How To Spend Less Money on Clothes

How much money do you spend each year on clothes? You may be surprised at how much. Recently I’ve been cutting back as much as possible on discretionary spending and part of this includes reducing the amount I spend on clothes. This is not easy. There are constant temptations, sales, and advertisements encouraging us to spend spend spend. Add to this that the general quality for clothing is declining, especially for women’s items, and it’s tough to avoid the clothing rack.

I recently encountered three instances where I had the option to throw out the item, or repair it for increased longevity. In an attempt to curb my instinct to toss and buy new, I opted for the more environmentally friendly approaches. My wallet is thanking me.

  1. Boots: Only a few months ago, I bought a pair of ankle boots for winter. The laces on them were not great, and they have already frayed (!! Further evidence to my point above about crappy quality >:[ ). They have been sitting at the door, being looked over on a daily basis, in favour of something that will actually stay secured to my feet. I finally got around to buying a new pair of laces, and after putting those on and giving the boots a good wipe down,they look so much better and are ready to see the light again! Check out my pictures below:


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Boots scuffed up with old laces looking pretty darn sad!
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Old laces all frayed
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Ready to see the daylight again 🙂
  1. Jacket: My winter jacket had a hole on the inside lining which was causing the filling to fall out – not ideal in Canada’s cold climate! Not only was the lining falling out but the rip was causing the jacket to catch on items, making it worse. It was a long rip, and the lining is a finicky material, but one day I just sat down while watching another episode of the Mindy Project and got to work stitching it up. Jacket fixed, check!
  2.  Pants: I had dress pants that were in great shape but never worn as they had become too big in the waist. This is something outside my skill set, so a visit to the seamstress was required. $15 later and I had a pair of pants I could wear again. I could have gone to the mall and bought a new pair for around $50 or maybe even less if I found a sale, but this option felt way better.

Why did I go through all this effort? Well, none of the above items were cheap to replace, and knowing how much money I have for clothes, I would rather spend the money on some awesome new skirts or dresses. The below table gives an indication of how much money you should be spending per year on clothes. The recommended amount is 5%, but I have provided 2.5% for those of you who are extra thrifty, and 7.5% to represent what is likely a reality for many people. According to the latest StatsCan report The average Canadian employee makes $49,000 per year, which would indicate an annual clothing allowance of just under $2500 if you are following the recommended 5%.

Salary vs Clothing Budget

This works out to $200 per month. In order to make a realistic budget for yourself, here are some things to consider:

  1. Climate: Do you live in an area that experiences drastic changes in temperature throughout the year? If you do, you will need to have clothing for each season. Being a Calgarian, I need coats that can withstand minus 40 C temperatures, and also lighter coats for a spring evening where the temperature may be 15 C.
  2. Lifestyle: Do you have a lifestyle that requires specialized clothing? Maybe you cycle to work, or are an avid horse back rider, or yogi. In these cases, part of your clothing budget should be allocated to maintain this part of your life.
  3. Job: What type of job do you have? A construction worker who is outside for the majority of their time will require clothing that can withstand wear and tear. An office worker may need to buy suits and accessories that are appropriate for the customers they are interacting with.
  4. Fashion Trends: How important is image to you? Keeping up with the latests trends comes with a cost, and it’s great to have an idea of what items you would like to keep up to date, and where to go to get the best deal.

It’s easy to be tempted by a sale when you are not clear on your wants. That sweater may be a great deal, but is it something you really want in your wardrobe or are you better off waiting for that great pair of boots to go on sale, and spending the money there? A few small shopping sprees can quickly add up and eat into your 5% budget.

When making a budget, break it down to the following:

  1. Necessities: Allocate some money for things like new underwear, socks, bras (ladies know those things aren’t cheap!!), basic T shirts, etc
  2. Replacing key items: Whether it’s a worn out pair of sneakers, a new winter coat, or jean jacket, set aside some money for these items. Also, writing them down will help you focus and be on the look out for these items! Also for every item that comes into your closet, one should come out. Think of it as the adult version of “one toy in, one toy out” that some kids have to live by! Why are you buying another knee length A line black skirt when you already have two that fit?
  3. Wardrobe updates: Allow yourself some funds for updating your wardrobe with a fun new pattern, texture, colour, whatever
  4. Splurge: Allow yourself to splurge. Being constrained by too many restrictions is a recipe for disaster. Permit yourself to pick up the occasional scarf or tie that catches your eye!
  5. Find a good seamstress: This will pay huge dividends. As many fashion experts advise, it’s just as much about fit as it is about style

Happy shopping 🙂


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