In the first post in the series on style and budget, I covered how to find that magic budgetary number that usually falls between three and ten percent of your family’s annual net income. But what should fall into your wardrobe budget? And how do you divide up your budget among all of your wardrobe wants?
My own budget tended toward the higher side (seven percent), even though my wardrobe is complete. That’s because I include clothing for our family of four in the budget, and also because I decided that if an item is part of my appearance, it gets lumped into the wardrobe budget — whether it’s facials, make-up, sunscreen or hair. You might decide to break your budget into different categories, and that’s fine too!
Here is a set of wardrobe budget categories that can serve as a starting point. The order reflects my views on relative priorities.
1. Clothing, Footwear and Accessories
The bulk of my budget is set aside for clothing, footwear, handbags, belts, scarves and the occasional pair of earrings, bracelet or necklace. My goal is to update my wardrobe seasonally by incorporating trends that appeal (a navy dress, full skirt and pantsuit are on my current list). This is the fun component of my budget, full of items I’m excited to shop for, and it makes up about 60 percent of the total.
My hair is next in my priority list. If my hair doesn’t look good, I don’t look good, and nothing I wear can change that! With my wardrobe complete, this stage of my style journey is about fine-tuning and adjusting to incorporate trends I admire. It’s fun to evolve my cut and color. So, I include a trip to the salon for cut and color every six weeks (don’t forget to include tips in your budget!). I include “hair” in my wardrobe budget, but you could easily pop this item into “health” or “grooming”.
If you wear glasses (or “specs”, as Angie says), they are a key accessory. If I wore specs, they would be right at the top of the list with my hair. After all, specs are on your face every day! I wear contacts, and I do not include these in my wardrobe budget only because they do not feel like a style item. Instead, they go into “health/medical” expenses.
Grooming appointments have a place in my wardrobe budget too, although a few notches lower than hair. Manicures, pedicures, facials, waxes — they’re all part of the style package. I budget for a monthly manicure, a bimonthly pedicure and the occasional eyebrow wax. However, in a pinch, I can do my own nails. As I get older, I might explore microdermabrasion, Botox and regular massages. Angie budgets for monthly facials outside of her monthly wardrobe budget, and I’m also thinking about making “grooming” a separate budget all of its own!
5. Beauty Products
These products are fun to buy, and wow, can they ever add up! I include them in my wardrobe budget because they are an essential part of my daily appearance, but you might put them into a separate category, such as “health and beauty”. Even as someone who only purchases the basics, I find myself spending $100 every few months for facial lotion with a good SPF, eye cream, mascara, foundation, lipstick or blush. If you love beauty products, the sky could be the limit on the possible expense in this category.
To me, alterations are part of the cost of the wardrobe item, and I would love to hear if you budget for alterations the same way. If I can’t wear a leather jacket without shortening the sleeves, then I add the alteration cost as part of the item’s total cost when purchasing. Part of the reason I decided to get a Nordstrom Card was the fact that they included $200 in alterations annually as part of the deal!
7. Wardrobe Basics
Wardrobe basics are things like underwear, bras, camisoles, sleepwear, loungewear, socks and hosiery, all of which have a place in my wardrobe budget, and I try to purchase them on sale each summer at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. They are a relatively small line item, so I don’t mind including them in my wardrobe budget. I know that others, Angie included, don’t include wardrobe basics in a wardrobe budget.
Are you a runner? Swimmer? Camper or hiker? Then your gear will get a workout each year, and it’s smart to include it as a separate component of your budget. I practice yoga and run, and each year, I plan for a new pair of running shoes, a couple sports bras and two new yoga tanks and pants. Every other year, I budget for a new swimsuit and cover-up. Like wardrobe basics, gear isn’t a large line item, but I’ve found that having a new outfit can do wonders for my workout motivation! If you decide to pop “wardrobe basics” into a separate budget, you might also include “gear”.
What goes into your wardrobe budget? How do you prioritize amongst the components?