Erin is a mom of two and has been with Today’s Mama for ten years. She is charged with finding and sharing all of the wonderful things the web has to offer. She is particularly fond of food, photography, printables, and funny things. She writes about losing weight in her Healthy Living for Mom series, and is chronicling her attempt to master her DSLR camera with her series, Big Girl Camera.

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Wardrobe Update on a Budget

Remember when I cleaned out my closet? Since then, I’ve lost another 10 pounds and the clothes that were “comfortably roomy” had become “loose to the point of extreme frustration”.

It was time to kick the latest batch of “back up” jeans to the curb and reassess some of my clothing choices.

I’ve been working from home for over six years and when I left my daily commute behind, I was happy to throw myself into a uniform that relied pretty heavily on track pants and sweatshirts. Toss in two pregnancies and the propensity for clothing to be regularly covered in stuff and you have a closet that neither dazzles nor flatters.

After I cleaned out my closet (the first time) I realized that I was going to need to update my wardrobe quite a bit.

Lucky for me I’m swimming in money.

Wait. No I’m not.

Since restocking my closet in one big spending fiesta is not on the agenda, I needed a plan. Here’s how I am tackling my wardrobe update on a budget…

Determine what activities/events I need to dress for.

I work from home, small people wipe their noses on me, and rarely have a chance to hit the town. I would like to look nice on the occasional date-night, dinner with the girls, or business meeting though. That translates to the following list:

  • Daily @Home/Errands/Play
  • Workout/Gym
  • Date Night/Girl’s Night
  • Business/Conference

Determine what attire is needed for my activities.

For my daily wardrobe, I fully embrace the idea of a uniform. I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl (shorts and tanks in the summer) and while I want to be more fashionable, I can’t justify spending too much on a shirt that will inevitably double as a napkin. But I can do a lot to improve my jeans/shorts/t-shirt selection.

As I considered what I would wear for date night or a business meeting, I realized that if I paid attention, there could be some overlap. Most of my business meetings are pretty casual and pieces like blazers, tunic/dresses, and skirts can be dressed up or down.

Start a Pinterest style board, or review your existing one. 

My Pinterest style board will never be considered cutting edge fashion, but I’ve found it very handy to pin items I like and then revisit the board to help jog my memory when I’m about to throw on the same black tee and jeans for the 80th time (the difference is that now, I wear a scarf!) or while shopping.

When I walk into a big department store, my mind goes blank. Suddenly I can’t think of what I need, what I want, or what I already have. A quick consult with the Pinterest app and I’m reminded that I’m crazy for stripes, or one chunky necklace and bottle of nail polish away from the perfect pulled together look.

Make your master shopping list. Keep it handy.

After listing my activities, considering my missing attire, and getting a little Pinterest inspiration, I made a master shopping list. I keep it in a little notebook that stays in my purse.

It’s a long list and yes, a notebook is a little low-tech, but it’s already full of scribbled notes and updates to The List.

This system has kept me within budget and focused on what I really need. Sure, every woman needs a little black dress, but right now I have one pair of jeans that fit.

Priorities, yo.

What’s your wardrobe situation? Do you shop regularly and keep up on the latest styles? Are you stumbling along in the wilderness like me?

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Comments (12)

  1. Melissa 10/29/2012 at 12:19 pm

    I totally hear you on this, except so many of my clothes don’t fit since having my third child. I’m in the process of updating my wardrobe right now. So glad you gave some practical suggestions for making that happen.

  2. Cris 05/13/2012 at 9:10 pm

    Have u ever consider going to a thrift store they have some really nice pices that could be used full @ very good prices am talking brand new banana republic shirts Ann Taylor etc for less then 8 bucks hey for all that it’s a good deal just have to have patience and look for it

  3. Lynn Smith 04/16/2012 at 6:35 pm

    As always, you make me chuckle, but your ideas are great! I carry a little notebook with titles of books to buy. Why not the same for wardrobe needs? Brilliant! GL

  4. Carina 04/16/2012 at 1:08 am

    My tip is that I have brands I know that fit me, and I tend to buy from them–only I buy online for the best price and delivery to my house. I love to shop, but I do not have the time and I do not need the wardrobe hit because if I go shopping, I can’t stop.

    If you’re a t-shirt and jeans girl, accessories are your best friends. Update with scarves, statement jewelry, bags, great sunglasses, and cute shoes.

  5. Erica Fehrman 04/12/2012 at 8:32 am

    You are hilarious and how awesome that you’re so healthy and have this “problem” now! I LOVE that vintage-cut red swimsuit on your Pin board. You MUST get it.

    • Erin Oltmanns 04/14/2012 at 10:25 pm

      I DID GET IT! It’s awesome! Looks wonderful and covers all the stretch marks. Everyone wins!

  6. Shannon Breuner Nelson 04/11/2012 at 11:34 pm

    This is awesome! I’m with you girl, I just threw out 3/4 of my clothes I was convinced that I would never wear again. And now my closet looks NAKED!! Eek! I need to go shopping!

    • Erin Oltmanns 04/14/2012 at 10:24 pm

      I had to do it in stages. I gave a few items one last chance. If I hadn’t been inspired to wear it since the 1st clean out, I donated it!

  7. Deirdre 04/11/2012 at 7:36 pm

    This post was fun-ny! Great tips too! I need to seriously update my wardrobe, but for now I will have to shop in the recesses of my own closet.

    • Erin Oltmanns 04/14/2012 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks, Deirdre! I have had some lucky shopping my closet. A not-quite-right dress will make a fabulous swim cover up.

  8. Amy Allen Johnson 04/11/2012 at 1:41 pm

    Great tips! I have to say, I mentally shop 1 item at a time, maybe for years. I’ve been looking for a new green jacket (not the Masters’ kind) to go with a skirt from 3 yrs ago. Running errands for my mom, I met a nice woman in Banana that said, “Go see the sale rack at Eddie Bauer.” Guess what? Walked in & the green jacket was my size, on sale and I found out I had $10 in credit, so the new jacket was $9.99 + tax and now had a complete Easter outfit.

    • Erin Oltmanns 04/14/2012 at 10:22 pm

      You are a wardrobe budget MASTER. I don’t know if I can wait two years for another pair of jeans though. 😉