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Should You Save or Splurge on Your Wardrobe?

With the seasons changing, many of us will be switching up our wardrobes and adding some new items to our closets. But how to shop smart? We tapped fashion stylist Alexandra Greenawalt for her fashion secrets.

Her first tip is to keep your closet organized and to make sure you can actually see all your clothes, shoes and accessories. If anything is out of sight, it'll also be out of mind. Unknowingly, "you may end up buying more of the same clothes you already own," says Greenawalt. If you need help getting organized, consider adding some inexpensive shelving to maximize your closet space. Stores, such as Container Store, offer free closet planning, and if you do the installation yourself with their materials, you can save about 30%.

Next, get the best use of your wardrobe by getting the best mileage out of your wardrobe — even if that means spending a little more upfront.

Before buying anything, consider its so-called "cost-per-wear." For example, if a pair of jeans cost $200, but you plan to wear them three times a week for a year, your cost-per-wear will be about $1.28 each time you put them on during the first year, and less if you keep them longer. Meanwhile, the cost-per-wear of a dress you bought on clearance for $40, but only wore once, will be $40. The math clearly tells you which is the better deal. So make note of what you wear the most and spend accordingly.

For Greenawalt, her go-to clothes are sheath dresses, which she can wear to work and glam up for social outings. Because sheath dresses are versatile and she wears them regularly, the cost per wear is a lot less than other fashion items, and she's willing to spend a little more on them. "Make your clothes earn a spot in your closet," Greenawalt says.

Another piece in your closet worth investing in — especially with the weather getting a bit chillier — is a high quality winter coat that'll last you at least four or five years. "It's fashionable and functional," says Greenawalt, and the cost-per-wear will be much less than a trendy, green leather jacket that you may only wear for one season. Stick to neutral colors ensure you'll get more mileage out of the coat, too.

Meantime, one area you needn't spend much money on is accessories like scarves and hats, as well as fashion jewelry. Greenawalt recommends buying a pair of basic earrings that you love and that go with a number of your outfits. But don't splurge. She offers the example of her $40 cubic zirconium stud earrings from Betsey Johnson, which closely resemble a pair of real diamonds that cost closer to $1,500. Incredible savings, and no one will really ever know the difference.

Likewise, for basics like tees and tanks, as well as any sort of "trendy" item, skip the high-end labels and stick with more affordable options sold at mainstream stores, such as Gap, Old Navy, H&M and Zara.

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