How to prepare for fall on a budget

August starts next week. This means the rain season for Alaska and only six weeks until the first flurries fly. It also means thinking about what to wear in fall. The vacation just has left its tracks on the credit card. This time of the year, you are happy when all your mail is just ads. 😉

Despite the low tide in your wallet, you better start planning your fall wardrobe now. It pays off big time – style wise and budget wise.

Start building your fall wardrobe early, when you are on a budget. Click To Tweet
C#fashionover40 #fashionover50 summer work outfit mixing stripes and flora
Side view of work outfit of Jones New York striped cardigan with Brooks Brother sweater, Loft floral print skirt, Kate Moss for Longchamp satchel, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Dr. Scholl wedges (all own), and sunglasses c/o Shop Glasses

Take stock to know what you need

Set four hours aside to identify what you need. Get six trash bags and label them tailor, dry cleaner, charity, consignment, cobbler, and trash. In addition, have the laundry basket handy for clothes that need ironing. Next, pull last seasons items out of the storage and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I remember when I wore it the last time? If no, put the item into the consignment or charity bag. Look at the next item and ask the same question. If you remember, go to the next question.
  2. Did I wear it often last in the last season and felt awesome? If so, go to the next question. Otherwise put the item in the charity or trash bag, whatever feels appropriate.
  3. Is the item in pristine order? If yes, go to the next question. If not, can it be fixed and is it worth the effort/costs? If yes, put it into the bag labeled tailor, and into trash or charity otherwise – whatever of the two feels most appropriate.
  4. Do I still love it? If not, give it to charity.
  5. Does it fit? If not, can it be tailored and is it worth the effort/price? If not, give it to charity.
  6. Is it dated, i.e. last season’s must-have? If yes, put it into trash.
  7. Does it need dry cleaning? If yes, put it into the dry clear bag, otherwise it goes directly into your closet.

Make sure you put the trash bag away immediately after you are done going thru the clothes to protect yourself from taking items out again.

#fashionover40 #fashionover50 fall work outfit with mixing stripes and floral pattern
Front view of work outfit with Jones New York striped cardigan with Brooks Brother sweater, Loft floral print skirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, statement necklace, Kate Moss for Longchamp satchel (all own), sunglasses c/o Shop Glasses, and own Dr. Scholl wedges

When on a budget buy only what’s missing

Now look at your keepers that you put back into your closet. Ask yourself what is missing. Write the items down on a list that you always carry with you. It is best to store them on your cell phone. Here is how you can narrow your needs down:

  • Would I need more color in my wardrobe?
  • Are there enough neutrals?
  • Is there a wardrobe basic (e.g., blazer, coat, jacket) missing?
  • What items would update my wardrobe?
  • What did I miss last fall and would I miss it this fall too?
  • Do I have enough work clothes/weekend clothes?

Now add estimates of the items’ costs on the list of missing items. Add up the numbers and re-adjust the prices until you stay within your budget. Next prioritize the items on your shopping list.

When on a budget shop for the most needed item first

Start shopping for the item with the highest priority on your list. Only shop for one item at a time. This way you can concentrate on price comparison and getting a good deal. However, if you see an item that is on your list and you still like it the next day go buy it the next day if it fits you and is a perfect addition to your wardrobe. Work down the list and cross off items you bought already. When you got an item cheaper than expected, you can re-adjust the upper price limit for the items left on the list or spend it on something you like to have, but would not need.

Shoes can make or break an outfit. Click To Tweet

Thus, when you wear an average shoe size or you have a hard time to get your size, you want to get ahead of the curve to still have the pick at the litter. Take a look at your shoes from last fall and winter. Identify the type you have to replace, what you want to toss because it was last year’s trend, or because it is not so you anymore, and identify the shoes that need an appointment with the cobbler. Bring the latter to the cobbler on your next trip to the mall so you have them ready when you need them.

If the shoes you have to replace are your go-to workhorse, you want to splurge on them. If they are the trendy item from last season, ask yourself which of the many new trends is the most you and fits your style. Think about how much a trend is worth to you, how often you will wear them. Your experience with last year’s trendy item is a good first guess. Then set an upper limit for your trend shoes. A good ballpark is not more than $1 per wear.

Browse at the mall or on the internet for the shoes you need. Take photos and notes where you saw them. Ask how many exist in your size and whether the store would hold them for you for 24 hours. In case of online shopping, bookmark them. Once you have an idea what is out there make up your mind about what is most important for you. If you are replacing your go-to every day shoes get the most useful pair for your style and highest quality you can afford.

#accessories outfit details
Zoom-in on Kate Moss for Longchamp bag, statement necklace, Tissot stone watch, Loft floral print skirt, Jones New York cardigan, star sapphire ring (all own) to show details

Accessories must be up-to-date

Take your accessories out of the basket, drawer, shelf or wherever you keep them. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is it still in good conditions? Look for knots on scarves, and hats, and wear marks on leather gloves, etc.
  2. Do I remember when I last wore this?
  3. Do I still like it?
  4. Does it look dated?
  5. Does it match with the outerwear wardrobe that you built for this fall?
  6. Does it need cleaning?

Get rid of all items that get a no on any of the above questions. Give them to charity if the only reason for tossing is that they don’t match your style anymore or you don’t like them anymore, but the items are still in good conditions. Sell it if it was a high price item.

Now you should be left with what you’ll keep. Identify what is missing. Ask yourself:

  1. What pop of color or neutral would update my fall wardrobe?
  2. Is there a fall accessory trend that would up your wardrobe from great to awesome without breaking the bank/budget?

Create the shopping list to get what is needed. Don’t forget about DIY. Hats and scarfs are easy to make and it is often cheaper to knit or crochet than find the perfect accessories. Another plus and style factor, DIY scarfs and hats are unique and hence so you.

Don’t forget to drop off the donations, consignment bag and to clean what needs to be cleaned. Stick to your list when shopping and assign time for the DIY project(s).

#fashionover40 #fashionover50 fall work outfit with cardigan and floral skirt
Jones New York striped cardigan with Brooks Brother sweater, statement necklace, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Loft floral print skirt, Kate Moss for Longchamp satchel, and Liz Clairborne pumps (all owen), and glasses c/o

Mixing stripes and florals

In today’s OOTD, I mixed stripes and floral pattern. The navy blue and white tie the outfit together. The wedges’ tan and the tan of the bag help in getting a polished summer work outfit.

Do you like to mix prints and pattern? How do do do it? Let me know and send me an email.

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Photos: G. Kramm

© 2013-2019 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved