September 27, 2011

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Last year I shared with a list of the 10 Essential Wardrobe Items as well as the 10 Essentials Shoes Every Woman Should Have and recently a writer asked that I share where to shop for these items on a budget. Being on a tight budget myself, even though I’d love to ignore the ticket price, I have to be creative and realistic about where I purchase my clothes, shoes and accessories.  So today I’d like to share with you where to find quality, classic items that will leave a little extra in your wallet.

1. The Trench

To own a Burberry trench would be a dream, but until that dream is able to become a reality, we all need a trench in our coat closet (or two). I tend to find quality coats at reasonable prices online at Nordstrom and a few times have found trenches at Banana Republic. Below are a few that are currently available and with reasonable price tags.

(1) Calvin Klein ($138) (2) Lauren by Ralph Lauren Double Breasted – red ($249) (3) Ellen Tracy asymmetrical raincoat (multiple colors) ($168) (4) Ellen Tracy removable hooded trench black or khaki – ($179) – currently have one in black and am very happy.

2. Blouses

Blouses whether they are long sleeve, short sleeve or sleeveless are key to many different layering looks or being worn on their own with a beautiful pair of trousers or a skirt. Just revealed at J.Crew following the polka trend are these two silk blouses that would look lovely under a blazer or alone.

J.Crew – Natasha top polka dot (silk chiffon) & navy Silk Polka dot T (both $98)

3. White Collared Button-up Shirt

A classic item that can work multiple ways in any wardrobe is the classic white button up shirt. Be sure to purchase a quality fabric that has a little stretch and fits you well through the shoulder and sleeves. Two places that offer well made shirts for a reasonable price – The Shirt by Rochelle Behrens (as see on Oprah) which has a variety of colors and styles for $88 or Foxcroft for those who want a more classic, but forgiving look.

4. Shoes

Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin . . . when I pass your shoes in the store I weep both tears of exhilaration and tears of sadness because it will be a long time before you decorate my toes. However, in the meantime here are some of my favorite brands to shop that look quite fabulous and are available with very wallet-friendly prices – Nine West, Vince Camuto, Steve Madden, Joan & David, Zappos and Aldo.

5. Nautical Top

A classic for casual wear that is always stylish. I am always on the look out for a new navy striped top and below are two businesses that sell quality T’s at prices that will allow you to buy multiples – ChancePetit Bateau and J.Crew.

(1) Petit Bateau – $89 (2) J.Crew Sequin striped T – $59.50 (3) J.Crew Boatneck painter T (longsleeve) – $39.50

6. A Wrap Dress

Diane von Furstenberg certainly is the best and worth saving up for, but there are many other designers who create similar styles that are just as flattering. While some appear to be wrap dresses, but simply a dress, others are the real deal. Either way you can adjust them to your figure and flatter it impressively.

Other online shops to visit for fantastic choices at worthwhile prices:

*The OutNet
*Topshop USA or UK

Other Budget Saving Ideas:

*Wait until late December or June when many clothing store (online and brick & mortar) have end of season sales slashing prices by more than 50%.

*If you have a favorite designer or store, contact them to be placed on a mailing list for alerts on sample sales and upcoming promotional sales.

*Once you find a designer or store that creates styles that work with your body, be willing to save up to purchase their particular items.  Remember quality over quantity and Cost per Wear.

*Many designers (Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and more) create more affordable lines. Be sure to check these out at the beginning of each new season.

*Look for consignment shops in your area.  Begin to frequent them and schedule time to thoroughly peruse the racks – you never know what you’ll find.

And if you have other suggestions, please do share!

13 thoughts on “Where to Shop – Wardrobe Essentials on a Budget

  1. Great post, looks like I have a lot of this covered, especially the nautical, the white blouse, do have a trnch but am due for a new one so thanks for providing some leads. Could use a new wrap dress and am a blouse fanatic, love them.

  2. Most of what you posted is still not budget friendly for the average person! 🙂 However, the tip about shopping at consignment shops is very good! Another place that has GREAT BUYS is…Goodwill!!! Yes I know there is a stigma attached to this place (at least it is where I live),but if you can get past that,and check out a few of them (most cities have several),you will be surprised by what you find! Larger cities in affluent areas are a treasure trove of designer labels,and some clothing still has the store tags on them!!! When you go,where comfy shoes,and be prepared to “dig”… most racks are so packed with clothes you can barely part them to have a look! Good Hunting!!!

  3. Pam & Anonynous, I appreciate your differing opinion on what “budget” is; however, keep in mind, by adhering to the premise of simply luxurious, the focus is on less and better quality in what we do purchase. With that said, in the past I have bought many clothes for nickel and dimes, but the majority of them would last only a season b/c they were not made well or were inferior fabrics. I genuinely believe that if we have quality basics in our closets that can correlate to many different outfits, we may have less in our closets, but we know that each piece looks stunning and will work well for years to come. For example, years ago, I would purchase my ballet flats from Payless, however, I would have to buy a new pair within 2-3 mos b/c they would fall apart. When I was able to save up and purchase a pair of Tory Burch ‘s, I have a pair that after 3 years is still in great shape. The key is to purchase the best quality you can afford. You may not be able to buy every basic item right now, but purchase one quality piece at a time and before you know it you will have a fantastic wardrobe with a plethora of options.

  4. I do agree that you get what you pay for,but I want to stress that I am not talking about inferior fabrics or poor quality in the clothing you find at Good Will. They do sell designer label clothing and foot wear there. The point I was trying to make is you can still have the designer label clothing we all love to have, and not pay a lot for it! You know, Have your cake and eat it too! 😉 I have Anne Klein,Micheal Kors Ralph Lauren,Ellen Tracy,Sara Campbell,to name a few, hanging in my closet. They are current styles,and they are well made(You have to pay close attention to details and examine Good Will finds closely for wear and tear). I just like not paying a lot and still getting great buys for my clothing. If I don’t tell them, no one would ever know my clothing came from a thrift store,and when I am pressed to tell where I bought a particular item,There is ALWAYS a look of surprise,followed by “Wow! You got that at Good Will,I would have never known”! There is a great satisfaction in hearing someone talk about buying a particular item of clothing or foot wear or a great purse, at a much higher price than I know I paid!
    By the way,I love reading your blog,even if I might not totally agree with all of it!;-)

  5. Another good place for trench coats is Kenneth Cole NY or Brooks Brothers. I have one from each that have held up quite well. But mostly if you pay attention to fabric, I find ones that are cotton blend to hold up better than ones that are 100% cotton. But then again I wear black trenches instead of beige so the fade factor is more apparent. Brooks Brothers is another Oprah favorite for white shirts, plus they are mostly non-iron. I have 9 West shoes, but they are pretty hit or miss with quality and comfort. I’ve had very good experience with Kenneth Cole NY and Michael Kors (both the mainline and his diffusion) in terms of quality and comfort with their shoes. Gap and Target are good places for basic tops and tees.

  6. I’m just seeing this post today. One great option for me is Ebay. I love Ann Taylor clothing and White House Black Market, but I’m not willing (nor can I afford) to pay full-price for anything. I think the clothing for those companies are over-priced actually. But thanks to Ebay sellers, I have a very nice wardrobe that didn’t cost much at all. By the way–that also goes for shoes! Two weeks ago I won an auction for some shoes. They’re a brand-new, unworn pair of Cole Haan suede mary jane heels called Afina for $32–including shipping. Even the box and dust bags were included. Lucky for me it seems that the seller didn’t have a ‘reserve price’; I was surprised that I didn’t pay more for them.

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