Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Tag: shopping

What’s Your Wardrobe Budget?

What’s Your Wardrobe Budget?

Many people with whom I speak are under a false impression. They think that I want them to spend lots of money on their wardrobes. Nothing can be further from the truth! I am all about a budget, and being responsible with your finances. More years ago than I would like to admit, I heard a finance guru say “If you don’t manage your money, it will manage you.” Having had many beans and rice days, I appreciated how my money had been managing me and my emotions. It has taken a long time, but I am getting better at money management.

You Gotta Know Where It’s Goin’

Every finance and budgeting resource begins with the basic of tracking your expenses. I sat down last weekend and updated my wardrobe expense tracking to find that I still have some money left in my annual budget. Woo hoo! Now when you hear wardrobe expense tracking, please don’t be impressed. My wardrobe expense tracking system is a brown 6X9 envelope with “Wardrobe Expenses 2017” written on the top. My initials are on one side, and hubby’s are on the other. There are 2 paper clips inside one for my receipts, and one for his. (Yes, the paper clips are color coded. I’m like that.) On the outside I keep a running total on each side of the envelope. High tech? No. Functional? Very.  When I started doing this, I was afraid to find out how much I was spending. I quickly learned I was dropping $10-$20 frequently, resulting in lots of spending and lots of waste. After a year or two, I found myself spending less often, and making better choices that were longer lasting, and yes, more expensive. A budget made shopping less stressful and I was loving my wardrobe more.

How Much Should You Spend?

Even if you don’t yet have a system, let’s think about a budget for next year! Most sources say you should be spending between 3%-10% of your household budget on clothing annually. The percentage you choose will vary depending on the number of people in your family, and your wardrobe requirements. Before you panic at those percentages, some historical perspective might be helpful. Americans spend less of their budget on clothing now than they have at any point in the past (excepting war rationing years). Clothing is cheaper than ever, but people make up for that by buying lots. The average woman has more clothes that she doesn’t wear than clothes she does. A woman’s wardrobe in the 1950’s could fit into one good sized suitcase, maybe excepting a heavy winter coat. Most of us today couldn’t imagine fitting our clothing into three suitcases! Working with a client, I find 5% a good place to start an experiment. For our family, I divided our 5% between the two of us, and that has worked for us so far. If you make all your purchases on the fantastic plastic, you should be able to access analytics from your card company at the end of the year that may help you get a handle on how much you spent.

Conscious Spending Methods

Knowing where your money goes is important, but knowing HOW it goes matters, too! Are you a piddly spender who makes lots of little purchases frequently? Or are you a big bash spender who shops once or twice a year and gets everything you need at once? The latter used to be more common, the former seems to be more the rule nowadays. Some surveys record that many Americans buy a new clothing item weekly. That’s 52 pieces a year! I know women who break down their annual budget quarterly, and buy for a season, and others who ration out their money monthly and save for larger purchases. Any and all of these can work. It depends on you and your habits. I find I am somewhere between the twice a year shopper, and the monthly purchaser. I plan to buy 5 new specialty items (non-basics) twice yearly, and replace basics as needed and found throughout the year. (PS: Replace means that the old piece the new one is replacing goes away. This should be self-evident, but I have worked in closets holding 10 pair of black pants, 8 of which never are worn.)

Do you have a clothing budget? How do you parcel out your spending? If you don’t, why don’t you? Please share in the comments below!

Many thanks to Katherine at #notlamb for the LinkUp!

10, 20, 30

10, 20, 30

Fashion lists are everywhere! The Top 10 Items You Must Have for Fall. 20 Things No Woman Should Wear after 40.  30 Things Every Woman Should Own by the Age of 30. Magazines and fashion websites are full of these lists. Hooooey! I don’t think there is any clothing that is a must-have for EVERY woman. My must-haves and yours will vary widely. Mine includes a pair of red shoes. You may have absolutely no need for red shoes. I do not need the ubiquitous black pumps on almost every list… Not anymore!

To Thine Own Self Be True

This is where the rubber hits the road. Personality, values, and lifestyle. These are what will create your personal must-have list. I know a woman who wear jeans almost daily, and life without them would be unimaginable. I know another woman who has not worn a pair of jeans in more than 30 years, and sees no reason to change that. The list requiring The Perfect Dark Jean is not for the latter, nor is the one calling for a tuxedo jacket for the former! Know yourself, know your lifestyle, know your values.

Categories (and Perfect)

What can be learned from the lists is categories of clothing that may need to be addressed in your wardrobe. Note the MAY! When the list calls for The Perfect White Shirt, and you are a warm-complexioned mom with 3 preschool children at home, who despises collars because they make you feel like you are choking, the white shirt is probably not for you! (Yes, that sentence was waaaay too long!)  Let’s take that shirt and think about the purpose it serves… Its category: light colored top to pair with jeans, skirts, and shorts. Maybe your Perfect White Shirt is a nicely finished ivory tee that can be machine washed and dried. The Classic Trench? Look for rain protection, in a 3 season weight. Your values may prohibit the Perfect Leather Jacket; if you love the look, find yourself a casual, rough and ready jacket in some other material. I despise the tyranny of the Perfect Anything. Perfection is not attainable here on Earth… (Settling for good enough is a problem for another post.)

What Categories Fit Your World?

If you are a yoga instructor, you will need a week’s worth of yoga gear. The rest of us, not so much. Sorry. Your life may require special clothing for work, and more casual presentable clothes for “play.” If you spend your days in the C-suites, your wardrobe should reflect that. If you never go clubbing, skip the bodycon dance dresses. The one category I do believe everyone needs to cover is the “something appropriate to wear to a funeral, or for a meeting with a lawyer or accountant.” For one woman that might be a sheath dress and a jacket, for another, dark trousers and a nice blouse. You do not want to have to run out and buy something at the last minute when you are, or someone you love is grieving. (Sorry I can’t be there for you… I have to go to the mall.)

Spend some time thinking about how you spend your time, what is important to you, and what makes you happy. Write down what you discover. When you don’t, you waste money on clothes that your closet wears, and still lack what you need. Much of what I do as an Image and Wardrobe Coach is help people figure those three things out. Some call it closet therapy!

I told you red shoes were on my list. What’s on yours? Please let me know in the comments below!

Back to School Shopping? Shop Your Wardrobe First!

Back to School Shopping? Shop Your Wardrobe First!

What is it about all the back to school shopping ads that makes me want to pick up my purse, and head to the stores with a list? Years of early training sets habits that are hard to break. Back-to-school used to be the second largest driver for clothing retail, right up there with Christmas. As a girl, I remember my mother taking me to the store for new school shoes to replace the grown-out-of pair from the previous year, and new blouses to wear with my uniform skirts. The skirts rarely needed replacing; they wore like iron! Most of the school shopping for the year was done, and unless a growth spurt sized me out of something, that was it. I continued the habit with my sons. Now I have no one at home to back-to-school shop for, but the drive is still strong!

Out of Season

A frequent client complaint is that the items in the stores don’t match our seasons, especially for those of us who live in warm climes. Here in Georgia, we may very well be wearing sandals all the way through November. By the time we need cold weather gear, the stores have moved onto resort wear, and spring items are on the shelves. My (not so sympathetic) response is PLANNING. You know the “cold” will come. It does. Every year. Plan for it. I don’t know when Planning and Budgeting became dirty words. Both are powerful tools, and pack a real punch when used together!

Budgeting

Do you have a clothing budget? If not for yourself, how about for your family? I would venture to guess that the answer is no. Most of the people I talk to, unless they are in finance, don’t bother thinking about a clothing budget. They may choose an amount they want to spend on Christmas shopping or on a personal shopping trip, but overall, most Americans seem to have lost the concept of a budget. At one time, back-to-school shopping had to be saved up for… Now, we can buy almost anything we want on credit. No worries, right? Recreational shopping (aka: malling, retail therapy, hitting the shops) wreaks havoc with a budget, unless you have the discipline (another out of fashion word) to keep your wallet in your pocket, and wait for the right item at the right price. Many financial calculators put the amount you should spend annually on clothing at anywhere from 5-10% of your total budget. (If you are dressing a family, your number should be at the higher end of the range.) Just knowing how much you have to spend makes you a more careful shopper.

Pre-Planning

One of my favorite quotes about planning is from Dwight D. Eisenhower (a man who knew something about preparation). He said that when preparing for a battle, “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Your wardrobe is no different! You should have a wardrobe that flatters you, fits your lifestyle, supports your goals, makes you happy, AND fits your budget. This does not happen by accident! I firmly believe that you should always have something in your closet appropriate to wear to a funeral, or to a meeting with a lawyer or financial professional. (Emergency shopping for these situations tends to lead to poor and/or expensive purchases…) A ready-for-your-life wardrobe is possible, but only if you think before you buy. Do you know what you need? I see clients who think they need a new pair of trousers, only to find they have three with price tags, hanging in the closet unworn. Please, do your closet, your bank account, and the planet a favor. Start in your own closet. Instead of spending three hours at the mall, spend those three hours going through what you already own. You are going to stock your own personal boutique. Put on some music. Grab a glass of water. Try things on just like you would in the store. (Bonus: You can grab the right shoes, too!) If an item does not fit, suit you, or you wouldn’t buy it from a store today, it probably does not deserve a place in your boutique. Bless someone else with it. There are hundreds of articles and videos about how to do a wardrobe audit.

Planning

Now that you know what you have, you probably have a better idea of what you need. Were the two tops you wear with your workhorse trousers past their prime? Did you finally say good-bye to those too tight/too baggy/too faded jeans? Take a close look at what you have, and what you need to buy to make outfits. Start your list. You don’t need to list “pink button-down shirt” just because you got rid of one. Is that really what you need, or do you need a flattering light colored shirt to wear to work, and with jeans? Maybe a dark colored jacket would pull together those trousers and blouse to give them a professional edge. Maybe you just need some casual pants that don’t say yoga. Once you have a plan, and know how much you are willing to spend, you can head to the shops.

Now, Shop!

Armed with a list, and aware of your budget is a great way to make a shopping trip easier, whether at the mall, or online. You don’t need to waste time looking at everything (and consequently find nothing). If you know what you are looking for, you are more likely to bring home something you need and will wear. If you don’t love it (unless you really have nothing left at home) don’t bring it home. If a trip without a purchase feels like a waste of time, think of the trip as a money saving reconnaissance mission!

If all of this sounds like too much work or is too stressful, you can always call a professional… I would love to hear from you!

 

Boutique or Rummage Sale?

Boutique or Rummage Sale?

When you open your closet, what do you see? A mini-boutique of custom selected clothing, all just right for your shape, size, and coloring, chosen to maximize your assets and your options, and able to dress you well for any occasion? Or does your closet feel more like a stuffed-to-the-gills hodgepodge of color, size, and shape, with nothing to wear? The closet dream, or the closet nightmare?

The nightmare is usually the result of shopping without a plan. I know, planning sounds boring, but wardrobe shopping without a plan is kind of like going to the grocery store drunk, hungry, and without a list. (If you don’t drink, imagine letting a toddler fill the grocery cart. You’ll have the same result.) You come home with an empty wallet, a kitchen full of snacks, pizza rolls and ice cream, and no staples to make the week’s meals. This seems to be how much of America wardrobe shops. (Just head to the mall on Saturday afternoon if you aren’t sure. Or, watch a couple of haul videos on YouTube.)

The fabulous mini-boutique is the result of discipline and planning, combined with a dash of serendipity.  Now, discipline has become quite the dirty word of late; the first entry in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary for discipline is PUNISHMENT. A further entry lists the synonym SELF-CONTROL. That sounds so much better! Self-control means that I am the one choosing what comes into my boutique. I want it to represent my boutique’s brand or concept. For my closet, I want it to represent my personality and values, so I am willing to wait for the right thing, instead of the newest thing that the shops are pushing this week.

More about wardrobe planning next week…

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