Follow by Email

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Clothes: How Much Should You Spend?

Based on my last post and my new rule for restraint, I determined that I could buy one pair of ankle length pants. Only one pair, so boy-oh-boy, I chose those carefully! I must have tried on 30 pairs but decided on just one. When you only get one, it makes sense that you can spend a bit more, right?

Because of my crack-like addiction to clearance prices, I have tried to shop blind to prices. I have had many people who have followed my progress tell me that, yes! We should only buy expensive stuff, and thank you! That's not the point, exactly. We should only buy the RIGHT stuff. The old me would settle for $20 cropped jeans instead of even trying a $50, or even $100 pair. How much should jeans cost? How much should we spend?

Annual Budget:  I recently found a blurb in People Style Watch Magazine about spending guidelines. In the past, I have attempted "guesstimates" about how much should be spent on clothes but truthfully, if I went on a binge, I would just feed the family cereal for dinner for a week to make up for it. I never realized that there is a recommended clothing budget allowance and it was confirmed in this article. 4% of after-tax income. That's the recommended budget. If your salary is $30,000, your clothing budget is roughly $960 per year. Or $80 per month. IF you can afford 4% of your income and it's not eaten by rent, car payments or food. A family income of $80,000 may allow for a $2500 clothing budget ... for the whole family. The magazine suggested breaking the annual budget into seasons which I think is an excellent idea. It's no wonder I have a craving for bargain prices! One single fancy event can wreak havoc on a clothing budget.

Cost Per Wearing:  The other side of the cost consideration is determining how much is too much to spend on any garment. Is $100 too much to spend on jeans? People Style Watch suggests a "cost per wearing" guideline of $2-$3 per wearing if your annual clothing budget in in the $1500-$3000 range.  If you buy the RIGHT jeans for you, they fit well and are made well, could you wear them 50 times? Would you? For a year, that's about 4 times per month.  So, if you keep your jeans for a year and wear them about 4 times per month AND can afford the $100 price tag, then, yes, $100 jeans a perfectly acceptable. If you are trying out a trend like high-waisted flairs then I suggest you re-think. Going forward, every time I purchase something I will be asking myself, will I wear this enough to account for $2 per wearing? Suddenly, spending $200 on an event gown that will be worn 2 or 3 times seems like a crazy idea.

The aforementioned article contained other excellent suggestions:

There is no such thing as clothing as an investment (!) Savings accounts are investments. Buying a home is an investment. Leather boots--not an investment. 

Buy basics and accessorize. 

Avoid event shopping. Frenzy mindset happens to the best of us.

Don't get caught up in brand names. I have mentioned before and still think that since so much of clothing is made outside our country, there is no longer the giant quality gap we could once count on if spending more. No matter where you shop, look closely at the fabric and construction. Surprisingly, Target has some items with the same or better construction than Macy's. Not always, but you just can't count on quality anymore. 

Dress for the waist up. This one is super-interesting! The article mentions "see-level", meaning wear good basic pants or skirts and draw the focus up. Bummer for a shoe fanatic like me, but really true.

Dang. By the time I am realistic about how much I need and how much I should spend, shopping is just not as fun as it was. Paying bills, however, way less painful. They say "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." How about "nothing looks as good as a zero balance credit card!"


  1. came across this post as i was trying to determine how much i should budget myself for spendings each month and this was super helpful! excellent post :)

  2. It’s really such nice information to get advantage from. Indian clothes