How I Shop For Designer Clothes While Saving Money

This isn’t a skill that develops over night.*

Sorry if you were expecting that, but GOOD SHIT takes time.

A week or so ago, I posted an Instagram Story talking about how I make my purchasing decisions when it comes to clothes and received a ton of feedback about my rule that I use when shopping. I definitely have talked about this before in some of my blog posts on Soho Mini, but I’m going to keep this specific post centered on this rule and how to think more strategically when it comes to your closet.

Photo by  Wini Lao  | Outfit Credits: T-Shirt, Joggers, Pumps

Photo by Wini Lao | Outfit Credits: T-Shirt, Joggers, Pumps

First off, if you’re a person that falls for every “trend” that comes out each season, you might have a hard time with this. I get it, when I was in college I was that girl that had to have every new trend that I saw on Tumblr (it was still cool at the time), Facebook, Instagram or wherever I could get outfit inspiration. This was still me even after college in my first year of working full-time. What I realized was that every time I had to move out of my dorm, out of my apartment into a new place, or just do a spring cleaning, I would end up with SO many clothes I didn’t want anymore because they weren’t in style by that point. All that time I spent trying to find the cheapest version of designer clothing I was seeing, all ended up in the giveaway pile. Yes, I bought the cheapest I could find of what I wanted because I felt I had to buy a new outfit for EVERY happy hour.

It wasn’t until I started freelancing in between my move from Florida to New York when I worked for a capsule wardrobe company when I learned where I was going wrong. For those that don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is, the term was created by Susie Faux, a London boutique owner in the 1970’s. It means you have a set amount of clothing, a collection of a few essential items that don't go out of style. I would spend hours creating hundreds of outfits from a list of 40 pieces of clothing for this job. I thought for sure I would run out of outfits while doing this but to my surprise, I realized the limit was almost endless and it rarely happened.

I began leaning away from trendy pieces and started buying more classic ones. Soon, I didn’t have to go shopping as much and even when I felt like I “needed” to, I would walk out of stores without anything. In the back of my head, I knew I was just purchasing for a one-off occasion. I started to realize that while I was shopping and picking up clothes from racks, I was thinking of outfit combinations. The more outfits I could think of during the decision process, the more likely I was to buy it. So I set a number to this method:

If you can’t think of five outfits with the piece of clothing you’re purchasing, then don’t buy it.

This has helped me stop myself from buying crap I don’t need and making better investments in my closet.

Now, I know you’re thinking—”Well if I don’t have a capsule wardrobe, how am I going to be able to think of five outfits?” I bet you own pieces already that you aren’t even thinking of, I encourage you to do your research. Do you own a white t-shirt? Well that counts as one piece of a capsule wardrobe and if you don’t, this is a perfect place to start. Do you have a button down white shirt? That’s another. I won’t go into EVERY piece you should have but I will share some of my favorites that I own below this post.

I can probably guess your next questions too. “How does this save me money? How does this mean I’m able to buy designer?” I would say the first step is mastering the control aspect of it all. Of course, I still dabble in trends and have my guilty pleasures (dresses, shoes, and bags). l keep it maintainable but those are my splurges and I’m aware of it. Iron out with yourself: what are your splurges and what are things you know you will be sick by the next season of that period ie. buying for Fall now and being sick of that piece for next Fall. You will start to see that you’ll spend less on these things and have more budget for that piece you really need, like a leather jacket for Fall!

The most obvious answer to the second question is that you’re no longer buying clothes out of impulse, you’re buying for long-term. When you buy for long-term you’re going to want to invest a little more into that piece so it will last longer. It doesn’t always have to be designer, but I’d encourage you to really research the best in that category. So you need a leather jacket, is there a designer that does that especially well? Is there a vegan option? Sustainable? Lots of questions to consider but pick the things that matter to you and also think about the environment when you can ;)

When you’re saving money from avoiding wasteful clothing purchases, you can start to add some cash to that Chanel bag fund or a new pair of Louboutin’s (hint hint, I want another pair lol).

Here’s a good place to start if you’re starting from zero:

I’m curious, do you think you can abide by this rule?

xox Soho Mini