New year, new you, new wardrobe. Pretty simple, right? Not so much when you realize that your newest style craves are restricted to your current job’s same-old-same-old salary. Do yourself a favor in 2018 and vow to shop your one-of-a-kind style with the help of a fashion budget. It may sound less fun to shop with a frugal eye, but I promise you’ll like the way financially responsible looks on you. Check out my tips for creating a wardrobe budget that will have you looking like a million bucks all year long.
It’s All In the Numbers
Regardless of how much you’ve been splurging on style in the past, the truth is that you’re only supposed to spend up to 5% of your take-home-salary on clothing. So, if your take-home pay is $30,000 a year then you would spend $1,500 a year on keeping your closet happy. You can budget it as a monthly expense or seasonally – depending on your wardrobe needs – but bottom line is that you don’t want to be spending above your means on fashion. After all, what’s the point of looking good if you can’t afford to go out?
At first glance, 5% seems pretty generous – that is until you consider that this also includes what you would spend on alterations, dry cleaning, shoes, handbags and whatever other fashion essentials are involved in making you look like the glam-gal everyone knows and loves. This is exactly why you need to stop spending spontaneously on shopping sprees and start devising a fashion game plan to keep your look on trend. Personally, I allot the 5% into my budget and space it out over 12 months. Some months I spend less and then the remaining can move into the next month. Some I spend more and that means I need to be tighter with my pennies the following month.
Make a List
You know how if you go to the grocery store while hungry you walk out with three different flavors of potato chips instead of the gallon of milk you went in there for? Well, the same goes for clothing. If you don’t have a plan going into the shopping trip, you’ll end up walking out without the jeans you needed but 3 amazing sweaters you didn’t need at all.
Consult your current wardrobe before any shopping trip and take stock of what you need to fill it out. Do you need a new, sleek moto jacket to freshen up those shift dresses lost at the back of your closet? What colors would work best with what you already own? Taking inventory of what you have to assess what you need (versus want) and making a shopping list is a great first step to making your clothing budget work.
Go for Quality Over Quantity
Ok, I totally understand the desire to get the most for your money. After all, you work hard for that cash and you want to make sure it’s working hard for you. But trust me, there’s no sense in throwing away your money on poorly-made clothing just because you may be able to afford more of it.
Invest in fewer but quality clothing pieces that will withstand the test of time – and your finicky dryer – over clothing at prices that are just too good to be true. Because at the end of the day you get what you pay for – and a $10 shirt-turned-rag after just a few wears just isn’t a good investment.
Shop the Classics
I’m not telling you to stop shopping for trendy clothing (everyone knows you’re never going to stop following what’s on the runway). What I am saying, however, is to make sure you buy classic pieces too that won’t go out of style at the end of season. Consider implementing the 80/20 rule on your next shopping adventure.
Make 80% of your purchases classic pieces that can be worn with multiple items: like nude heels and a black pencil skirt. The last 20% of your haul can be for trend pieces, like bold patterned trendy shoes or a cute clutch. Limiting your splurge (re: want) items will not only help your wallet but will also keep your closet from busting at the seems with those had-to-have pieces you only wore once.
It’s All In the Fit
Buying clothes that fit your body is an essential Must-Do on a wardrobe budget. If you’re a petite do your best to shop brands that cater to your frame and offer petite size clothing. If you know you have a hard time finding jackets that compliment your broad shoulders, buy a size bigger and then take it to a tailor for a custom fit. Don’t waste your time (or money) on clothing that doesn’t fit right. Because the truth is, if it doesn’t fit you well, you won’t wear it. And you don’t have time for that nonsense.
Treat Them Right
Our clothes are a form of expression and how we show the world who we are. You may not have the means to own every item you fall in love with on Instagram, but the pieces you are lucky enough to own should be treated well. Make your wardrobe last as long as possible by taking good care of your clothes.
Get in the habit of reading the care instructions on every item and giving them the royal treatment at every wash. Resist the urge to leave them in a pile on the floor at the end of a long day and take the time to neatly fold and put them away. After all, they too had a long day making you look good. Treat your clothes with the respect that they deserve and we promise they’ll help you get all the praise you deserve. How’s that for a worthy investment?
This is a guest post, but as always, the thoughts match with what I believe about fashion and budgeting, otherwise I wouldn’t publish the post.