Superwomen: Janelle Malone's group of fictional friends discuss how looking good doesn't have to spell bad news for your bank account.
Wardrobe combos that make your finances look good
Hello Superwomen. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who at work will get it all?" sang Lucy, peering into the mirror. "You come across OK, 'tis true, but there are others who look just as good; and they're saving money too," replied Sasha. The girls laughed and Lucy got the point.
"Hey, remember when you were just starting out in advertising and attended all the catwalk shows for your high-end fashion clients?" Sasha asked Lucy. "You could barely pay your rent yet you had to schmooze with all those fancy clients - and look the part too. You managed OK though, right?"
"Yes, but I don't have to scrimp now, and I've worked hard for all this," said Lucy, a little defensively. "And let's face it, in my business, people react to your look. They clock you once and they immediately draw conclusions about your decision-making ability, judgement, taste, attention to detail, self-esteem and values," she added, trying to justify her huge monthly spending on new clothes.
Sasha couldn't agree more. "Of course, your personal appearance is the message you send out each day, but honestly, you don't have to spend quite so much."
Wealth diva SMS
It's challenging to find the right balance between saving and spending. To maintain your equilibrium, first identify your current spending and flow of money. Then set up a realistic budget each month for:
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The 10 essentials
"Most stylists will tell you there are 10 essential items that every woman should have in her closet," Sasha continued. "These 10 lasting pieces will serve as building blocks for your wardrobe every year. You need to personalise these items. They're not the same for everyone, so select styles that fit your own lifestyle and taste," she said. "Now, let's mix and match all of these items to create looks that are easy, yet still polished and put together."
1. Basic black dress
"We all know that you can dress it up to take it out - that's its primary purpose - but you can also pair an item like this with a cardigan for work. It's an easy transitional item."
2. Day dress
"This is a dress that you're probably going to wear to work. It is never intended to be a dress that you would wear to a cocktail party."
3. Classic white shirt
"Pair it with jeans, a skirt or dress pants for an easy, polished outfit."
4. Classic blazer
"This is the easiest way in the world to dress up a T-shirt and a pair of jeans and take them almost anywhere."
5. Dress pants
"Buy three pairs that fit really well."
6. Trench coat
"Whether it's that traditional khaki coat with military detail or a fun, red colour that pops against your hair or skin tone, you can wear this to the grocery store or take it to the opera."
7. Good pair of jeans
"The style of choice is one that falls straight from the widest part of your hip and that is in a dark wash."
"Pair with a white shirt and blazer for an easy, polished look. It's best to get three tailor-made to suit your body."
"Tops, tops and more tops. Choose styles that look great with jeans and work suits. This is your one "disposable" item - the garment of which you can buy one per week, month or season, because they don't have to be expensive. You can easily change your look from colour to fabric."
10. Sweatsuit alternative
"This is an item that's easy to throw on, that allows you to look sophisticated and polished and is an alternative to the sweatsuit. Depending on your taste and lifestyle, this can take on many different forms."
A fun day
Exhausted, the girls flung themselves on the sofa, the contents of Lucy's wardrobe still strewn around them. The day had been emotionally and physically draining.
"I'm worn out," yawned Sasha, "but it's been worth it. You know, after I had Oscar, I felt I had to put my wardrobe in order to get my emotions in order. It was important to feel good, which for me, meant looking good. It was a simple change in routine.
"I started laying out my clothes for the next day every night before going to bed. And I make a date with myself to have a good try-on session every Wednesday night to find a new combo that works." The two girls smiled. It had been a fun day indeed.
Janelle Malone is a writer, blogger and commentator on personal finance. Contact her at www.womenmoneyandstyle.com