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How to build a wardrobe on any budget

By Kemberley Washington ·
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Posted: 2 pm ET

No matter your budget, there are ways to build a wardrobe for a fraction of the normal cost.

A frugal approach doesn't have to mean all your pieces must come from the local thrift shop. Here are some tips for looking like a million bucks while saving money.

Build your foundation

The first step to a good wardrobe is to first build its foundation. Adding pieces that never go out of style helps shape your wardrobe. For both men and women, such staple pieces should include:

  • A classic suit
  • A blazer
  • A pair of jeans
  • Black dress shoes

For women, I would also add a little black dress, and two pairs of pumps: one nude and one black. For men, adding dress and casual shirts can really stretch your wardrobe.

Since these pieces are classic, they can help save money because they can be kept longer, and paired with anything.

Find it on sale

No matter what look you are trying to achieve, search for it on sale so you can stretch your dollar. Do your homework!

One of my favorite clothing apps is Polyvore. If you need a red dress, this app allows you to search by color, brand and cost. Your search can range from dresses as low as $10 to those costing hundreds of dollars.

Such apps allow you to find the perfect dress at the right price for any budget.

Know your limits

Know exactly how much you can or cannot afford. Include a reasonable amount in your clothing budget, and then be careful not to overspend.

Don't forget other pressing financial goals, such as paying down credit-card debt or building your emergency fund. After you have put money in place for these items, add reasonable amounts for building your wardrobe.

Kemberley Washington is a professor at Dillard University in New Orleans and a certified public accountant. Follow her on Twitter at @kemwashcpa.

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