Pretty young woman is lying and relaxing in her apartment. She is holding a cup of coffee and laughing. The lady is putting legs on the desk - for blog 'How To Look Good For Less'

I know I have a reputation.

I don’t mean in the Scarlet O’Hara sense, but, I know I have a reputation for loving shopping and spending too much money on clothes.

In many ways, I play up to this reputation. That’s partly because I’m very comfortable with it. After all, there are worse things to be famous for, eh? And, it’s partly because I’m self-aware enough to know that my mission is not ‘to spend as much money on clothes as possible’. Rather, it’s to ‘make sound investment choices, in the style of Warren Buffett, and the like.

This may seem an ambitious objective, given my lack of financial acumen, but it’s intrinsically linked to one of my key values. And, I think it’s time we all recognise that we have different values in life.

For me, feeling comfortable in my clothes (and skin) and knowing that I am representing myself on the outside as I feel on the inside is near the top of my personal values list. Maintaining this feeling fuels my confidence. When I feel confident I’m able to achieve my goals in life. Achieving my goals makes me happy. Feeling happy and fulfilled enables me to create a loving and stable home for my family (another important value for me).

Although I have a reputation for doing LOTS of shopping, it’s not totally accurate. My recipe for wardrobe stocking is buying fewer, more expensive garments that I know will last. If I have a jam-packed wardrobe (I do) it’s because some of my clothes are ANCIENT!

But, I’ve noticed that many of my female friends and lots of my clients find it incredibly difficult to invest in good quality clothes. It’s not the availability of money, they have it. Instead they spend it on other things like expensive holidays or personal development, or cars. They’d rather buy an outfit at cut price that doesn’t look as good, and will need replacing next season than buy the quality pieces that work well for years.

Is this because they are super confident and happy already and they just don’t have that need that I have to look their absolute best?

Or, is it because they just don’t feel they qualify as a worthy project for investment?  A common problem for women is that we don’t value ourselves highly enough. Women tend to put their own needs last – I wrote about that here.

There is nothing wrong with buying on a budget, but it does make life harder – every season just about everything needs replacing because it hasn’t worn well. If you find shopping for clothes difficult then you’ll be repeating the same angst over and over as you constantly need new stuff.

I’m a firm believer that you can look fab in less expensive clothes – and terrible in expensive clothes, if they aren’t right for your colour, shape and style – but after a few wears and washes you may find they look less than gorgeous and only ready for the recycling bin.

My advice is to spend as much as you can afford on cornerstone pieces – coats, jackets, skirts, trousers, and handbags – then update your look each season with tops, shirts, blouses and accessories from cheaper brands.

You may have scoffed earlier when I compared myself to Warren Buffett, but I do, in fact, have an investment policy. I stick to the Cost Per Wear Principle.

People often spend a fortune on outfits for one-time events such as a Christmas party or a wedding. Let’s say you spend £150 on this outfit (I know many spend far more than this!). You most likely only wear it once, so the Cost Per Wear (CPW) is £150. If you do manage to get a second use out of the garment, then the CPW would be £75.

However, the clothes that we tend to wear every day, such as jeans, jumpers, trousers etc, get laundered regularly and used a lot. They need to stand up to a lot of wear and tear to stay looking good, so when you scrimp on these it’s a false economy.

How about spending more on every day pieces that will last well? Say you spend £150 on a pair of designer jeans that are as comfortable as leggings and last you for years. If you wear them 3 times a week for 2 years the CPW is a tiny 48p!

If you have something that you love, with a very high CPW make a plan to wear it again. If you can get the CPW low enough you’ll soon be wearing ‘free’ clothes!

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