Save vs. Splurge: Build a Quality Wardrobe on a Budget

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We've all been there.

 Somewhere in the glossy pages of the latest fashion magazine or displayed delicately at a boutique, we spot it. It's effortless. It's chic. It's the piece de resistance your wardrobe has been missing all these years. 
Then you look at the price tag. 
Your dreams of purchasing that special piece are dashed. No matter how many days you bring lunch to work or brew coffee at home, you'll never save up enough from a few weeks of penny pinching to make that of-the-moment item your own.  
Don't be discouraged, though. A quality, thoughtful wardrobe is accessible on a budget with a strategic approach to wardrobe building. Below, you'll discover the key places to splurge and where to save.  

When to Splurge

The lion's share of your budget should go toward the pieces you wear most often. While "cost per wear" can come off as a fashion lover's rationalization for spending money, there's value in the practice. For example, an ultra-trendy romper purchased for $200 and worn twice comes out to a $100 cost per wear. That's a huge chunk of your budget for an item that didn't get much love. On the other hand, spending $200 on a handbag you reach for three times a week only comes out to $1.28 per wear. That's the better investment for your dollar. 
You'll also want to spend more on these often-worn items because they are more likely to withstand the stress of regular use. A higher price tag doesn't always mean better quality, but it usually does. Be sure to read product reviews and scour blogs to find testimonials about an item or brand. 
The right splurge for you is dependent on your lifestyle. If you live in a warm-weather climate, then a wool coat that someone in a northern area would splurge on isn't for you. Use the guidelines below as inspiration for creating your own splurge list.  
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Outerwear

 No matter where you live, you need a quality piece of  outerwear. It either needs to keep you warm or dry (often both) and a budget find isn't going to make the cut. Choose a coat that's best for your climate and invest in a classic piece you'll wear for years, like a camel or black wool coat, a trench, or a preppy peacoat.
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Denim

Many of us reach for  a pair of jeans on a daily basis. Spend more to find the perfect pair in a dark wash that fits you like a glove and doesn't get stretched out during the day. 
Not a denim darling? Look for black pants or an a-line skirt. The key is to find a versatile bottom piece that you can wear with many different tops.
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Shoes

Life is too short for cheap shoes! Synthetic materials, thin soles, and shoddy stitching should be reasons enough to keep you far away from budget shoes. Your shoes take quite a beating outside and while you might be tempted by the trendy styles of cheaper pairs, expensive shoes are made to withstand that kind of wear. I know this can be an even greater splurge than a coat or a pair of jeans, so I'd recommend an eBay saved search for brands you have your eye on. My favourite flats are Ferragamo Varina flats. They hold up beautifully. Keep an eye on the sole and take them -- or any shoe -- to a cobbler when it starts to look worn. The key is to keep these babies around as long as possible. 
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Handbags

A beautiful  leather handbag elevates a budget outfit like nothing else. Splurge on a classic shape in a neutral colour and you'll reach for it again and again.  

When to Save

The most stylish women know how to mix those high-end purchases with budget finds. Think of the "save" column as the icing on the cake. These are the updated, trendy items that might not capture your fancy for more than a season and that's okay. However, this is precisely why only a small portion of your budget should be dedicated to these pieces. It goes back to that cost per wear. Spending $50 on a sundress you wear once a week for the summer will run you around $4 per wear June through August -- much easier to stomach than a higher priced version.  
A word of advice: For any of the items below, do a quick eBay search for the brand name of your choice. You might be surprised to find a designer item for the same price as a mall brand.  
Here are a few areas where you can save this spring and summer:
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Tops

Most people won't notice if you wear the same pair of pants or jeans every day, but they will notice if you have your favourite  blouse on repeat. Stock up on on-trend pieces with pretty patterns or updated silhouettes (like an  off-the-shoulder top) to keep your wardrobe fresh. 
You can also save on classic pieces in the off-season. Spring and summer are perfect times to scour sales for sweaters. 
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Sundresses

Gauzy little  sundresses shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. Few are tailored, so an inflated price tag doesn't make sense for an oversize, flowing fit. Besides, your tastes will likely change next year, so you'll be glad you went the cheap route. 
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Costume Jewellery

If you're going to drop a lot of money on a piece of jewellery, it better be the real deal. When you want to make a statement, go costume. Expand your search to include  vintage jewellery to find a unique piece on a budget. 
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Swimwear

 Soon we'll all be daydreaming about sunny escapes. Those lucky enough to be headed to a seaside location should save on  swimwear. A bathing suit will get sandy and salty in the ocean, or full of chlorine in the pool. The same goes for your cover-up. Save your dollars for items you'll wear away from the surf.

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Written by: bedknobsandbaubles
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