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Posts Tagged ‘cost’

Eddie Bauer Fine-Gauge Cardigan in Raspberry, $29.99

Eddie Bauer Fine-Gauge Cardigan in Raspberry, $29.99

Investing money in my own Clo-thing last year was a big decision. I had a new job which meant I needed new clothes but had a new income.  That’s not where everyone is at in Current Economic Times. It can feel indulgent if not wasteful to buy new clothes at all.  If you feel like your budget is your biggest reason for not dressing like you want, I suggest starting with an honest self-assessment.
 

Assess what you currently spend.

Even if you never “go shopping,” you are wearing something and you probably bought it.  My own wardrobe budget used to be hidden in my Target and Costco budgets.  Inventory your closet and estimate what you’ve spent over the years acquiring your wardrobe.  Don’t forget clothes you bought but discarded.  Include shoes, coats and underwear.  Compare the overall $$$ to the average time you’ve had your wardrobe (Two years? Five?)  

MaxMara Cropped Cashmere Cardigan, $635 at Saks Fifth Avenue

MaxMara Cropped Cashmere Cardigan, $635 at Saks Fifth Avenue

If you have $750 worth of stuff and it’s been around for 3 years, think about it — How could you budget $750 over the next 3 years?  If you decided how you want to dress, would that dollar amount really be the obstacle?  If you’ve spent $5,000 or more in recent years — are you really happy with the investment? But spending doesn’t guarantee style any more than a tight budget precludes it.  If this exercise finds you confused, guilty, or making excuses (that dress doesn’t count because ____! I hate that I spent ____ and still feel ____ when I look in my closet!), let’s talk.

Christian LaCroix Beaded Thong Sandal, $654 at Saks

Alfani Petunia Sandal, $29.99 at Macys

 

$139.50 worth of Gymboree Girls Clothes

$139.50 of clothing and accessories from Gymboree's "Little Sugar" line

 

Who is your priority? 

If you are a mom, you dress other people in your family, too.  If you have a baby daughter, you are at risk for Gymboree Sublimation Syndrome: spending all your money making someone else look cute, and ignoring yourself.  This happens (less often) with husbands as well; when mine to work for the Senate during the legislative session, he needed a new wardrobe of suits, ties and shoes – oof.  Other women love to buy gifts for their moms or sisters, constantly finding things that will look good on someone else. 

Is this you? Be honest about the message you are sending yourself.  Are you telling yourself you’re too heavy, too boring, or not hip enough to wear the clothes you actually like?  Do only other people “deserve” them, in your mind? Think about how you WANT to look and feel.  Why isn’t this a priority for you?  My daughter is an absolute princess, but she is not yet two, and I should spend proportionately LESS on her than I do for myself. I want her to look up to me and see a confident, together woman with self-respect.  That’s an investment, not an indulgence. 

Merona Collection Taffeta Party Dress in Cherry, $39.99 at Target

Merona Collection Tafetta Party Dress in Cherry. Target, $39.99

Where is your power?

You wear clothes EVERY DAY.  Getting dressed is one of the first things we do in the morning.  A functional wardrobe improves every aspect of your life.  Having good outfits lets me get dressed faster, fuss less, accept more social invitations and be more outgoing at work.  A clothing budget – of some size – should be an integral part of your personal life in the same way you budget for your home, car, kids, or personal care. If you will spend $60 on movies or music but a $60 shirt makes you balk, think about why: I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just suggesting if you’re unhappy with how you look it’s worth reflecting.

In a marriage dynamic, women’s clothing often plays the role of an extravagance (or worse, a bargaining chip).  If you share budgeting decisions with a partner, this is a boundary thing.  Decide what’s affordable and reasonable for you to spend on clothes. Explain (or propose) your clothing budget and resolve questions up front. Adjust a yearly amount if necessary, but don’t get bogged down in asking permission or defending each purchase.  This is your body and you need to take responsibility for dressing it.  

Maggy London Satin Sheath in Ultra Berry, $158 at Nordstrom

Maggy London Satin Sheath in Ultra Berry, $158 at Nordstrom

Assess whether cost is really the issue.

If you’re convinced you could dress better if only you had more money, try it.  Spend two hours at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale next weekend.   If possible, find someone to wait on you in the dressing room.  Tell them you’re only interested in sale items, but try on what you like without looking at the price tags.  Find the best fit, find fabulous colors and prints.  Try new styles.  Don’t hold back because nothing works with your only pair of shoes.  See how you feel when you look in the mirror.  Hand back what doesn’t work, and have them hold anything that you love.   Go to Hot Dog on a Stick, order a big lemonade, drink it, and THEN think about the cost. 

If you spread it out over the coming years (you’re going to buy clothes anyway), is it an investment you can handle?  Scale back, prioritize, and think about it.  If just one piece make you feel genuinely Fabulous, makes you look 10 pounds thinner, makes you want to march out and take over the world because you’re finally dressed – buy it.  And don’t play games like “$200 normally buys me 10 things, not two!” That’s an empty heuristic: 10 lame pieces you aren’t buying are NOT worth the same as two awesome pieces you want to buy.  Know what you can afford and spend it.  If you simply can’t stomach the prices, make a note of what you loved and why (preferably in a blog comment here!)  Then lookout for similar cuts and styles at Target or J. C. Penney.  You usually get what you pay for (I posted two very similar dresses for comparison), but lower price points work well if you know what to look for. 

When I tried to spend real money on real clothes, I learned a lot about my spending (and myself).   Splurging (spending money you don’t have) doesn’t work.  Honest financial self-assessment can.

Where I’m finding good buys these days:

  • The Gap – not for college students anymore.  Gap is becoming less trendy and cut for grown women.
  • H&M – A mixed bag, much of it is young/trendy and cheaply made, but there are some great pieces if you look.
  • Ann Taylor Loft – Lots of good worky stuff (but runs short-waisted)
  • Macy’s One Day Sales
  • Nordstrom.  Half-yearly and Anniversary Sales are always worth it ; Point of View is mid-point priced and sales are very reasonable;  Brass Plum IF you keep it under control and don’t think it’s making you Look Younger. I drank Mike’s Hard Lemonade for an entire week during my vacation so I’m not in the mood to be a snob about getting too old for a cheap good time.
  • Target and Costco. I know. But it’s summer and I just need Dockers Capri pants some days.

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