Fashion on a Budget: How to Revamp Your Wardrobe While Paying Off Debt

by | Wardrobe Planning, Wardrobe Wisdom & Style Tips | 0 comments

Finding fashion on a budget – have you ever felt like you couldn’t have a great wardrobe because your budget was too small? Or felt like purging your current closet was too overwhelming to even begin? I want to share an interview I had recently with a mama who is conquering both of these areas and coming out on top – just like you can! 

Dr. Shannon Cairns is one of our fellow Frump Fighters and she is going to share with us a little bit about her journey to become debt free and how she used the Year-Round Outfit Guide for Moms to find fashion on a budget.

She is going to give us some insight into what it looks like, practically speaking, to follow the wardrobe plan, to do a wardrobe refresh, and how to do it affordably. Follow along to hear how easy this is! 

Not only is Shannon a foot doctor, but she’s also married to a foot doctor! She is a mama to two boys and a girl and blogs at www.makingfrugalfun.com. On there she documents her journey to pay off over half a million dollars in debt. Hop over there if you need some budgeting inspiration! 

She has been following Frump Fighters and using the wardrobe plan for a while now and she has a really cool video where she shows how she uses it in her wardrobe to purge her closet and find fashion on a budget.

You can watch our short interview below or just read our Q&A session!

Video Interview: Finding Fashion on a Budget

Q&A with Shannon About How She Revamped Her Wardrobe

If you’d rather just read our interview you can do that below! 

Shannon, I’d love to hear what was your style and your wardrobe like before finding Frump Fighters? What did it look like for you to shop for clothes and put together outfits? Where were you at?

When I was in high school and college I was really into fashion. I would have considered myself pretty fashionable. But then after medical school I was wearing scrubs every day in residency, so I didn’t even really care that much about clothes and then add three kids to that. And with my body type plus wearing scrubs which you don’t really even like see your body in, haha! And then with the weight gain after kids I just kind of lost interest completely in fashion.

And now, I’m am wanting to find my fashion again because I always really enjoyed it before. The other part is that we are obviously on this debt free journey, so I can’t really replace my entire wardrobe with new clothes. I knew I probably had some things that were good in my wardrobe because I used to just buy a lot of stuff to try to find something I liked. When I saw your wardrobe plan, I realized that this would be a really cool way to see what I already had, shop my own closet, and see if I can make some outfits out of that.

What do you think is the biggest way that that following the wardrobe plan has helped you?

I think just seeing different ways to put the pieces I had together. Like I had a denim vest because I saw fashion bloggers wearing them and I thought, “Oh, that’s really cute”, but I got it and then it just sat in my closet. I was like, “I don’t really know what to do with this”. And different things other than a tee shirt and jeans and just figuring out how to put things together in a cute way that’s also comfortable when you have like kids around all the time.

So when you started, when you did your first closet purge, how much did you find to actually get rid of? A lot? Or did you keep a lot? What was your process?

Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of purging your wardrobe? Fellow mama Dr. Shannon Cairns shares how she purged her closet and saved money to pay off debt. #savingmoney #tips #capsulewardrobe #outfits #budgeting

I had actually done the whole Marie Kondo phase a couple of years ago, and I had purged a lot of stuff and was trying to be really minimal about everything, even  selling some stuff online just to like make extra money when we started our debt free journey. So I had done a pretty good purge but I was still hanging onto a lot of stuff that like I wanted to like, or I wanted to fit in, or I just thought “I can’t get rid of everything!”. So there was still a lot of stuff that I just didn’t wear that I guess I was hoping I would wear later. Then when I went through through your capsule plan I got rid of quite a bit more. I actually don’t even have jeans right now because I realized all my jeans just weren’t working anymore. That’s my number one thing I need to get right now is a new pair of jeans.

It’s interesting that jeans are one of those things that we default to when we don’t have any other ideas or options, but there are so many other kinds of pants you can wear. I think that when you start this plan, you start to realize that having a really good fitting pair of jeans is really what matters. Like even just one, you know, cause we talk about one dark wash, one light wash and one neutral pair. It’s not like you need a lot of pairs of jeans, but it is important that it fits well so that every time you do wear it in all the different outfits, it works really well. So it’s interesting that you say right now “I don’t have a pair of jeans”, because I’ve been in that place too. After my last pregnancy I didn’t have a pair and it was fine because there were lots of other things in the plan that I could wear.

I would love for you to talk to us a little bit about how you handle your monthly clothing budget while you’re paying off debt and just budgeting for the family with your three kiddos. What’s your process for that? What do you recommend for people to figure out what’s a healthy budget for them?

So for us, obviously, the most that we can cut out right now we’re trying to put towards debt, but my husband and I do get $100 each for fun money every month. That is my budget. Like if I want to take the kids somewhere or if I want to get coffee at Starbucks or clothes or anything that’s not absolutely necessary.

That’s difficult because I obviously can’t replace my entire wardrobe with $100, but I can find pieces on Amazon or Old Navy and places like that, Like I can find a great top one month and then the next month I can get a pair of pants. And just knowing that I’m picking something that’s going to work in a lot of different ways based on your plan, makes that purchase go a lot longer… it stretches more, basically.

I like having a guide, so I’m not just seeing a cute top on Instagram and saying “Oh, I need that” and I just buy it. Because then I say “Oh, well I’m never gonna wear those.” It helps me prevent impulse buying, I guess. And then I have a plan going forward for what I need to actually get from my wardrobe.

Do you find that that you will purchase some things that aren’t exactly on the actual capsule list or that you kept some things in your wardrobe that didn’t match any of the criteria? Does it still work with using the outfit guide?

Yeah, I definitely think I’ll have more than one white dressy top, for example, or something like that. There’s a couple pieces that I really liked in my wardrobe and you can kind of make even more outfits if you have multiples of one thing. For the most part, I tried to just pick one of each thing that way it’s not cluttered because we’re in a really small house right now while we tried to pay off debt too. So small closets, everything. So the minimal wardrobe works really well for me right now. There’s definitely a few things I kept, like a cute romper that I have that I really like and it’s just a fun thing.

Okay, there you go! And you know, there are some things that aren’t on the plan because a romper for some people would be a little bit too scary or too out there. They’ve never tried anything like it. And yet you can add that on and mix it and match it with the other pieces because when you’re using a color palette, like the guide shows you, it’s going to mix with the other pieces because you’re still gonna be getting all those additional items in your color palette. So that’s kinda cool the way that works.

And if the wardrobe guide calls for a dress, you could do a romper instead and just kind of go off of that.

Right, substitute and change it up. Exactly. So do you find that it works for you to wear what would be your nice clothes when you’re just at home? Like have you kind of stepped into that place of being okay with wearing your clothes that you’ve purchased for just that casual wardrobe, even though you might just be washing dishes or playing around with the kids?

Yeah, it’s hard to get used to cause I feel like I’m going to waste this outfit. Like no one’s going to see it! But I think it’s fun to try to be dressed up for my husband. I noticed he gives me compliments whenever I’m dressed up. And I also feel more productive. Like it’s weird whenever I have shoes on in the house, I feel more productive like I’m ready to go. And then like when we go to play dates, I’m dressed and just ready to go and I’m not scrambling through my closet to find something.

That’s funny about the shoes. It’s like a productivity tip, just wearing shoes. There’s something about that. We kind of behave the way that we are dressed for. And so if we dress super relaxed and maybe that’s where the, you know, being barefoot or just in socks comes in, which can be great at some points in the day. But if we have shoes on, it’s like it mentally tells our brain you’re ready to go somewhere. So even if you’re just home, it’s like you’re ready to achieve something.

I would love for you to share with us, what do you think is your best piece of advice for someone that is just starting out with Frump Fighters and either has a very small wardrobe with very few things that fit them or very large wardrobe? What do you think would be a good encouragement for them?

I think just doing the purge. Try not to think about all the outfits yet because it can be really overwhelming to think about putting all these pieces together. Just going through and really looking at things that you really love, like that you would buy if it was in the store. Try to think about that when you’re going through and purging your wardrobe. Because if you wouldn’t buy it today in the store, you’re probably not going to wear it or you’re not going to feel your best in it.

So I think just jump in and start purging your wardrobe. Once you see like all the beautiful things that you really love hanging in your closet, you’re just more inspired  to try and get dressed and pick a really nice outfit.

Want to try a free preview of the Outfit Guide Shannon used? Download Corina’s free capsule wardrobe plan for moms

Capsule wardrobe plan for moms - Free PDF Checklist

Isn’t it fun to hear from another mama who’s fighting the frump just like we are? Every time I hear a story of a mom conquering her wardrobe I feel completely inspired all over again. 

I know purging your wardrobe can be overwhelming at times, but once you’ve done it, you’ll feel so much better about the control you have over your closet and how easy it is to find fashion on a budget! 

Here’s Shannon’s video on exactly how she purged her closet using the Year-Round Outfit Guide for Moms!


Are you paying off debt but also want to revamp your wardrobe?

Is finding fashion on a budget something that comes easily for you? Or something you’ve had to work on? 

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It’s not hard to save a lot of money by following a simple capsule wardrobe. A capsule won’t limit you, but instead will make pulling outfits together even easier! I love how Shannon, doctor and mama, shares how she made it work for her. #capsule #wardrobe #mom #tips #tricks #savingmoney