T-Shirts = Scrimp
With a host of specialty T-shirt lines out there that promise ultra-soft fabrics and effortlessly cool cuts, it’s tempting to spring for one of these souped-up staples. But since tees are a staple, they get a lot of use, and consequently a lot of washes. Translation? A short shelf-life and a good place to save money.
Jeans = Splurge
High-quality denim can be nearly indestructible, especially considering jeans don’t require washing after every wear. Since they’re such an everyday item, invest a little in a few styles from a brand that works really well for your particular shape. Denim micro-trends may come and go, but classic cuts that fit you flawlessly will last for years.
Tights and Hosiery = Scrimp
Much like t-shirts, tights are a staple that you’ll wear and wash regularly (at least during the winter months). And while this is a category where high cost does mean high quality, unless you’re willing to hand-wash your $60 tights after each wear, you’re better off stocking up on several cheap pairs for the season and cutting your losses should they happen to snag.
Bras = Splurge
Since bras are literally the foundation for your outfit, this is a good place to make an investment (and often a necessary one for larger-busted women). Make sure to get a bra fitting, and opt for colors you’ll get the most use out of, particularly a nude tone that matches your skin (and will disappear under white or sheer clothing).
Gym Clothes = Scrimp
Once upon a time, it was necessary to spend some serious dough on designer gym clothing, unless you were comfortable in your old college tees and stretched-out shorts as work-out gear. But with the rise of the athleisure trend, well-priced—and well-known—companies like Target, Forever 21, and Old Navy are getting into the game with functional activewear that’s also cute enough to make you want to hit the gym.
Black Pants = Splurge
Another staple that will get regular use, black trousers work around the clock. Wear them to the office with a crisp white button-down, or use them as a base for a silky blouse for more formal events. Properly cared for, a well-made pair in a classic straight cut will still look stylish and good-as-new years later.
Jackets and Blazers = Splurge
Not only are these types of pieces instant outfit makers, it’s an area where quality is really readily visible. Invest in a black blazer with an impeccable fit, and a great embellished jacket. You can throw on either over nearly any ensemble—from jeans and a white tee to your work-wardrobe go-tos—for an immediate upgrade.
Trends = Scrimp
Here’s the thing about trends: they’re fleeting. They last for a season before being replaced by the Next Big Thing. Amp up your wardrobe—and save yourself some money—by test-driving trends with options from lower-priced retailers. Should one prove to have sticking power (over-the-knee boots, anyone?) for future seasons, you’ll already know whether or not it’s something you’re willing to invest more money in.
Day and Work Dresses = Scrimp
Suiting = Splurge
Work Shoes = Splurge
Since you’ll wear them nearly every day, it’s a good idea to spend a little more money on shoes that you know you’ll be comfortable in. For a shoe selection that will work with any office outfit, keep one pair of black pumps and one pair of nude pumps on hand.
Evening Clothing = Scrimp
Whether it’s a formal dress, fancy shoes, or a bedazzled bag, these are all pieces you probably won’t wear frequently, so don’t pour too much money into this category. Pretty, lower-priced options are easy to find at on-trend stores like Zara, or try scouring vintage stores for special clutches and bags.