As summer comes to an end, women across the country are beginning to pack away their summer dresses, shorts and sandals in exchange for clothing more fitting of cooler temperatures. Before you cave in to the temptation of updating your wardrobe with the latest fall fashions, consider these tips to help you revamp your closet without breaking the bank.
Take inventory and organize. Assess your existing wardrobe to ensure you won't unnecessarily spend on items you don't need. Organize your wardrobe into the basic essentials including dress pants, jeans, skirts, jackets, blouses and dresses -- this list is the foundation of any good wardrobe. Typically, a woman can mix and match these items to create outfits for any occasion without spending a lot of money to buy new clothes.
Join a membership shopping site. Gilt, HauteLook and Beyond the Rack are easy to sign up for and regularly offer flash sales on mid-to-high-end designers that you may otherwise be unable to afford. Just be mindful of what you add to your shopping cart. You can also try an at-home try-on subscription service like Stitch Fix. The kits, called "fixes," often contain staples, like a good pair of black pants, but will also include a couple wild cards and accessories. You'll pay a $20 styling fee for every fix you get. Or if you are headed to a fall wedding or gala and need a dress, sites like Rent the Runway give customers the opportunity to rent luxury, designer clothing or accessories for a fraction of the retail cost.
Shop your own closet. The cheapest way to refresh your fall wardrobe is to look through what you already have; chances are there is undiscovered potential hanging right in front of you. Do a little digging, and uncover things you haven't thought about in a while. Look at old standbys in new ways, and put together some fresh looks without having to go broke. Fall and winter staples such as wool pants, cashmere sweaters and coats are timeless and can immediately look shiny and new when paired with items you purchased more recently.
Find a good tailor. The easiest way to make an inexpensive piece of clothing look like it's right off the runway? Find a tailor that can mold the cut and fit to your body. Some things may just need a nip, a tuck, a narrower leg or a shorter hem to take on this season's proportions. You can even turn an A-line into a pencil skirt. A well-tailored piece of clothing instantly upgrades the value of a look.
Get thrifty and DIY. Shop a vintage or consignment shop for classic, hard to find pieces, as well as brand names. You can sell unwanted clothing at consignment shops, and put that money toward new purchases. Look for modern staples, as well as bold prints, colors and textures. These immediately make every ensemble in your closet feel updated and hip -- and everyone will be coveting your unique pieces. In addition to thrift shopping, a quick do-it-yourself fix can take something you're growing tired of and give it a face-lift. For example, add pins and brooches to your outfits and handbags to give old pieces some new flair. You can also try replacing plastic buttons on a coat or blazer to make it look more upscale.
Keep an eye on the sales. Take advantage of "end of season" sales. Stores are practically giving things away at the end of each season to make room for next season's goods. You can find out about these sales by joining a store's mailing list. Typically, fall clothing sales will start in September through October, and winter sales will start directly after Thanksgiving. Sales will continue through the holiday season, and clearance starts the day after Christmas through January. Pre-fall merchandise gets marked down by early October, so it's the perfect time to look for transitional items such as knits, denim and light jackets.
Holly Perez is a consumer money expert at Intuit and mint.com spokeswoman, a leading Web and mobile money management tool that helps people understand and do more with their money.
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