1. TAKE INVENTORY

Taking stock of what you own, when done correctly and thoroughly, helps dampen the urge to shop frivolously. Play dress-up. Put on some makeup, do your hair, and try on your own clothes in front of the mirror. Combine garments in a completely new way. Believe me, you'll discover that your wardrobe is more versatile than you thought, and it will feel like shopping--but without the guilt.

2. MAKE A NEED LIST

After assessing what's in your closet, make a list of what you need. Not want, but need. Write down the basics missing from your wardrobe. It could be a classic white shirt, a trenchcoat, or the perfect little black dress. Whatever the blank spots, write them down. This will be your reference for shopping. Keep the list in your wallet and refer to it frequently, especially before you actually lay down any cash.

3. INVEST IN THE ESSENTIALS

My style is about making things last forever. When you're on a budget, it can be daunting to spend $300 on a pair of boots or a coat. But such basics are the building blocks from which your look is crafted. For that, sometimes you have to drop a little cash. Just remember, these are items that should last for years, not a single season.

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