5 Steps to Building an Amazing Wardrobe on a Budget

It's a weird and wonderful time in fashion where, thanks to the internet and social media, we are inundated with sartorial newness on a by-the-minute basis. This access can be overwhelming and intimidating—in the age of influencers slinging brand-new designer looks in every post (without ever repeating an outfit), it's easy to compare your own wardrobe against these often unrealistic standards. It's important to view these stylish outlets as inspiration rather than expectation—especially if you don't have an unlimited budget (which, we're inclined to believe, is most of us).

To help you get to a place where you love what's in your closet without breaking the bank, we're outlining five steps that've helped us do the same. Ready to let your personal style (and wallet) thrive? Read on.

Create a Strategy


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Adhering to a game plan is essential to maximize your dollar. First and foremost, make a list of things you need. (There's lowercase "need" and capitalized "Need"—the latter of which should be the only things on your shopping list at any given time.) Determine a budget of what you can spend each month/season, and do not exceed it. On that tip, download a budgeting app to help you track spending and see how you can reprioritize in other areas to allot more to clothing, if you're so inclined.

Create style-focused Pinterest boards and find common denominators in the outfits to get an idea of what gaps you can fill in your own closet. Revisit and refine your strategy on a monthly or quarterly basis to ensure it's working for you.

Ask Questions


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Will I wear this multiple times, with several different things in my closet? Is this driven by a fleeting trend? Is it made from a quality material?

These are all things that'll help you decide if it's worth it to make a purchase and, if so, how much to budget for it. Consider the cost per wear of each garment you're eyeing to help determine whether it's a solid buy.

Delineate Trend Pieces vs. Classics


The Style Stalker

We love trends, but it's very easy to go down a rabbit hole of only impulsively buying of-the-moment pieces that you'll tire of weeks or months later. Shop high-street retailers for this part of your closet, and try to limit yourself to a predetermined amount per season to keep a good balance.

Shop Vintage or Resale


Collage Vintage

Vintage and resale shops are goldmines for gently used, high-quality pieces. Look for jackets, trousers, leather handbags, and the like on sites like TheRealReal and Vestiare Collective, which offer incredible designer pieces at a fraction of the retail cost. Etsy and eBay are also wonderful resources for designer and vintage wares—just remember to ask for measurements to ensure a proper fit, as many sellers don't offer returns.

Your best bet is visiting local resale and consignment shops, where you can try things on IRL. And remember you can always get things altered for an even better fit. Just budget that in when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.

Be Patient


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Great closets are not built overnight: It takes time and consideration to accumulate quality goods. Assess your needs based on season, and watch your collection grow over time. Slow and steady wins the style race here—you'll be glad in taking such a methodical approach in the long run.

Available in sizes 00 to 14.

Trying to track down the best secondhand destinations worth a bookmark? We've outlined our favorite resale sites.