My $19,000 Wardrobe Mistake

Learn the solution to this woman's shopping disaster.

In 2014, I had the grand idea to revamp my wardrobe so I’d look the part of the confident, successful corporate account manager I was. I revamped to the tune of $19,000 worth of new designer clothes in one year. Yes, you read that right. It was the biggest money mistake I’ve ever made. This is my story of how adopting a capsule wardrobe saved me thousands.

Let’s get one thing straight about my $19,000 wardrobe mistake: I went into it blindly. I had no plan, no real idea of my personal style and I bought items on an emotional whim, only to take them to consignment several months later, realizing they weren’t “me” or were uncomfortable to wear. Imagine spending that much on designer clothing only to have it sit in your closet with the tags still on, or to be worn once then sent to a consignment shop.

Click to read more about the biggest money mistakes rich people make.

After seeing my mistake in a yearly budget recap, I realized spending $19,000 in one year on clothing was ridiculous. Sure, I was earning good money, but no one needs that many expensive clothes. It’s recommended to spend only 5 percent of your gross monthly income on clothes; I spent 17 times that. Shortly thereafter, I found minimalism and turned to the capsule wardrobe.

A capsule wardrobe is a small selection of quality clothes, curated around your chosen color palette, that reflect your personal style and your lifestyle.

Adopting a Capsule Wardrobe

1. Figure Out Your Personal Style and Color Palette

By sitting down and understanding what I wanted and needed from a wardrobe, I was able to focus my shopping outings. Armed with a list of key pieces, a color palette and knowledge of styles that flattered my skin tone and body type, I was able to curate a practical wardrobe I loved and made me feel confident (and comfortable).

Having guidelines for your wardrobe stops you from buying anything outside of your “rules,” and helps you avoid trendy fast fashion and impulse purchases.

2. Choose Only Quality “Investment” Pieces

One thing I did right in my $19,000 mistake was buying quality garments. They retain their value for consignment and they last longer. Your up-front cost is higher, but in the long run, your return on investment is much better.

If you save up to buy quality now, you’ll save money by not having to replace items every year. I went from buying ill-fitting, cheaply made Gap jeans for $80 to North American made, fit-like-a-glove Citizens of Humanity or Paige jeans for $200. They fit well, last years instead of months and I only own three pairs of jeans instead of eight.

More on Clothes You Should Invest In: 30 Clothing Items Every Working Woman Needs

3. Set Wardrobe Intentions or Goals

By setting guidelines for my wardrobe, I reclaimed my money and time. I was no longer shopping every free moment I had and throwing away money.

Setting guidelines, like the ones below, will free up your time and your money, and let you approach your wardrobe with mindfulness and intention.

  • Buy no more than three pieces per season.
  • Only buy when something is worn and unrepairable.
  • Choose items based on your lifestyle, how they fit and make you feel. Do you feel confident wearing it? Is it comfortable to wear?
  • Purchase only from a select list of ethical, quality designers you love.

Read: How Minimalism Helped One Woman Indulge Her Wanderlust

4. Have Less to Care For

When you curate a small wardrobe of quality items, you have less to care for. If you pay attention to care instructions when buying an item, you can easily avoid wasting time and money on expensive dry cleaning.

And the big bonus? Less time spent doing laundry.

Adopting a capsule wardrobe will save you time and money, and will reduce decision fatigue in the morning when you’re trying to pick out something to wear. For me, it’s curbed my impulse spending and allowed me to be mindful of what I put on my body and spend my hard-earned dollars on.

Click through to read more about how to sell your used clothes online.