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Clothes Shopping Just Once A Year

How often do you go clothes shopping? Every month? For big sales? When the impulse strikes? News flash: you go too often.

How often do you go clothes shopping? Every month? For big sales? When the impulse strikes? News flash: you go too often.

Chances are you already own a suitable wardrobe. Sure, your threads may not be up to par with the fashions on the magazine rack this month, but ask yourself: Do I really want to spend my money on disposable clothing? Because if pop culture has you convinced what you bought last month is already passé, guess what you’ll think of those new jeans next month!

I know a friend who is always impeccably dressed; and he goes clothes shopping just one time a year.

Clothes shopping just once a year? Seriously?

Yes! Think about it. Basically, you need three kinds of clothes. Work clothes, evening clothes, and casual clothes. Buy a handful of quality garments in each category once a year and you’re set!

Unless you’re a Sag Harbor socialite, works clothes are most important. While what you wear isn’t who you are, work clothing does contribute to your professional image. That old saying “dress for success” didn’t come out of nowhere. You can think of work clothing as an investment in your career, so you should plan to spend about 60 percent of your clothing budget here.

As long as you life doesn’t closely resemble speed dating, one or two nice outfits good for going out will do. Hopefully you can get more than one year out of an outfit so you will have a few to choose. Use about 30% of your annual budget here for one new outfit.

You’re not going to score a date bumming around the apartment, so why splurge on sweats and tees? Older clothes are perfect for lounging, and tees last for years. Spend 10% of your annual clothing budget if you need a new hoodie.

The benefit of clothes shopping just once a year is that you will approach shopping differently and, ultimately, get a lot more for your dollar. If you budget between $20 and $50 a month for clothes, it’s hard to stick to because few people buy just one or two items at a time. If you do, you increase the chance of buying more clothes than you need because your purchases won’t be coordinated. Go once a year and you’ll make sure all your outfits work together and that you don’t overspend on any one item.

What you spend on clothes will vary based on your budget and whether you shop at Target, the mall, or Fifth Avenue, but here’s an example of an annual clothing budget of $420 a year, or $35 a month. This budget assumes buying everyday brand work clothes, splurging a little bit on one nice outfit for going out, and picking up some new sweats for lazy Saturdays.

Finally, here are some tips to get the most out of shopping for clothes just once a year:

Buy Quality – Cheap clothes wear out more quickly; sometimes you do pay for more than a brand.

Proper Care – You don’t have to afford weekly dry cleaning to care for your clothes. Taking simple steps such as hanging or folding clothes rather than dumping them, taking care to avoid stains, and washing them with care can make garments last much longer.

Coordinate – Do your annual shopping all at once so you can see what matches what. Your life will be a lot easier if you can wear almost any shirt with any pair of pants you own and still look good.

Avoid Trends – Another reason to go conservative. Trendy clothing may be fun, but it’s also expensive.

Set Up an Account – Of course, finding several hundreds dollars for clothes shopping is a challenge if you aren’t in the habit of saving. Set up a high yield savings account just for clothes shopping and deposit $35 a month—or $16.15 every two weeks—and your clothes fund will be ready in a year!

Published or updated on October 5, 2006

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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