When you look in your closet what do you see? A thoughtfully planned wardrobe, rich with investment items and peppered with those less expensive items that bring in a dash of style, allowing you to get dressed easily and effortlessly every day? Or is it more an assortment of one-hit wonders bought on the clearance rack that doesn’t actually go with anything and have never even been worn. In fact, the price tags are still on many of the items and you cringe every time you see that glaring price in red ink and think of how many lattes or fresh flowers you could have bought for that price (or even the $300 jacket you REALLY wanted).

A closet full of good intentions
Why does this happen? You set off with good intentions but go shopping without any real goal in mind. You drift aimlessly from store to store in search of that ‘perfect something’, even though you have never defined what that is. Oh, you already know that we’d love to have those perfectly tailored camel trousers that could be worn 12 months a year and would go with just about every top in our closet, but they’re $250 and that’s way too much to spend on a pair of pants. So instead, we buy things to satisfy our desire but, like a craving for food, it never really does the trick. So you buy more to fill the void. You’ve overspent (much more than the $250 the perfect pair of pants would have cost) but all you have to show for it is a closet full of sale items that are just ok. Help!

Well, the good news is you’re not alone. In my experience as a style expert, I see it all – the good, the bad and the ugly (so no need to be embarrassed). Most of us don’t grow up knowing how to build a wardrobe (yes, build – not just throw together) so we do the best we can. Trust me, I’ve been there. But instead of carefully planning out our wardrobe we end up with a random assortment of items that may (or in most cases, may not) go together. It can be an exercise in frustration to get dressed. But the worst part is how much money we throw away.

PRO STYLE TIP: “Buy only what you love. If you’re not sure, the answer is NO!”

Here are some tips to help you plan your wardrobe and get the most bang for your buck:

1. Buy only items you truly LOVE and can’t wait to wear. You’ll relish each time you put them on and ensure that you get your money’s worth.

2. Do a cost-per-wear analysis – Figure up how long you might keep an item and how many times you might wear it during that time. For example, if you bought the $250 pair of pants and kept them for 5 years, wearing them 50 times per year, that’s 250 times and comes out to be $1 per wear – a real bargain! Conversely, if you spend $40 on a trendy top that you keep for 1 season and wear 4 times, that’s $10 per wear. Not such a bargain!

3. When you buy something ensure that it goes with at least 3 items you already own (and wear). For core items, they should go with many more.

4. Learn your best colors and styles so you can be assured that you’re buying what’s right for you. This will help you avoid one-hit-wonders, mistakes and wasted cash.

5. Plan your wardrobe. Working with an image consultant can save you valuable time and money. Invest your wardrobe dollars wisely and you’ll reap the return for years to come. Click here for more on how to build a wardrobe building.

6. Clear Out Closet Clutter. Keep your closet organized and free of unworn, worn out, or outdated items. Those ‘monsters’ can hide the treasures hidden in your closet. Click here for more information on closet clarity.

7. Learn the Secret Power of Accessories. Accessories are a fun way to add some fun and pop to an outfit. It’s a great way to show off your style in a way that is unique to you. Depending on your style and personal scale, you’ll want to select the right necklace, bracelet, or scarf.

When approaching your wardrobe I want to encourage you to look at it as an investment – not only financially, but one that will give you benefits for years to come. Shopping wisely isn’t something you’re born knowing how to do but it is a skill you can learn, and quickly at that!

BUYER BEWARE: some items that cost an arm and a leg but are NOT of good quality. Sometimes you’re paying for the name but the garment isn’t any better quality than something you’d get from Target. Know what to look for and be discerning! You’ll be glad you did!

PS. When you ready to go deeper into taking the dress out of getting dressed, you may be interested in the StyleFinder School of Style. It is a great community full of supportive women and each month we tell you what to wear and how to wear it for the season. Membership is limited. Click here to check the status.