save money, buy wardrobe essentials (Part 1)

I’m nearly through another personal finance book (great beginner book, easy read). In the reducing spending chapter, the author had a section dedicated to clothing. His advice was to buy classic items and avoid trendy pieces. Obviously, I knew that was good advice (it reminded me of the feeling I got when I was younger and made not-so-good choices and my parents gave me that you-are-guilty look). But hearing it from a professional made me reconsider my own past purchases.  I am trying to reduce my purchases significantly at the moment.

And here are the items that I consider the most classic wardrobe essentials, aka, the best “investment” items for handbags, outerwear, shoes and jewelry.

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Let’s start with one of my favorites: Handbags!!

These can be a real money-sucker for me. I’ve decided to keep as few bags as I’m comfortable with (4), but I think I’m keeping the most useful ones. If you plan on cutting back, consider keeping a:

  • Neutral bag – I love my Celine luggage, although it can get heavy at times. I also love Prada’s saffiano tote that we see everywhere, and Fendi’s chameleon in its stunning taupe or golden beige. In a more reasonable price range, Coach has actually come out with some nice stuff, like the Legacy Rory Satchel.
  • Black bag – Absolutely adore my Fendi Chameleon! Givenchy’s Antigona is my other favorite for black bags. Kate Spade makes an extremely similar version for much much cheaper. I’ve always been impressed with their bags.
  • Bag in your favorite color/ pattern – This is where my Antigona will fall whenever it gets back from the cleaner. Bottega Veneta makes bags with the most amazing saturated leather (if you want to spend four months worth of rent on one gorgeous bag). For logo plus durability, coated canvas bags like Louis Vuitton’s Speedy are a great option (great deal pre-owned if you get it authenticated).
  • Clutch for events – eBay is a great place to search for these! There are so many unique vintage pieces out there waiting to be loved!!

The best handbag investments
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Next we have another favorite: Outerwear

This is obviously important for me, living in a ice-world for 50% of the year.  Its necessary to have a set of 3-season coats as well as a set of winter coats here. These don’t have to be expensive, but they have to be warm and they have to fit (or be tailored!!).

For three season coats I would ideally have the following:

  • Black trench coat – On my wishlist. Perfect for work, weekend or events (classic, on sale). If you have any more affordable versions, do share!
  • Utility jacket – I got this one in charcoal and love it. These keep you nice and warm and are great for weekend wear.
  • Tan/ taupe/ beige trench coat – Again, on my wishlist. Just tried on this Burberry one but am looking for something more affordable. Ideal for work, great for business casual wear.
  • Cargo jacket or anorak – a fun way to add some texture while staying warm. I’m on the lookout!
  • Uniquely colored or shaped jacket – just because!

For winter coats I have a less-is-more approach. Having three or four really nice coats is much better than having 10 semi-warm, semi-flattering ones. The essentials:

  • Black wool coat – Mackage has good ones. I got mine pre-owned for a great deal!
  • Black puffer – For when its really cold, nothing compares. I’ll need a replacement this year and will start looking now (best deals in the summer!)
  • Neutral wool coat – On the wishlist. These give outfits a little more life!
  • Colorful wool coat – Because winter is long and dreary. J. Crew probably has the best colors. We’ll see what they come out with this fall!

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Next up: Shoes!!

I really have a problem with shoes. I’ve bought unusual or colorful shoes without even owning the basics. This means that I always feel like I’m lacking in the shoe department and always end up buying more shoes that I don’t need! And then I sell or get rid of them. Honestly, nobody needs a closet-full of shoes. Its a huge waste. But investing in great basics (and replacing them when needed) will keep you stylish and comfortable. (Perhaps having one pair of “fun” shoes wouldn’t be the end of the world… but its hard to just have one!). I really don’t have any good recommendations. If anyone else does, I’d love to hear! I actually need everything here but a pair of comfy walking flats (Sanuks are the best!). I killed my black Ann Taylor pumps during interviews and have worn out every comfy pair of nude pumps I’ve owned.
shoe essentials {the best investments}
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Last up: Jewelry

I’m guilty of going through fads here. I coveted the YSL artsy ring and big statement necklaces from Amrita Singh. I’ve since sold every piece of big, clunky fashion jewelry I’ve owned. I have kept my simple fine jewelry, though. I don’t have a ton of money, but I’ve actually found excellent deals at TJ Maxx and pre-owned on eBay. These pieces maintain their retail value much better than fashion jewelry and don’t get tarnished/ ruined as easily. The only “fashion” jewelry I’ve bought that I don’t regret is watches. I just can’t justify spending a huge amount of money on a fine watch that I bang around.

[cc_h_line]Thanks for reading part 1! I was going to dive deeper into the wardrobe for part 2, but am still debating what to put in. I know a lot of people have done similar posts. What are your “essentials?”