When I began my new position last January, I moved from a jeans-and-T-shirt lifestyle to a suits-and-heels office. That transition, along with having a significant amount of disposable income for the first time, led to me spending a staggering $6,000 on clothing in 2012.
Once I made that realization (and thought of all the clothes in my closet that rarely see the light of day), I knew I had to make a change. And just a few simple adjustments have allowed me to keep my clothing spending under $300 this year — all on classic items that are in regular rotation.
1. Understand my wardrobe needs. When I began working in a professional setting, I started purchasing clothing quickly and without much planning. Since I didn’t take the time to understand how my wardrobe fit together, I ended up with several blazers, skirts and shirts in a mismatched closet graveyard.
I finally came to terms that those items represent sunk costs that I’ll never get back, and have since purged them from my closet. Now, I keep a list on my phone of clothing items or colors I need to fill gaps in my existing wardrobe, which helps reduce temptation in the store.
2. Avoid the siren song of online shopping. I love reading fashion blogs to relax, but seeing outfit inspirations and beautiful photography often leads me to make purchases I never would have made on my own.
This year, I’ve implemented two guidelines to help me curb my online shopping. I still let myself put items in my cart and browse special sales, but I always wait at least 24 hours before actually making the purchase.
Second, whenever I’m tempted by an online item that isn’t on my pre-approved list, I challenge myself to recreate the look using pieces in my own closet. Often, I’ll find new looks, or discover that a less-expensive accessory would allow me to embrace the trend for less.
3. Repair rather than replace. Recently, a leather purse of mine tore at the seam. While in the past I might have replaced it, I instead took it to a cobbler and got it repaired for less than 10 percent of the cost of a new bag. And discovering the value of a good tailor has allowed me to feel better in the clothes I buy, which helps prevent impulse purchases.
I’ve always enjoyed shopping, so I try not to sweat it if I slip up by purchasing a piece of fast fashion or a fun pair of shoes I really didn’t need. But one thing I’ve learned on my personal finance journey is that I enjoy growing my financial nest egg even more. And less in the closet means less to move — an excellent side benefit when you live an on-the-go lifestyle.