A new season is always exciting, whether it’s celebrating upcoming holidays with loved ones or basking under the sun for hours. Yet, the stress of dressing and shopping for each season is still overwhelming, especially when it comes to budgeting for it.
While fashion trends may look appealing, our wallets may think otherwise, resulting in a tug of war between our current closets and our dream seasonal wardrobes. Some important questions arise, including “How much should I spend on a coat?” or “Do I really need to buy a trendy shearling bag for this fall?,” especially considering this roulette goes around four times a year (depending on where you’re based).
For finance expert Bola Sokunbi, it’s all a balancing act. “Fashion is what you make of it,” says Sokunbi, who is the founder of the personal finance platform, Clever Girl Finance. “You want to have those foundational pieces in your closet that you can wear at any time without having to replace them every single season because they're now ‘out of fashion.’”
Ahead, Sokunbi shares the key money moves that’ll transform your closet from season to season without going broke.
Save Up Ahead Of Time
While for most people a change of seasons may not mean a desire for a new wardrobe, Sokunbi says that it’s normal for people interested in fashion to want to invest in a trendy look. That’s why she recommends setting up an account just for shopping. “This is basically an account where every month you can put a little bit of money that doesn’t impact your other financial goals or bills,” she says. “Then when times like this come when you want to do some shopping, have cash there, and you don't have to worry about how to afford it.”
Shop Your Closet
Before you start shopping, Sokunbi says you should start with evaluating your closet to determine “any gaps on essentials that you actually need,” from footwear and clothing to accessories and jewelry. For example, for the spring and summer months, you may be short on sandals, while in the fall and winter seasons, your wardrobe might be missing comfy turtlenecks. “That's the first item you want to prioritize,” she says.
Don’t Overspend On Trends
While essentials are needed to survive each season, that doesn’t mean your style should be basic. Sokunbi says there is still room to shop for trends, even if you’re trying to be financially responsible. “Determine what are the trends that you’re interested in,” she says. “And then look at your wardrobe gaps and what’s in your closet to see if there are items you can add to stay on trend without having to buy a whole new wardrobe.”
Create A Budget
Before you even plan a shopping day or log on to your favorite e-commerce site, Sokunbi urges people to “determine the maximum amount that you’re willing to spend.” That amount will determine how much you will be able to spend on essentials and trendy items. “You could probably find that you won’t be able to buy every essential item, or that you are willing to spend your budget on one piece that costs more but is higher quality,” she says.
While the budget depends on each person’s style and income, Sokunbi says she still recommends people to follow a 70/30 method. “That means spending 70% [of your budget] on the core classics and 30% on trends,” she explains.
Get On The Resale Market
In case you’ve missed it, the resale market is booming. And that means that consigning items in your closet may mean a good pay back. Sokunbi says this is a fitting strategy to build up your budget for some new clothes each season. “It could be things that you have been wearing for a long time, things that you no longer like, that no longer fit you, or even that you bought on an impulse purchase,” she says, adding that platforms like Poshmark, eBay, and The RealReal are good options to try, as well as clothing swaps with friends and family. “Remember that someone else's trash is somebody else's treasure.”
Sokunbi is also emphatic that, if you choose to sell items, you need to be intentional about how you use the money. “I'm always intent on putting the money that I earn from that down into another item,” she says. “This way you minimize how much you're having to take out of your paycheck or your savings account.”