Wardrobe 101

What’s Your Spending Style?

Happy day, dear reader!

When I meet new clients, we do a personality assessment, a lifestyle analysis, and a values exercise. And we talk about their budget. Even after learning so much about them, a new facet emerges when we get into the closet… Where I learn about his or her spending personality. What’s a spending personality? (Hint: Spending Personality is closely tied to our Values and upbringing.) I often meet the…

Bargain Hunter

Bargain Hunters (BH) usually have lots of clothes, and don’t love most of them. What they love is the price they paid for them. The catch phrase for the bargain hunter is “It was a steal.” or “I couldn’t pass it up for that price.” or “Look! 75% off!” B. Hunter often heads directly to the sale racks and completely ignores other displays in the store. When evaluating purchases, B will buy the one on sale, regardless of whether it suits. Or will leave behind an ideal addition because it’s not on sale. “I’ll come back and get it on sale.” (And rarely does.) This leaves BH with a full closet, and little to wear. When price is the driver, a cohesive wardrobe (that fits and flatters and expresses the wearer’s personality) is at the whim of the retailer. This shopper has given away control of what s/he adds to the wardrobe. This spending personality needs intensive Cost Per Wear therapy to understand the value of buying what you love and will wear, rather than buying what’s on sale for your closet to wear!


The Investor is in it for the long haul. S/he doesn’t want to buy anything that won’t last. He or she is not particularly concerned with price, but is not a spendthrift either. When the Investor needs to replace an item, if it lasted and brought pleasure, s/he will often return to the same item and brand purchased before, and can be frustrated when the blue blazer of today is not exactly the same as the blue blazer of 10 years ago. Sometimes Investor can be so conscious of CPW (and practicality), that all the light and fun can go out of their choices. An Investor with a highly classic style personality can find a wardrobe becoming dated and “fuddy duddy” since every piece has to pass the will-it-last test. This spending personality often needs a nudge to buy a few fun pieces to prevent the frump factor!

Price Purchaser

It may sound the same, but a Price Purchaser is not the same thing as a bargain hunter. Instead of buying only what is on sale, the Price Purchaser sets a price limit on (categories of) items. Price Purchaser will say “I won’t spend more than $20 on a shirt.” or “No one should pay more than $50 for a pair of shoes!” “That’s too expensive!” is the catchphrase I hear regularly from the Price Purchaser. I have a budget, and respect the desire to stay within a budget and save money for other expenses, but I have watched PP’s buy three (or more!) pair of cheap shoes, when they’d be better off buying two good quality pairs. Price Purchaser often gets caught in a similar trap to the Investor by ignoring inflation. Jeans cost $25 when I was in college, so $25 is my limit for jeans… Never mind that college was 25 years ago! This purchasing personality needs both a CPW booster shot and current price therapy in the form of window shopping/on-line browsing to reset unreasonable limits.

Special Event Splurger

This is not its own spending personality per se, but often walks hand in hand with Bargain Hunter and Price Purchaser. Sometimes these two feel remorse about (what they perceive as) their thriftiness, and find themselves throwing all budget caution to the wind when buying for a special event, like a wedding, graduation, special vacation, or class reunion. (This last one needs its own post!) Often the best option for special events is renting, rather than buying; you can rent a showstopper for $75 that would cost more than $500 to buy, and spend the difference on a weekend getaway. Now that’s a good deal!

The Combination Buyer

This person has beautiful investment pieces hanging next to the bargain bin goodies from the big box store. He or she will buy “cheap” for one lifestyle segment, and invest for another. There is nothing wrong with high-low style! This can be a great budgeting strategy. It’s wise to spend your money where you earn it, so investing in work wear would be the better choice, but many shoppers skimp on work wear (especially those who don’t like their work…) and spend on their “play clothes”.

Other Combo-Buyers are Investors for a category, say handbags or blazers, but buy “cheap” everywhere else. While it’s true that a great bag or jacket can make a look, a cheap shoe can bring it right back down again! How does this play out in my wardrobe? I love a great bag, but also know I love variety and change, so dropping a couple of grand (or more) on an investment bag isn’t worth it to me. Same for jewelry. I don’t spend on fine metals and gems because I know I am fickle, and would be devastated if I lost a precious piece. My turnover rate (or “churn”) on these items is pretty quick. A great jacket, or amazing pair of shoes is worth the investment for me. These I may wear for many years before moving on, so for me they are worth the investment. Where to spend and where to splurge is completely personal! (That’s why I love my work! No two clients are the same… Every one is a unique puzzle!)

How about you? Do you see yourself (or others) in any of the above types? If so, is it a natural extension of your values, or a holdover from your upbringing. (This is a dig deep question.) What are your memories of shopping as a child? Do you see a connection between that and your adult spending personality? I’d love to hear from you!

Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,

And a heartfelt thank you to Nancy at Nancy’s Fashion Style and Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge for the Link-Ups! Also, many thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for hosting her weekend Link-Up!


  • Perhotelan

    Understanding your spending style can lead to greater financial awareness and help you make wiser decisions when it comes to budgeting and saving. It’s important to assess your priorities and values when it comes to money and align your spending habits accordingly. By being mindful of your spending style, you can cultivate a healthier relationship with money and work towards achieving your financial goals.


    Liz, I know that I should buy up to investment pieces and I hate to admit I haven’t been doing that at all. Of course I do in good leather shoes and handbags, good coats, blazers, leather jackets. I gained weight in my mid-forties that I will not be able to lose because I’m unable to exercise due to multiple medical issues. I realize now that’s when I stopped buying the better clothing. I didn’t begin to even purchase much good ie. leather jackets, until about 3 years ago. I’m on a shopping fast now for a month. I’ve been readin Jill Chivers articles for a few months now. This is why I was even willing to consider it! I will never do a years fast but I may take a smaller course. The problem is I know the dressing part! Thinking about a great deal!!

    • Liz K

      That’s an interesting insight that you stopped buying the better clothing with your weight gain. Sounds like something needs to be uncovered, there. Your value has no connection with the number on the scale or inside your pants… Your value comes from being created in the “image and likeness.”

      • Cathy in Missouri

        That’s an interesting insight that you stopped buying the better clothing with your weight gain. Sounds like something needs to be uncovered, there. Your value has no connection with the number on the scale or inside your pants… Your value comes from being created in the “image and likeness.”


        Oh! I LOVE this! I always love a comment from Natalie K – and I also love what you said here, Liz.

        “…Your value comes from being created in the ‘image and likeness’…”


        well put – and beautiful

        love it!



    I enjoyed this article very much. I spend high and low but never cheap. Many years ago ,when my budget was much lower I had a set price per item. Now with a much better budget I have a higher and less pinned down price per item. I will spend on coats,blazers,leather jackets and only buy good leather purses and shoes. I own “real” jewlery because my husband gives them to me as gifts but I also wear “fashion” jewlery to my husbands dismay. I do realise this is a very personal but this is how I was raised. I shop with my mother and she spends much more per item but her budget is larger than mine. Then I shop with my best friend who doesn’t love handbags so she spends much less than I do and owns 3 handbags only. I would be very unhappy spending this way. Yet she will buy a expensive face product when I will only buy what I find has the largest percent of the active anti-aging ingredient.I believe research is important before buying a large expense item ie. a matress, but she doesn’t. We are all very different but I think you nailed the basic shopping personalities. Thank you for your insight!

  • Maureen

    This is a good read! I like to bargain hunt but won’t buy everything that are cheap just because it’s on sale! I like to price hunt and will determine a worth of a purchase by how much wear or use I can get out of it. I like to buy high and low pieces! I won’t buy a $200 jeans but I will a handbag that cost that much. The reason is I wear my handbag on a daily basis or more often than I would wear a pair of jeans.

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

    • closetplayadmin

      Glad you enjoyed it! Sounds like you know yourself, and your boundaries; that’s always a healthy way to shop!

  • Shelbee on the Edge

    Liz, this was an interesting break down of shopping types. I guess I am a combo-buyer but I totally overspend and have way too much! But I do love all things fashion and just deal with my overabundance! Thanks for sharing…I loved reading it. And I was actually placing my friends into certain categories too. It’s funny when you shop with a friend who has a different spending style than you do, it’s actually not a fun shopping experience.


    • closetplayadmin

      Shelbee, it’s hard not to look at the others we know, isn’t it? Shopping with another can be very stressful! Especially if you are the investor, and they are one of the more price conscious types… I wonder if that’s why couples shopping is often stressful; we often partner up with those who compliment our own personality rather than reflect it. Thank you so much for visiting!

  • Victoria

    This made me laugh! I am such an investor. With plenty of “fuddy duddy” evidence as proof. Some high quality pieces I’ve kept for almost 20 years. Note to self — consider the fun factor with the next set of purchases.

    • closetplayadmin

      So glad to hear from you! I would NEVER call you a fuddy-duddy, Victoria! Nothing wrong with those investment purchases, they just need a little modernizing sometimes…

  • Ratnamurti

    I find it hard to spend money, Liz. I think it’s because I am overweight, and I get very depressed finding clothes which flatter. Having said that, there will always be a big part of me who will never have a big wardrobe.

    • closetplayadmin

      A large wardrobe is not necessary, and it is frustrating when clothes don’t flatter. It’s certainly not a good idea to spend hard earned money on pieces that don’t make you look your best. I have found that people so often shop to hide their perceived flaws, that they forget to shop to flatter their assets. And yes, everyone has assets! But does “hard to spend money” pertain to things like hobbies, or entertainment, or only clothing?

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