When WNTW was on the air (and for 10 years!) folks were provided a 'loaded' charge card for $5000 and seemed to do quite well at replacing the clothing confiscated from them (usually everything in their closet). I understand that the $5000 covered clothes, taxes, and the cost of having the clothes tailored. I remember one special winner got a much higher budget and got a couture experience, but that was the exception.

I will repeat what I said above, how folks cut the pie depends on lots of variables, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if fabbers spent more (lots more) than the 5% that is suggested in general budgets. I'm on the very edge and I have a small collection of clothes. And I like fashion as a hobby! However, part of the 'fun with fashion' for ME is to work within the confines ofa budget! The thrill of the 'steal' and the satisfaction of the 'splurge'. I'm sure there is some psychology behind it.

FWIW, grooming goes under 'Health and Beauty' and does not factor under clothing. Dry cleaning goes under the clothing budget. Clothing given as gifts, goes under 'Gifts and Misc.'. I shop B&M so don't have shipping costs, but factor gas and such under 'Car Expenses' in the budget!

Also, please let's be nice and refrain from judgements. I'm sure there are folks who would scratch their heads at the $$$ I spend on dirt and sheep poop!

Ms. Fashintern: please stop. I know I irritate you for whatever myriad reasons, and our interactions on this forum never go smoothly. In fact, our last contact resulted in a bunch of blocking , rude remarks about my writing ability and other unpleasantness etc very recently. Picking a fight here is not respectful of the forum, nor a great use of our time. It's also emotionally wearing me down. I am not casting aspersions on what anyone does with their/her money. Nor is some amount of money "not good enough " for me. I am making an observation that has nothing to do with judging anyone for anything. I spend far , far less on clothes than many people here on the forum and don't lose a lot of sleep over it. We all have our own personal arrangements within our own family set up, and it's all really interesting to learn how others manage their budgets.

Runcarla, exactly! Many more than one way to slice and dice it up. Probably as unique as each of us.

Lisa, you seem to have taken my examples of other ways to spend money, and my defense of people who don't have enough money to spend the amount you think is a pittance, personally. That wasn't my intent--I can and do disagree with the notion that $x isn't enough to spend, without resorting to ad hominems. Thanks for explaining your use of that term. I've generally seen it used otherwise.

FI - I received an email notification that you have messaged me privately, but am unable to view it.

Thinking about budget categories...many that I have seen include an entry for "entertainment" and some also include a line for "hobbies." It seems some forum members consider clothing a form of entertainment (and why not?) and I imagine others might consider it a "hobby" and so borrow funds from that category to supplement the wardrobe category.

s comments indicate as much -- for her, clothing and gardening are the big hobby expenses, though I imagine sports/ gear would be another. Fashion is pretty much my only hobby apart from reading (which for me falls under both work and entertainment) and cooking (which is not terribly expensive except for the food itself, which has its own category, obviously). I also do outdoor stuff and gym, but again, we are not talking big money, because I'm not a skiier or a sailor or even a marathoner. Expenses for that stuff are minor, except gym costs. Clothing is thus both clothing and hobby, in my budget world.

Or am I just trying to justify the fact that like Bijou, I tend to go over 5%?

Like Lisa P, I do have multiple jobs, but my earnings vary from year to year, whereas my spending on my wardrobe --now that I have finally built it up from nothing -- remains pretty constant. I

I have also seen a benchmark of 2-10% of household take-home income to be spent on clothing (for the entire household). Those would be articles in largely US-centric publications. I think it's hard to for people in different countries to compare such percentages, because what expenses you need to cover with your "take-home pay" varies across countries. (Cough*health insurance*cough)

I don't really have a clothing budget, but oddly (or perhaps not?) I think I might feel less anxious about what I spend on clothes if I did have one. I will say that I have an internal barometer of sorts for how much I'm willing to spend on a particular type of item. I also find it "easier" to spend small amounts without thinking too much about how they add up -- like I'll buy 5 things at approximately $X, but balk at buying one thing that costs $5X, even though the single more expensive item might bring a lot more function to my wardrobe than the 5 cheaper ones.

I am one here who has a reasonably high income, but it was not always so. At university my income was low, just from summer holiday jobs, but at that time in NZ ( 1979-83) university fees barely existed, and I paid only a small board at home. But my parents didn't buy me any clothes, I bought my own since age 15. I just had internal controls that suited me well. I bought second-hand, or on sale if I could, or just was careful, and didn't go into any debt then. No credit card!
I fell back on those skills when for unexpected reasons in the mid 90s we became poorer- husband bought his business and was cheated by the vendor, and I had my last baby and was not working, then he had to buy one of the 2 other business partners out. Clothing buying for myself and the children screeched to almost a halt or was sales or second-hand. I remember being so happy getting these cute wee sweatshirts for the girls at $7 each. I was proud you see and didn't want to look poor. Depression-era maternal training? Will write later thoughts further down thread, no time now.

it's hard to for people in different countries to compare such
percentages, because what expenses you need to cover with your
"take-home pay" varies across countries. (Cough*health insurance*cough)
yes! The "Big Mac index" is based on the idea that take-home pay needs to be divided up differently in different countries. https://www.bigmacindexconverter.com/ Just for interest, obviously off-topic on this site.

Your second paragraph strikes a chord with me too. I love this dress (finds isn't working--sorry), but find it much easier to buy several other less expensive pieces that add up to the price of the dress. I've been going back and forth over that in my head ever since I posted my goals, wondering just how many pieces I need to make that "capsule" of berry-colored clothing that will let me wear color complements and tonally-matching outfits. I think the cheap stuff (in price--I don't think it's cheaply made) wins, because there are of course the other lovely finds in this colorway that I included on that post, each for around the same price as the dress. For the price of just one of them, I can have the capsule pretty much complete. If I got just the dress, or just the pants, I wouldn't have the other items to get that effect.

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Suz is correct. When I took up hiking, I created a new budget item. This budget item reflected expenses related to hiking (gear, gas, lodging). None of those expenses came out of my wardrobe budget. This was a conscious decision on my part.

The key is to have something that works for you and your lifestyle. There is no right or wrong way to budget.

Budgets get tweaked all the time. When I lost weight in 2017/2018, I literally needed a new wardrobe. I tried to make due within the constraints of the original budget. Big mistake. Those constraints were too restrictive. I eventually conceded that fact and nearly doubled the original amount. That made my life so much easier. It did mean that a few House repairs were rescheduled for 2019. My choice.

How much to spend is a good question. Five years ago I had very few clothes because of full time traveling in a motorhome. Then I settled into a retirement community with lots of social opportunities and I started to build a wardrobe. I spent what I think is a lot of money the first three years. Each year, I spent less than the year before so that last year's total was less than half of the first year's total Now I really don't need anything. But shopping and adding new clothing is fun. What I spent last year is a comfortable amount, so I guess I'll use it as a guideline.

LOL, Suz! I try to bury my gardening expenses under 'Groceries', since our local grocer has an excellent garden center and I get 'points' that I can then spend on groceries (or more garden stuff!). Our household 'Recreation' budget is large at 25% and non-negotiable! It splits 13/12 between sports and music. The biggest costs are memberships and lessons, since we have the 'infrastructure' of equipment and instruments. On the other hand, our transportation expenses are comparably low at 6% (insurance, gas, maintenance) and until 5 years ago we were a 1 vehicle family (30 years).

DH and I set goals to be mortgage free and to save for retirement and the education of our children in our twenties, so our spending/budget was designed with those goals in mind. Frankly, we were so austere in those early days, the bank called to tell us we had over contributed and needed to pace our savings strategy better. Now that we are debt free, and in our seniority - we are a bit YOLO, and that is reflected in our spending/budget for the fun stuff. This April DH and I are due for a budget review since it will be one year since we retired and I will have new and very different budget data to work with!

You earned it, RunCarla. Enjoy.

Enjoy your gardening Carla! We must shop at the same grocery store. I use my points to buy skin care and makeup.
Clothing is one of my hobbies. Yoga is another. I have thought of getting a part-time job so I could increase my clothing budget. It would have to be seasonal so I could still travel.

Carla, well, if you grow vegetables, you are doubly justified in merging groceries and gardening!!

Nodding with Sterling. You earned your relaxation! Enjoy it. I admire your frugal ways.

Thank you all for such great content - this is really helpful!

Angie, Laura - My husband and I have an agreement: I don't ask how much he spends on cycyling equipment, and he doesn't ask how much I spend on clothes!

RunCarla, and Sterling - I bow to you your budgeting expertise. I used to be much more meticulous, and still do a solid job on the over all household requirements. It's the extras that don't get managed, and maybe need some attention

JenniNZ - would love to hear your further thoughts. It actually might be a good separate thread - how did your family influence your approach? Or broader, how do you approach wardrobe when you hit a financial downturn?

CardiffGirl - I LOVE the idea of a joy budget. Definitely going to play with that one!

Suz and Lisa P - kudos on finding the way to manage multiple jobs to support your goals.

Isabel and Staysfit - I really like the idea of a separate bank account.

SarahDS - You brought up exactly what I've wondered about. Would a more clear budget help me either feel more comfortable spending, or remove some of the times where I buy 5 cheaper things when 1 more expensive one would be a better fit.

Great ideas friends - keep them coming!

I have a pretty tiny annual budget! But then again, I also work from home, so no need for a full professional wardrobe which tends to have spendier items. I do have enough professional things for about a week of work, in case I have to actually have some face time with a client or colleague.

I divide my annual amount into two chunks: One I can start using in March, and one I can start using in August. I have to say, having a small amount to work with probably sounds like a nightmare to a lot, but it has really helped me hone in on my style, my priorities, what needs to be replaced and what kinds of things I need to "advance my look" as I say to myself. I am not immune to temptation for things not on my list, but I do it about a million times less when I have a finite amount of money to spend and a really specific list of what I want and need every season.

PS, I also keep running lists of what I need and want projected into the future, eg, if I think something wintry will need replacement but I haven't successfully replaced it yet, onto the list for Fall 2019 it goes. It helps to not start from scratch when the fun pre-season sales start.

Gretchen, I heard that! And actually, I had just decided, for other reasons, not to order that stuff. But I'm not getting the dress either. There are already several orders on the way to me.

I am reading this with interest because I don't ahve a clothing budget, and like Gretchen and SarahD8, I think it might be a good idea. I have had to replace almost all my clothes in the past 2 years because of a large weight change, so I just bought what I thought needed or what caught my eye (I'm pretty frugal and have a casual life, so it wasn't that bad).

I'd like to be more disciplined now that I have a clearer sense of what I like and of what is out there (courtesy YLF). Maybe this is the year I start to track both wears and spending. It certainly seems to pay dividends for those who do.

Very interesting topic. Now that I'm retired, my clothing budget IS lower but fashion is a lot more fun without corporate restrictions. Quality of what I buy has increased since reading tips here on YLF. I say enjoy whatever your budget allows ( Runcarla, I loved your story!). If I spent what my husband allocates for his golfing hobby, I'd be flying to Paris for shopping excursions every three months!

We don't have a budget per se ... in general we use the "Wealthy Barber" (Canadians will know) approach to budgeting which is at a very over-simplified level, every month save a percentage of your earnings for the long term, then do your necessary expenses, then enjoy the rest as you see fit - everything but the essentials clothing-wise comes from the leftover-enjoy bucket. It's always worked for us; mind you, we are pretty frugal by nature and also lazy about tracking things I'd love to know what my actual spend is though, and to have a set number that I knew for sure I was fine to blow for the year ... hmm, maybe a project for me this year to figure out!

My goal for the clothing budget has always been around 5% of my wages before taxes. Some years I was close, some like last year, over for a number of reasons- style shift, new job, size adjustment.
This year I’m again planning a budget of 5% but want to try taking a few breaks from shopping. I’m concerned that buying is becoming a hobby and not fashion. Oh, my never ending list of “needs” and “wants”. I should put more effort in creating outfits from what I already have.
Having fun with fashion while on the budget is a balancing act and I’m not terribly good at it

TG, I used the Wealthy Barber approach for years.

TG - i’d never heard the Wealthy Barber approach. Interesting!

Canada - great idea! Maybe I’ll tell my husband that clothing budget includes the items and the travel to buy them close to the source. Quick trip to Florence to buy a leather jacket anyone?

I don’t have a budget but I do keep within parameters that work for me and my family. I think the % is interesting.

I couldn’t handle the distraction of not feeling appropriately dressed at work, so most of my budget goes on work clothes.

DH and I have been married for 21 years. For the early years we kept a completely joint account but since he started his own business 8 years ago, we’ve had separate accounts and a shared account that we both contribute to.

That has released me from a responsibility of having to consider if I’m spending too much on an item or too much over a period. DH is relaxed about money that he wouldn’t ever say I’d spent too much - so I reckon I’m an okay self regulator!

Really interesting thread.

I do have budget and try sticking to it, but then life happens and I have to readjust. Clothing budget is the one that gets hit if money is needed elsewhere. 2019 is going to be lean year clothing wise, but that is fine, I have more than enough.

I use the 5% rule and it works well for me. However, I get a lot of nice hand-me-downs from my friends. So my money is spent mainly on the things I don't get from my friends, such as wardrobe basics, shoes, dresses, and statement pieces that express my own personality. I also like to shop in huge thrift stores and used clothing markets, where the clothing is basically free if you can find it (I pay an average of two dollars for each item). So I guess your budget depends alot on your shopping style and real needs. But having at least a fixed amount each year has personally helped me.

I wanted to show an example of a "hobby" budget item in action! I just purchased this jacket.

The cost of this rain jacket will be deducted from hiking expenses (gear, gas, lodging) and not from my wardrobe budget!

The interesting thing is that hiking expenses are open-ended. I don't have enough concrete data to nail down a number and I don't want to at this point in time.


I don’t have a set budget for wardrobe, and never have, even when I was a poor student. I’ve always kind of known where I am with spending and adjust when I know I’ve been on a bit too much of a splurge. (I also do not own a scale, and my attitude towards tracking my weight is similar, hmm, I wonder about this correlation!)

I have two credit cards (one a department store card, one a general major credit card) that are used for clothing — they are paid off every month, and generally stay below a certain amount. If one is up in a given month, I’ll likely ease up the shopping the next month. That fits in with my usual style of shopping anyway — I have some months I barely look and others where I hit the sales or look for a seasonal refresh.

Budgets are a highly individual thing. I don’t see anyone being judgmental here, and I would certainly hope we could all respect that we each have different styles and priorities.

What is this word buh-jet???

Hi Gretchen I have been thinking more. In my previous musings my spending had screeched to a halt when we became unexpectedly poorer when I was 35/36. We finished up borrowing some money from the bank against the house which we did own- we just increased the mortgage to get us out of the hole until I was able to work more again once the third baby got older. My wardrobe had become very tatty so I did buy 2 nice outfits of matching top and skirt- the shirts could also be jackets as well and I kept those outfits many years- still have one in holding zone in fact and the top still fits as a jacket if left open, which I am considering. It is bright tropical florals which are, still, or back, on trend I think.
The next tranche of time I'm thinking about was from my perhaps late 30s until about 2008- let us say ages 39- 47. Income was reasonable and the ages of the kids was 9,6,3 at the start then 17,14,11 at the end. Weight was stable. I think I did buy some nice clothes in this time but quite a small number, and "good" brands( not fancy international designers but highish end NZ designers) were only ever bought on sale. In NZ we have a good chain of department stores we call Farmers. I don't know what US level it would be- better than Target and K-mart but nowhere near Nordstrom's? Maybe JC Penney type level? That store was my friend for myself and the kids. The girls became allowed an input into the clothing I would buy them but they were not allowed "trendy" brands if those were costly. If those were cheaper I would be willing. I was working pretty hard as was Neil and I thought if I was not buying fancy brands I was blowed if I would buy them for them! We sought sales fairly well. I think I just kept my savvy about it all. Then once the first one hit 18 and university she was to buy her own clothes. She was not being charged board as she was living at home and she did have weekend and holiday work so buying her own clothing seemed only fair. We were supporting a roof over her head and all her at-home food.
Will get onto 2008-9 onwards soon if you are not bored!