with Susan Wagner
The Working Closet is your source for the best of what's hip and fresh in fashion and beauty. Susan Wagner keeps you up-to-date on trends and offers tips and tricks for making everything in your closet truly work for you.
You can also catch Susan over at Working Closet.
What are you wearing this week? And — more importantly — have you shared your outfit with The Working Closet Flickr pool? It’s so easy, and so fun; it’s also a great way to get inspired and feel good about what you already have. The Working Closet isn’t about making you feel bad about what you don’t have; it’s about making it work with what you do have.
Although there’s a little bit of shopping enabling, I won’t lie. Because these girls have great taste. So be prepared.
Speaking of shopping and Flickr, Jerilyn is curious about where we’re all getting what we’re wearing.
I’m interested in hearing your theory on budgeting and clothing-expenses…are these pieces that are new or pulled from the back of the closet? Do you have a monthly budget that you follow? I would love to dress super-cute, but find that I don’t want to spend the money (yes, I’m a cheapskate…) I work in an artistic in environment with a lot of men, so jeans, t-shirt and sneakers are the norm, thank god!
It’s a good question; I’ll tell you what I do, and what I recommend, but I’m curious about the rest of you.
I’m wearing pieces I have owned for years; I have a cashmere twin set that I bought in 1998, for example, and a silk jacket from 2001. I have jeans from three or four years ago, and shirts that are nearly as old as my children. I have a few new things — my boyfriend jeans, for example — but certainly not an entirely new wardrobe.
I like projects like the Flickr pool because they compel me to reach into the back of the closet and see what I have, and how I can use it. I’ve pulled a small pile of things out this month that I don’t ever wear — a jacket that is a beautiful color but never fit properly, a dress that is better on the hanger than on my hips, jeans that haven’t zipped for a good eight pounds. The past few weeks have been an exercise in offloading the things that just aren’t working.
I try to adhere to a pretty strict one in-one out rule for shopping; for each new piece I bring home, something has to go. This often means that I’m replacing something worn out or non functional, but it always means that I’m buying things that will really work in my closet. I don’t have a set monthly budget, but I keep a close eye on my spending. Really, though, I don’t shop all that much.
You know, for someone who spends all her time browsing.
What do I recommend that you all do differently? Everyone needs to do an annual closet clean out, either seasonally or annually, particularly if you find yourself drowning in clothes. I don’t do the big clean out any more, because I’m constantly culling and editing, but my hunch is that you might need to get in there and try everything on. You won’t know what you have until you actually know what you have.
If your wardrobe falls at the opposite end of the spectrum — small rather than large — then your goal is not to pare down but to fill in, although I still suggest that you get in your closet and try everything on. Then decide: What are you missing? What are you pining for? Those are the things to shop for.
A shopping budget is a good idea no matter where you find yourself; if you’re an over-shopper, put a cap on your spending, not because you’re spending too much (that’s between you and your checkbook and is none of my business) but because you need to start wearing what you’ve already bought. Coming up short for things to wear? Decide what you need and what you can — and want to — spend before you hit the mall. Nothing is more frustrating than wandering aimlessly without a plan, or finding the perfect dress or jacket or boots and then worrying that you’ve spent too much. Make a list, make a budget, and then stick to both.
Fortunately, one of the lessons of the Flickr pool is that it doesn’t take a lot of money to dress really well. This year, a number of participants are rocking the thrifted closet, and looking great in their second-hand pieces. Quite a few of you are wearing things that we remember from last year, which is also great; no matter how much or how little those pieces cost, they are clearly investments, and clearly showing a return. Most of you are shopping mid-range brands like Old Navy and LOFT; you’re bringing home classic pieces that will last beyond this one year. When you opt for trendy pieces, they’re from fast-fashion spots like Forever 21. And increasingly, you’re using accessories to dress up classic, basic pieces.
Your turn: Do you have a set clothing budget, or do you wing it? Does the Flickr pool make you feel like you need to buy new things, or are you seeing your old things — your existing closet, if you will — in a new way? And what can Jerilyn wear to work that’s not just a tee and jeans?
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