A lot of personal finance blogs have suggested thrift stores, which may work for pants, skirts, knit shirts and sweaters, but we full-breasted woman are unlikely to find jackets, dresses or button-down shirts there, and even pants, skirts and knits are a bad deal if they look worn-out before we get them home. The key is to focus on quality, fit and need. The key has always been to focus on quality and fit, but when money felt like it was in infinite supply, it seemed fine to fill our closets with “finds” from the outlet mall that didn’t quite fit or weren’t the best color for us but were such a “good deal”. My first tip: cut back on the cheap stuff that isn’t perfect for you.

Now that money feels more finite, we should save it for the really good stuff, but not just anything that fits perfectly and makes us feel fabulous. Here’s where my second tip comes into play: know your needs. If I were going to wear the $365 Shoshanna dress ten times this summer, it would be worth the price. However, I know that I begin every summer envisioning myself at dozens of garden parties and outdoor weddings, and every summer I’m lucky to attend one dress-worthy outdoor event. For me, then, it’s better to make do with something that’s already in my closet or to find the best available dress at a price that I have predetermined to be reasonable.

My third tip: if you find an outfit that’s expensive but looks perfect on you and fits your needs, don’t leave it on the rack for another full-breasted woman to snatch up. It’s counterproductive to wait for the item to go on sale if you know from experience that your size is rarely available on the sale rack. Find a way to afford it because you know you’ll feel good about yourself every time you wear it.

However, this brings to mind my fourth tip: conduct a reality check. Do NOT cut those tags off until you are absolutely positive this outfit is right for you. There are times when we look amazing in the dressing room only to wonder why we don’t look as wonderful at home; or we notice new problems with the fit; or we realize that if we keep this outfit, we can’t buy the airline tickets to visit our family next month.

A clothing budget forces tradeoffs. If we have to choose just one item in our shopping cart instead of everything that looked great on us in the dressing room, let’s first trade the imperfect items, then the perfect items we just don’t need. If we have to trade looking good, it’s just not worth it.