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  • Writer's pictureLouise Jade

10 Tips To Creating a Stylish Wardrobe On A Budget

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

As I’m sure many of you are aware (and can relate to), when you know you look great; you also feel great on the inside too. Although you’re likely wondering how can I look amazing when I don’t have an endless money pot to spend on clothes?

A set of clothes forming a stylish, budget friendly wardrobe capsule; hanging on a freestanding clothing rail


Well to be honest…the whole you have to spend a lot to look great is a myth. A stylish wardrobe can be achieved on a budget with some smart planning. The trick is to know how to achieve this…

So, here are some great ways that you can create a stylish, yet budget friendly wardrobe that won’t cost you a fortune:

A woman looking sideways from the camera, examining the clothes hung from her wardrobes clothing rail


One: Take Stock of Your Existing Wardrobe:

Can you relate to not knowing what’s in your wardrobe?

If so, before you begin to budget and shop for any new clothes, it’s a good idea to de-clutter your existing wardrobe. This can be done by assessing which items:

  • You would like to keep

  • You would prefer to donate or sell

  • Are past their use by date and should be binned (i.e. those that are stained, faded, torn, out of date etc)

Once you know what’s in your wardrobe, make a list of what you own, before you start to think about what “gaps” are currently present and need to be filled.

Two women looking sideways; one a tailor helping the other woman to try on her mended jacket


Two: Upcycle Your Clothes:

Do you have clothes that could be given a new lease of life with some simple alterations, such as adding a button or re-enforcing a seam or hem?

Make a separate pile (in a laundry basket) of items that need fixing. If you’re great with a needle and thread, then feel free to have a go at mending and altering your clothes yourself. If not, then it might be worth finding a local tailor local who can upcycle your clothes for you, at an affordable price.

A woman surrounded by cardboard boxes; looking down packaging a jumper in tissue paper to sell


Three: Sell Clothes That You No Longer Want or Need:

If you have existing clothes that you know deep down you will never wear again or aren’t right for you and your lifestyle anymore, then consider selling some of these items through your own network, online or through a reputable app. This would not only help you to clear space in your wardrobe, but provide you with funds towards your new wardrobe.

Alternatively if you would prefer, you can donate clothes you no longer want or need to a local charity shop.

A set of clothes, bags and shoes arranged into a smart wardrobe capsule on a freestanding clothing rail


Four: Create Wardrobe Capsules:

A cost effective way of organising and building a budget friendly wardrobe, is by creating wardrobe capsules. Just to clarify, a wardrobe capsule is a set of clothes and accessories that can be mixed and matched to create several different outfits.

Capsules are not only great for making the most of limited wardrobe spaces and creating stylish outfits with ease; but help you to build a versatile wardrobe without spending lots of money.

The key is to choose clothes and accessories that can be easily coordinated with each other, so that you can create many different outfits, from the least number of items possible. Think 30 potential outfits from 10 to 12 items!

Common ways of organising your wardrobe into capsules include:

  • Grouping clothing items together (i.e. placing skirts together, dresses together, trousers together etc)

  • By colour

  • By season (i.e. arranging your wardrobe into halves; one for your spring and summer clothing and the other side for your fall and winter clothes)

  • By hem length (i.e. placing longer garments like coats and dresses at the end of your rail, with shorter items like tops and skirts in the middle)

  • By lifestyle – this one is my favourite, since it ensures that you have outfits suitable for many occasions (think smart casual, casual, work, formalwear etc), without the costly expense.

Tip: to create a capsule that is easy to coordinate, first create a base by adding neutral coloured items (such as a pair of trousers, a coat, a pair of shoes and a handbag) to your capsule. Then, add coloured tops, scarves and jewellery pieces that can be mixed and matched to create several different outfits.

A woman sitting down, looking away from the camera, with her phone, a notepad and a pen, ready to budget


Five: Set Your Budget:

To ensure that you allocate and spend money on building your wardrobe in a more controlled way (without overspending), set yourself a budget, before hitting the shops.

If you allocate yourself a set amount of money beforehand (whether that’s £100, £250 – your choice) and remain strict when shopping, then there is no reason why you can’t build a stylish wardrobe, without breaking the bank.

Tip: if you find budgeting difficult, take out and only pay for wardrobe related purchases with cash only, so that you can keep tabs on what you’ve spent and what you still have available. It can be so easy to lose track of this when paying by card alone.

A woman with manicured nails, writing a clothing shopping list in a notebook


Six: Create a Shopping Plan:

Similar to setting a budget, producing a shopping plan before your trip will help you to make more informed purchases and reduce the urge to waste money on impulse buying random items that you would unlikely wear (and if so, probably the one time).

Think back to what clothes and accessories your wardrobe lacks (but would benefit from owning) and write these items on your plan. It is also worth considering which of your existing items can be used to form a wardrobe capsule and whether this particular capsule needs one or two items to complete it – if so, add these to your list too.

Most importantly, make a note on your shopping plan of items that you definitely don’t need, as this will help you to not waste your money on clothes that you wardrobe doesn’t need.

Two wardrobe staples: a pair of dark denim jeans folded on top of a white woollen jumper


Seven: Prioritise Wardrobe Staples:

Before adding other, more unique pieces to your wardrobe, I would recommend starting with basic wardrobe staple items (if you haven’t already got them), since these will provide the foundation building blocks for many of your wardrobe’s capsules.

Here are ten timeless wardrobe essentials that I would recommend for every wardrobe:

  1. A classic black dress

  2. A trench coat

  3. A pair of black trousers

  4. A tailored white shirt

  5. A pair of jeans (note: boot-cut jeans are universally flattering for all body types)

  6. A good quality sweater

  7. A skirt

  8. A day dress

  9. A classic blazer

  10. Leisure wear – think comfy trousers, camisole tops and t-shirts

Tip: always try on items before purchasing, to check for fit and whether it suits your body shape, style and complexion.

The right half of a woman wearing a neutral colour outfit: a beige blazer and trousers and white camisole top


Eight: Choose Neutral Colours For Your Base Items:

Neutral colours (think, black, navy, grey, cream, white, tan, brown and beige) are versatile and coordinate with almost any other colour. So, to get the most out of your wardrobe, purchase a neutral coloured coat, blazer, pair of trousers and a skirt, since these can be easily coordinated with your other clothes, to create many outfit combinations.

A front view of a clothing rail full of brightly coloured, staple t-shirts hung on hangers


Nine: Buy Staple Items in Different Colours:

If you find an item like a camisole top, t-shirt or cardigan that you like, then feel free to buy it in several different colours. This practice will help to add some variety to your wardrobe and can be adapted for different seasons and occasions by simply changing the accessories you choose to style the outfit with.

A woman looking away and posing, wearing a high quality cream top, tan woollen skirt and holding a black handbag


Ten: Choose Quality Over Quantity:

Just because you’re looking to build a wardrobe on a budget, doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on quality. Even though it can be tempting to buy the cheapest clothes you can find; where possible, purchase less higher quality items (over many low quality clothes), since these will last longer and wear much better.

To find quality clothing without the price tag, look at the reduced sections on online retailers and the sales sections if shopping in-store, to find some good bargains on items that are just going out of season. It is particularly worth looking for timeless wardrobe staple pieces that rarely go out of style.

Also consider shopping in second hand and vintage stores, as well as charity shops, since you will likely find good high street brands (sometimes even designer) items for a lot less than the asking retail price.

To Finish…

Building a stylish wardrobe full of clothes is essentially an investment that can help you to look and feel great about yourself; without spending a fortune. Fortunately, with the right planning and shopping know-how, you can make some informed and smart decisions that will allow you to spend your money more wisely, without compromising on your style.



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