Whether you're building a wardrobe to include holiday party pieces or cozy winter office fits, it's easy to get carried away and spend money on pieces that don't quite work with what's already in your closet. Sticking to a budget is a difficult thing and we want your pieces to serve you; because that's the point of them! Here's your guide to online shopping this winter season to build out your dream winter wardrobe without breaking the bank:
So where should I start? Take inventory.
Begin by shopping your closet every two weeks. Take inventory of what you have and what might be missing so you can have a shopping list while perusing new pieces. Sticking to a budget means it's important to not buy what you already have similar versions of, and in the end, won't end up wearing. Don't buy quantity over quality.
If you find yourself routinely keeping certain pieces aside and never wearing them, it's time to trust your intuition! You're never going to wear them. Get rid of them and don't re-buy similar styles and colors.
What do I invest in? Elevated basics.
Investing in a few key basic pieces in colors that mix and match well with what you already own will help build numerous outfits. First, look to see what colors are missing in your closet. Do you wear a lot of dark colors but only have black and navy? Write down "grey" and "burgundy" as winter colors to build your online shopping list around.
For specific styles this winter season, incorporate wide leg suede pants in neutral colors like blacks, grey, dark plaid, and brown. Browns are not just a fall trend! We suspect dark browns and corduroys to continue ruling well into the new year.
For your top layer, shakets are a versatile piece that can be worn outside as an outer layer for milder days or inside as a cozy cardigan. If it's a buttoned shaket and more of an oversized fit, button it up over tights for a sweater-dress style.
What stores offer elevated basics?
One of our go-to's is H&M. They have on trend items, a great variety of designer styles, and modestly priced basics. Start by checking their Premium Selection online for unique pieces. Usually we would recommend finding a vintage store to find rare styles but vintage can be difficult to come by and also expensive.
H&M has higher quality basics and neutrals so look here for trousers and dress pants (we'll get into fit in a moment). These can be formalized or worn casually with a crew neck or hoodie. If you can only buy one pair of pants, trousers can be easily styled for at home or the office.
What trending piece should I be looking for?
We're really into vests for fall and winter. They're trending now but you can easily style it later if they slip off trend; like changing the button styles or switching up what you wear underneath. Consider buying oversized in neutral colors like white or beige so you can easily incorporate it with multiple shirts or dresses.
What mindset should I have while shopping for basics?
When you click into an item, scroll through the item's pictures and think to yourself: "can I wear this with my white t-shirt, jeans, or black pants?" Take into account what the model is styling it with. Could this vest be upsized so it's longer, and would it pair well with jeans, loungewear, a long sleeve, and earth tones (currently trending)? Add to cart and consider it again before you checkout.
Look at the sizing. How tall is the model and what size are they wearing? This is your best indicator of what size you should buy. Keep in mind if an item is oversized and if the model is taller than you. How do those trousers fit on a person near your height and shape? H&M and many online stores have a feature on certain styles like shoes, where it will suggest the size you purchase based on your measurements. Take a tape measure and record you bust, waist, and hips. Compare them to the model to determine sizing.
Another feature we love is the style suggestions; often found towards the bottom of the item's online page. On H&M's website, they have suggestions for what will pair well with your elevated basic. So if you're not used to building outfits in your head while online shopping, start there.
What styles should I buy this winter?
It feels like we were just talking about fall trends? Where did the time go? Anyway, the key to prepping for this winter season is remembering two things: Layering and Color.
Layering will not only keep you warm, it will let you play with dimensions for your shape and help you use items like the coveted sweater dress in more situations. Throw a denim jacket on top, a plaid shaket, a puffer jacket, a vest, or a comfy crewneck for a 'skirt and top' look. All you need is one base layer sweater dress and already you've opened the door to new outfits. Choose a shorter style to show off your legs or choose a longer, more fitted style for an hourglass shape.
Skirts are also perfect for layering in the winter since we know you love your oversized sweater and if you're like us, want to wear it everywhere. If you're shopping for a skirt online, really pay attention to how the model is wearing it. Imagine how it will work with pieces you already own. Is it short and oversized? Would it provide some volume underneath a sweater you don't wear often but can't quite let go of yet? Can it fit under that sweater or is it too bulky? Usually you can budget for a simple neutral-toned skirt to be around $30.00 USD on H&M. Picture yourself in that style in any season - with a sweater or with a sleeveless shirt. If you like what you see, add it to cart.
Having one or two pieces in a unique color will help you build outfits with your neutral-toned basics. Valeria's color obsession lately is yellow, so she would buy a lighter yellow knit to pair with her elevated basics of trousers, blouses, or dresses. If you already have something in a brighter color, try finding a knit in a new color to bring something new to work with when outfit building. This winter, we're seeing pale yellow (like the winter sun), hunter greens, and again, fall-reminiscent browns!
What details should I pay attention to?
Always check a piece's quality. The best way to do this online is comb through the reviews on the piece's page and check its overall star rating. You should also see if the details list how the item runs; like does it run true to size? Is it oversized? This will help you decide what size to buy and how it might fit.
Also look at what leg length usually works for you. Try on pants you already have and see if you'd rather the leg cuffs at the ankle or if you want more of a cropped look. It's the small details that decide what you should buy. You wear the clothes, not the other way around.
Also check if the store you're buying from offers member's rewards. Even if you only online shop once a season or once a year, it's worth racking up points. When you're on a tight budget - every penny counts.
For our pregnant readers, Valeria shopped a-line styles online for a beautiful balloon silhouette to compliment her belly and grow with her. You don't want to be purchasing new items every month of your pregnancy. Plus, she still uses those a-line dresses and skirts now for a more relaxed-fit look. This way, these items aren't automatically thrown to the back of your closet when your baby comes earth-side!
How do I find items that are on trend?
Another go-to spot for online shopping trends is Revolve. If you like variety, start there. Check out their "Hot List" and "Just In" if you're in the market for what's new. We find a lot of the items we see on Instagram can be found in these sections. They also have an editorial section which curates essentials and what's popular.
What should I stay away from?
First and foremost - stay away from colors that don't compliment you. The magic of online shopping is that there is always a range of colors - often several shades of the same color. Take stock in what trends and colors translate to your body shape. Do you feel amazing in reds, but not so much in purples? Just stick with what fits. You can filter in most online shops by colors and sizes and see what's in stock. If you want to go in a try something on in store - double check what's there before you waste a trip.
Secondly, don’t waste time scrutinizing every piece; just add it to cart and do an audit before checkout.
Thirdly, be picky on what you invest in. For example, we don't see the cut-out trend as timeless, so don’t invest a ton of money on those styles. If there’s a cheaper cut out piece and you love it right now, that might be worth it depending on your budget. What will serve you for a long time? If the style is already on its way out, will it stand the test of time and be worth the coin?
What do I do when my items arrive?
First, ask yourself if the color of your piece is what you imagined. What does it look like with your skin tone and the rest of your closet inventory? We always consider if there are small details we can change to make it the piece we want. For example, do you love the cardigan but hate the buttons? Switch them out or remove and wear without.
Second, see what accessories in your closet pair well with these new items. If nothing looks quite right, that's a sign that you may not be able to wear it often. Experiment and test if these new items can spice up pieces in your closet you haven't worn in a long time. If not, ditch the older items to make room for the new or return and try a different style.
Third, does the basic look elevated? Could it pass as expensive even though it wasn't? That's a good sign to see if you feel comfortable and stylish in these pieces. Did you purchase any wild card items? Try them on and if it looks cheap or you don't love it, return it!
Remember, always value shape over color. If you love the color but the fit is awkward - you won't wear it. Return it. Is the fit going to bother you? Does it give you space to work with and grow with you and your lifestyle? If you have a feeling it won't be versatile - it won't be. Return it and re-invest in a piece you truly love!