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When It Comes to Your Wardrobe, Where do You Splurge and Where do You Save?

One thing Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton have proved: Great style comes in a range of prices. This month, fashion-savvy readers share how they mix steep with cheap. 

Illustration of a woman in sunglasses and a scarfChristopher Silas Neal

Nothing keeps me as warm as my pricey sweaters. I usually invest in two to four new ones each year. One of my favorites is a rich brown cashmere cardigan that ties on the side and looks great with skinny jeans and boots. On the other hand, I shop at Goodwill for blouses. It takes patience, but I always manage to find amazing deals.

Lisa Steffl

Watertown, Wisconsin

As an avid exerciser, I’ve noticed that expensive name-brand fitness apparel is much more durable and high-performing than run-of-the-mill T-shirts and shorts. Plus, looking good helps me stay motivated at the gym. I offset the cost with cheap tank tops. I load up on them only when they’re on sale.

Sadie Abuhoff

Cranbury, New Jersey

When I shop, I think about the cost per wear. That means I spend very little on party outfits that I’ll don on just three or four occasions. In fact, when it comes to festive attire, I usually try to swap pieces with a friend to avoid buying something new.

Vicki Goldsmith

Des Moines, Iowa

I’ve heard people say you should splurge on the classics and save on the trendy items. But I do the opposite. I’ve found that basics, such as cardigans and jeans, can be bought inexpensively and replaced each year to look crisp and current. I prefer to spend on signature pieces—like my platform oxford wedges and my bicycle-motif shirtdress—which are more likely to draw compliments.

Carrie Ryan

Vancouver, British Columbia

Most of my clothing budget goes toward major winter purchases, like coats and boots. I particularly love wool and faux-fur details. They really make a difference when the temperature takes a dip. I save on small accessories (hats, scarves, and mittens) by knitting them myself.

Elise Randall

Columbus, Ohio

When looking for jeans, I try not to spend more than $20 a pair. It can be tricky, since my favorite brand is expensive, but I’ve been able to find jeans (albeit gently used) within my budget at a thrift store in my town.

Gloria Collis

Lee, Florida

For the sake of comfort, I splurge on shoes: quality clogs for my workday (most of which is spent standing) and high-end running shoes for exercise. However, I’m thrifty with T-shirts. If I get a stain on one, I cut out some fabric in the shape of a flower or a leaf and sew it over the offending mark. It’s like getting a brand-new top!

Amy Heide

Missoula, Montana

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