Closet 101 Life Style

Shopping and the Budget – Part Two

It has been a while since I did my first Shopping and the Budget post. I really enjoyed that post – I received so much great feedback and wonderful tips from readers. I finally got my act together and wrote Part 2 – I hope you all enjoy, and again please share your tips in comments (or if you’re shy, email me!) I love to hear all of them and can’t be reminded enough times about responsible spending and saving. So, here we go – more rules that I live by when shopping and budgeting, and if you need a refresher, Rules 1-5 are here.

6) The 80/20 rule. No matter how many times I hear the Pareto principle, I still am amazed by how true it rings for so many things in life – that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. Translated and diluted down for my extreme layman’s ears, it means that 20% of my closet makes up what I wear 80% of the time. And it’s totally true! Do you know how easily I am convinced to fork over my wallet for beautiful heels or gorgeous gowns? But honestly, I never wear them! Take these glitter Miu Mius which I picked up a while ago and have nearly worn on a few occasions, but never have.

I always end up swapping them out because I have to do a lot of walking, or because a dinner companion is a notorious lush and wine spiller. So I end up wearing the same easy flats, cashmere dresses, cardigans, trenches, boots, over and over again. Why not invest more in those pieces? But it’s hard, I know – buying heels and sparkly things is always so much more fun than boring flats and cashmere cardigans. That’s why I..

7) Keep a list. I carry around a little Moleskine notebook that contains a hodgepodge of all my to do lists, insane musings, and a master “Closet buy” list for myself. I am constantly crossing items off and adding them on to the list – it’s a good way to write down everything you need in your closet and make sure you are sticking to the list when you are tempted to make an impulse purchase. In the past few months I checked off boots and work bag – I also added, and then took off, sequin skirt (don’t need it!!)

I always get my shoes resoled after I’ve worn them for a while – extends their life for years!

8) Take care of your things. I purchased my all time favorite Chanel bag in 2001 or so and still wear it – it’s going strong! My go to discreet interview shoes, from Joseph, I bought in 2000, have resoled twice, and love. My work Louboutins have had some nasty run ins with various street grates (ahh, my nightmare is falling through one day!) – but they are six years old.

Street grates are very scary…and sometimes I do get caught! The fix isn’t perfect but it will do and looks fine unless you are looking very closely. 

I resole, wash, tailor, polish, everything possible to keep my stuff in good shape. I think sometimes when you pay lots for luxury items, they are “too good to wear.” But to me, luxury means that it’s well made, right? So shouldn’t you be able to wear it, lots and lots?

Alberta Feretti dress: had the sides taken in on a satin dress

Valentino trench: had it made smaller (yes, the tailor cut through the lace part and resewed it), and the arm holes cut smaller as well. This was expensive!

Cynthia Steffe wool dress: had it hemmed and made slimmer

9) Make it work. This mantra, for me, generally involves becoming very, very good friends with a tailor. If I see something I love on sale and it’s not in my size, a quick calculation in my head on tailoring costs allows me to see if I can still buy it at a discount. Also, I have some items in my closet which after a quick trip to the tailor, have been refreshed – I generally hem dresses, tailor in (or out) coats and jackets, add v necks to things, whatever I think would make me wear an item more. Usually, it’s way cheaper for me to shop my closet than buy new things – and it’s better for the environment too. I included some photos of some of the items in my closet that I had altered at the tailor’s – none of them are easy (silk, wool, trench material) and they all turned out great.

10) Check the internet. I’m one of those annoying people who checks everything on the internet. If we pull up to a restaurant that is full of people and looks pretty good, I will still want to pause and check for online reviews. So whenever I am out shopping and see a great item, I am extra annoying and check the price on the internet. “Err…let me go check this important work email!” I bashfully said to the sweet Vince sales girl the other day, as I tried to quickly punch in a style name into Safari – “I will be done really quick, and then I can let you know about this sweater!” She totally knew what I was doing. I am so shameless. But the sweater was 40% off at Neiman’s and full price at the boutique, so….money talks! Always check for a better price.

Have a fabulous weekend! And please let me know – what are some more of your favorite shopping and budgeting tips?

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  • Aesthetic Alterations
    July 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I have a pretty compact wardrobe and tend to wear everything except the pieces I acquired in India 15 years ago (those serve as accents). So the first tip might be to LOVE everything you buy–not in the abstract, but LOVE it in relation to one's everyday life. But, then, I think you have that down.

    The second tip is buying TWO of the same (or similar) items if it becomes a much-used piece of clothing. I have several All Saints leather jackets, and I don't regret that decision at all–they all get used. When on sale, I grab at least two pairs of any J Brand denim/pants I find. This approach goes for tops. This saves money as I'm not constantly looking for something just as great elsewhere.

  • Stephanie Shepherd
    July 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I'm terrible at remembering to get my heels resoled until it's too late, thank you for this reminder!

  • Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
    July 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    REALLY great tips and OMG I love that Trench…the lace is so unique and pretty!

    You are totally right on everything you are saying. I think I have yet to REALLY invest in something and therefore haven't taken them time out to find a good shoe repair place and tailor since for me keeping the items in good condition isn't worth what I paid for them. It's interesting how hard it is to wrap your head around these things!

  • Nelah
    July 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Great tips you shared here once again. I LOVE reading about budget and $$ talk. I am not good at checking on deals at all but I need to do that.

    One tip I try to live by when shopping is "stay true to my style or cloths I feel confident in". I used to be really bad in the past buying stuff that look good without thinking how practical it is for me to wear. It is good to go out and try something new but most likely we won't use it much. I would rather stick with what I feel confident in rather than what look good on other people. That helps prevent unnecessary buys. I also think twice now before buying something, make sure I can use it frequently.

  • Julia
    July 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I generally stick around one or two of my favorite stores – in term of their pricing, selection of goods and customer service etc, by periodically browsing their online collection or strolling their local store. Then I save the "to buy items" in their web shopping cart, wait a few months hoping the price will drop. In some cases, the waiting is more than worth it and I scored great deals. A few occasions I love the item so much and I just buy it right away before it runs out 🙂

  • soanthro
    July 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    This is really great, I love the piece about checking the internet. Hey, if you've got a smart phone, put it to good use! I've also had a running list from the time I was about 15 years old and just getting into fashion… things like Burberry trench, Chanel flats, and Marc Jacobs handbag are items that still have yet to be checked off years later!

  • Annette
    July 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I still love those glitter Miu Miu pumps. You really need to let them see the light of day, they are such fun shoes!!

    I always scour online prices before I buy something in store. I actually got a hat that was heavily on sale at Urban Outfitters because I saw that it was on sale online, but wasn't in the store so I asked about it and they honored the discounted price for me. It really pays off!

  • Mary Lane
    July 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    1. These are fantastic tips.
    2. I would die for that Valentino.

    The tip about the internet is crucial. It is very rare that I pay full price for something because I know that if I'm thorough enough I'll find it on sale somewhere!

  • homestilo
    July 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I am totally with you on the online price checking thing.Oh, and those Miu Miu pumps are dreamy.

  • wuguimei
    July 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Great tips! I always try to purchase quality clothing that will last me for years instead of things that'll get worn out within a year. Love the Miu Miu pumps, too!

  • Melissa
    July 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Great tips. I think it's really undervalued to get your stuff taken care of. My shoes usually go to the shoe doctor when I first get them, as well. They always have good methods of prevention, whether it's treating them to better withstand the elements, or fortifying the heel/sole straight away, it's always a good idea to take preventative care as well as reactionary!

    And YES! Plan and research when you're going to buy things! I always check out prices with a special app on my iPhone, it's a life saver, even at places like the grocery store.

    One extra thing I'll add is to get to know a sales associate at whichever stores are your jam. I love the Barney's Co-op, Intermix, and Nordstrom by my house… and I have favorite associates at those stores. I generally know when they work, so I know when to go in, because they always tip me off when something's about to go on mega-sale, when they're low on stock and I need to buy now before it's gone, and they also will be brutally honest if something is just NOT your color 🙂


  • Belle de Ville
    July 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I definitely agree with all of your points, especially 8.
    Taking meticulous care of your clothes and accessories will extend the life of your wardrobe for years.
    Now if I could be just as meticulous about taking care of my figure I could still fit into all of those fabulous designer outfits that have been hanging in the back of my closet since 1995!

  • Tien
    July 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    #8 definitely. I take obsessive care of my things, shoes, cashmeres, silks, everything. I spend a lot on some items, and i have every intention of making my shoes, bags, and clothes last as long as I can. I'm also a harsh puller. If I haven't worn it more than x number of times, it gets culled. I believe culling your closet is good for space and saving money because it makes you acutely, painfully aware why a certain piece will or will not work for your wardrobe.

  • audrinajulia
    July 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    True with the note regarding wishlist to avoid impulse purchase!Very true with your tips! Great post!

    I really over drooling with bags so I really save for what I really like and do research and ask for tips from others who know better.Thru this whenever I purchased what's on my wishlist it's a fulfillment on my part to achieve my goal/dream. In saving manner regarding shoes,I don't have a designer pieces yet but getting a good quality means having a much higher price so with this one after purchasing I try to bring them to the shoe fix salon and add a new sole lining so that it will last and the original sole will not be torn easily after wearing over and over again.

  • Much to My Delight
    July 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Oh man, that trench is to die for!! I live in NYC, so the fact that my closet space is so limited causes me to closely evaluate each purchase and determine whether I really, really need it. Forced minimalism rules!

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    July 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Boy, do I agree with you! I love my designer goodies. There's no question about it BUT I don't have to pay retail for them. Furthermore, if I've forked out £££, I expect to wear them for years. Some of my shoes have been resoled so many times but they're still going strong.

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    July 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Boy, do I agree with you! I love my designer goodies. There's no question about it BUT I don't have to pay retail for them. Furthermore, if I've forked out £££, I expect to wear them for years. Some of my shoes have been resoled so many times but they're still going strong.

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    July 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Boy, do I agree with you! I love my designer goodies. There's no question about it BUT I don't have to pay retail for them. Furthermore, if I've forked out £££, I expect to wear them for years. Some of my shoes have been resoled so many times but they're still going strong.

  • Tangled In Texas
    July 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Great tips! I do lots of similar things. My biggest downfalls are buying things because they are inexpensive or on sale, and buying things that I "love" but they don't work with my wardrobe. I just hate to waste money and it makes me sick when I add up the total dollars paid for things in the Goodwill bag. I like to think of myself as "stylish", but the truth is that my style tends to be sort of a modern/simple/classic style instead of a "trendy stylish".

  • questforfashionsense
    July 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Ohhh…those glitter pumps are sooooo pretty. Thanks for the tips, Kat! Per your first shopping & the budget post, I hope I don't go crazy after my quasi-shopping ban. My husband would be pretty unhappy with me if that were the case. We're also in the middle of purchasing a home, so gotta make those mortgage payments! Awooo…

  • Brookelyn
    July 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    These are all awesome tips! I especially agree with the tailoring and keeping your things in good shape- some of my friends didn't know you could have soles resoled or heel tips put on and I was shocked!

  • Janice Liao Shiao
    July 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Great Tips! I'm putting in an order for that moleskin notebook rignt now! Do you mind giving me a referral for who resoles your CLs? I'm in the bay area and looking for one. Thanks!

  • Lisa
    July 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    OMG to 80/20 rule is SOO true.. i think it's because you just pull whatever you're gonna wear and then wash it .. and then it ends up going back in your closet in the very front and then you end up pulling it out time and time again hahaha.

  • alison*elle
    July 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    That 80/20 rule is soooo true. If only there were some way to break it! I have so many clothes/shoes I almost never wear! Also, I check my phone for prices too… it's sooo important to make sure you're getting the best deal.

    xo, alison*elle

  • Gelene
    July 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I agree with Lisa with the 80/20 rule! I always go back to the few staple items in my closet.

    Other tips I have: Borrow/Ask for the things your family already owns! I've already started a post in which I'm wearing an Anthropologie jacket my sister left behind after she moved (didn't fit her anymore, but it fits me!)
    – Or my mom's old cardigans ("vintage" is in now, no?.. not saying my mom is old =X)
    – And my Dad's watch!!

    These tips are so helpful! 🙂

  • Marissa
    July 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    You should take your Louboutins back to where you purchased them and ask if they can order you a set of replacement heels. I've been working in luxury retail selling shoes for 2 years, and I see this all the time! If someone comes in with a heel that got caught in a grate, I order them a pair of replacement heels and they take it to a shoe repair shop and have them put on. It' usually not more than $100 and very worth it! xoxo Marissa

  • Anonymous
    July 29, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Hi….i love Your blog…where do you jet yogur shoes resoled in ny ?
    Loubutin ?

  • Vicky
    July 30, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Great insight. And lol on the "checking my work email" part. Too funny. I enjoyed reading through the comments to to hear what everyone is saying. Having a list and keeps crossing them out and adding stuff in seems like a great idea and very easy to do. Will definitely adopt that. The trick then is how to prevent myself from adding non-essential things to the list. 🙂

  • B.Inspired
    July 30, 2011 at 2:16 am

    These are great tips and I am going to revisit 1-5 after commenting. I also buy good quality, take care of my items by sending it to the dry cleaners, and have items altered. I am the grim reaper on shoes so my CLs are only worn out for special occasions otherwise it's on carpet. I do get sucked into buying things just because it is on sale, but I am getting better. Gr8 tips and we're illustrating quality vs quantity. BTW, I own a ton of eveningwear like you…guess what? To put it to use, they're getting featured on my blog! 😀

  • Sarah M.
    July 30, 2011 at 3:13 am

    This is one of the best financial advice posts on a blog I've ever seen. I especially agree with the post about taking care of your luxury goods – I only have a few pairs of Miu Miu shoes, but I've had them all re-soled, elastic changed, professionally cleaned, etc. because I want them to last for years to come given how much money I spent on them!

    Another one of my tips is take advantage of a sister/mom/aunt/grandma/good friend who is of a similar size and fashion mindset as yourself. My mom and I are a half size different in shoes and she has a fantastic collection of Ferragamo and Prada shoes that I take advantage of whenever I'm home 🙂

    xx from Montreal,


  • Make Mommy Chic
    July 30, 2011 at 3:22 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. You have just justified my recent (and only) Chanel bag purchase 🙂 I find that it's all the about the quantity/quality debate, would I rather have 20 tops and bottoms that I bought because they were on sale and never wear or have 5 high quality items that are timeless and will last at least a decade? I choose the latter. Thanks so much for the post 🙂

  • Katie
    July 30, 2011 at 3:37 am

    some great tips! i've started keeping a list within the last year and it's the best. i feel like i free up brain space

  • Shannyn
    July 30, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Great post! I love the idea of keeping a list of closet needs and actually crossing things off! =p

    That Valentino trench is absolutely stunning!

  • Robots in Trouble
    July 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

    i love you for being thrifty! :] I'm on a budget too… Sometimes I would go near temptations, and my husband would remind me that we're on a budget. And vice versa. Which is good. Oh… and there's a way to replace that small sole thingy for your shoes… I have the same problem. I would get caught in the street. ekks.

    Oh noo… I hope that when you get your Kindle, it will be in good shape and it won't break anymore! Poor thing…

    -Robots in Trouble

  • Fashion Celebration
    July 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    amazing post, thank you!!!


  • Katherine
    July 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you so much for all of these replies everybody – I am LOVING all of these tips – including borrowing from a mom/sister/etc! I totally do that (well I don't have sister but do have a mother)…I need to add that! Although I count that more as just shifting the budgeting responsibility to somebody else lol!!

  • Katherine
    July 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    @Janice Liao Shiao Hi Janice! I go to Master Cobbler 🙂

  • Katherine
    July 30, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    @Marissa Thank you, what a great tip! I never knew that you could replace the entire heel…

  • Anna
    July 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Great tips! I also don't buy everything that's on sale, no matter how cheap or tempting. I only got one top from J. Crew's sale and that was enough, so lord only knows how hard it was to resist.

    One and done!

  • FAB
    July 31, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Love this! Helpful tips…particularly like the one about caring for my items…I lost 23lbs since last year, but some of my bigger clothes are still dear to me, if I get them tailored I don't have to replace them! Love your blog, now following! Thanks for stopping by just fab!

  • Myfashiontake
    July 31, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Clever tips! Will definitely use some here!

  • cryskay
    July 31, 2011 at 6:22 am

    with each visit to your blog, i'm a bigger and bigger fan. i looove the variety of blog posts that you do. i'm always curious to see how other fashionistas budget themselves. great tips! xx

  • suki pooki
    July 31, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Fabulous tips! Omg that 80/20 rule applies to my closet so much Im bowing my head in shame! This often happens when I shop cheap/affordable! I bought a bunch of adorable floral/chiffon like dresses in hk because they were soooo cheap but guess what? Now they just hang there and make my closet look pretty, sure sometimes I'll take them out and wear them…..when I feel like it, on those days I practically have to set up an appointment with myself "suki, you WILL wear that dress you bought last year and haven't worn!" T_T Tis sad! I think keeping a list is a great idea!~

  • Julia Yvette
    July 31, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Great advice. Thanks for visiting and commenting, I'm now following. Hope to see you do the same.


  • Carrie
    August 1, 2011 at 12:29 am

    love the tips!

  • cheryl denise
    August 1, 2011 at 1:07 am

    i love your idea on luxury items – they are made well, so you should be able to wear them over and over again! my thought is, if it's worth buying, then it's worth wearing. don't let it just sit and look pretty in your closet!

    a peek of chic

  • SewPetiteGal
    August 1, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Great blog and great post! The 80/20 principle makes total sense – I should really re-evaluate my closet and simplify things. BTW, I'm also an internet nut – such a great tool for checking on sales / prices 🙂

  • couturecoco
    August 1, 2011 at 8:54 am

    GREAT tips!
    I'm in the middle of my closet audit and my golden rules are:
    1. fit – if it doesn't fit off the rack, I don't buy it anymore because I don't have the time to get things altered and if it's just hanging there, that's just a waste
    2. quality – if it's poor materials and/or make I pass because it's not worth my money no matter no cheap
    3. wearability – I have got to wear it consistently – the piece has to work to get into and stay in my closet!

    August 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    great tips! I agree, resoling the shoes helps a cinch load, also when you buy new shoes make sure there are extra little heel caps in the box. All Loubs bring them in an adorable mini shoe bag inside the box!

    love your blog,

  • Tanya
    August 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Fantastic tips! I'm with you on checking everything online because most of the time you CAN find it for cheaper. It drives me crazy when boyfriend just goes into stores and buy a boatload without checking the internetz first. grr.

  • Susan
    August 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    random question, how much does it cost to re-sole a pair of shoe? i walk a lot and my shoes are always worn out.

    first thing i do is check the sale racks when entering a store. i barely buy things full price since it'll go on sale eventually (learn my lesson on that one). i also love a good deal but also am very picky with the quality. if it is made with man-made fiber, i won't buy no matter how pretty the design is or the fancy label it is from.

  • Cecilia Teh
    December 6, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Great tips!

    I resoled most of my shoes, until recently 2 SAs from different boutiques advised me not to…they claimed that the leather soles of the shoes will not be able to "breath" and mold to your feet.

    I guess there is no right/wrong? It's all a matter of persective and how heartbroken you get when you see the leather soles of your expensive shoes get abused?

    What is your view…

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