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How much money do you need for a wardrobe update?

A 4 step strategy for a shopping trip budget.

"Buy less, choose well"

~Vivienne Westwood

One of the most common questions I get asked is

"how much money should I set aside for a wardrobe update?"

The short answer is - "How long is a piece of string?"

But...I know better than to answer a question with a question.

The truth is, it's really up to your budget and needs.

I will give some estimates with real $$$ numbers, but here's how we get to them:

There are some general guidelines to answer your question.

Let me explain.

A good stylist should know how to be resourceful with their client's budget.

I've worked with clients who have had bottomless budgets (imagine never having to look at a price tag...), clients who had $2500 and needed an entire wardrobe including multiple suits, shoes and everything in between, and I've had clients who had a $500 budget for their full top to toe wedding attire. Including the suit. (to put that in perspective, the average suit starts at $1500 and goes up to $3500, with high-end suits anywhere from $7,000 to $30,000 and sometimes more. yes. You heard me right. This is not a typo. So you can imagine a $500 budget required some seriously creative planning on my behalf).

So, it is possible to work with most budgets.

However...

1. "Poor Man Pays Twice". Quality is key.

I cannot stress this enough.

One thing I don't like to compromise on is quality.

There are brands I refuse to shop with for quality and ethical reasons. I won't name and shame but you get what you pay for.

On the other hand, I ain't no brand hoe and I honestly don't care what name the label has on it as long as it's good quality and suits your style, so I don't shop in expensive boutiques just because of the brand. Just to be clear.

I take my clients to stores that suit their style and budget, use good fabrics and the garment construction has integrity.

Elle Lavon styist shopping trip bespoke suit

2. What do you actually need?

A good place to start is a wardrobe audit (This is something I do with most clients). You can do that in a few simple steps, which I explain here. Create a list of what you need based on the gaps you identify.

The top priority is to have quality fundamental items which form the core foundation of your wardrobe.

I call this "The Fundamental Fifteen". These are the fifteen most important items you MUST have in your wardrobe.

this is where we invest.

I don't call it "spending" because having quality pieces that last is an investment. You have more versatility and get more wear out of fewer items when you choose wisely, and you want these to last at least 3 years with fabric and form retaining their integrity, so, this is where we focus on quality.

Next priority is seasonal pieces and "Style Archetype" pieces.

This is where we inject your special style sauce into the mix to make it uniquely you, with pieces that get replaced more often than your fundamentals, according to your style archetype, mood, lifestyle and the seasons.

While quality is important, you can spend less and buy more pieces of reasonable (but never poor) quality, knowing they don't have to last more than a few seasons.

3. Timelines - most of my clients like to knock it all out in one go, but here and there I have budget-conscious clients who like to stagger it out a bit. It's still great to hit the shops either on your own or with a guiding hand (that's me) and explore what's out there for you, and you can chip away over a few trips at it at a pace that suits you and your wallet.

4. Expenses you should keep in mind.

There are some expenses you may not have thought of which you will need to consider since they will keep your items in good condition for longer, again - this is an investment to which I highly recommend setting part of your budget.

I like to set aside a buffer of roughly $300 for these.

  • Tailoring and alterations. Most people don't fit "Off The Rack" and may need small alterations such as hems taken up and others need a lot more, like adjusting waistbands, taking in sideseams of jackets etc. Men with strong thighs may consider having a silk saddle piece put in their suit pants. 
  • Shoe and fabric care. Think about waterproofing and getting heel pieces and topies on the soles of your shoes.
  • Hangers. I encourage all my clients to invest in hangers that will keep their new (and pre-existing) wardrobe investments in good condition. Metal hangers are the devil but that's for another blog.

Long story Short...

The cost of a wardrobe update varies from one person to the next and depends on how much you are prepared to compromise on quality, how well you know your brands and if you love shopping during sales season or at factory outlets, vintage stores or high-end boutiques, but as a rule of thumb -

If you're shopping for quality fundamentals, a few Style Archetype pieces and you're taking alterations into account, you should start with a minimum of $2500 and with some resourcefulness and creative planning, you'll have an entire wardrobe from top to toe - covered.

Fun shopping trip facts

  • Stop. Revive. Survive! Most humans who don't live and breathe fashion hit a wall after 3 hours of shopping. Take a lunch and coffee break at the 3-hour mark to decompress and get ready for the next 3 hours.
  • The one piece I have to push my client out of their comfort zone for ALWAYS ends up being their favourite
  • The most a client ever spent on a shopping trip with me in one day was $42k USD 
  • The quickest entire wardrobe makeover I've ever done took 1.5 hours. (I did scout for it and spent 4-5 hours behind the scenes to prepare so the client spent minimal time in stores!)

Those of you who have already gone on a style journey with me - you know how powerful this is.

Share this content, share the love.

Forward my emails and blogs to other awesome humans who'd get value and enjoyment from them.

With love always

Xx

E.L

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