How to Create a Wardrobe You Enjoy…Without Breaking the Bank

As I was cleaning my dressing room today, I was inspired to write this.

I like clothes. I mean, I really like clothes and shopping and fashion and makeup and…well you get the gist. And the funny

This is a Nautica dress from the outlet mall.
This is a Nautica dress from the outlet mall.

thing is that I’m not a traditional girly girl. I’m not into ruffles. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the one to sit at a vanity to do my make up. And I’ll pick up a basketball or football any day.

But at the end of the day, I like fashion. I like the way clothes fall on my body. I like the way they make me feel. I like the peak of confidence when I know I’m on trend.

I also know that being on trend comes at a price. In fact, I have a pretty big shopping habit…to the point that if I don’t go to the mall in like 2 weeks, I begin to go through mall withdrawal. I literally have to buy something like every week – whether it’s clothes or something as simple as a notebook, spending money on myself – and others – makes me feel good.

On the other hand, I don’t have a limitless budget. So I’ve been known to get stoked when I find a good deal.

I’d like to share some of my secrets.

  1. I have a pre-determined look in mind for the season. Example, I knew I was going for oversized sweaters this winter. No need to be distracted by a lot of other items. But whatever the style, I go with something I’ll feel literally comfortable in that suits the setting as well as comfortable in my own skin. My motto is: Own your style. When you do this, confidence is your priceless accessory.
  2. I invest in basics. “Invest” should not be confused with “spend a lot of money on.” No, this simply means that I buy lots of the same item in different, and sometimes the same, colors. This includes a ton of cami style tank tops, long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, and jeans in various washes. And when I was required to wear business casual for work, I was just sure to have a black, brown, gray and blue pants…sometimes in varying styles. And then I just mixed it up on the top.
  3. Then I mix it up. I reach for both plain and printed cardigans and jackets for layering. I buy jeans in various colors and I tend to ensure I have a couple of pairs of printed trousers in my closet as well. I also, buy in pieces vs. outfits. This provides the luxury of creating multiple outfits out of very basic pieces.
  4. And I become one with the fashion scarf. When you really don’t want to try, scarves have a way of elevating basic pieces without much effort. Throw on a scarf and you go from okay to a million bucks in less than 30 seconds.
  5. I rock the shoe/boot game. This is where I will invest
  6. I have a mix of investment (this time meaning I spent the money) and not-so-expensive pieces repertoire. If you want to look like one million bucks, everything can’t be two dollars.
  7. I leverage my accessories. Yes, I spend the money on bags, coats, shoes, and sometimes jewelry. These are all my guilty pleasures. But once again, throwing on a pair of causal, but hot leopard ballet flats has a way of bringing flair to the outfit. And yes, I look at my glasses as accessories as well…so I pick a pair I feel confident in. Right now, my glasses portray the sexy writer.
  8. I worked on one thing that I felt was holding me back. My weight. The truth is that I didn’t feel 100% confident in my own skin due to my size. I won’t lie..I’ve gained some of the weight back and would like to get it off because I felt good being smaller. I liked looking at myself in the mirror. I liked the way my clothes looked. They’re not horrible right now, but I’m in the risk zone…a place to get in under control. I don’t want to be focused on my body image in a negative way, but like the saying goes, if you don’t like something about yourself, and you can change it, then change it. Don’t get it twisted, I never want to be a size zero. In fact, I’m a size 10 and that looks good on me, and I can also buy the clothes that I feel compliment me.

So where and how do I (and do I not) shop and what do I buy?

  1. Old Navy. I shop at Old Navy VERY often, but since their clothes can be a bit questionable at times, I’m a bit picky about what I buy.
    1. Jeans. Yes, Old Navy jeans are the bees knees. Knowing your fit and size makes shopping a breeze. Diva, skinny fit for this girl.
    2. Khahis. I heart Old Navy Khakis.
    3. Jean Jackets. Another win from Old Navy.
    4. $2.50 flip flops. Yes, please.
    5. Scarves and even boots. I’ve been successful with these as well.
    6. T-Shirts. I DO NOT buy Old Navy t-shirts. They suck. They don’t fit well and they always stretch. This means the purchase will be a waste because either you’re not going to wear it or if you do wear the tee, you’re gonna lose in the confidence department. When I’m looking for a quality t-shirt – long or short sleeve – I go to the older sibling, Gap.
    7. Their deals are amazing.
  2. New York & Co. This is my go-to spot for business casual attire. I’ve also found some cool colored and print bottoms here. And I’ve gotten my family up on that game.
  3. JC Penney. The Penney is hit or miss. Sometimes you win. Sometimes, not so much. Piece of advice, try on clothes from JC Penney before your purchase to see how the clothes fall on your body.
  4. The Gap. Their clothes are worth the money and they often have great sales going on. I got long-sleeved t-shirts for super cheap. I think $6.
  5. H&M. Another place that’s hit or miss because it can be too teeny bopper or too expensive for my taste, but I almost always stop in just to see what they have.
  6. DSW. You can find some pretty trendy shoes here…especially online. They’re more expensive than Payless, but DSW is a good place to go for signature shoes.
  7. ALDO. High-fashion is the name of the game. Shoes may cost you a pretty penny, but that’s where the investment piece comes in.
  8. Payless. Remember those leopard ballet flats I mentioned? I got those from Payless.
  9. Coach Outlet Online. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on bags, I tend to spend less than $200. You can also get wristlets for super cheap. The secret is that you have to be on their email list to be able to participate in the flash sales, and the only time you can buy from the site is during the flash sale.
  10. Macy’s. Believe it or not, Macy’s has very reasonably priced shoes…especially when they’re on sale.
  11. Express. End of season sale, yo. They also have bags and accessories that you may want to check out.
  12. COUPONS, SALE, CLEARANCE. I have a habit of walking to the back of the store and I’m guilty of being enticed by ENTIRE STORE 50% off probably one too many times. There’s no shame in my game to say that I’m a clearance shopper (okay yes there is but ah well). I also try to put my coupons that have been generously sent to me in the mail in one place so that I can pick them up on my way out of the house when I know I’m heading to the mall.
  13. DO NOT OPEN CREDIT CARDS OR BUY ON CREDIT. I’ve learned that what could’ve been one price becomes an exponentially greater expense when adding interest and late fees. So don’t open the cards to save 15% and don’t swipe anything but debit for clothing. It’s not worth it, and when you do, you run the risk of breaking the bank.

Another long one. Those are my tricks of the trade. Please share with me any other tricks you use.

Providing hope for the hopeless
Eliminating “I can’t”


  1. Five lbs. up since the start of the year, my friend. Yeah, I get it…the struggle is always going to be there. Remember how you got to where you wanted to be – for me, it was going back to tracking, using the points system again, and getting rid of some of my trigger food. It’s much easier to lose the 5 lbs. than it is to have to lose 30-40 again!

    1. Good thought. To be honest, I just don’t care enough to do a lot. I still watch what I eat, but I am concerned with being obsessed with weight. I’ve stopped weighing myself and allow my clothes to “talk” to me. BTW…8-10 has been the smallest I’ve been with the weight loss. I look pretty weird when I’m really skinny. I’ve been a 4-6 before and my Godmom wanted me to gain weight :). This black girl needs to keep and appreciate her curves (ya know, part of black culture that I want to be proud of and not dismiss) and you know how I feel about my butt…I need that in my life. And it needs to be right. LOL

    2. BTW…I’m was getting on the cusp of a 12…may still be there, but I think I lost a little. That was when this girl got concerned.

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