Monday, 17 March 2014

Building a Wardrobe: Conclusions and My New Budget Plan

I hope you've enjoyed my series on building a wardrobe--I know I've learned a lot writing these posts! From analyzing my own closet, I came to the following conclusions:
  • I have a lot of favorite Key Pieces in my closet due to a past rule I created after graduation that I would only add items to my closet if I really loved them and felt great in them.
  • However, I haven't really updated my Basics items in a while, and it shows. Many items need replacing due to being worn-out, while other basics haven't ever made their way into my closet.
  • Because I was a broke grad student for so long, it's sometimes hard for me to justify the cost of more expensive pieces (see bullet two: why all my basics are falling apart). I need to focus on the concept of 'quality over quantity!'
So I came up with a new budget challenge to help build my closet mindfully!

Rules for my new Closet Challenge:
  • Buy at least one basic item, or closet necessity, per month. 
    • I made a list of items I need and tentatively assigned them to the month in which I'll purchase them,
    • The list is based on what I will need first (i.e., spring is coming so I need white jeans more than a leather jacket) and what sales I'll be able to take advantage of (i.e., buy booties during a Memorial Day sale; leather jacket during Black Friday, etc).
    • If you're having a hard time creating your list, I suggest pulling inspiration pics of the style you want to rock and figure out the common denominators--what similar items (stripe skirt, chambray shirt, black wedges) feature prominently in your images? Or, for an easier route, check out this great list of closet staples for My Here and Now Life. 
  • Closet necessity should be good quality but not exceed $200 total per month. 
    • I set the budget limit at $200 because I know that I can get most of the items on my list for less than that, especially if I'm smart about shopping sales, etc. So overall, that's my goal and what is reasonable for my personal budget and needs. 
    • If you're going to join in my adventure, your budget may be very different (either higher or lower). 
  • If an item is over budget, the surplus will be subtracted from the next month's budget.
    • So if May costs me $220, June's budget would be $180.
  • Once the month is done, so is that month's budget.
    • I.e., if July only costs $100, my budget for August is still limited to $200--I don't get to add the additional $100 to August.
    • This is to encourage me to buy good-quality items (not being afraid to spend the full $200 during the month), but also so that if I have surplus I can spend it guilt-free on fun activities or projects!
    • If you're doing this closet challenge with me, you're welcome to decide whether you can carry the surplus cash over to the next month or not :)
  • I don't have to strictly stick to the listed schedule, but I do need to buy all the items over the course of 2014. 
    • If I spot a good deal on one of the listed items during an off month (i.e., a score on a new running shoes in May even though it's slotted for June), I can switch things around--the year-long list is just a guidebook to keep me on track! I have several specific items already on my list, so I'll keep checking in periodically to see if they're on sale and buy if they are.
So without further adieu, here's my list (including a couple of options I'm contemplating for each item) and the corresponding calendar:

Year-long Closet Budget

The Breakdown:
  • March: white jeans, black and white stripe top, statement necklace
    • Spring is coming so I bought myself a new pair of white jeans on sale...although  I may return them and just get my bootcut white jeans tailored into a skinny style. Oh, and that lovely statement necklace is on its way to me, eee!
  • April: (Easter sales) black wedges, black t-strap sandals, black heels
    • I need to up my shoe game majorly. My puppy ate my black sandals and wedges at the end of the summer last year, and my black heels are falling apart. Time to replace!
  • May: (Memorial Day sales) black leather booties, slip-on sneakers
    • The leather booties are going to be one of the more expensive items on this list, so I want to take advantage of Labor Day sales to score a nice pair for less! While I'm at it, I want to get a pair of sneakers to run around in all summer :)
  • June: striped skirt
    • I anticipate going a bit over budget in May, and I want to save my money for fun stuff over the summer, so I'm keeping June's budget pretty bare-bones
  • July: (Fourth of July sales) thin chambray shirt
    • I already have at least 2 chambray shirts that I wear constantly, but they're both too thick to tuck into skirts or under sweaters. I want a thin, breezy button-up that should be readily available over the summer
  • August: (Labor day sales) leopard flats, slim-fit work trousers
    • Again taking advantage of sales--I know that most of the leopard prints I like are a bit more expensive, like the Madewell pair shown here, and I hope to hit a Labor day sale as they're marking down their summer work apparel and ramping up for a new season of pants.
  • September: (Back to school sales) dark skinny jeans, white silk blouse
    • I've been on the lookout for a new pair of dark-wash skinny jeans, and the back-to-school sales are typically chock full of them! Also a good time to stock up on your standard white silk blouse. 
  • October: black long-sleeve dress, chunky infinity scarf
    • Over this winter I keep wishing I had a long-sleeve black dress and an infinity scarf to keep me warm, but (thankfully) spring is just around the corner so I'll save these purchases for next winter season.
  • November: (Black Friday sales) leather jacket
    • Again, a leather jacket will be one of the more expensive items on the list, so I tend to take advantage of a Black Friday sale when the shelves are full of this item!
  • December: (Christmas sales) chunky sweater
    • Another piece I've longed for this past winter, a chunky warm cozy sweater should be easy to add to the closet in December!

I'm also doing a similar budget challenge for my workout gear, capping my budget at $100. If you're interested, here's my list for that: 

  • March: paisley workout leggings (plleeeeeeease restock in my size!)
  • April: running shorts
  • May: yoga mat
  • June: new running shoes
  • July: climbing/hiking bag
  • August: climbing chalk bag
  • September: zip-off hiking pants
  • October: workout tanks
  • November: snow pants
  • December: ski goggles
Overall the goal of this project is to ensure that by the end of the year, I have a fully functional closet and haven't bankrupted myself or bought a bunch of stuff that I don't really need! If anyone wants to join along on the adventure, please let me know--I'd love to follow your progress and learn about the items you need to add to your closet!

For the other posts in this series, see:

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