Fashion // June 16, 2014

As a personal stylist, clients often ask me what my budget is for updating my wardrobe. Honestly, not much. And I don’t shop for myself very often. Why? Because I have a closet full of clothes I love. I wear everything in my closet and am constantly clearing it out as I find pieces that have either lived a good life or just aren’t me anymore.

As you evolve as a person, so does your style. Your style is an outward reflection of your inner self. I usually buy pieces one at a time as I realize a need or a strong desire and I already have a few outfit ideas for the new piece. If you’re going on a shopping spree with a friend and impulsively buying new pieces, I guarantee you are wasting money on your wardrobe. How many items in your closet still have the price tags on? Why aren’t you wearing them? What is holding you back?

There are two possible scenarios:
1)    You were drawn to a piece for its color/print/style, but you just don’t know how to create an outfit around it. All you need are the right tools and an expert to guide you.
2)    You were forcing it to work because you were trying to fit a trend or a mold. It doesn’t fit quite right and/or the print/color are a bit off.

During a style session with a client, often some of my favorite finds and the most exciting new outfits are created with the pieces from scenario one. Figuring out what works is even more fun because it’s the first step for a client to evolve and define her style. She sees herself more clearly.
Now, how to stop wasting money on your wardrobe:

  • Assess The Situation. Ask yourself what do you have versus what is missing? This is the number one way U*styled helps clients – literally merchandising your closet so that it starts to feel like shopping in the best boutique each morning.
  • Create A Wardrobe you Love Action Plan (WYLAP). Create a list of items that would really maximize your wardrobe and allow for lots of fun mixing + matching. Prioritize that list. Identify designers and stores that will have great options for you in your price point.
  • Set A Budget. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give yourself a monthly clothing allowance and start checking off your WYLAP list every month or every other month.
  • Stop Buying In Bulk. Aim for 3-5 new items with each shopping trip. Even with Boutique Box, we are mindful of the client’s budget and needs. To maximize value, we’ll go up to eight items or so, but that is with expert help. Pace yourself. You have a lifetime to build a wardrobe you love.

Have you already created a WYLAP? I would love to know what is next on your shopping list! Leave me a comment below.

Published in Fashion
Monday, 12 September 2011 05:16

Save Money | Pull Those Purse Strings

September 12, 2011

Here's an unfortunate fact in a Made Woman’s life: we can't have everything we want right this minute. Sure, we have confidence, sex appeal and talent, but when it comes to the purse, most of us have limits. Part of being successful means knowing how to manage finances and set a budget. Ah, managing a budget.... Sounds completely dull and slightly daunting, but it's simple if you start now. Just think: you could splurge on Prada stilettos, or you could show restraint with a stylish, affordable pump and avoid unwelcome credit card bills. In 30 years when you have more at stake financially, you'll thank your savvy younger self for learning how to budget.

The time to start is now, so pull out your pen, paper and calculator. Next, download and fill out a personal financial statement worksheet so you can assess where you stand financially. You can find one for free here on Microsoft Office’s website or just Google “personal financial statement worksheet” to search for one you like. It’s also a good idea to fill out an expense sheet to see exactly where your money is going.  Suze Orman's expense tracker is an amazing tool. Once that’s done, it’s time to determine your budget! (I'm learning right along with you, I promise!) Remember, it’s not about the size of the paycheck--it’s what you do with it. All dollar amounts below are just guidelines that can be tweaked to fit your own financial situation. Utilize the following five priorities to get started:

Priority #1: Pay yourself first. When I was a bright-eyed eight-year-old, my dad gave me the Savings Lecture (which he still repeats today). He told me to save two dollars out of every allowance. Really, two whole dollars out of a ten dollar allowance? I thought he was so strict, but I saved the money anyway.  Lo and behold, it all paid off when I could pay for a fancy princess Halloween costume that year on my own. That lesson stuck with me. Now I save regularly and the 401(k) I have through my job has, to my great delight, grown pretty rapidly.

Yours can, too. The key here is that you've got to pay yourself first to build financial security. If you're tight on money, save $10 per paycheck. Have a little more cash flow?  Save anywhere from 3% to 5% of each paycheck. This savings will build slowly but surely and can provide you with a down payment on a house, an emergency stash or the start of your retirement fund (no, you're not too young). It's worth giving up a few extra lattes to have money in the bank.

Priority #2: Living Expenses/Bills. Set aside whatever you need to pay your bills, rent and utilities in full and on time. No further explanation needed.

Priority #3: Fund Proper Nutrition. Healthy eating habits are essential, so set aside the same amount of money each month for food and groceries and stick to it. Remember, home-cooked meals and packed lunches save bundles, so set aside about $150-$200 a month for groceries and don't exceed it. Set a $50 limit per month on going out to eat (going out to dinner is a huge money-sucker). Once it's gone, it's gone.

Priority 4: A Girls Gotta Have Some Fun. 2007 was my first year in the professional world. I worked, I paid bills, I went to the gym...that was it, really. And it was B-O-R-I-N-G. I felt like I never indulged myself with a sparkly new top, a trendy accessory for my apartment or dinner out with my best friends. That, ladies, is no way to live. Lesson learned? Factor play money into your budget. After all, you work hard for it. This covers drinks with friends, movies, travel, dinner with your sorority sisters or pizza night with your fiancé. Try $150 per month or’ll be surprised how far that can take you.

Priority 5:  Made Women Need a Clothing & Beauty Allowance. No Made Woman can go around wearing a torn bra, an unkempt hairstyle or a button-less pair of pants. Purchase what you need to feel comfortable, sexy and powerful. Don't kid yourself, though: You don't need Victoria’s Secret every month. Up to $100 per month is a good figure when you’re not doing any big seasonal shopping.

Still have money left-over? Take a deep breath--that's the feeling of accomplishment when you budget accurately. If you make a conscious effort to pull those purse strings and set limits each month, you won't end up biting your nails until pay day. Managing your own money and saving for the that’s MADE.

Published in Personal Finance