NY Fashion Week: Top Secret Tips for Couture on a Budget

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Most of us modern moms didn’t have a front row seat to every fashion show in Manhattan this past week. And I know, as a working parent, I certainly don’t have tons of free time to wade through all those fashion blogs to figure out what we’ll all be wearing next fall.

First things first: I run a family finance practice. Meaning, I sit down with parents and help them sort out and improve their family’s financial picture. And I firmly believe in keeping costs down and living within your discretionary budget when ever possible. After all, the best way to save for your family’s future is to buy less stuff.

With that in mind, here are a few tips I’ve figured out – some of the very best kept Manhattan mom secrets I’ve learned after 14 years here – that will help you stay ahead of the fashion curve and spend less on your wardrobe in the long run.

Secret #1: You DO have a good seat to every show

Of course, none of us wants to feel like the mom who wears the “wrong” shoes or whose jeans look completely out of it. And while you might not have a physical ticket to any of the shows and you may live hundreds of miles away from the tents at Lincoln Center, you actually do have the best seat in the house. Better, in fact, than many of the people who really watch them live and in person: your own.

The number one, best fashion secret out there: almost every show is already up online, with pictures of all the major looks that just strutted down the runway. Even better, it’s all free and available whenever you are.

Style.com/fashionshows is my personal favorite site for browsing through the shows, almost as they happen (but there are so many sites you can find with just a few, simple Google searches). I like this one because it has pictures, videos, and a little summary of the major trends I was supposed to notice, so I don’t have to overthink anything, or dig too deep for the most important information.

Want to be a fashion insider? Take a few minutes one evening after your house is finally quiet, and click through the shows that look like what you feel most comfortable wearing (or that look like something you might want to try more of).  And then keep track of the looks that inspire you in a file on your computer or on a website like Pinterest, which lets you store your images by pinning them onto a virtual bulletin board, or Have-To-Have which helps you create a fashion registry and bookmark items directly from retailers.

Secret #2: You already own what’s in style next year

Here’s another secret from fashion week: every season certain looks pop up over and over again (and that’s where the savvy mom saves a bundle!). The best way to start planning for next fall is to notice the trends that are big now - and are going to stay that way through 2013.

Do you love your black tights? Pencil skirts? Booties? Knee high boots? Well, you’ll be happy to see that so many designers are showing those exact, same looks again for next season. And that’s great news, because it means you don’t have to go out and buy them.

Take a glass half full approach: as you scroll through the shows, concentrate on what you already own in your closet and hunt for pictures that use your pieces or accessories over again, so you know they’ll be keepers for next winter.

Secret #3: You can buy next year’s fashion on sale now

By the time those doorstoppers land in your mailbox or on the magazine stands next summer and tell you what’s on trend for Fall 2012, it’s too late to find anything on sale (it will be shorts and sun dresses reduced as far as the eye can see).

But luckily, now is the perfect time to get a jumpstart on next year’s fall clothing – it’s all being marked down as we speak. Deep reds and burgundies might be the story for next fall but they’re still out there today (think: sweaters and skirts on that clearance wrack) at your local department store and on your favorite websites. February and March are your opportunity to shop this year’s sales for just a few key pieces to add to your wardrobe, and get a big jump on next year’s trends.

Jacoba Urist is a lawyer, writer and mom in lower Manhattan. Jacoba has both a JD and a Masters in Taxation from NYU law. Currently, she runs her own estate planning consulting business, specifically for couples with young children, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, as well as numerous other parenting and personal finance websites. For the past year, she’s researched (almost) every aspect of planning the best possible future for her book “The Happiest Parent,” and is excited to share her advice with Modern Mom readers. Follow her on Twitter @TheHappiestPare.

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