Thursday, November 15, 2012

Do you HAVE a clothing budget?


I field a LOT of criticism because I show very expensive clothing in my prototype wardrobes.  Constantly, I am told that "I can't afford ______."

So I ask the writer to tell me what their clothing budget is, and I will try to work within their budget to find some things that they will like.

Nobody - EVER - has come back to me with a number.

We all know, possibly to the penny, what we're going to spend next month on our housing costs.

We know within reasonable limits what our utility costs will be.  Ditto for transportation, food, retirement savings, and personal care expenses.

Is clothing LESS of a necessity?

But for most of us, the clothing budget is like a force of nature.  Or driven completely by whims.  Or seeing something we like in a store.  Or we just spend what's left over after everything else is paid.

Vivienne had a clothing budget - quite a generous one, because she was willing to scrimp on other things.  Once every four, five, or six months, she could go shopping with a PILE of cash at her disposal...

I got in the habit of including clothing expenses in my budget decades ago, when I left college.  It never occurred to me that I would treat it any differently than any other regular expense.  My unscientific survey of a handful of people during this last week suggests that nobody else I know does this.

Do you?


                        NORDSTROM.com

53 comments:

  1. I definitely fall in line with the "whatever is left over" grouping. I do see the value in intentional budgeting for clothing, but find/found it difficult to do over the years...in my younger decades because I had four children to feed and clothe, and now as I near retirement, I find myself making do with what I have. That said, I do admire the choices you show and while I might not be able to afford them, your prototypes are great teaching tools for understanding form, function, and color adaptation in putting together a wardrobe. Maybe one cannot afford a lovely cashmere sweater, but perhaps a decent merino in a similar style might suffice.

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  2. My clothing budget is very small: $500 per year. I usually don't spend that much, sometimes less.This includes clothing gifts (the dark plum cashmere sweater for last Christmas from darlingest.) I have a core wardrobe of lovely items, such as cashmere coat, down coat, jackets (being in northern New England). The rest of the wardrobe is very much like your 333. Now that I am retired and living in a tiny village, I don't have many occasions to dress up. But I do add basics each year. (EXCEPT last year, during the shopping fas)t. I am replacing this year, as needed, and will buy beautiful quality, maybe on ebay for a handbag, say. I don't feel deprived at all. In fact, I'm having lots of fun using what I have...with accessories...thanks to you, thanks so much to you.

    Swissy

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  3. I am interested in boundaries--both of cost and of quantity. I asked a question like this on my blog a few years ago. I received no answer to the first issue (on cost) and only 1 person (Duchesse) ventured a guess on the number of items that entered her home.

    As a frugal type with extremist tendencies, I try to spend as little as possible-- especially since wonderful items pop into my arms at Goodwill and similar. So I only spend a couple of hundred dollars a year. That can lead to too many items, since most items I buy are second hand.

    My 21 year old daughter--in a heavy clothing stage of life--was given a rough budget of $1000/year. When I looked over the year's cc bills, I discovered that she had spent about $2000! And many things were 2nd hand. Too much and too many. So she instituted boundaries this year and so far is sticking to them.

    I would love to hear specifics from others!

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  4. I don't have a budget and I should. I should also plan and organize like you and Vivienne. If I was organized I wouldn't fill my closets with things I never wear. I try to be frugal but I end up buying ten things on sale of which I only wear one. I would have been SO much better off just buying one high end item. I have lost some weight recently and am trying VERY hard to "shop in my closet", but I still fall victim to sales. Ahhhh...will I EVER learn??

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  5. I do not have a clothing budget nor 'budget' for any thing else, but I do have a real good sense for what I can afford at any time or not. (Could have been a finance minister). Back when my children were young and the husband started his new company, I was very happy that I had good quality clothing that carried me to the lean years. When things improved, I bought good clothing, and of course, I splurged at times. But my basic principle has always been to purchase one nice blouse instead of three inexpensive ones. I am on a buying fast for the next year having purchased three nice Eileen Fisher items this year. That said, I much rather look at your wardrobes featuring well made clothing (that Jill Sander cardigan still haunts me). Keep up the good work, Janice

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  6. I used to spend about $165 a month. But not for that long - I realized I was both fickle and experimental and decided to try to shop only from thrift stores. I still do buy some retail but very little. Part of that is that seeing a lot of the same and similar items/colors turns me off. I now aim for $50 and come in around $40-60. I have to alter most of what I acquire, since I'm five feet tall. I also care about how something feels on my body as I wear it, beyond standing still in front of a mirror. I find that I can't tell for sure before alterations are done, even with pant lengths, which affect the drape. I sometimes do much more extensive alterations for the sake of style. My husband calls it remanufacturing to my specifications. He calls my clothing budget, therefore, an entertainment budget. I don't spend anything else on entertainment beyond an occasional magazine. I used to love sitting around in restaurants and also was a dedicated film buff. That's all fallen away and I wouldn't be surprised if one day the clothing interest falls away.... if I live that long. :D

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  7. I have a "Visa" budget which includes clothing, eating out, books, gym, tickets, charity, etc. Basically anything that is a variable expense that isn't groceries or transit. That Visa budget is currently set at 8% of the household's take home pay, but I was weak at Fluevog's so the 12 month running average is almost at 10% as of the end of October. No idea right now what the actual outlay for clothes is though.

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  8. Since I've been reading your blog I have been far more intentional about selecting additions to my wardrobe. I don't look at the price tags on the items you post; I look in thrift stores and sometimes in retails stores for clearance items that are very similar to one that you have shown. I ALWAYS find something affordable and my wardrobe closely resembles several of the capsules you post.
    None of the thrifted pieces I have purchased were in poor condition or just poor quality brands. I have found name brands and even a few designer pieces at thrift prices. It just takes planning. It's easy to get overwhelmed by a price tag and it takes planning to acquire a beautiful and functional wardrobe. It takes a different mindset than our culture in the US is currently embracing.
    I always take your beautiful suggestions as suggestions....and an invitation to have fun finding something just like it at a less painful price point. Love your work!

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  9. I'm just boggled by the idea that people bitch to you that specific examples shown are too expensive. I always knew that the items were just examples of shapes and colors. But perhaps I have a different outlook, being a hobby seamstress all pictures are just inspiration. Which leads to your question. I have never figured out what my clothing budget should be since I sew 50% of my wardrobe. Do I reduce it by 50% and add that to the hobby/entertainment budget? But if I take money from the clothing budget and the hobby money is spent to make pillows or curtains do I add the money back to the clothing budget and deduct it from household? Do I consider the items I produce myself as entertainment only and have them be bonus items to the wardrobe? Round and round I go and never figure it out, just giving myself a headache. Then I soothe the headache by buying myself more fabric. ;-)

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  10. I don't have a budget, but in the past I rarely bought expensive clothing....Your blog has actually saved me money by buying fewer and slightly more expensive items that work with my whole wardrobe concept. Good Will has also benefited from this new realization. Why clutter my closet with things that I like, but will never wear??

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  11. Hmmm- I have never even thought about a budget for clothing. Buying clothes was something I did when I needed to, as a pastime, when I felt bored, when I felt sad, when I was happy---you get the picture. It never occurred to me to factor it in to the monthly spending as part of the overall picture. And as you probably have guessed, I spent more than necessary and bought more than I needed or wanted. Although I have downsized and limited my shopping excursions drastically, I still don't have a clear idea of what I spend on the average. That will be a project for me for the next few months. I think this will help me to develop a workable budget.

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  12. I do not have a specific budget for clothes but I do have an overall budget that I work with. I have a certain amount of money that is transferred to me every two weeks from my husband's paycheck. It's mainly for groceries, dry cleaning, drugstore stuff, etc. Whatever is left over is mine to do with what I wish. If I want to save it for a trip, a gift for a loved one, take a friend to lunch, get my hair colored, or buy a new sweater, I use that money.
    I used to joke with my family that I was going to feed them a steady diet of rice and beans so I could expand my wardrobe. Of course, that is not what I do - far from it, in fact. I spend a lot on food.
    Most of my shopping is done in secondhand stores, so I don't really spend that much to begin with.

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  13. I budget $20 a month on clothing, including undies and shoes, but I generally spend less. I have most of what I need in "timeless" basics (a la Vivienne) and I add a few items each year to replace or update or otherwise augment what I already have. Obviously, I don't spend a lot on clothes. My winter coat was new with tags from a resale shop 6 years ago, I just got a $75 blouse on sale at a major dept. store for $18.00, and I save up for a major purchase -- such as shoes. I only pay cash for clothes, so there is no temptation to overspend. IMO, most of the clothes available for sale are not well made and/or represent trends that don't work for me. What I get from this blog are ideas for new combinations of clothes and accessories from among the items I already own (or could purchase within my budget). I take the clothes presented here as examples or prototypes.

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  14. We have a family clothing budget. How much each person gets to spend depends on the circumstance. We live in New England where the weather demands a wardrobe for roughly three different seasons (hot, really cold, somewhere in between). We also have growing boys who chew up LOTS of that clothing budget. Dear hubby and I get what's left. Sometimes there isn't anything left. This blog fits my life, not because it showcases expensive clothes, but because it teaches me how to build a WARDROBE (not just a closet full of clothes). I can look at Janice's brilliant examples, look at what I already have, and ALWAYS realize I have more choices than I thought. If my khaki pants come from Target and not LLBean, does that really matter? The point is, I know how to make those khaki pants work!

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  15. Oh goodie I get to put on my financial planner hat! I suggest people spend no more than 20% of their income on "discretionary" spending--eating out, charitable deductions, entertainment, trips, and anything but the most basic clothing. The amount spent on clothing with my more frugal clients (the ones that have savings!) is generally around $1,200/year for women--guys get away with around $750 somehow. It's possible to do it with less, but some jobs require a different level of clothing. If you work at home or are a stay at home parent, you could probably spend far less if you wanted to. For some people, clothing is a joy in life and they'd rather have that than a WII--all financial decisions involve trade-offs.

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  16. I was raised without a clothing budget. Clothing was something you weren't supposed to care about. A few years ago, I gave myself permission to care, and began forcing myself to spend at least a little on clothing each month.

    I don't have a strict budget, but I tend to spend about $2500/year. That averages around $100-$300 per month. I rarely go over $150 per month, unless I'm buying something pricey.

    I'm very, very slowly upgrading my wardrobe. The most valuable lesson I've learned is that it's o.k. to live with a few gaps in my wardrobe. I don't have to have everything right away. Yes, if I'm invited to special event, I might end up doing some hasty "panic" shopping, but that's no reason to panic right now. I don't love everything in my closet, but it's all wearable.

    I keep a wish-list of things and I try to be as specific as possible about the brand, the design, the fabric content, and the price I'm willing to pay for each item. I try to decide on all of the above before following through with a purchase. Insisting on good quality, while refusing to pay exorbitant prices, are two things that help me stay within my budget.

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  17. We just moved to a place with actual seasons so our whole family is having to do some serious shopping this year. We do a month by month budget and allocate as available and who has the most urgent clothing needs (boys winter coats trumps mom's new jeans for example). But it works out to about $300-$500 a few times a year for me. I look and look and look, watch sales, evaluate gaps in my wardrobe and know what items are coming close to retirement. So when I do get a chance to eek a few 100 out of a budget, I know where it will be spent...and sometimes DON'T spend it if there isn't anything available that fits my needs. Have to say this blog has made it a LOT easier to shop because I know what I'm looking for before I enter the store and don't need to be carried by "whim" on purchases. Oh, and I've started shopping one tick above where I used to shop. So instead of Target and Old Navy, I choose Gap, LL Bean and Eddie Bauer. But I know that my Ralph Lauren items from 10 years ago STILL look good so hopefully by limited the overall number of items in my wardrobe, in a year or two I'll be able to upgrade again when I'm no longer filling in so many necessesities.

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  18. I spend about 10% of my net income on clothing and consider it entertainment, maintenance, therapy, and professional development (dress for the job you want not the job you have). My rules are never have more on your AmEx card than you can pay off at the end of the month and never pay full price or shipping for anything. If an item costs less than a pizza, which you would eat and have nothing to show for it, than you don't even need to think twice about making the purchase. I tend to have high quality basics filled in with trendy patterns and colors. I have a very short neck, so I opt out on most scarves and pendants, but have quite a collection of belts and bracelets.

    Your lovely ideas of seasonless combinations are pure magic. I have never considered them a shopping list or a report card on my own choices. - Nan

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  19. As a child, I always hated it when my mother and grandmother brought me used clothing! (I usually ended up loving it of course!) In my 20's and 30's I was able to buy new - but usually went for quantity over quality. In the past year since I jumped on the capsule wardrobe idea, I actually find it easier to shop in places like Goodwill - I'm usually looking for a particular color and that's how my GW divides clothes. It may mean waiting, but I usually end up with what I want and it's better quality than what I could afford new. I supplement with Tar-jay and Jacque Pennoi when I really need a piece that can't be thrifted. As the capsule concept has sunk in, and I really understand now what I actually will wear consistently, I will probably begin buying higher quality because I know I will get my money's worth from it. Need to do the budget thing though!

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  20. Fascinating.

    I see. I think (at least I think). I buy if it will really work. No budgets -- I mean no preordained budget, obviously I can't buy, buy, buy, nor would I wish to.

    No real planning, I'm ashamed to admit. . .

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  21. "Copy from the best" is what my sewing instructor used to say. How can we get inspired looking only at cheap, mass produced items? Honestly, how literal are these drive-by critics? You are teaching us a system of making a workable wardrobe that we can make our own. Where does it say 'use these exact pieces or it won't work'??? Yet in truth, we shall be able to afford a more expensive piece for our wardrobe if we follow Vivienne's philosophy. I say, ignore them, Janice. Those who complain are missing the point entirely. I love your blog just the way it is. -Poppy

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  22. Thank you for addressing budget! You have helped me be happy with mine! I have been unemployed for a long time and had a budget of about $25 per month until recently-now closer to $35. That includes the cost of dry cleaning (about $8/item), repairing and resoling shoes, and repairing purses. I sew well (and all sewing costs go in the clothing budget), it is much cheaper to find good clothes at thrift and consignment shops. I discovered Debtors Anonymous (DA) which helped me create a "spending plan" to buy goods and services that would serve me without buying compulsively (thoughtlessly) or being a miser (doing without what I need as opposed to want). The Vivienne Files has been of enormous help to me to create a mostly workable, sometimes beautiful wardrobe on little money. Thank you so much. Vivienne Files also helped me realize when I didn't have something I needed-a mid-weight water resistant coat. So after looking in consignment stores and thrift shops for about 6 months (not finding anything), I was able to go to Nordstrom's summer sale with $300 in hand (from a gift) to buy a coat that would last another 10 or 20 years. It didn't cost that much! I am sorry to post anonymously. It is required when I mention Debtors Anonymous.

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  23. My clothing budget is sporadic. We live in a rural area, with horses and goats and chickens. Needless to say, when I'm at home I'm living in jeans and sweatshirts. But I do work full time in a corporate level position. My wardrobe was seriously outdated and had somehow drifted to be more casual than professional. Your 333 wardrobe fits my work place perfectly. Recently, I took inventory of my closet and tossed everything that didn't fit the 333 profile. I've always been drawn to quality and classics so having a few nice pieces is infinitely more attractive to me than a huge wardrobe of fun, inexpensive clothes. I did budget about $500 per month for three months to fill in the gaps. I was able to buy a few quality pieces and some very nice scarves. (could you do a tutorial on how to tie different types of scarves?)
    I love that you put a mix of designer and off the rack clothes on your site. I can copy the designer stuff into my price range, and I know where to shop for the off the rack stuff.

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    Replies
    1. Annette,
      check out Mai Tais's blog found on the sidebar here. She is the expert on all things scarf.

      Delete
  24. I have been thinking about this all morning - and could write a page full, but won't. I have always had a tight budget all my life, even as a child, so have learned to be a very careful shopper. Now that my children are grown, there is a little more money for clothing, but a life of careful budgetary planning creates a mind set that is hard to depart from. We don't set a percentage, but rather a dollar amount for my clothing (its actually a very small percent). This budget includes hair care and cosmetics.

    I don't mind seeing the more expensive items in your plan. I see everything you post as a teaching tool, which I can then apply to my local stores and my budget. However, because of what I have learned from you, I am thinking of upgrading the quality of some of my clothes. It is hard though, when I am used to not spending so much, yet the few more expensive items that I have definitely wear better.

    I just want to say thanks for all you have shared.

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  25. I never had a budget, and I spent way too much money on bargains found at the local mall, online, etc. I have been on the shopping diet for two years - I fell off the wagon a couple of times, but only due to the need to fill a specific hole in my wardrobe.

    I am now on a new eating plan, and am releasing excess weight each month. Your blog is helping me to plan my wardrobe for when I hit my goal weight. I have participated in Project 333 for three years, but I still have too much and seem to fall into a rut. Your illustrated blog (thank you!) shows us how we really can make more than 160 combinations out of 33 items of clothing.

    I have also rediscovered silk scarves. I have a very short neck, but I have experimented with different ways to tie them, and I think I look pretty good most days.

    I love Vivienne's plan! I have probably a year or so to go before I hit my target weight. I will begin to set aside money each pay so that I can take cash and buy the best I can afford when I am rebuilding my wardrobe.

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  26. Rest assured you are not alone, Janice. I follow exactly the same process you described.

    I do have a clothing budget (which includes accessories and makeup). Something around 1,000 euros for each Summer and Winter sales. I plan my wardrobe shopping very carefully. I do not spend this money if I cannot find something that fits my needs. Instead I keep the money on a separate savings account until the next sales. I rarely buy outside the sales period, if I do it's always something small like a T-Shirt or a lipstick. Same applies to accessories.

    I always look for excellent craftsmanship which will last for years.

    Quality instead of quantity is my motto. :-)

    Francesca

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  27. Janice,
    Thank you for bringing up this topic!
    Before I married, 5% my income was set aside for clothing purchases.
    I am quite choosy about my clothes; they need to be classic, comfortable, and versatile. As a result my closet is fairly minimalist, but creative & full of my favorite colors.
    The Project 333 trend made me laugh. When I saw the breakdown it neatly organized my entire yearly wardrobe; with a handful of seasonal pieces thrown in! However, it reveal the principle of "threes" very clearly to me; and seeing your wonderful charts have made me more confident in creative mixing and matching.
    Your lessons have also reinforced that clothing with clean, classic lines are truly versatile (I LOVE your 'Dress For All Seasons' series!!)
    Now, I am better equipped to shop judiciously. ...And bravely! I can be willing to spend a little more on a piece that will receive hundreds of wears.
    (Something my husband has been encouraging me to see; when I get sticker shock on a quality item!)
    =)

    For all the other "un-millionares" reading this: I spend between $100-$200 a year on clothing. Some years, less than that.
    I do not lack anything; and can dress fittingly for any occasion.
    Is this really possible? Yes!
    My secret: read Matthew 6:24-30 and Philippians 4:19.
    Where do my clothes come from? Gifts; tailored garments; consignment and thrift, as well as RTW stores.
    From any source; choose quality, design, and a flattering fit in the garment.
    If you enjoy learning these principles, an excellent online course can be found at: http://westernconservatory.com/reclaiming-beauty-webinar
    (*I am not affiliated with this link in any way, just want to give a cheerful heads up!*)
    :::
    Janice, thank you for all the time and work you put into these examples!
    And for keeping on, despite critical bystanders. Maybe they will be encouraged to choose the well-made garments within their means!

    Sincerely,
    Em.

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  28. I've always had a budget, and I've always assumed that clothing and personal care items should be a part of that budget. It was actually decades before I realized that this was not the norm.

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  29. I too am amazed by the criticism Janice - your blog is so clearly designed as a guide and I find it inspirational.
    My annual budget is $1500, or about $125 a month. That amount is to cover clothes, alterations (I can't cope with waistbands), shoe repairs, occasional dry-cleaning, and hair cuts and colouring. The alterations and repairs can really add up, and of course hair management is expensive but I reckon a good haircut will take a girl a long way, including adding confidence.
    With your guidance, I'm learning to target my shopping effectively, something I've never been good at. Now that my seasonal wardrobe is 'set' I'm looking forward to saving in the Vivienne manner, and just treating myself now and then to a new lipstick or earrings. My Project 333 is down to 36 items and I think I'll rest there for the season. The downsizing has been embarassingly huge (four bags to charity).
    Thank you again for your inspiration.

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  30. Timely topic! I was just discussing the fashion/clothing budget with my son this week after reading the 'People - Stylewatch' November issue where a financial strategist suggests 4% (or less) of what you take home for a yearly wardrobe budget. "Know it and stick to it," she says.

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  31. I do not adhere to a clothing budget as such but I do not spend willy nilly either.
    I plan ahead what I am going to buy based on need. Over the past few years I have whittled my wardrobe down substantially and it feels great not to have things hanging in the closet that rarely get worn.
    I do buy a few pieces each year that are quality items made to last and of course the price tag is higher...but I use the CPW factor to justify the expense.

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  32. This was a great topic. I have a clothing budget and like you I rarely hear of anyone else who does. I'm a planner, that is probably why.

    I normally read your blog through Google Reader so I'm not sure when the format changed. It was much easier to read before, at least in my opinion. I'll go back to Google Reader!

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  33. I'm having difficulty with the new format of your blog! For some reason, it does not load very easily and I'm finding it more difficult to follow. Perhaps I am in the minority?

    Like many others, I do not have a clothing budget, but have been fairly frugal for most of my life. I am not adverse to buying high quality items, even if they are expensive. I DO have some difficulty deciding if a particular piece of clothing will stand the test of time. I can't always be sure and sometimes I am surprised to discover which pieces are indeed worth a high price.

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  34. I have never had or made allowances for a wardrobe....
    Now I just dream!
    I would never be able to fit into the clothes you display, and couldn't afford them if I could.....but that's not why I love your "FILES" so much.
    I have always considered them as examples of coordinating single articles into wonderful and up to date stylish wardrobes.
    I don't imagine it will be easy to find pictures of clothing the average person usually buys....but from my view it doesn't matter what they cost just what style/color they are. I mean a 'V neck sweater' is a 'V neck sweater' no matter what the price!
    hugs

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  35. I have always had an allowance for clothing which includes fabric purchases - in hard times it was carefully saved up for weeks. I was bought up to consider number of times worn vs price as the yardstick for purchase. This meant that we were taught the value of buying an expensive item that lasts longer and is worn more. Your wardrobe choices are very much in line with what we were encouraged to consider for our wardrobes. My grandmother was a tailoress and worked for some amazing designers and I never had any bought clothing until I left home, it was all made by gran or mum. I love what you style together and get heaps of ideas form this blog. Thank you very much.

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  36. We have always had an amount set aside each month for clothing. It is for the whole family and serves us well.
    I view your files as a teaching tool and being a visual learner find them most helpful. Seeing the myriad of combinations is inspiring no matter what the price point.
    I'll echo the words of others who have commented earlier in that my goal is a greater return on my investment so you're files are helping me to achieve that.
    Besides, I truly love the accessories and often covet the high end bags knowing our 'beer budget' allows for more frugal investments.
    Thank you for all the work you do in putting together each file.

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  37. I do the leftover budget. I plan for rent, food, transportation, savings, investments, etc. and then whatever is left over is what I can spend on myself.

    Janice, you redesigned your blog! Nice.

    -EM

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  38. This topic proved very enlightening to me. I have never had a clothing budget as such. When my children were growing up all my shopping was done in a local charity shop and it was surprising how often people would admire an outfit and ask me where I had bought it! Now I am retired and have a reasonable pension to live on, so my disposable income is actually more than when I was working and had 3 children at home. I have gone through my clothes spending for the year and so far I have spent 1,556€ - which was a LOT more than I thought! It is still less than 10% of my income and, in my defence, I bought a new dress for my 65th birthday plus I have been gradually replacing clothes with better quality items. As an example, I threw away some cheap cardigans and bought a cashmere cardigan to replace them. I now plan to set a budget for next year and save it up for higher quality clothes. As an aside, a friend of mine has a clothing budget and recently said she had spent 160 British pounds MORE than her budget this month - she didn't look impressed when I suggested taking it out of her future budget!

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  39. I don't have a budget. I have never been a spendthrift and am happier with a not-too-large wardrobe, so my philosophy is if you need it, buy it, if you don't, don't. I keep a short list of things I am on the lookout for, as I know I will need them soon and would wear them frequently. When I find them at an appropriate quality/price ratio, I buy them.

    In the last couple years, I have spent a record amount on clothing, because I have lost a big whack of weight and dropped about 8 sizes. It's almost over, and then I look forward to buying less often and better quality. There was no point in buying expensive, high-quality clothing when I would wear it for less than a year. In anticipation of that, I just bought a beautiful white blouse of much better quality than I ever have before. It is just a touch too snug to wear immediately, because of the cut could easily adapt to a further drop in weight once it does fit, and should be able to stay in my closet once I've reached my goal. And it was 40% off.

    I might consider a formal budget amount once things have stabilized, to encourage me to buy quality more than an attempt to rein in my spending.

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  40. As one who sews, I am used to looking at clothes or pictures of clothes and translating their features into ideas for my wardrobe. I'm sorry your complaining readers don't do the same thing. Also, guilty as charged, no clothing budget - or fabric budget, which is more to the point. I am buying less, lately, perhaps your influence.

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  41. I am fascinated at how varied the clothing budgets are that folks have mentioned here (for those that do know what they spend each year/month) I am definitely on the extreme low end of how much gets spent per year, since I make all my own clothes except for shoes and socks (I wear prescription compression hose) The last two years I have been strictly "shopping my stash" of fabric I already own, purchased in years when I had more income.

    I do not look at the prices on the clothing that you show here, but, as many have stated, I find your thoughtful combinations to be quite inspiring.

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  42. This is the first time that I have commented on your blog. I truly enjoy it.

    I can understand why someone might be frustrated by the inability to afford many of the items that you share. But, it is obvious to me that it is the totality of the system that you use, not necessarily the specific items, that is the magic of your style. Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights into fashion.

    I do not have a clothing budget. I wear a uniform to work, which means that I often don't have the clothes that I need for dressier events. I have been living in T-shirts and jeans for far too long. I enjoy your philosophy of quality over quantity and I am trying to make that my focus. Thanks again.

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  43. I wanted to comment on the criticisms about the very expensive items in your prototype wardrobes. I think most of us understand that the wardrobes are inspirational, even aspirational, and not something that the majority of us could literally duplicate. Having said that, though, I do also think it is far easier to create beautiful wardrobes when money is no object. To me, expensive (with a few exceptions), high quality clothing choices is part of the reason that your wardrobes are so beautifully done. And bravo, too, for that! Although nobody could disagree with the concept of quality over quantity, thus adding carefully and minimally to one's wardrobe over a longer time period, I think it would be interesting if you created a wardrobe at a price point most of us could achieve. For instance, say you are starting from scratch (lingerie excepted) and only have a $1,000 budget to clothe yourself for work/leisure. What would that type of prototype wardrobe look like?

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  44. I tend to have a limited budget on my designer gym wear, I get carried away when it comes to working out and believe highly that if you look good, you feel good and feeling good at the gym helps improve performance. Might be just my theory.

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  45. I have long had a budget for clothing, which is part of my discretionary spending category. That amount has varied considerably, depending on my income. The budget helps me assess purchases more critically, and plan for big items like a coat. About 30 years ago, I got into trouble buying designer clothes on my credit card. It was $4500 but in 1983 seemed like a massive bill to pay. Never again.

    And re prices of things you show, I recently posted on 20+ yr old cashmeres that look great today. It's about value, not price.

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  46. I am on a very tight budget for clothing. I have gained 10 pounds and gone up a size, and all my basics have been demolished by staying at home the last 3 years with my son. I found myself this Fall with only 1 pair of fitting pants and a smattering of shirts (only one in my basic black color) and most worn to the point of needing to be replaced. I have spent about $100/year on clothes and shoes for the last 3 years. I am stocking up on basics for Christmas this year. I have $250 and plan to get long sleeved, short sleeved, and cardigans in black, white, and khaki as well as a pair of black chinos, khakis, and 3 pairs of jeans- my style and lifestyle is currently 90% casual. I have $300 for shoes and need all new shoes as well as I have changed size there as well. I foot issues, so I can't skimp on shoes and put more to clothes. It's not much, and the quality won't be great, but through sales I am getting Banana Republic level clothes for most of it. Tshirts will be from HM because they will get stained beyond recognition before they ever wear out, says all the other white shirts in my closet. I figure that I can save and buy a nicer version of my basics as the cheaper things wear out, but for now I need too much at once to function with only buying one or two things. Thanks, Janice for helping to figure out how to buy basics. Before I just bought things I liked that we're on sale or a bunch of cheap tshirts all the same style but in deferent colors. I couldn't mix and match. Most tops don't fit me, so I tend to buy lots of silk skirts, which have only been pulled out this year now that my son is older, but they are all dry clean only. It may not be the best, but it's the best I can afford now and will get me through the rough spot in creating my wardrobe.

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  47. I set a budget of $90 per month for clothes/shoes but have consistently spent around $60 over that for each month so I definitely agree that setting a budget can be hard because clothes can be such an emotional purchase for us! However, I think it's definitely worth keeping a number in mind that you want (and hope) to stick to but may not in the end just as something to work at. Holding yourself accountable is the most important thing; knowing that you are going to add up your receipts at the end of the month will make you actually think about every clothing purchase and examine things like how often you'll wear it, if it is a mixable piece and the like which has definitely reeled in my spending!

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  48. Most people do not have a clothing budget because clothes actually are less of a necessity than food, medical costs or utilities. If you do not have a new shirt or sweater nothing terrible will happen, while if you do not have food everyday or do not have electricity or can not pay for medical treatment ... well, we all know.

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  49. I am LOVING your blog...and I've taken your advice to heart. I have a clothing budget (very challenging to do much with because it is $705 per year), and I have a spreadsheet I've been using to STOP purchasing things just because they are on sale and start buying what I love. I stalk ebay but would really appreciate any advice you could give me on discount shopping. I can send you my wardrobe plan document if you have time to take a look. Thank you so much for the hard work you put into this blog.

    Your blog is helping me use what I have and improve my look while spending NOTHING. THanks!

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  50. Please do not change a thing. Your wardrobes are a treat. I think it would be great if we could pass on good tips on to other readers, as to a good quality item, or good sale on something that may be of general interest. My own spending was out of control for a while. I blame it on the fact that I was very unhappy with my size and continued to try to buy myself pretter. Needless to say, it didn't work. I am now on a path to lose some weight, at which point I will be thrilled to fit into items right now off limits, as well as have a few of my current favourites altered to fit my slimmer shape. I am in the process, and therefore will definitely make do with what I have for now. I may have to fill in a gap or two once I reach my goal.

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  51. I have not set a clothing budget. I shop when I need / want to. I also don't have a fabric budget, either (but do try to stay out of fabric stores). That does not mean that I am shopping all the time. Far from it. When I first moved to New England in July of 2003, my office environment was business casual with a slant on "business." I am now in a different office where the environment is business casual with the slant on "casual." Since my job was formerly a "man" job, I dress like they do, one step above a T-shirt and jeans.

    I did a lot of emotional eating over the last few years and can no longer fit into the clothing I wore when I first came into the 2nd office. I am now rotating between 4 pairs of "winter" pants that I made until it gets warm enough to wear the "summer" pants I made. I wear knit tops, usually from Land's End. Most of the tops go with most of the pants. Same thing for the "summer" wardrobe. Most tops go with most pants so I'm not wearing the same look every week. Last year, I did buy several pairs of sandals in order to spiff up the looks. I started to get some compliments. That made me happy.

    I believe the most I ever spent on clothing and shoes at one time was $1,500.00 or thereabouts. It was decreed that we would be required to wear business dress in the office starting on a particular day. No time to sew! And I couldn't sew that fast any way. I went on a shopping spree. I bought 1 suit, 2 dresses, 3 skirts, 4 blouses, 3 pairs of shoes, 3 necklaces and 1 pair of earrings. One of the blouses went with each skirt plus the suit. The other 3 blouse went with 2 of the skirts and the suit. The necklaces and earrings went with the blouses but not with the dresses, which each had a front detail that did not need further decoration. (At least this is what I remember that I bought.)

    When the union finally won the battle and we no longer had to wear professional dress, it was a relief to go back to business casual again. Those clothes still hang in my closet (on the other side of the country) and will be worn again occasionally when I get to move back there (and lose some weight).

    About 3 1/2 years ago, my mother passed away and I wanted to wear a skirt to her funeral. I was headed to Dress Barn but instead turned into Good Will (across the street). I tried on about 12 skirts before I found one that was suitable. It originally came from DB. I wore it, washed it, and returned it. I feel like I "rented" a skirt for $4.00

    There may be more thrift or consignment shopping in my future.

    But back to the question. No, I don't have a budget for clothing. And those few times I so shop, I see people in shopping centers enjoying themselves and think, I should shop more often. This is fun. But the next weekend, I am off doing something else. I mostly take care of my needs. My "wants" are not usually clothing related.

    Louise P

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    1. I forgot to say that if I see something you show, expensive or otherwise, I might look for a pattern with that same shape, find some cloth of good quality and make plans to sew it. I did study Home Ec in college. I think that course of study is now gone. Making a quality garment will give me more pleasure than buying one because I know that it will fit me perfectly and I have the satisfaction of a job well done. (The other seamstresses know what I'm talking about!)

      Louise P

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