One of my goals for my 31st year of life was to start this blog. Another was to step up my fashion game. Living in Washington, DC, allows a 30-something professional to get by with a collection of shift dresses, JCrew cardigans and Target flats. Throw on a statement necklace and you’re basically ready for the Pennsylvania Avenue runway. Practical professionalism seems to rule this town, and when your feet feel fine after 90 minutes of commuting, justifying TOMS at the office gets a whole lot easier.
So why not stick with my sensible work dresses that leave no shade of grey unworn? Because I really do feel more confident (and, yes, a little cooler) when I’m wearing a piece that borders on trendy. Or at very least something that is well-tailored and classic. That being said, none of us at donuts&denim are in the position to buy the latest from the Paris Fashion Week runways. Or the latest from the sale rack at Anthropologie for that matter. Below is my four-step plan to upgrade my wardrobe this year without breaking the bank.
It’s amazing what a well-placed accessory can do to an otherwise dull outfit. My standard “uniform” of skinny jeans and a black v-neck sweater becomes significantly more interesting with the addition of an arm party of fun bangles or a brightly-colored clutch. Plus, you can accessorize on the cheap! If you don’t want to break the bank or invest too much in a somewhat trendy piece, look to stores like Forever 21 and Target for inexpensive and fun baubles, scarves, and handbags.
2. Reduce, reuse, repair.
The three R’s as learned in second grade – reduce, reuse, recycle – were a succinct way to talk about protecting the environment. These three wardrobe R’s – reduce, reuse, repair – are a concise way to keep your closet fresh.
First and foremost: reduce. Get rid of the items you don’t wear! There will be (many) more posts about this in the future, but streamlining your closet will save you time and frustration when deciding what to wear. My personal goal is to have a closet full of items that I love. I’m still working on this, but I have realized that I don’t need 20 t-shirts. Six t-shirts that I love are more than enough.
Step two: Reuse. That blazer you bought for work? Try it with jeans and a t-shirt for a dressed up weekend look. You should aim to have versatile pieces that you can dress up and dress down. Besides a gown or two, try to make your clothes as multifunctional as possible. It will stretch your budget and force you to use your creative powers for garment good.
Repair. Take care of the things you wear! Weather-proof your leather goods, get your hems sewn back in place (staples and two-sided tape should only be used in an emergency), dry clean your fancier frocks, you get the point.
3. Invest in “forever” pieces.
Do I sometimes often wish that I could throw out all of my clothing and start over with an unlimited budget and a smaller waistline? Yes. Is that realistic? No. Is my salary of the nonprofit variety? Yes.
All of that being said, I do think it’s important to invest in forever pieces. For example, I have been looking for the perfect leather coat for about three years. Sure, I could pick up a pleather number for under $100 and be perfectly happy. For a season. At which point pleather cracks and poorly made garments lose zippers or buttons. A classic leather coat is worth investing in because you can wear it for years to come. The same can be said about a great handbag, a fantastic pair of boots, or beautiful cashmere sweater. When it comes to classic, key wardrobe elements that will never go out of style, invest. The extra money spent now will be well worth the mileage you will get out of those pieces.
4. Can’t buy it? Rent it.
So I’m late to this game but renting clothes and accessories is so smart! No wonder my friends have been using services like Rent the Runway for years. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a dress that you will realistically wear one time, you can spend a fraction of that and have your pick of the litter. On no planet would I be able to buy a Badgley Mischka ballgown but I can certainly rent it for a black tie gala. I am sold on these services and cannot wait to use them for future events. Plus, since it’s a relatively small investment, you can try styles that are a little more dramatic/funky/colorful than what you would normally wear.