It happens to the best of us. We blow our budgets over sale season or at times when we just need retail therapy to keep us sane. This habit is financially unhealthy and may leave you living paycheck-to-paycheck or worse, drowning in credit card debt. But before you think of totally sacrifing your fashion ambition, we give you tips on how to look chic and be practical at the same time.

1. Prioritize your living expenses.

We advise that you pay yourself first for your savings, then subtract regular expenses (bills, baon, transpo fare) from the remaining amount, and then the excess, use for little luxuries, like shopping and dining out.

2. Take note of your lifestyle.

Does your work require you to wear suits or corporate wear? Are you a jeans girl more than dresses? Do you like sneakers more than heels? By answering these simple questions, you'll find out what you need and love wearing.

Since officewear can be pricier than casualwear, allot a bigger amount for work. Say, you're entitled to spend P5,000 monthly on clothing; allocate P3,000–P3,500 for corporate wear, then the remaining for other items that you will probably wear on weekends or for social gatherings.


3. Determine what you really need.

Evaluate your wardrobe and check the items you currently own. Do you have items that don't fit you right anymore? Or trendy clothes that need to exit your wardrobe? Is your closet lacking basics? Whatever you believe needs to be replaced or added, jot it down and refer to your notes before you go shopping.

Also, allow yourself to contemplate if the item you're eyeing is really worth the money. Here are the major questions you should ask yourself to avoid shopping regrets.

4. Know what you want.

While it's important that you are aware of the essentials, it is also vital that you know your signature style. Doing so ensures that the items you'll buy in the future are in sync with your taste and current wardrobe. Also, adding a personal touch will prevent you from looking boring and safe.

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5. Be wise with trends.

It's definitely not a crime to buy a trendy piece or a hot fashion item becasue this adds pizzazz to your look. You must remember though that a possibly soon-to-be passé piece should not cost so much. A good gauge? Simply don't spend more than usual on a too-obvious, trendy piece.

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6. Get creative.

There are other places you can get your fashion fix aside from big retail brands. If you're working with a strict budget and the mall brand is simply expensive, you can use that coveted piece as inspiration, and find a look-alike in department stores! Also, do not underestimate Instagram shops: There are young designers who offer ultra chic pieces at affordable price tags.


7. Keep a record.

Just like regular budgeting, it's good practice that you list down how much you have spent for fashion items in a notebook or Excel spreadsheet. When this becomes a routine, you can keep track of the times you have the tendency to go overbudget (I personally go gaga when spring-summer collections have dropped their prices) and the instances when you're EQ is solid and intact.

With a record, you can evaluate good practices and bad habits, which can then teach you how to be wiser shopper.

8. Understand that it's all about balance.

I personally don't think that it's wrong to splurge on certain items, but I make sure to follow these rules: it can work with the clothes I already own, it flatters my body type, it can be worn a lot (cost-per-wear is key!), and it really speaks my personal style. More importantly, before a big ticket purchase, I make sure that I can afford it with the money I have on hand. And for the coming months, I'll most probably do a shopping detox!


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