Reader Request: How Much Should You Invest in Your Wardrobe?

Readers Lynn and Ruby asked:

Lynn: How much spending on clothes is appropriate? I think it certainly depends on one’s budget and income, but what about conscience? I spend somewhere between $150 and $200 a month, I feel guilty as my son and husband spend close to nothing on their clothes. My income is high, I can easily afford $150 a month, but I still feel that this is almost too much.

Ruby: I agree – I’d love to know your thoughts on an appropriate clothing budget as a percentage of your income, for example. If you make $25K, how much should you reserve for clothes/shoes/accessories? $50K? $100K? How should that change if you’re in a professional job and need to wear suits (as I am), or if you wear scrubs, etc. to work every day? I know I’m spending far too little on my wardrobe, but I have no idea how much I should be spending.

Whew. You folks sure do know how to ask questions that are incredibly tough to answer. Or, at least, answer definitively. Just as I don’t feel comfortable declaring how much clothing any one person should own, I don’t feel qualified to dictate how much any one person should spend on her wardrobe.

If you want the quick and dirty, most of the statistics I could dredge up recommend spending between 3% and 10% of your annual income on clothing. Naturally, that percentage should reflect your job and associated lifestyle, your family situation, your debt load, and your personal savings goals. If you’re working as a nurse and required to wear scrubs all day while paying down your school loans, you’d be wisest to err on the 3% side for the time being. If you’re working as an attorney and required to dress in suits for the office and for court, you’ll probably be on the higher side … though you may still have that debt load to contend with. And, regardless of vocation, always make sure you’re saving some moolah. ALWAYS.

If, like me, personal style is a passion and a hobby for you then you may want to adjust some of your other expenses to accommodate a larger clothing budget. So long as you’re aware of your total income and mindful that the money is finite, adjustments can be made. If you’d rather spend 15% on clothing, take that extra 5% from your eating out and miscellaneous entertainment budget. Or trim elsewhere and move some numbers around. You can have everything you want, you just can’t have it all at once. Remember to balance.

As for the spending-related guilt, well, that’s a whole other issue. Or cluster of issues, in some cases. If you love to shop yet feel remorse for your habits, you may be dealing with baggage from your childhood related to saving and spending, a judgmental peer group or partner, an ongoing need to buy new stuff as a way to soothe anxiety or depression, or any number of other factors. My advice? Force some introspection. Sit down for an hour with a journal or laptop and write about why you love shopping, how guilty you feel about your habits, and some possible causes. You may need to adjust your actions, have some tough conversations, or just change your thought patterns. Only you can make that call.

But I will say this: You are responsible for your own finances, and that’s fabulous and scary all at once. It means you can pick your own clothing-spending percentage, but it also means you must balance your own budget accordingly. It means you can buy really expensive, trendy, covetable stuff whenever you have the cash, but it also means that you must face the consequences if that cash was meant for car repairs. It means that you get to decide what you buy, when, and how much but it also means you must find a way to make peace with the social, environmental, and personal ramifications of your choices.

How do YOU determine how much to invest in your wardrobe?

Image via weheartit.

  • http://georginaswan.com Georgina

    When it comes to clothes, I think it’s important to spend as much as you can. Although things like rent and food always come first, clothes are a pretty high priority for me! I don’t mind spending what some people would consider quite a large amount on clothes, shoes, bags and accessories. I value quality over quantity, and rarely buy dirt-cheap clothes because, in my experience, those things just don’t hold up as well as something like my leather satchel or vintage wool coat. I see clothes as an investment, and though some people might think I spend too much on individual items, I think that is so much better than whittling away your money on armfuls of cheap, throwaway clothing. And of course, the overall amount you spend on clothes doesn’t really matter, as long as you aren’t overspending or getting yourself into debt – that’s just a terrible way to live!

  • http://peregrinaje.wordpress.com La Peregrina

    I love your response on this post, and I would definitely do all of those things first.

    In addition to figuring out whether your lifestyle is personally sustainable/unsustainable, I would spend some time figuring out whether your actions are *socially* sustainable. Do you feel bad about the waste in your closet? Give some of it away! Or make a resolution that every new purchase you make will be matched by giving away the same number of older pieces.

    An alternative idea is to calculate how much you spend on clothing and see if you can match that amount by giving to charity, gifts, or your place of worship.

    And if you have the resources to afford it, try to avoid sweatshop purchases. It’s really difficult to know exactly where clothes were made and what the labor conditions were like, but a general rule of thumb is that if the price seems to good to be true, it probably is.

    I don’t want to add extra burdens to those who are really struggling financially (I have just gotten my first “real” job after being a student for a ridiculous number of years, so I understand penny pinching!), but these suggestions are in response to the questioner(s) who have financial resources but (for whatever reason) feel guilty about their clothes spending.

    • http://therelaxedsewer.weebly.com Nethwen

      “I don’t want to add extra burdens to those who are really struggling financially”

      Thank you for expressing this attitude. Often people want to support responsible manufacturing, but can’t afford to no matter how frugal they are in other areas. It’s refreshing to see someone acknowledge that.

  • BeckyD

    I used to feel guilty for spending as much as I do on clothes because there are millions of people all over the world who can only afford 2 sets of clothing. I couldn’t help thinking that it was awfully wasteful of me to spend the money on clothes instead of trying to help the less fortunate. And then I realized that by buying more clothing I was actually fueling jobs to people in southeast Asia and other poor countries where the garment industry exists. So I felt peaceful about my purchases for a while.

    But then…labor sweatshops and human trafficking stories started surfacing. Stories about unpaid garment workers being forced into prostitution because there was no other way to make the money for the medical bills & rent. How could I possibly wear clothing made with blood & stolen lives?

    I quit buying clothes. And then my clothes starting falling apart.

    So I started getting smarter about the whole thing. Now I buy clothing made in countries where sweatshops have not been reported. I also buy clothing at fair trade stores and at stores that sell goods made by women who have been rescued out of modern slavery and who support themselves with dignity. Yay for new clothes!

  • Mia

    Some people do not care that much about clothing. As long as you’re appropriately dressed (fits the occasion, making sure that everything fits, etc), does it matter that you don’t spend a lot on clothing.

    As a frequent of fashion blogs and someone who enjoys clothes shopping, I do spend quite a bit every month on clothes. I have very little debt, save money every month, and make enough to support my habit.

    I have champagne tastes, so I usually haunt the outlets, discounts, etc.

  • http://www.alotofbunck.blogspot.com Carmen

    My hubby and I are both in education and have 2 kids, a mortgage and a car payment. Our savings is modest while both kids are in childcare so I don’t feel comfortable spending a lot on extras right now. When I have the shopping bug and really need a fix I lean on thrifting. I rarely buy anything that isn’t either on sale or from a thrift store, but I constantly get compliments on my clothes. I realize quality items are important, but I don’t feel it’s necessary to spend a bundle on them. To keep my sale-only and thrift-only lifestyle in place I have to purposefully avoid catalogs and mass emails from some of my favorite stores. I don’t feel deprived though. I’m finding pieces that I never would have sought out and it feels so good to spend $10 on a dress, cropped jacket, skirt, belt, and shoes (that were brand new!) from sal val. I just got 2 outfits and some quality extras for $10! You can’t beat that!

    Obviously some items need to be new (undergarments, tennis shoes) but I don’t feel guilty buying quality new pieces when I know the rest of my wardrobe was mostly second hand.

    • GingerR

      I think this is a very reasonable approach.

      Many of us just plain like to shop. If circumstances don’t lend themselves to shopping at fancy places then get creative and shop places that fit into your circumstances.

      I think in many respects shopping on a limited budget gives you a lot more motivation to be unique. Anybody with the cash can buy an entire outfit. Putting something together with limited means requires true effort.

  • sa

    The problem is once you start spending too much,you start getting bored of the clothes and want even more ! I have been through this cycle,now I just sew my own dresses and the store ones do not even fit me and end up spending maybe $100 on fabric and shoes/mth.Pretty reasonable to me looking at our income !

  • http://modernmrsdarcy.com Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I don’t like to shop. I like to be fashionable and wear nice clothes, but I hate the process of getting them, and it’s not a priority for me time-wise right now. (Sal, I suspect I’d enjoy shopping with you–if I was close enough to Minneapolis to hire you!

    So for me, I don’t hunt down bargains or the “best” clothing options. I have finally–finally!–learned to bounce on great clothes when I encounter them and not search high and low for the “perfect” anything. Some months, I may spend quite a bit. Some months, I spend nothing.

    For me, the “how much is my time worth?” question is tightly bound with the “how much money do I spend on clothes” question. I’m sure there are others like me out there!

    As always, I appreciate the thoughtful tone you (and your readers) bring to the table on this topic.

    • http://departmentofcolor.blogspot.com Ms. M

      Yes, Anne, there are others like you out there! :) Time is the most valuable thing we have in life, in my opinion.

      I have a hard time finding clothes that fit, so when I see something I like, and it fits well, I will often buy it right then and there. Luckily for my wallet, this doesn’t happen very often.

      I do have a spending limit (6% of take-home pay) and I do have a wish list of wanted items. I keep my list in mind rather than actively searching for particular things, however.

      As far as spending goes, the key for me has been to keep my clothing funds in a separate savings account. This keeps me from frittering the money away on other impulse purchases.

      I do believe it’s important not to pinch pennies too much. I’ve learned to be careful not to let my wardrobe become worn-out or outdated. Our personal appearance, like it or not, affects our incomes. Customers and employers respond more positively to a well-dressed, well-groomed person.

    • Carol N.

      I do not like to shop either, but when I do find something that fits, I am likely to buy it in 2-3 colors if that is an option. I have finally figured out that spending a little more on my basic staple items works well for me and then I feel comfortable buying the more trendy items at less expensive stores. Having said that however, I now telework 3 days a week and the needs in my wardrobe have been cut drastically.

  • Rad

    I also think that you have a clear savings and cost goals squared away first, and then you should spend what you have left over, but in a reasonable way. I highly recommend the book “Your Money or Your Life,” because one of the key ideas is that the way you spend money should reflect your values. If you care about sports, your extra money (after expenses and savings) should reflect that. If you care about style, same. After reading this book, I realized that I care more about eating organic foods, traveling to see friends, left political causes, and movies/dates with my husband before clothes, but I still cared about care about clothes more than make up, home decor, vacations, museums, and sports, so I made some adjustments. As we are (slowly but surely) saving up for a house downpayment, I allow myself to spend about 8% of my post rent, post savings “variable costs” budget (which isn’t high, but isn’t nothing either, because I can “bank” it and buy some new boots after a few months).
    I think probably $500-$1K would be necessary to create a great work wardrobe, even in a highly professional and visible environment. 2 pairs of good heels, a 3 piece suit (skirt, pants, jacket), 1 blazer, 1 similar colored pants/skirt, and 5-8 dress shirts, 1-3 cardigans, and a few scarves would probably be sufficient.
    Good luck figuring out your budget needs, Ruby and Lynn!

  • Angela

    I have only recently (last 6 months) been enjoying these kind od style blogs, and done some serious shopping, but mostly on the cheap :). I think I look a bit more stylish, and have had some nice comments on my clothes, but I feel guilt. I hide stuff coming in the house, so that is my hint that I shouldn’t be buying. My husband and I work for a major financial institution he is an executive, but we have mtg, car pmts, kids etc.

    I am finished shopping until the cold weather starts. Something else I thought of: my husband spends 5% of his income once every year or so on suits, etc. I probably spend 1% in drips and drabs…..great conversation starter Sal!!

  • http://hal.cyondays.com Loren

    Ugh. I am constantly feeling a guilty about this sort of thing. I’m young, single, with a decent income. I’m debt free, saving more than suggested in my 401k & putting away money into a savings account, live in a modest apartment, I donate time and money to charities.
    But then I seem to have all this MONEY still in my account. So I spend it on things I want like clothes or fancy electronics. Things that I use on a very regular basis. And then I feel GUILTY about it. According to my math it IS usually between 3%-10%. I know that I am incredibly lucky to be in this situation and in my childhood we were on a very tight budget. I think it’s guilt about those things that makes me feel bad for buying stuff.

  • http://lazysubculturalgirl.wordpress.com Andi

    I am a SAHM and for years, felt guilty for the amount I spent on clothes and hobbies. At my lowest, it was $20/month, so the dollar amount was not the issue. Finally, I ended up having a conversation with the Hubs where I discovered that he considered clothes, makeup, hair, etc. to be maintenance in the same way we budget money for food. I was scrimping and saving to get the bare minimum done, because I thought of that money as taking away from our “extras” as a family, and he didn’t understand why. So that conversation was definitely illuminating for me.

    Having said that, I don’t spend as much on clothes as some people because my job requires me to get down and dirty. I’m not interested in fancy clothing because I’d have to spend all day worrying about ruining it. My friends who insist on name brands? Can have them. I look for durability, comfort and personal style first. I also swap clothes with friends of similar size, and I make some of my own clothing when I can’t find what I want. I probably spend way too much on my sewing hobby but relatively little on clothing.

  • http://www.stylinstacy.com Stacy

    If I spent 10% of my paycheck on clothes I think my hubby would throttle me LOL! I do spend more than 3%, though. ;) We save a lot and try to pay off that credit card each month, so our consumer debt is manageable. We of course have the mortgage and one car payment, too. I go through times where I spent a lot one month and then not much the next. I also sew quite a bit, so that helps me keep some of the costs down. I sew a lot of the kids’ clothes, so with those wardrobes that need to be replaced entirely just about every 6 months while they grow…that definitely helps with the cost of clothes in our house.

    • Eleanorjane

      Stacy – 10% of *your* paycheck? If you’re bringing in money, why on earth don’t you get to spend some of it if you want to? Maybe you don’t want to and that’s cool, but I’m worried by the implications. (And for those on a single income, I agree with Andi’s husband – you should still get a reasonable amount to spend on ‘maintenance’ i.e. clothes, hair, makeup etc.)

      Money often equals power in relationships, but I’m very keen on the idea that all contributions to the relationship should be valued i.e. looking after kids is just as important (or more so) than earning money.

  • - Tessa

    I so wish I could thrift shop, but I am tall and busty so most things there don’t fit me. I DO however buy lots of accessories second hand and love to do so. Sal, I would greatly appreciate any ideas you have on where the tall busty girl can second clothing hand shop! Alas, vintage is out of the question for me.

  • kathy

    When my kids were younger, we had daycare costs, so I really didn’t spend much money on clothes. Then I went through a minimalist phase where I was determined to buy quality over quantity and actually WEAR everything in my closet. Then I discovered fashion blogs. I’m not overspending by any means, but I have spent more in the last 18 months than I have in a long time. However, fashion blogs have shown me new ways to wear my old clothes, so I’ve bought very little for the summer this year and am learning to restyle a whole lot more. I have been spending a bit more on shoes this year however because, whereas before I felt I only needed the basics, this year I’m loving all the fun new styles and colors. I tend to buy clothes at the beginning/end of each season to update my wardrobe a little, and ONLY on sale.

    I recently ordered a new pair of sandals that are schedule to arrive today. I was feeling a little guilty about it earlier in the week when I placed the order, only to come home to find a shoe delivery waiting for my husband. Harumph! I quickly got over my guilt, because I know his shoes probably cost almost twice as mine (he’s a sneaker fanatic and never skimps on quality shoes).

  • ismay

    I enjoy style and shop quite a bit, but am a sales and bargain junkie, and expensive items just make me feel anxious/guilty/weird. Would like to be a thrifter but it hasn’t been very convenient where I live. So I end up spending about 2% of income these days, and that’s more than I used to… Work is on the casual end of business casual, so I’d definitely need to spend more if a more formal style prevailed.

    I must say 10% would feel incredibly high, and in my personal context, irresponsible. But my values include saving enough money to retire earlyish, so I generally try not to control spending, and aspire to a more minimalist lifestyle.

  • http://notdeadyetstyle.blogspot.com/ Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    This a a very discussion-worthy topic, Sal. It touches on our values as well as our finances. Like Rad says above, the two definitely intersect.

    I’m at about 4% of income for clothing expenses, per year. So I guess I’m in the average, at the lower end. But I cannot let myself “over-pay” for clothing, so I shop sales, consignments and thrifts. I might miss out on a few dream-pieces that way.

  • http://shelflove.wordpress.com Jenny

    I spend very, very little on clothes, but always feel vaguely guilty for what I do spend. Why, I have no idea. We have plenty of money, we just budget it elsewhere. (We have very tight savings goals as my husband is trying to retire very early.) I think it would help to have a specific amount budgeted for MY clothes, not just “clothes” as a line item that include the kids’ clothes as well. For some reason, I don’t mind spending on them each season, but picking up a few basics for myself sets off alarm bells in my head. I can easily stick to whatever is budgeted, but having nothing specifically in mind makes me think my budget item is zero, if that makes any sense.

    • Toni

      I completely understand. Im a mother of three girls under the age of three. I have 2 sweatpants and 3 shirts that I wear. A dress and a pair of jeans and shorts. The girls have waaaaay more clothes than me. Jackets, shoes, sweaters, everything.

      I also live with my sister-in-law who spends 110% of her income plus her boyfriends money on clothes. It makes me not want to buy anything because I see how much she spends and how unhappy she really is.

  • http://ragsagainstthemachine.blogspot.com/ Terri

    Source on the 3-10%? This is a fascinating topic to me. I’ve been keeping my thrift receipts for the past 3 months for an upcoming post at Rags. By this percentage, I am waaaay underspending and having a great time doing it. And yet, it is more than I’ve spent on clothing in my adult life!

  • Tara

    I feel more guilty about supporting sweat-shop manufactured clothing (which is almost ALL clothing sold in the U.S.) than about spending money on clothes. I’m trying to buy a larger percentage of my wardrobe 2nd hand these days, which helps with both issues. For those of you who try to buy only from responsible companies, aside of American Apparel, where do you shop?

  • Lydia

    I have tracked my spending on clothes for the last few years (I draw pictures of what I buy and date them, as well as list the dollar amount). I notice I spend more at certain times of the year, (usually on my vacation time), while at other points in the year I buy very little. I think I spend about 1500 dollars a year, give or take 500 dollars less. I could spend much more on clothes than I really do because I am a saver, and I save and spend the most on travel, and live modestly in other ways — but I love the thrill of a deal and usually always buy on sale.

    I do not worry as much as I used to about this — many friends I know have spent huge amounts on clothes, and then very little, or splurged, and then cut back — for me, I am more consistent — I don’t yo-yo back and forth, but simply buy what I like and need to freshen up my wardrobe.

    The guilt comes in when I know others, family, charities, good causes — could use the money in other ways. I do however volunteer at work, and give money to good causes, but I guess clothing and wearing things that fit well, form such a key part of my identity that I will always make financial room for it — luckily in this day an age, a person can look and feel good at many different price points,

  • http://nosignposts.blogspot.com The Waves

    Very important topic, and Sal, I loved your response. I agree that it is really important to settle whatever guilt-related issues one might have before talking figures and percentages. Also, there is the question of wearability – it is not so much the amount of money spent as what you get for your money that we should focus on. One could spend 50% of one’s paycheck on clothes and still have “nothing to wear.”

    Personally, as much as I love clothes and fashion, I am starting to realise that I feel better about myself when I don’t spend big bucks on clothes. Since I don’t have tons of money to spend on anything, it comes down to priorities. I give myself some freedom to shop every once in a while because I don’t drink, smoke or go out much, but I don’t feel comfortable putting down a percentage for myself. It seems that there’d almost always be something more important I could spend that 3% on. It helps that I mostly buy second hand – 3% sounds like an awful lot of money anyway. :)

  • pope suburban

    I’m pretty opportunistic about clothes. My first priority is always my bills, and since I am lucky to have very little debt (only a couple thousand left on my car), those are pretty easy to pay. I also live really, really modestly by habit and natural inclination, so it’s easy for me to have spare money at the end of every month. If I see something then, or I need to replace something, I can just do it. I set limits on it, sure, depending on what it is and where my bank account is at the moment, but that is easy for me to do. I’m like Andi in that I started from a place that, totally unbeknownst to me, most people considered really severe. I’m still happy living modestly, but I’m learning to ease up on myself and it’s been good. And my natural frugality keeps me from going nuts with it; I sort of love my built-in sense of moderation. :)

    I wouldn’t say I’m entirely guilt-free about buying clothes, but I know I need them and I know that quality workmanship is often worth the extra money. My real problem is anxiety. I recently spent two years unemployed and feeling pretty hopeless. Money fear was a part of every day. Things were tight enough that I didn’t do anything that was not absolutely essential. I’m working again, but that doesn’t go away overnight. Every time I buy something, even if it is necessary, I worry. I feel like I am being irresponsible, like I can’t pay it off, like it will end poorly. It’s not just clothing, it’s everything. I understand the conscience problem even if mine is kind of different. I think what helps is knowing your situation and your budget very well. That way, when your brain starts in with the negativity, you can take a deep breath, look at the facts, and work through it. It’s not an instant fix but like any other thing, if you do it often enough, it becomes a habit and improves your life.

  • Becky

    Hi! i found you via College Fashion.

    I agree with what you said, especially that we should always save. Pay yourself first! You don’t know what could happen. On the other side of the same coin, we should have an urgency to get out of and avoid debt. As long as a person owes someone money, they are a slave to them. So one should feel guilty if they spend lots of money on clothes but are letting their debt pile up or don’t have anything saved for an emergency (one of the few sureties in life).

    Right now I’m loving spending $30/mo at a local thrift store while I save and work on starting a new business. I’m kind of addicted to this though, and I think my spending habits are forever changed (after never paying more than $10 on a dress or $5 on a shirt, and when my favorite pair of boots were $3, how could I ever buy new again), but when I’m rich, I think I’ll just graduate to vintage stores. There you’re basically paying extra because someone else already did the work of rummaging through the junk to find the gems.

    ANYWAY yes a person should reflect on what their personal wants and needs are and get creative so that they aren’t unhappy. Reusing clothes, selling those they don’t use anymore, shuffling spending categories. Also, a family should more or less be on the same page about finances. Relationship peace is key to personal peace.

  • http://www.tobeunfettered.com Mary

    I just did some quick calculating in my head…goodness–I would say I am around the 10% but man do I love shopping!

  • http://www.befabulousdaily.us Cynthia

    I have, failed attempts at GAAD included, spent money on clothes with horrifying, reckless abandon this year. I have probably been close to that 10% figure. I just paid off my credit card though, and I know it’s harder psychologically for me to charge more on it when I’m adding something to zero, than when I’m adding a little bit o’ debt to a whole lot more debt. I have to get this under control in a realistic way during the next year. Realistic for me is definitely not spending zero. I like to have new clothes to add into my rotation fairly regularly. But it definitely has to mean fewer, smarter purchases.

    I definitely have guilt and baggage around shopping, specifically for clothes. When I was a kid we were fairly poor, and wanting anything because it was trendy or because our friends had one or just because it was pretty, got us a verbal smackdown for being “frivolous”. My mom has the stereotypical combination of being “above all that” because she was poor, but also projecting obvious envy of people who can “have all that”. When she was younger and still had energy to be overly involved in my details, I would actually make sure not to take any pretty new things home with me on visits because of the snide comments. I’m sure I picked up some of my weirdness about spending (spend too much but feel guilty) from that.

  • j

    Aside from personal finance and the human rights issue, there is also the environmental aspect. Non-organic cotton is full of pesticides. Personally I try to by organic if possible, and only clothes I need and love! There is a lot of nice fairtrade and organic clothing shops online.
    My favorite is:
    http://www.peopletree.co.uk/destinations/

  • http://[email protected] Liz

    I just graduated from high-school and spent what was to me a TON of my grad party money (about $350) on new clothes. It was important to me because I recently interviewed for a job at a clothing store in town and lost out to another girl I know. I didn’t have any nice clothes for the interview, so I wore an old cheap blazer and a pair of ill-fitting, borrowed pants. The other girl is a very sharp dresser. This is probably one of the main reasons I didn’t get the job. I felt that, moving forward in life and going to college, I needed a nice wardrobe that would work for work :D

  • j

    By the way, I recommend ethical consumers to avoid American Apparel: http://therottenlittlegirls.com/2009/09/02/reasons-american-apparel-sucks-nsfw/

  • http://www.dresswithcourage.com Elissa

    Sal, I love your response to these questions concerning clothing budgets. Especially your views on spending guilt. I have felt definite remorse after shopping, even if I only plunked down $15 when thrifting, because I grew up on an extremely limited budget. It was considered wasteful to buy more clothes than one really, really needed. Money was a constant source of stress, and my childhood was defined by overheard conversations regarding how broke we were.

    Now that I’m in amuch more secure financial situation, it’s taken me a long time to get over my buyer’s remorse. I’ve had to do a lot of journaling and introspection regarding why I felt so crappy about a purchase. I work around it by shopping in thrift shops and only buying things that are on clearance when I’m in a retail store. I agree that exploring this issue is worth the time. Shopping is a joy and a great way to be creative, no matter what your budget is.

  • emmy

    Sounds silly but is this 3-10% cited in the article and the percentages readers say they spend pre- or post-taxes?

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      The articles I read didn’t specify, but I HAVE to imagine that the percentage is after taxes. And not silly at all!

  • Eleanorjane

    This is a really interesting topic. I don’t have any guilt issues unless I actually buy something that doesn’t end up being wearable for some reason. (And even then I’m likely to chalk it up to experience and move on). I’m really thankful that guilt isn’t generally part of my life (Unless I’ve been mean to someone or something then it’s good to feel guilty so I am motivated to say sorry). Basically I make choices deliberately so I’m happy with the choice and don’t feel guilty if it was the right choice or regretful if it was the wrong one.

    I wonder if clothes are generally much more affordable in the US than New Zealand? I know my Mother in law says clothes are more affordable and better quality in the UK. I usually spend over 10% of my after tax income a month on clothes and I’m considered well dressed but not at all over the top. I almost always buy things on sale and don’t buy designer or even stuff from high-end chain stores.

    Anyhoo – how about a post specifically about guilt, Sally? It seems to an issue for a lot of folk and it’s such a wasteful emotion!

  • http://ourpassionforfashion.blogspot.com/ B.

    I spend on the higher side because clothes are a bit of a hobby and passion for me and because of my job. It is in politics and so it is very image oriented and I know that I am selling the idea of my competency before I even open my mouth by looking a certain way. (which is sad, on the one hand, but absolutely true).

    My closest is a mixture of high and low in terms of $. Admittedly, my best and most commented on pieces are the ones I spent more on so for basics I go cheap and on sale. If it`s a suit jacket or suit separate, a dress or a pair of shoes I am okay with spending $100-200 (usually only after it`s been heavily reduced). Everything else I like to spend $20 or less on.

    I don`t have kids yet so on Sundays I hunt and I kinda soak in all the sales and looks and try to find whatever I am looking for at the best price, fit etc and give myself a challenge. So for a couple of Sundays in a row I may not buy anything at all and the blammo, $200 done and gone!

    Like a couple of other women mentioned, I`ve learned to pounce on something ASAP if I love it.

    I`d say I`m in the 15% but my husband is an accountant so I`m gonna ask him to guesstimate for us as this is an interesting topic I`d like to think more about.

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  • Jayne

    Wow, how interesting, I thought I was alone in my guilt issues! It just shows you can’t trust the magazines and media which show women galloping about in gay abandon spending like crazy on clothes and gleefully taking on the debt.

    My shopping problems are a combination of guilt and being overwhelmed by choice. When I enter a store and see a huge collection of different clothes, I just feel paralyzed by choice. Plus the “sticker shock” of paying all that money for clothes.

    It’s interesting that most people here who experience guilt came from modest backgrounds. I think it was implied to us all that we were a burden on our parents, and that our needs were wrong – particularly as teenage girls inflicted with peer pressure and a desperate need to fit in clothes-wise. I always felt like I was wearing the wrong thing, and I felt unable to ask my parents for money for clothes.

    I have got over my problems choosing clothes for work by using a personal shopper. I simply let her choose all my clothes, set a budget with her, and then get infected with her enthusiasm on the day. I don’t actually feel guilty because it IS part of my job to look good and invest in myself. Updating my wardrobe helped me upgrade my job and it was really worth it, getting the job and keeping it has made me feel much better about investing in my wardrobe.