smart spending

Curb clothes spending with a shopping diet

Laura de Jong, creator of the Free Fashion Challenge, in which fashion professionals and students stop buying clothes for a year, agrees that finding like-minded people is essential. She recommends swapping parties with friends as a good way to get something new without spending more.

Get creative. "Fashion is not about shopping; it's about creativity and quality," says de Jong, who points toward DIY blogs for great examples of budget-friendly ways to change up your look. "Challenge yourself to come up with a creative solution if you feel the urge to buy something new."

Accessories can be a huge help with this. A black dress paired with a diamond necklace and crystal headband will have a very different look than if you add a cardigan and chunky turquoise earrings.

"Examine your accessories and see how accessories work with existing clothing," Bjornsen says. "You'd be amazed how many outfits you can change up by adding a scarf or belt."

Reorganize your closet. Some people find it helpful to organize by color, while others get the most mileage out of putting all the pants in one place, shirts in another, etc. Whatever scheme makes sense for you, be sure everything is accessible. "We don't wear clothing we can't see," Chivers says. If you have a small space, that might mean taking photos of items that have to be boxed and putting them on the outside of the container so you know what's inside.

Try a wardrobe diet. You may not go a year without shopping, but even a small break can help put into focus your clothing habits, mistakes and hang-ups. De Jong likens it to a vacation. " When you've been away from your daily routine for a while, it's much easier to define what you really want and need in your life," she says. "I think it's the same when you do a shopping sabbatical."

And who knows? It may even transform your outlook -- and shopping habits -- for good. "Now I'm a changed person," Bjornsen says. "I still like clothing, but I'm not obsessed with it like I was."

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