I mentioned in my winter capsule wardrobe post that I purchased quite a few new things this winter. I really identify with my personal styling clients who have a hard time spending money on their wardrobes, because it's hard for me. There's a constant push and pull between my naturally frugal nature (thanks, mom and dad!), our family's financial goals, and my desire for a quality wardrobe. For many years, I fell into the trap of only buying bargains, regardless of whether they were items I loved and wore. Even now, I am uncomfortable spending money on my wardrobe, and am more likely to try to talk myself out of buying than into spending. Of course, intellectually, I know that I need quality items and that they often cost more.
When discussing this with mr. mindful closet, he and I decided that it would actually make things easier for me if I had a set amount that I could (and probably should) spend per month on clothes. We decided that I can spend about $200 per month and that that money can be distributed however I like, i.e. I can spend $600 one month and then none for three months (and yes, my winter spree means I won't be buying anything for several months). For people who are very focused on fashion, this amount may not seem like enough. For others, this might seem like a lot. For me, it feels like a good balance between permission to spend without feeling frivolous. In addition, I'll add in any money I get from selling clothing that's not working for me and any store credit I've earned from using reward programs. (P.S. I did have a budget a couple of years ago, but had recently tried to stop buying altogether, which did NOT work. I still spent, but felt guilty about it. I'm definitely a moderator, not an abstainer.)
To maximize my budget, I had to get creative. I stalked items on The Real Real, a online consignment store. I followed a designer I liked on Instagram and was able to snag a sweater I'd been eyeing for 60% off at a warehouse sale they advertised via their Instagram account. Most of the items I bought were all natural fibers. I tried really hard to buy things that will last longer than their predecessors. I tried to resist things that were bargains but which won't hold up.
Keep in mind that this is where my priorities lie. Your priority might be eating lunch out often and spending less on clothes, but I do think we all need to allocate a little money towards what we wear. As one of my new favorite frugal bloggers says, "you can afford anything, but not everything".
Do you have a clothing budget?