When to save and when to splurge on your wardrobe

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

When to save and when to splurge

One of the most challenging steps in any wardrobe overhaul process–other than weeding out the clothes that don’t need to be there, of course–is going shopping to buy the pieces you truly need.

Part of that process is establishing a budget ahead of time (assuming you aren’t an oil heiress or a lottery winner).

So if you need 10 things and you have $500 to spend, that’s $50 each, right?

Not so fast, tiger. The trickiest part of all shopping calculus is knowing what is actually worth spending a little extra on because not all garments are created equally.

Here are some examples of when to save and when to splurge when you’re shopping.


  • Anything super trendy. This year, think neon. If it will look clearly dated in a year or two, why spend a lot on it now? This is why God invented H&M.
  • T-shirts. Yes, you can find $100 T-shirts woven by angels from the finest Corinthian cotton hand-dyed by unicorns, and perhaps they will feel a little better or drape a little nicer, but the incremental difference in quality is almost never borne out by the exponential difference in cost.
  • Anything otherwise loose-fitting or utilitarian. Yes, your basic weekend khaki pants should fit you properly, but you can find such a thing in any Gap or Old Navy for $50 or less. Ditto for a simple knit circle skirt, sundress, basic bootcut jeans, woven tops … you get the idea.


  • Suits and blazers. You will only buy a few of these in your lifetime and you will want them to last. This means impeccable tailoring, and quality lining and fabrics. They are truly investments; treat them as such.
  • Work shoes. Whether pumps, slingbacks or even flats, the shoes you wear to work over and over (perhaps with the aforementioned suit or blazer) should fit you well and be made to last. This doesn’t necessarily mean Louboutins, but it does mean leather. Get your fun and funky shoes at Payless (see “anything super trendy,” above).
  • Classic handbag. Ditto. Own at least one in a simple, classic design and make sure it’s made well and of leather. Keep in mind that these can often be found on eBay or at consignment stores; if they’re well cared for, they will last as long as a new purchase. In fact, that’s the point.
  • A really great pair of jeans. You might be able to find them at a mass-market mall brand; if so, good for you. But if finding a pair of fantastic-fitting, solidly made, quality denim jeans means stepping up to a premium brand, then consider it a worthy splurge. A great pair of dark wash boot cuts will last you for ages.

In summary, the more well-fitted, tailored and work worthy the piece, the greater the importance of investing in an item of quality.

Think of it this way: what are the pieces you could imagine handing on to future generations? Those are the ones to spend on.

Your turn

  • If you could only splurge on one item, what should it be?
  • What’s your favorite investment piece? How much did you spend?
  • What did you spend a lot on–only to regret it later?

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15 Responses to “When to save and when to splurge on your wardrobe”

  1. Tracey

    I also splurge on my bras. A great fitting bra can make everything I wear fit better. And will last for years, if properly cared for.

  2. Felicia

    Another great post!! This is so helpful for me as I’m redefining myself. I need a new wardrobe to go with the old me that I found. So these tips help a lot.

  3. Angel

    Can you suggest jeans for a 30 something Mom on the go? So many look too young ( don’t want to look like I raided my daughters closet lol)

    • Closet Coach

      I really like Gap’s Perfect Bootcut Jeans. They fit great and the rise isn’t too low, the price is reasonable and they don’t look like Mom Jeans, either. I know others swear by Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, too, although I don’t have any personal experience with the brand.