Be cheap but don't look like a schmuck
  1. Get a "uniform".
    This depends heavily on taste/style, but figure out what silhouettes & looks work best on your figure. It's much easier if you're committed to a particular "look" (i.e. Boho chic, preppy, 50s retro, avante garde). Easiest way to figure this out: what is your favorite outfit to wear? Clone it!
  2. Choose a color palette.
    Working in retail during college I realized quickly how much easier getting dressed was when I was required to wear all black. My neutrals are black & gray, occasionally taupe or olive. I don't like brown or navy (except jeans, skirts, and nautical-ish summer dresses). I also wear bright funky prints, but I'm very particular about the print & material. So when I go shopping I already have a very clear idea of what will work with my existing pieces.
  3. Invest wisely.
    Spend money on quality pieces you'll wear frequently. I bought a Burberry scarf & Chanel sunglasses during my freshman year of college (2006). Both of these items still get worn frequently & now cost more than when I bought them nearly 10 years ago. 100% cashmere is the bomb during NYC winters. And now that I pay crazy rent, it's a lot harder to justify blowing my paycheck on that kind of stuff.
  4. Buy used.
    Most of my work wardrobe is either from the sale rack at Barney's or various consignment stores. Get on a mailing list so you know when the major blow out sales are (usually February). I got a Prada dress for $88 last year. Cheaper than Banana Republic & the construction is 💯.
  5. Stock up on quality basics.
    Figure out what your key basics are. For me, since I wear dresses 5 days a week & work out clothes on the weekends this means: hosiery, running socks, sports bras, slips, & cardigans. Wolford makes the best sheer hosiery (1 pair lasts over a year with regular wear, IME) and DKNY makes great opaque tights. I stock up whenever there's a sale. Nordstrom Rack has really nice bras & underwear. Oh & 1/2 price designer jeans, if that's your thing.
  6. Be gentle.
    Take care of your stuff! Do not put anything you like in the dryer. All that lint? That's your poor clothes getting destroyed. Find a good tailor or learn to sew a bit. No reason to get rid of a favorite shirt because 1 button is missing. Get things hemmed or taken in as needed so your favorite items can be enjoyed longer.