How to Shop for New Clothes Without the Pain of Over Spending

Eileen Fisher Alpaca Wool Coat

Eileen Fisher Alpaca Wool Coat

The Problem

That gorgeous Eileen Fisher Alpaca Wool Coat in sparkling white calls to you. At last, the perfect classic coat you can wear all winter (blending in with the snow!). You hesitate for a moment, afraid to turn over the price tag. There it is, $648.00. You can justify it if you figure out the cost per wear, but in the mean time, those new snow tires will have to wait…

Understandably, we all want new things for the upcoming season. Stores know how to amp up your appetite for buying expensive items with mood music, helpful salespeople and of course, fully outfitted manikins. Not everyone’s budget allows for the purchase of a new wool coat every year. So how can you keep your wardrobe fresh and exciting without spinning into debt?

Some Solutions

I’ve got some ways to perk up your wardrobe without wallet-busting mall shopping:

1. Host a Clothing Swap Party at the beginning of the season and invite girlfriends. It’s a great friend/social gathering, and even if your girlfriends aren’t even close to wearing the same clothing sizes, they can bring their cast-off scarves, boots, jewelry, purses, hats, gloves, etc. Everyone brings an appetizer, you serve the refreshments, and you all get to “shop” for free! It’s ideal if you have some folding tables and a portable clothing rack to display all the items, but I’ve hosted parties where we simply laid all the clothes on the furniture. You will be amazed at the nearly new items everyone has in their closets that are just waiting to be shared.

2. Set up a “personal shopper” appointment with a girlfriend whose taste level you trust. Ask her to come to your house and spend the evening going through your clothes, shoes and jewelry, and put together five new outfits for you. It’s a thrill to see how someone else views your closet and creates outfits you never imagined. As a stylist, I do this at every style appointment, and my clients are very happy with the results. It’s like shopping in your closet without spending a dime!

3. Consignment and thrift stores. I’m a huge fan. If you’re squeamish about buying “used” clothing, I would like to remind you that the dress you bought at Nordstrom was tried on plenty of times by strangers before you brought it home. Consignment offers shoppers a way to stretch their dollar by purchasing previously owned clothes at a fraction of department store prices. I also like to think of it as environmentally responsible to recycle clothing. The only disadvantage of consignment and thrift store shopping is that there is only one size – either it fits or it doesn’t. But there is such variety in these stores that you’re surely to find a treasure!

What ideas do you have to reinvigorate your wardrobe each season without busting your wallet? Share your thoughts by clicking on the word “Comments” below.

2017-09-23T12:56:12+00:00 September 1st, 2015|5 Comments


  1. Linda Waldon August 8, 2016 at 8:08 am

    WHA-THE-F@@@ girlfriend!! Your J. Crew article is HILARIOUS! And so right on. I’m telling you, these designer lines go up and down over the years, with crazy trends and colors and cheap quality, all over the place. That’s why I tell my style clients to pick and choose carefully, and be willing to sit out some fashion years. I find most of us have more than enough clothes to get us through a few seasons without buying anything new, if we had to.

    I am with you sista, regarding Eileen Fisher. I can’t wear most Eileen Fisher styles. The clothes overtake my body frame. Sounds like you love your curves, and you want and SHOULD show them off! Now I do find that if you’re into skinny jeans or leggings, you can find gorgeous Eileen tunics that could work. Her line is all about comfort and quality fabrics. That was really my point. I find the older I get the less I want to squeeze into tight jeans (even though they look kick ass on my long legs) and tight tops, and appreciate more luxurious fabrics flowing over my body. However, you will see me most days sporting a skinny jean with a colorful tee shirt and some kind of jacket or layering sweater on top. I live on the California Central Coast, where even in summer, you’ll get a cool ocean breeze. I know…

    LOVE YOU CATHERINE! Thanks for sharing your fantastic article. I’m a huge fan. xoxoxo

  2. Cathe August 6, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I’m not much for thrift shops. Mostly because there are no good ones where I live. When I lived in New Jersey, I used to hit the Red, White, and Blue store in Hamilton because all the Princeton women donated half their closets and I would purchase great stuff with the tags still on!
    Now–I shop sales. I never pay full price. And I pretty much have my basics on hand. I’m not a fussy dresser and I don’t like a lot of accessories. For me, the hoop earrings and a watch will suffice. I love my J. Crew Schoolboy (now discontinued) blazers and the Regent blazer. (My love/hate relationship with J. Crew is never-ending:

    I know Eileen Fisher gets lotsa love from women my age (61) but I’m not a fan. I like a more fitted look that shows off my curves–and I got ’em. Fisher’s clothing just looks to boxy on me–but on others the clothes look great. It’s all about what makes you comfortable and what looks great on you!

    This is a great post!

  3. Kelly Rudolph September 15, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Linda, thanks for the great ideas!

    I do love shopping at thrift stores. I have found many designer pieces for ridiculously low prices and other clothes with the original tag still on them.

    Your idea of having a friend with good style sense come over is a fun one. I tend to dress pretty casually and know I’ll be more inclined to date and go out more with a new, fun wardrobe even if it’s created from my current closet offerings. 🙂

  4. Linda Waldon September 5, 2015 at 7:34 am

    I’m entering a comment here to let you ladies know that this feature now works properly. Thanks for your patience! Post away!

  5. Susan September 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    I never much liked shopping in thrift stores– but then again, I never liked shopping. Recently I have learned that I CAN do it though, and it seems like such an excellent solution! On a recent road trip, I stopped at a thrift store in Ridgeway, CO and spent $10.03. I got a cute, short-sleeved denim button down vest/shirt, a black 90% cotton/10% silk short sleeved blouse, a colorful and functional web-type cloth belt w/buckle, and a 100% wool gray classic blazer (J. Crew) that fits me perfectly. It feels great to “recycle” the clothing, have some new things that I love, and know that if it turns out I don’t wear something, I can simply re-donate it!

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