I highly recommend setting a wardrobe budget so that you can track and control the amount of money you spend on this area of your life. It’s especially important if you’re under financial pressure, or concerned about curbing your shopping habits. If you enjoy shopping and don’t stick to a budget, it is easy to end up shocked at how much you actually do spend. Get it down in black and white, do the sums, and be accurate about it. 

If you need to, refresh your memory on how to set a wardrobe budget. Decide on a range, establish your needs, prioritize, pick the monthly or seasonal amount, and test-drive the budget. Tweak the amount if you can or need to. You might want to set a higher budget when you’re renewing your style, and a lower one when you’re refreshing for the season.

Budgets will differ greatly across people and families. Remember that it’s nobody’s business but yours. How you choose to spend your money should not be subject to judgments from others.

I established a monthly wardrobe budget many years ago, and I stick to it. Here are some of the details: 

  • It is the same despite the season. 
  • It does not include wardrobe basics like underwear, sleepwear, socks, hosiery, loungewear, and workout wear. 
  • It does include wardrobe essentials. It does not include hair appointments, make-up, beauty products, presents, or wardrobe items that I buy when on vacation.  
  • My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale budget is separate from our monthly fashion budget.

If I exceed the budget one month, I spend less in a following month. I prefer to shop early in the retail season and tend to be over budget during my peak shopping months. I make up for it by barely shopping at all late in the season, and at the end of season sales. 

Every once in a while, I have my eye on something very pricey-for-me, which means that I need to save for a couple of months in order to afford the item. It’s a good lesson in patience and makes the item even more special when it’s finally mine. 

I tabulate every wardrobe purchase into a monthly spreadsheet. I record whether I keep or return the item so that I have a current and ongoing account of how much I’ve spent for the month. It’s very important that I record my purchases into the spreadsheet immediately if it’s an online purchase, or on the same day if it’s a store purchase. If I don’t, the purchase might fall through the cracks and introduce inaccuracies. This way of controlling my wardrobe budget requires more discipline and organization than an automated system, but it’s working well for me. 

Over to you.  How do you keep track of your wardrobe expenses? Do you have a wardrobe budget, and how good are you at sticking to it? Feel free to share your process in the comments section. I’m sure we can learn from each other.