Where to Splurge, Spend and Save in Your Wardrobe

I’ve always hesitated to jump into the conversation around budget because it’s so subjective and personal. Back when I worked with private clients, it was important for us to understand not only what they could afford but what they were comfortable spending, because those are two very different things.

The most challenging part of our job was getting the client everything she needed, while keeping in her budget, and selecting quality merchandise.

Before you make any purchases decide on your budget. Setting a guideline helps you make better, more efficient choices. Think of your budget in it’s totality, even if, like most people you spread out your purchases across weeks, months or even seasons.

A few of things to remember before we dive into today’s post.

First, understand that everyone has different parameters. For some, $150 on a pair of jeans is no big deal; others would never consider it. Please don’t judge people on what they spend. 

Second, within the scope of this site, I put a tremendous amount of effort into curating a wide range of prices across all of our content, so there is something for everyone. This is by no means a “budget” blog. I’ve learned over the years that most women spend in some places, and save in others, so I try to make our content a reflection of that. 

Finally, I would NEVER tell someone an exact number to spend per season, nor would I promote a specific percentage of your income.  Some seasons you might not need to buy much, others you may feel like you are starting from scratch. I was very pregnant this time last year, and the year before I didn’t buy much, so this season I feel like I am replacing a lot of basics, and adding some updated pieces.  What you need will vary season to season, so your spend will as well. 

For today’s post, I want to get into how to portion out your budget once you decide how much you are willing to spend. By now, you’ve heard countless tips and advice on where to spend vs. where to save. I learned, however, over the years, that many people need a splurge category too.

Where to Splurge, Spend and Save in Your Wardrobe

Where to Spend, Splurge, and Save in Your Wardrobe


What is a splurge? A splurge is perhaps a once a year purchase. It’s not something you buy all the time and not part of your regular shopping budget.  It could be something you’ve saved for, or you’re receiving as a gift.

For years, clients would ask for guidance on a splurge.  Typically, it was around a milestone, like a big birthday, graduation, promotion, or simply a single investment item they felt like the “earned”.  Even today I get dozens of emails looking for guidance around a splurge-worthy bag, piece of jewelry or article of clothing, and it’s so fun to hear what everyone is eyeing.

When you are deciding on a splurge, first and foremost, make sure it’s something you adore. Next, keep it timeless. Instead of putting your money into the latest “it” bag, or a trendy jacket, opt for something iconic.

My very first splurge was a Louis Vuitton Speedy. My husband gave it to me over a decade ago. I still love it and carry it.

A few years later I bought a Burberry Trench at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale.  They are still two of my favorite things, hold sentimental value and are something I’ll hand down to my girls when they get older.  (They’ve already started call dibs on certain things.)

Finally, be sure it’s something you will use every day or almost every day. You’ll get the most out of your money (think the price per wear formula), AND you’ll elevate your look. When you can add an element like a splurge in your outfit, you make all the other pieces look a little bit better.

Whatever you do, don’t let your splurge sit collecting dust in your closet.

A few ideas to splurge on from what clients considered over the years (Remember these are “splurges” for a reason): 

  1. Burberry Trench or Canada Goose Coat.
  2. A gorgeous winter coat, like this one by Max Mara.
  3. A designer bag in a neutral color, understated logo and little hardware. This one by Chloe lives on my wish list
  4. Jewelry that you will wear every day, like diamond studs, a watch or a ring.
  5. Hermes scarf or Gucci Belt
  6. Designer Sunglasses (if you won’t loose them!)


Your spend category differs slightly from your splurge category. While a splurge might be considered decadent, your spend pieces will focus on your specific wardrobe building basics.  These pieces will be different for everyone.

Related: Follow along with our 4 Weeks to a Better Wardrobe Series.

The best way to determine where to spend is to think of two things:  frequency of use, and fit needs.

Frequency of Use

What are those pieces you incorporate in many or all of your outfits? What do you live in? Maybe it’s a pair of tailored pants for work or yoga pants for regular trips to the gym.  The more you wear it, the more you need to care for it, and better quality should hold up for a longer amount of time. If an item is in your regular rotation, spend a little more.

Fit Needs

Next, where do you have the greatest fit challenges? Generally speaking, the better the quality, the better the fit, and the more you have to spend. You’ll also want to allocate a bit of your budget to alterations.  I’ve found that setting aside 10% gives you enough to take care of the essentials.

Try to buy the best quality you can afford. “Spending” means you allocate more of your budget to your core pieces.

Below are some categories to consider spending more on:

  1. Bras in “your nude,” sports bras and underwear. Our guide to undergarments is a helpful place to start
  2. Denim (if you wear frequently.) Check out our picks for the best jeans at every price, style and size
  3. Blazers and suit coats.
  4. Classic shoes like boots and pumps in neutral colors.
  5. Core pieces including sheath dresses, pants, or skirts.
  6. Outerwear in a timeless cut and with long lasting functionality.


Spend the least amount of money on the pieces you either won’t wear frequently, will be used as a layer, or would be considered “disposable.”

Below are some categories to save:

  1. Special occasion and evening dresses and separates. Buy on sale or use Rent the Runway.
  2. Tanks, tees and basic tops.
  3. Sweats, hoodies and loungewear. 
  4. Certain sweaters, specifically if you live in warmer climates.
  5. Printed or bold pieces, including blouses, shells, skirts.
  6. Trendy items such as jewelry, accessories, novelty shoes and colored denim.

By following these tips, and mixing these pieces together you will achieve a well-composed outfit, have a functional wardrobe and, get the most out of your budget. 


Let us know below!

Do you have an eye on a splurge?

Where do you spend and where do you save?


7 Must Have Pieces for Spring That Won’t Break Your Budget

On the east coast, spring is by far our shortest season. Sometimes the winter, like this year, lasts forever, and then it feels summertime hot sooner than it should. It makes the window for spring retail small. When you’re picking up items for the season, you want versatile pieces that will make an impact and not break the bank.

I thought it would be helpful to round up a few items that will breathe new life into what may already be hanging in your closet so you can look fresh and modern this spring, without having to buy a whole new wardrobe.

7 Must Haves for Spring That Won't Break Your BudgetWhite Jeans, $64  |  Denim Jacket, $79  |  Bangle, $25  |  Dress, $69  |  Sunglasses, $19  |  Satchel, $57  |  Palm Heels, $80

White Jeans

There is something about a white jean that makes everything look better.  For an affordable option, give these Articles of Society jeans a try.  They go up to a size 18 and have incredible stretch. If you like the look of skinny but need a straight leg, I like NYDJ’s Marilyn Straight leg.

Bold Print Shoes

When your wardrobe is filled with basics and neutrals, getting dressed is easy, but can start to feel redundant.  That’s why fun accessories are so important.  They add a pop of personality and help jazz up a flat outfit.  When I saw these palm print pumps, I immediately envisioned them with white jeans and a chambray shirt, or your go-to dark jeans and a crisp white blouse, or a simple cotton sundress.

Blush Bag

Blush continues to be a trend-right color, but I wouldn’t spend too much to bring it into your wardrobe mix. I often look to Sole Society for inexpensive options and this satchel is just right. Wear it as a neutral with a gold or nude-for-you pump and head to the office or a weekend brunch.

Denim Jacket

I truly believe everyone should own a denim jacket, like this one from KUT.  I wear mine all the time with everything from leggings to dresses.  If you think your outfit could use a cardigan, opt for a denim jacket instead for a modern and casual look.

Tee Shirt Dress

On days when you just want to throw on and go you want a tee shirt dress.  Karen Kane makes the best, most affordable dresses that are designed to throw on and go.  Pair with a long necklace and these sandals and you’ll be out the door in seconds but look like you care.

Enamel Bracelet

We talked last week about how Lauren and I are lusting after the Hermes enamel bracelet. While they are not on our priority list, we can buy is this $25 option in an array of preppy color combos.  They look great with your 3/4 sleeve tops, and are another way to bring a bit of color to your outfit.

Tortoise Shell Sunglasses

Classic RayBans are my go-to sunglasses, but it’s fun to have some options. Tortoise Shell has been having a pretty big moment in the trend department, and for good reason. They are classic and neutral, but when done in a modern style they instantly update your look. You can pair them with any color from black, brown, and navy, to preppy prints or vibrant colors.  Don’t spend here either when this pair from ASOS is only $19. 

Weekend Wear: The $55 Moto Jacket You’re Going to Love

The $55 Moto Jacket You're Going to Love - The Well Dressed Life

I discovered this jacket last month when I ordered it as part of my Rent the Runway (RTR) Unlimited Subscription.  It’s the kind of piece that is just outside my style sphere, so being able to rent it, and try it out with my wardrobe, is such a fantastic option. I found it to be a great alternative to my typical casual blazer and feels edgy but still classic.

One of the options in (RTR) is that you can buy the items you rent at a discount. When I realized it was on sale for $50, I quickly bought it.  Because I like it so much, I wondered if it was still available at stores, and turns out; it is, $55 for black, and $33 in Navy. 

The only good thing about January is the sales.

I bought both.


Moto JacketMust Have Piece, $55  |  Jeans, $198  |  Shoes, $40  |  Clutch, $198  |  Earring, $38

For me, this is the perfect Saturday night out look.  Whether I’m meeting friends for dinner or spending it with Bri, it strikes the right balance of casual and polished.  There are a few things to keep in mind when creating an outfit around this jacket.  The shape and length work best with either skinny jeans or jeans with a long leg and subtle boot cut.  Anything too full and you’ll be overwhelmed. (To see a variety of jean options at different price ranges, check out our Denim Closet.)

You can throw this jacket over just about anything, though I love how it looks over a turtleneck. That’s right, a turtleneck, I’m such a turtleneck girl.  Bloomingdales currently has an array of colors for under $80.

For a night out, I like a pump.  These silver fabric pumps at DSW for $40 are affordable and stylish. The jacket as a lot going on, so I would hold off on lots of jewelry and accessories. Keep it in one piece, like a long necklace or these earrings. They are simple, but complement the hardware on the jacket without competing with it.  Finally, a silver clutch, like this one by Michael Kors has the right line and shape.  It’s an investment, so think about how often you’ll use it.  For a less expensive option, I like this $30 silver envelope clutch.

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