Updating a Mom-ified Wardrobe

Updated on March 16, 2011
E.B. asks from Sour Lake, TX
21 answers

Okay ladies, I.m 52 a mom who works part-time and needs a wardrobe update on a budget. Not much to ask. Oh, and I'm a little past my optimum weight so skinny jeans and tight fitting layered tanks are not an option. Need not only ideas for basic pieces but stores you'd suggest to make the most of my money. The most I could pay for any one piece would be about $30. Thank you for your ideas!

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answers from Detroit on

I love J. Jill, the clothes are pricey but they do have sales and you could pick up some deals on pieces that way.

That, and bootcut jeans and khakis look good on just about everyone.

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answers from Houston on

My favorite store lately is JC Penney, they have a pretty big variety and they have everything from petite to plus! Also they have great sales!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Kohls & JC Penny. YOU HAVE TO GET THE COUPONS! Look in the circulars on Sunday, sign up for their mailing lists or visit retailmenot.com

Otherwise TJ Maxx or Marshalls but make sure you are getting good quality. Also, believe it or not, my mom has an amazing designer wardrobe from the thrift stores. If you have the time, the stuff you can find--?? It's amazing.

If you can wear jeans, then get a couple of pairs of killer jeans. If they fit well everywhere but are too long, get them tailored for a professional clean cut look.

I love something Elizabeth Edwards said that her daughter recalled: "you'll always regret prints, you'll never regret solids."

Get basics in solid colors which makes it easier to switch them up and restyle them over time. Layers give a pulled together look. Think: solid (not skin tight) camis and shirts in your color pallet coupled with a solid blazer (black?) or cardigan (color if using basic color cami, or reverse for colored cami). If you're going to get prints, make sure that they coordinate with your basics.

MOST IMPORTANT! Accessorize. Accessories give your wardrobe the variety you need and they are an inexpensive way to change the look of your outfit especially if you shop the clearance racks and couple it with coupons.

The most important part is to invest in basics first and then work up from there. buy a couple pieces every month and you'll be building your wardrobe in no time.

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answers from Boston on

Check out missussmartypants.com it's a great service! You can sign up for a month, a season or a year for a very low rate and you get an e-mail every week with a personal shopping list for your body type. Every week the pieces are updated for current trends and seasons. I am on a budget and this service has really helped me to be much smarter about my purchases. The shopping lists run from bargain stores (Target, Kohl's, JC Penney) all the way up to Talbots and Nordstrom. If you like a piece you can click in the shopping list and buy on-line, but I usually print off something I like and then bring that with me when things are on sale and I'm ready to shop.

For price range, think in terms of $ per wear. I will spend a bit on something that I will wear to work regularly (nice pants that fit well and go with everything, like black pants in a light wool blend that I can wear for three seasons) because I know they will last and it's worth it to me to spend $60-$80 for some things. Talbots and Ann Taylor have great work clothes, excellent quality, and great sale prices. I got a couple of sweaters in the fall for about $30 that were originally around $80. The difference in quality between something at Target or Kohl's for $30 and something on sale from Talbots or Ann Taylor or J. Crew is really noticeable. I basically think of cheaper clothes as trendy but disposable (wearable for a couple of seasons before they look worn, stretched, faded) and more expensive clothes as long-term investments.

Focus first on good-quality, well fitting basics (missussmartypants has a list of basics) first and then buy some seasonal pieces in your colors to add variety. And don't forget fun shoes and accessories!

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answers from Pocatello on

My mom is 45 and she may not be a "fashionista"- but clothes she has that I think make her look pretty darn spiffy come from:

http://www.newport-news.com (check out the jeaneology collection)

I also found a site that is really nice for finding clothes that fit your "body type"- and most of them are not "teen clothes" LOL!


I suggest you buy cheap shirts from stores like walmart, kmart, target, etc... and then get nice looking jackets, pants skirts and shoes at stores like the ones above. Also, nothing makes an outfit look better than those things you DON'T see, like bras and underwear. nothing is more unflattering than a serious case of "grannypantylines" under polyester dress pants- no matter what your size, age or shape!

Good Luck and happy shopping!

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answers from Houston on

I think ALL the responses are great...just wanted to add my 2 cents. Along with the great store ideas, if you can, watch the show "What Not to Wear" on TLC. Stacey and Clinton give FABULOUS advice on HOW to fit your body, no matter WHAT your body. Its all about what looks good on YOU. Then, you can buy accordingly. Its all about FIT and function...good show!!!


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answers from Rochester on

I don't know, I wish I had your budget. My budget is about five dollars a piece, which is why I only shop clearance sales.

Fortunate, NOW is the time to be doing that, as the summer clothes are coming out. I've been picking up jeans, tops, etc all for under five dollars. I guess since you have more to work with :) I won't mention what stores I shop at, because you can do better!

The best pieces I love to have in my wardrobe are things that work with everything and things that are comfortable. Like, jeans that I really love, a nice pair of NICE fitting khaki pants, and lots of plain colored tops that can be done up or dressed down. I love Hanes t-shirts that are made for women...I forget what they are called, but the have v and scoop neck, short and long sleeve, are SUPER soft and don't fade easily in the wash, don't shrink (although I wash in cold) and come in every color under the rainbow. I literally have about 20 in different styles and colors, and no matter what I feel like putting together I always have a base to work with.

And me, personally, I think shoes make the whole wardrobe. :) I totally splurge on shoes. I haven't spent more than 5 dollars on a pair of jeans or a top in years, but yes, I've spent 100 on a really great pair of shoes. Rarely, but still.

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answers from Eugene on

I updated my wardrobe last year with some new scarves. They were about 10-12$ each and changed the look of alot of my basics: black and white solid tops and jeans or black pants. I also found that a well-fitting jacket can make a mediocre outfit look sharp. I bought a black traditional suit-type blazer at Macy's on sale for $25. It's a great basic and neutral enough to go with jeans, a dress or skirt.

I shop alot at TJ Maxx because they have name brand clothes for way less money. We just got a Kohls in town and their sales are terrific. We also have an outlet mall. No matter where I go, I check the clearance rack first!

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answers from San Antonio on

My mom is 60. She often shops at Macys. I am in my 30s and prefer Old Navy for the price/fit. I have found tops at Khols that are nice as well.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I am going to give you 2 websites that will help you out tremendously.

www.youlookfab.com I would post your question here. This is one of the most informative sites I have found for real people. Also, their forum members are 100% supposrtive of eachother and really welcome newbies.


Here is one I just found-this woman styles only with Walmart and her combinations are usually pretty cool. Kind of young but you will def get ideas.



answers from Los Angeles on

Do you have Target in Texas? If so, go check out their work clothing. They are nice and very well priced.



answers from Honolulu on

Old Navy

At any store, ask one of the sales assistants or "Personal Shopper", to help put together a wardrobe for you.
At Macy's they do this for free.
You tell them your budget and they work with that.
They will coordinate everything for you.
I know many people who did that, at Macy's.



answers from Portland on

I love Kohls, I can usually find nice pieces under $25.



answers from San Antonio on

Coldwater Creek!!!

Their things mix and match very well, giving you many options, they almost always have coupons out (join their email list and you could get a 20% off your purchase coupon right off the bat!)



answers from Austin on

One thing I recommend doing is buying yourself one nice pair of blue jeans. You can go to Nordstrom and have their personal shoppers find something that flatters your figure (they don't charge for the personal shopper). This is likely to cost between $100-$150, but you can pair any cheap shirt with a nice pair of jeans and it will look great. If you already have some existing button down shirts, roll up the sleeves a bit, leave it un-tucked and the top two buttons undone. You can even pair it with a tank underneath (if too low cut). You might also look around for jersey t's that have tissue flowers attached. You'll see a lot of these lately, J Crew outlet, Old Navy, Kohl's, etc, the Limited, New York and Company, Ann Taylor Loft. I'm sur u can find one for about $15. Nordstrom Rack is fantastic too. Once you find out what brand of jean fits you well, you can go to The Rack and find them for half the price of Norstrom. However, you'll have to keep checking back as the selection is hit or miss, depending on the day. They have a great selection of "different" shirts. I usually find them for $20-$25. Get outside of your comfort zone, start buying colors you wouldn't normally wear. A pair of inexpensive dangly earrings can do wonders for an old shirt. Shoes are important too, I can't help you here though....I need help myself. I like comfy but how do you find comfy and stylish. My downfall. :) Lastly, I have vowed to stop shopping at Kohl's and Old Navy because my shirts wear out and look cheap after only one season. I may spend more at the Gap or Banana Republic but I have one shirt that still looks fantastic after 6 years!!!! That's not happening with my Old Navy shirts. This pretty much goes for anything from the outlet stores as well. The fabric is cheaply made.



answers from Austin on

I have a friend who is past her optimum weight as well and swears by this.


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answers from Appleton on

Penney's and Kohl's both have end of the season clearance going on now. DSW always has great clearance racks at the back of the store. Remember life is too short to wear ugly shoes.



answers from Atlanta on

If you have Nordstrom Rack, GO! Great deals on grown up clothes! I also highly recommend Coldwater Creek outlets and Chico's outlets. You'll find age appropriate modern clothing at good prices. Also, check out J. Jill -stores or online -look at their outlet and clearance areas. Sign up with them to get free shipping. Their regular clothes can be high, but they have great sales, and the clothes are elegant, modern yet classic and stand the test of time. Also, remember-if you find a piece like a jacket or top that looks incredible and you can wear with most anything, splurge there and cut back on what you spend on pants or something. I have shoes, boots and jackets that cost $100 or $200 but they look incredible with many $10 pants and shirts!



answers from New York on

I'm not sure how dressed up you have to be for work. If you have a somewhat causal work environment a few pair of pants in neutral colors (black, khaki, navy, gray, brown) and possibly 1 jacket that looks nice with more than 1 pair of pants. Tops, I would look at the clearance racks and see what fits your taste. Nothing very low cut or tight for work. I like to put a button down shirt over a solid color tee shirt or tank top. I usually invest in 1 or 2 pair good quality, shoes that fit well and are comfortable. I usually pick black shoes but brown/tan is good too.



answers from New York on

You didn't specify what type of clothing you wear for work. I'm going with business casual, with maybe a Friday dress down.

Some essentials...
a nice pair of black pants
a pair of black jeans - you can dress them up
a nice pair of kaki pants - you can dress them up
a few tank tops (not tight fitting), can be worn underneath a blazer, sweater, or lower cut top that may be too revealing for work, but ok for at home or going out to dinner

I find some nice good quality clothes at Kohl's shopping the clearance racks and sale items. J C Penney is hit or miss. If you have the patience and want to search Marshall's.


answers from Cleveland on

Thrift stores can be great. A lot of the stuff is of course old and screams "Mom" in a bad way due to being out of date, but it is a lot of fun to pick through the racks and find absolute gems for a couple of bucks. I found a white striped Jones New York sundress, a Gap shirtdress, and a black with white dots t-shirt dress a couple of weeks ago for a grand total of $8.50. That totally leaves enough money in savings to get a swank pair of spring sandals to spiff them up. DSW has shoes on clearance all the time, sorted by size. There is a website online too if you don't have the brick and mortar stores in TX. If you don't hold too specific and idea in mind of what you are looking for, you can get a very good brand and style of shoe for under $30.

As far as new retail...Macy's has great finds on their 50% and 70% off racks. They've had a lot of good blouses and tunics under $20 in the past year. Old Navy makes great jeans...try the Dreamer (the best jeans EVER) for $35, or the Sweetheart style for $30. Both do good things for the booty, but the Dreamer is a bit better, it makes curves you don't like likeable. Target is really good considering the type of store it is. They have some very flattering a-line dresses and inexpensive trendy tops to mix in with the sensible pieces in your wardrobe. arget's lingerie is also nice, and very reasonable ($13 push up bras that are as good as Victoria's Secret). For jewelry, check out http://www.forever21.com/category.asp?catalog_name=FOREVE.... It is Forever 21, but the accessories are wearable and cheap. $30 will get you a necklace, two bracelets, and 3 pairs of earrings.

Just go to the mall, and hit every store with a clearance sign. Ignore everything not on clearance. You will find things you would buy at full price for next to nothing.

Happy shopping!

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