Curate A Beautiful Wardrobe Without Breaking The Bank (5 Steps Plan)

In the quest for financial freedom, I did many things like reducing my spending. One of my biggest struggles is controlling my spending on clothes.

I knew I could not go cold turkey on shopping. My love for beautiful things is ingrained in my DNA. I have to find a sustainable way to balance what gives me joy in life and still be financially responsible. So I came up with a strategy: 5 ways I minimise my spending (hence increase savings) without depriving myself.

I mentioned about buying quality items and using them for a long time. This time, I’ll share a small and fun part of my financial freedom journey with you: curating a minimalist wardrobe.

My work as a cooking instructor and food content creator means that I spend time doing physical work in the kitchen and garden. Denim is something that I love and, more importantly, a durable material that is suitable for wear while I fry noodles or harvest vegetables.

1. Find your signature style that fits your lifestyle

Find what kind of style you like and identify your top activities. Your wardrobe should have things that you love and suitable for your daily activities.

What did I do: My ongoing need for shopping for clothes stems from the fact that 1) I don’t absolutely like my wardrobe 2) I don’t have suitable clothing for my daily activities. It makes me feel that I need to buy more.

So I read My Curated Wardrobe by Anusckha Rees to identify a sustainable style to my lifestyle.

How does it help me? I know what I like, what looks good on me, and what suits my lifestyle. So I no longer buy clothes that are pretty but its not practical to my lifestyle.

My work as a cooking instructor and food content creator means that I spend time doing physical work in the kitchen and garden. I buy less delicate materials and make denim the core of my style. Denim is something that I love and, more importantly, a durable material that is suitable for wear while I cook curry or harvest herbs.

I also realise I love red lips and there’s a particular shade of red that I like. So I stopped buying lipsticks in other colours.

What can you do: Identify your signature style that is sustainable to your lifestyle. If you’re not partying daily, perhaps it’s time to spend less/stop shopping for going-out clothes. If you are not sure, check out Anuusckha Rees and buy her book The Curated Closet.

Red lips are the core of my style. When I identify this, I don’t buy any other lip colour.

2. Create a specific shopping list of what you need

After identifying your signature style, create a shopping list with specific items that you need in your wardrobe.

What did I do: I took some time to analyse my wardrobe and lifestyle. It made me realise I have many delicate dresses but not enough work and gym clothing. So I wrote down what I need specifically e.g super high rise black legging from Brand X at RM X, light blue denim shorts from Brand Y at RM Y.

How does it help me? This gives me a clear idea of what to buy and refined my style even more. Most importantly, it stops some from buying things that I don’t absolutely love. Now I know for sure I want a black legging that is super high rise. When the salesperson showed me an orange legging that is on discount or a regular rise black legging, I told her confidently that that’s not what I want.

What can you do: On a piece of paper, write down what you need. And then be very specific about it. What colour? What material? What kind of fit? Where to buy it? How much does it cost?

Test driving my wardrobe: trying on clothes in my shopping list before buying them

3. Try on the clothing to understand what truly looks good on you

You have a list, but don’t buy them yet! Wear these things and see if they really look good on you and then shop another day when you are absolutely sure.

How I did it: After knowing what I need, I went out to that specific shop to try on those things.

How does it help me? It helps me refine my style even more. I learned that I love super high rise leggings; even regular high rise is not good enough. I knew that I might be one size bigger; I’m in-between size S & M for some bottoms.

This made me realise why I kept on wearing that one legging (super high rise) and didn’t like the other (too tight). This newfound knowledge means that I am unlikely to buy the ‘wrong’ thing that I wouldn’t wear in the future.

What can you do: Dedicate some hours to visit some stores that you’ve identified to try on clothes that you need. See how well it fits, what kind of style you like, etc.

Denim shorts were my priority. They are useful for working in the kitchen, garden, and even lounging at home.

4. Buy base on priority

After identifying the exact style, size, and brand; determine what is essential and buy that first.

How I did it: I have more than a few items that I need, e.g denim shorts, yoga leggings, sports bra, etc. I know that it’s more important to buy denim shorts which I use for working in the garden and kitchen. It’s also flexible enough to pair with a cami top for lounging at home or going out. So I got that first, and leave yoga legging for later.

How did it help me:  It’s such a simple practice that I didn’t think of before. This helps me buy the most important thing that gives the most impact. It makes me feel that I have what I need, hence lessen my need to shop for more to fill that void.

What can you do: Put your shopping list into three categories: 1) High Priority 2) Medium Priority 3) Low Priority. Don’t go out to buy everything at one go, even if you can. Buy the most important first, and lowly bring in the rest.

5. Buy slowly and resourcefully

Overhaul your wardrobe slowly so that you get what you need at a fair price.

I did it: At this point, I was eager to buy everything that I need. But I controlled my urge and told myself to incorporate those into my wardrobe slowly.

I did it mainly through online shopping for convenience. Having filters for colour and sizes makes shopping even more comfortable. I can also return it if it’s not my style.

How did it help me:  This stops me from being the impulse purchaser that I am. I find that I am more impulsive and distracted when I’m in the store. Taking my own sweet time means that I can find good deals. There are plenty of sales, and you can google for coupons like this Lazada vouchers.

What can you do: Take your time to buy what you need. Know that there are a lot of discounts. When you know what you need and not in a rush, you can find the best price for what you need. 

It took me a few months to finally curate a wardrobe that reflects my lifestyle and taste. But it was a satisfying journey; every piece is something I love and flatters my body.

Moving forward, I know I will not waste money on buying clothes that I don’t wear. I’ll channel that money to things that mean more to me and for investment.

Are you building a curated wardrobe too? Keep in touch with me at my Instagram. See you there!

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