Shopping is one of my favorite hobbies. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I find exactly what I’ve been searching for. However, on a fairly tight budget that involves student loans, a car loan, and trying to save for retirement, I have to be a savvy shopper. So I categorize my shopping into investment pieces and economy pieces.
My investment pieces include work pants, classic dress shirts, shoes, timeless outerwear, and high-end accessories. I try to think of these as purchases I can wear with multiple different outfits and will wear for at least 5-10 years. My investment pieces come from stores with a slightly higher price-point, including:
- Loft My favorite store for work clothes.
- They have timeless silhouettes, gorgeous new prints every season, and well-fitting clothes. My only complaint is that they run big. I can never fit into their regular sizing and can only wear the smallest petite size, which limits me quite a bit.
- Express Good mix of high and low fashion as well as high and low price points.
- This is another good store for work wear, but I often find myself picking up the occasional casual outfit too. Trendier than Loft, it gives some interest to my wardrobe. My favorite thing about Express is the true-to-size fit and the multiple size/length options. Regular sizes fit well, and they recently released petite sizes (online only) but I haven’t had the chance to try them out.
- Boden British fashion that ranges from dressy to weekend wear.
- My favorite dresses come from Boden. They are comfortable, colorful, and fun. The material is high-quality: very soft but is adequately thick and retains its structure over time. Unfortunately, the only U.S. Boden store is in PA, so all my shopping here has to be online.
- Banana Republic My go-to for work shirts and outerwear.
- Classy, pretty, and petite-friendly, Banana Republic could make up the majority of my work wardrobe if I could afford it all. To make it work on my budget, I limit myself to mostly button downs- which are kept updated and subtly trendy- and outerwear. Right now I’m trying to decide which trench to buy.
- Madewell Accessories to die for.
- I rarely invest in accessories, but Madewell is my store when I do. Their purses and totes are timeless, high-quality, and gorgeous.
- Sofft Classic, comfortable shoes.
- I think I used to relate Sofft with “frumpy” until I found my all-time favorite, hope-they-last-forever tassel loafers. Now I’m an avid fan of their combination of comfort and style. Seriously, investing in shoes is a great decision.
My economy pieces include clothing that I think will get only a few seasons of wear out of, or pieces that I know I can buy again. I avoid especially trendy pieces unless I can find them very cheap (example: I bought metallic shoes at Forever 21 because I can’t see those staying in style longer than this season.) I love economy shopping and you’ll see that a lot of my pieces come from the following stores:
- H&M Trendy but still classy. An interesting mix of styles here.
- I could (and probably have!) spent hours in H&M. There is so much good stuff there. My favorite pencil skirt, lovely bags, slouchy sweaters for the weekend, dresses galore, everything. My favorite part is the European sizing- no need for a petite section! Unfortunately, though, online shopping is difficult because they don’t differentiate well between similar pieces and they don’t have reviews available.
- Target Because who doesn’t love Target?!
- I like Target for simple basics because I know they won’t change much and I’ll be able to buy them again if they wear out in a year.
- American Eagle Jeans (of course) as well as some trendy pieces.
- I still haven’t found a better fit and selection of jeans for the price. I also occasionally pick up a fun top or cozy cardigan from here. I know they won’t last forever, but they do have decent quality clothing.
- Macy’s Where I find most of my dresses and athletic wear.
- I usually shop in the junior’s department at Macy’s, which is cheaper and ensures a smaller fit. They have a good selection of slightly formal dresses, as well as a wide variety of athletic brands for workout clothes.
- T.J. Maxx I could get lost in the huge selection of current styles.
- Always changing their inventory, this store is so fun to go to. My mom and sisters and I have spent many afternoons browsing through every rack. T.J. Maxx is great for items of clothing you might not wear forever, but still want decent quality. I have made some fantastic finds there.
As I get older, my hope is that my wardrobe becomes more high-quality investment pieces. But in the meantime, I love my mix of high and low quality. It allows me to make smart choices and still keep my closet current.
I’d love to hear some of your favorite stores below! I always appreciate suggestions!