A couple of weeks ago I published my first post about the topic of money (one I’m excited to talk more about!) – and it was all about how I set myself up for financial health and changed my money mindset. Well, if there was ever a time to test my own willpower – it’s the fall fashion season. I blame it on the fact that as a kid the only real “shopping spree” I ever got to go on was for back to school, when my Mom would take my sister and I to pick out a new pair of jeans, new shoes and a few other new novelty items before the school year started – and it felt like SUCH a treat. Flash forward to being an adult, the onslaught of new arrivals, magazine’s September issues and the fact that I just truly love fall clothes.. and it can be really hard to stay on track. This year, I was determined to do things differently though. And so I came up with a strategy.

Rule One: Don’t buy anything in July. Or August for that matter. If you haven’t unpacked your sweaters from storage, it can be really easy to forget that you do in fact already own an oversized cream cardigan and before you know it, you’ve bought a second one. Last week, I dutifully flipped my closet and found myself excited about all of my favorites that I already own and get to wear again this season. While you’re doing this, think about which pieces you wore most last year. If it was crewneck sweaters, maybe you could use a new one to add to the rotation. If you remember feeling like you never had any cute blouses to wear to work, keep that in mind as you shop.

Rule Two: Make a good old fashioned moodboard. Or a Pinterest board. Or hit save on Instagram. Back in high school, I used to pour over magazines and whittle down the one or two key pieces that I could buy into (on a budget) – maybe it was one cool pair of boots or a particular handbag silhouette – and the rest I would try to find in my own closet. I started doing this again and SO many of the looks I was seeing in my inbox or on Instagram, I could nearly recreate with pieces I already owned. I just had to ignore the shiny new version. Below are looks from Veronica Beard, Sezane and Reiss that I loved.

Rule Three: Make a list. Write out the things you still really have your heart set on, and be specific. You’ll be able to see that three pairs of ankle boots are on the list.. and can clearly cut back. Or the fact that three fancy dresses are on there, but you end up in jeans and a t-shirt everyday and you work from home.. so maybe re-think that. Note the prices and estimate a rough cost per wear (a $40 trendy sweater you’ll wear 2 times has a $20cpw while a $140 camel cashmere sweater you’ll wear 40 times this fall has a $3.50cpw). While it’s nice to add a couple of fun things into the mix to refresh your existing wardrobe, be realistic about what you feel comfortable in and where you want to put your money.

Now the fun part – shop for the things left on your list. I mean, wait for sales.. but then, you know, go for it. Below – the things I’m spending on this season and why:

  1. Plaid Miniskirt – In the past ten years I’d say consistently the item I wear most in fall is a plaid miniskirt. To work with tights and a button down shirt, for a date night with over the knee boots or casually with sneakers and a crewneck sweater. It’s my signature style. I love this one with the hits of green and know I’ll get tons of wear out of it.
  2. Patent Leather Loafers – I had a pair of black patent ankle boots and black patent leather flats that I literally wore to shreds over the past three years and finally had to toss them both. This feels like a hybrid. I tried on in store to be sure they passed the ‘walk to work’ test too.
  3. Simple Cardigan – I eyed this fluffy cardigan ALL of last fall and winter and didn’t pull the trigger but this year I’m doing it. I love that you can wear it with the buttons in front or back, all buttoned up or off the shoulder for a cool, undone look. So simple, so chic.