Save Money With Wardrobe Planning

Save on clothing costs and cut closet chaos with a wardrobe plan. Before you shop, a wardrobe plan helps assess clothing requirements, and identify clothing needs.
Wood Hangers for Clothes

Wood Hangers for Clothes

Shop smart. Build a wardrobe around classic styles and solid colors; inexpensive accents update the look from year to year.

Photo by: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - House Works , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Shop smart. Build a wardrobe around classic styles and solid colors; inexpensive accents update the look from year to year.

Wardrobe Plan Basics

To create a simple family wardrobe plan, start with a piece of lined paper (or a free printable wardrobe planning form from for each family member.

Focus on activities: School and work, sports and play, church and committee; the heart of any wardrobe plan is the activities the clothing must cover. For each family member, list the activities that require clothing: school, work, church, sports, dance, or volunteer. Add an additional topic for basics: socks, underwear, nightclothes, coats, and weather gear.

Inventory clothes on hand: Next step: inventory the clothing you have, listing each item under the appropriate category. For growing children, check sizes; a growth spurt can see a child outgrow most of a closet in just a few weeks.

As you build your list, you'll see who needs what quite quickly. In your closet, casual jeans abound, but you've had trouble getting dressed for committee meetings. A young son has a plethora of T-shirts, but can't manage to button his dress slacks for church services or dining out. A daughter has lots of pretty dresses, but needs tights, tops, and trousers for school days and play dates.

Make a shopping list: From the inventory sheets, make a running shopping list of family clothing needs. Your list will alert you to current clothing needs, and help control spending. Don't leave for the department store without it.

Wardrobe Planning Pointers

A good wardrobe plan requires every new item to pull its own weight in the clothes closet. No more unworn garments!

Consider color: Following a wardrobe color scheme can make the difference between a working wardrobe and nothing to wear (with a closet full of clothes). Sure, that shell pink blouse looks marvelous in the store with its companion grey skirt, but it'll turn wallflower when paired with the beige-brown colors predominant in your closet. Avoid color mistakes and closet orphans by developing a color scheme as part of your wardrobe plan. For each family member, select a basic neutral color-black, brown, navy, tan-and coordinate shoes, coats, belts, and handbags with that color. Accent colors harmonize with the basic neutral: rely on them when selecting tops.

Reach for flexibility: Look for flexible clothing that will do double-duty in the closet: a summer shell can take a turn in winter as a chemise under a suit jacket, a child's simple shift dress doubles up as a jumper in cooler weather with the addition of tights and a turtleneck. The more uses the garment has, the better value it will give you for your money.

Rely on classic designs: Sure, it's fun to splurge on the latest thing, but no one can build an efficient wardrobe by relying on hot trends. For big-ticket items, choose classic. The timeless look of a well-cut woman's suit will see you through meeting after meeting in style. 

Children's Clothing Needs

Grandmother Betty had a very simple rule of thumb when it came to clothing her three children in the 1930s: "One to wear, one to wash, and one to have clean!"

Times, if not toddlers, have changed. Busy lives and lower clothing costs mean many families buy - and buy and buy and buy. Clothing stacks up and backs up and is often outgrown before it's outworn-or worn at all. Too much clothing clogs closets and drawers, and makes it harder for a child to keep his possessions tidy.

How many clothes do your children really need?

Let the laundry schedule be your guide. If you wash children's clothing once a week, seven to ten T-shirts and trousers will see them through with accidents to spare. If you wash more often, you can reduce that number to five to six outfits.

Double up on socks and underwear, especially for toddlers and preschool-aged children. Accidents happen, and usually on the way to Grandmother's house.

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