Ask Natty: 4 Guidelines On When To Splurge & When To Save On Your Style

by Natalie Decleve · March 12, 2012

Dear Natty -

My friends spend a lot on their clothes and they always look great. I make a decent salary, and I love to shop - but I want to be smart about my spending. Do you have any general tips for knowing when to spend and where to save?

Thanks!

The Not-so-Smart Shopper

Dear NSSS -

No matter what your budget, everyone wants to be savvy about their spending. Very often you can get the look for less, but sometimes you will just look less good. Check out my basic guidelines for when it's worth it to splurge, and when to pinch your pennies.

SPLURGE

* Statement Makers

Ever noticed how getting a compliment on something you're wearing suddenly makes the extra money worth it? A chunky cocktail ring will boost your fashion factor, while another pair of simple studs may go unnoticed. A fiercely sexy shoe will take a look from boring to brilliant in a snap, and a bright evening dress will stand out amongst a sea of black. Just make sure your statement piece is something you will actually wear, and that it won't sit in your closet because it doesn't work with your wardrobe.

* Wardrobe Staples

Invest in items that you will wear again and again. For example, a stylish coat that keeps you warm will make you look and feel great every day of winter. One versatile Little Black Dress that you can pull out for a spur-of-the-moment date, or dress up for a cocktail party is essential. My all time favorite splurge; a great handbag is worth it's weight in gold when you realize the impact it has on an outfit. Plus, because you carry a bag so often, the cost-per-wear makes it a worthy splurge.

SAVE

* Trendy Treats

Don't blow your allowance on an item just because you read in a magazine that it's the season's "must have". If you want to experiment with something super trendy, like blue platform shoes or pink silk pants - try an inexpensive version to see how you like it first. Shops like Topshop, H&M and Zara (my favorite) build their business on trends - and they often do them quite well. So, if in a month you decide that crop tops make you feel too much like Barbara Eden in I Dream of Genie - you won't feel so bad knowing that you're only out $19.99.

* Just the Basics

These days, everyone from Old Navy to Dolce & Gabbana makes tank tops and blue jeans. When it comes to basics like these, look around before spending a bundle on a designer version. Gap is one of my favorites for affordable basics like tissue thin layering tees and basic ballet flats, and Urban Outfitters often sells great jeans for under a Benjamin. But don't be fooled by poor quality, or you'll end up spending more in replacements than you would have if you'd purchased a high-end version. Make sure to pay attention to fabric content and fit, and always follow the care instructions to keep your clothes in great shape.

WHERE TO BUY (from photo)

BDG Neon Grazer Jean in Orange $68 at Urban Outfitters

3.1 Philip Lim Mini Pashli Satchel in White $725 at Barneys