Fashion blogger Kathryn Finney knows how to shop for fashionable looks for less. In 2003, she took her know-how online and started her blog, The Budget Fashionista, teaching consumers how to shop for their favorite clothing and accessory trends in a cost-effective way. Jean talks with Kathryn, author of How to Be a Budget Fashionista
, about her shopping advice and how she became an expert in finding deals.
Kathryn started her blog because of her own love of fashion and lack of cash. "I was spending a lot of money, had a great deal of debt from graduate school as well as credit card debt from trying to keep up with the Joneses," she said. "I love the fact that I'm able to help women accomplish their goals and feel good about themselves without going bankrupt."
Kathryn offers advice on how to shop for fashion on a budget and value the clothing you already have:
- Adhere to the 70/30 rule for your closet. Kathryn says 70 percent of your closet should consist of classic pieces that never go out of style, like a great winter coat, a pair of black pumps or a white collared shirt. The other 30 percent can be be made up of trendy, fun items. She suggests spending less money on the trendy items by shopping at discount stores.
- Replace and repair what you can. For example, if you have shoes that are scuffed at the bottom, take them to a cobbler and get them resoled instead of shopping for a new pair, Kathryn says. The same goes for clothes, she says—have them altered.
- Clean out your closet. "If I haven't worn it in a year, it's time to let it go," she says. Every year, Kathryn has a clothing swap party with her friends. "Everyone brings great pieces from their closet that they no longer want anymore," she says. "It's a great way to add new pieces … to your wardrobe, as well as clean out your wardrobe."
- Calculate the cost per wear. The cost per wear is the price of an item divided by the number of times you think you're going to wear it in a given time period. Kathryn tries to have her cost per wear amount to below $3, because the more it's worn, the more value it has. "It's actually looking at the utility of the clothing," Kathryn says. "It forces you to think in a long-term perspective. It's important that we start to focus more on value and not just on price."
- Know the difference between sale and clearance shopping. Clearance sales are when an item is permanently marked down, and a sale is when something is temporarily marked down. If the sale item is something you would normally buy full price and it's at least 30 percent off, Kathryn says that's a great bargain. If it's something that you're not quite sure about, wait until it goes on clearance.
- Bargain for everything. If there's dirt on something and you're going to have to pay a dry cleaner to clean it, Kathryn says you should ask for an additional discount.
- Budget your holiday shopping. During the holidays, Kathryn puts money on a gift card from her bank and uses it for all her holiday shopping. "Once that budget is gone, it's gone," she says. "It's really forced me to focus on getting the things that I have on my list and making sure that I'm staying within my own means. When I'm finished, I don't have credit card bills in January. I'm able to enjoy the holidays without wondering how I'm going to pay for it."