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How I Approach Shopping for Clothes

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I have really loved the chance to share more style-related posts here lately and I hope you’re enjoying them too! Today, I want to do something a little different and talk about shopping itself–not what to consider shopping for, but how I personally approach shopping in the first place. Everyone does this so differently depending on their budgets, priorities, job wardrobe needs, lifestyles, etc. and I don’t think I’ve ever read an in-depth blog post about it before. There’s your warning that I’m about to go very in-depth :) No matter what your personal approach is, I hope you find this interesting and maybe even pick up a tip or two!

How I approach shopping for clothes | Something Pretty

Blogging and Shopping

First, a tiny bit of blogging 101. Does it ever feel like fashion bloggers have an endless clothing budget? Here’s the thing–they kind of do! With so many people looking to bloggers/influencers for trusted recommendations, established fashion bloggers see a positive ROI when sharing items they’re wearing…but the catch is that the items that convert best are those that are currently in stock, preferably in all sizes. That’s why you see bloggers buying hundreds (thousands?) of dollars worth of products every season. The more available products they have to review and share, the more money they can make through affiliate links.

Now, as you can probably very easily guess, I am not one of those bloggers! I do use affiliate links and occasionally work on sponsored posts with brands that I love. Both of these income sources enable me to continue putting my time and resources into blogging, rather than putting those time and resources into a different job. That said, I don’t make the level of affiliate income that comes anywhere close to justifying an always-in-stock wardrobe…not to mention, y’all have not said anything to make me think that is something you’re looking for here.

All that to say, at this point in time, blogging doesn’t have an impact on my shopping habits. If that ever changes, I will keep you posted. Team transparency :)

A Peek at How We Budget

I feel so grateful to be married to someone who is both gifted in and passionate about personal finance. Dave is always eager for my input and suggestions, especially since I usually handle the day-to-day purchasing in our family. But, when it comes down to it, I defer to his expertise and big-picture perspective on how we budget. After all, he is the one looking at the numbers literally daily (he considers this fun…I do not) and this is an area of total trust in our relationship.

For Dave and I, clothes come out of our “fun money.” We each have a set amount each month that we can spend on whatever–clothes, coffee or drinks out when we’re not together (if we’re together, that comes from our restaurant budget), non-essential tech things, manicures (for me, not Dave…though I guess if he got a manicure, it would come out of his fun money too :)), etc. Over the last few years, our fun money budgets have varied between $50-75 each per month. The majority of the time, I spend most of my fun money on clothes because that’s what I enjoy shopping for the most.

Balancing Quality and Cost

The trickiest aspect of shopping, to me, is balancing my desire for classic, high-quality pieces and a limited budget. This is especially challenging in my current season of life, when I have been cycling through seasons of pregnancy, postpartum/nursing, and then getting into a new “normal” size. According to my survey, many of you are struggling with this too. Mamas, I see you, I hear you, and I am so with you!

I have realized that this is exactly where the capsule wardrobe mentality is incredibly helpful. Even if you don’t stick to a set number of pieces in your wardrobe (I don’t), knowing you have the staples that fit your personal style and your CURRENT season of life is invaluable. For me, that has meant two things: 1. knowing what I have that works, and 2. knowing what additions would be helpful. In the case of the latter, that doesn’t mean “Oh, I wish I had all those things in the J. Crew new arrivals email this morning–I should buy them!” (I won’t lie and say those thoughts never cross my mind though!) Rather, it usually looks like “I wish I had white pants that fit” or “This striped shirt is six years old and I’m really sick of it, even though I still want to wear a striped shirt at least once a week.” Those are two exact thoughts I’ve had over the last few months, which led to spending some September fun money on this shirt and some October fun money on these pants!

Where and How I Shop

I tend to steer clear of very low-budget retailers since their offerings are almost always low-quality and rarely last longer than a season. Spending more per piece encourages me to be more intentional. As you probably already know if you’ve been following along with me for a while, my go-to clothing retailers are J. Crew and J. Crew Factory, Madewell, H&M, Mango, Nordstrom, Draper James, Amour Vert, and local boutiques like Rose & Lee. For more of a splurge (as well as simply for styling ideas!), I love browsing Tuckernuck, Sezane, and Shopbop. I almost never buy items full-price.

If there is a pricier piece that I love and think would be a perfect addition to my wardrobe, I do one of three things. 1. Ask for it for a birthday/Christmas gift (that’s how I got my first Margaux flats and Lake Pajamas, both brands I’ve loved and loyally supported ever since!), 2. Browse Poshmark for a new/excellent condition pre-owned version at a lower price, or 3. Save up my fun money and preferably wait for a sale or promo code.

Alright, friends. I think that covers enough ground for one day! Coffee cups cheers if you made it this far :) I would be fascinated to hear: do you approach shopping for clothes in similar or different ways? Is there anything I mentioned that you’d like to hear more about in future posts? Excited to discuss below!

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  1. Marie says:

    Thanks for this! It’s interesting to hear about your “fun budget”. One post that would be nice to have maybe at the end the year: big post about all the clothes/accessories/shoes you bought over the year :) and if you regretted buying any of them too & what was worth it!

  2. Teresa says:

    Lisa, this post is everything that my dream blog posts are made of! I was trying to figure out what exactly that is, and this is what I decided: I love posts that include info that I’m curious to know but would feel to nosy asking explicitly about! (you know, kind of like when you’re dying to see how someone organizes their cupboards and closets, but you aren’t going to walk through their house opening everything up!). I often wonder how other individuals/couples decide how/what to spend on non-essential, non-family oriented purchases and I liked hearing your system. My husband and I have a very similar habit. I find myself gravitating these days towards wanting higher quality but more expensive pieces, so I’ve taken to saving up for a few months for these types of items. Also, sometimes if I really, really want something and can’t wait, I use free time (aka babies are in bed, work is done) that I would ordinarily spend watching a show or reading or doing something leisurely, and I write an extra article for Busted Halo or Amendo. Since I wasn’t counting on the income, I consider it a bonus addition to my fun fund :)

  3. Rhiannon says:

    This is SUCH a helpful post, Lisa! I’ve been making a big effort to shop second hand in fourth quarter and it’s making me realize how hard it is to resist what feels like a constant barrage of fast fashion options every day in front of me. I will be bookmarking this for future shopping trips / times!

  4. Dana says:

    I unfollowed almost all the influencers I was following because I couldn’t handle feeling of needing this new item or not needing something but seeing something and wanting it. I like getting a new sweater during the winter (in Missouri I got three cuz it was for real winter) and a new dress for the start of school. Also, now that I’m 28, I’m a grandma and think all of my clothes are too short, so I think I’ll be transitioning my wardrobe from college/early 20s to late 20s :/

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