Don’t let it take all of your money!

September 16, 2023

How much should you expect to spend on a wardrobe? I’ve thought about this, and if I had to start my wardrobe over, I would start with spending money on the basics even though I have an established style. To get the most bang for your buck while looking stylish, the ability to mix and match clothes is essential. Obviously, that isn’t possible if you only acquire stand-out statement clothing pieces.

Regarding how much to spend, I disagree with having an annual budget. By the end of the year, many men may proceed into a mindset of thinking they need to spend that budget. In that case, the focus strays from the clothing or style and about using the allowance. It may work for some people, but it definitely doesn’t work for all.

The average person spends around $161 monthly on clothes, with women exceeding men by more than 75% annually. But that figure doesn’t help because we all have different incomes and expenses. Credit Karma says 10% of an individual’s spending is on clothing and shoes. However, most financial experts say to keep clothing spending to approximately 5% of your take-home pay. Take your monthly income and multiply it by .05. This amount is the most you should spend in a given month on your wardrobe.

I recommend beginning with a wish list that contains a basic description of items you want or need. These items can either be the basics, fulfilling a role in your wardrobe, or pieces to elevate your style. Keep that list as a running list — adding to it as items need to be replaced or you find a gap in your wardrobe. Next, estimate a price expectation for each item.

You may be risk-averse, so think of your wardrobe as an investment. Knowing what you don’t want helps you find what you want and helps pace your pricing expectations. Keeping this running wish list helps stop overspending before it happens and keeps the items at the top of your mind. This list can be easily referenced so you can shop guilt-free and more effectively if you find a good sale.

Your spending should naturally slow down as you reformulate your wardrobe and dress better. You will switch from buying basics to purchasing items like a quality watch or a nice pair of leather boots. You may then venture into buying a suit that fits better than any other one you’ve owned. You’ll get to the point where you’ll only have to fill in the gaps and play around with different textures and fits.

Make sure you keep your buying with intention and not on impulse. Upgrade your wardrobe, but remember that once your closet and drawers are filled with items you love, wear, and are satisfied with, you will likely spend less. Spending money on quality and decent clothing is not an inherently ‘bad’ thing. Besides, some men will sink money into their cars, bikes, boats, workout equipment, art, or decor. Everyone has a hobby. So,        . Put that extra money into your wardrobe if you want, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money.


Continually updating and upgrading your wardrobe and keeping it fresh can get expensive. You may see an item you love when shopping, but the price tag may be too much when you compare it to your bank account. If you buy it, you’ll look good sleeping on a park bench. Never go into debt over something that you want right now. Debt sucks! So, I am here to give some tips this week on how to look stylish for less. Here’s how to find fresh and stylish bargains:

Discount racks are my first suggestion, especially at the end of a season. You can find deep, deep discounts — I’m talking 50 – 75% of the standard retail price! A lot of times, you may find weird sizes, BUT you may be able to find something you absolutely love in your size. Just hunt!

A place where I find great deals is at the outlet stores. Now, most brands have a retail store, but they also have the outlet equivalent with a deeper discount than you’ll find in the mall. A polo at your local mall will be pricier than if you find that same polo at the outlet. You may also see last year’s or last season’s stuff at a super price.

Discount department stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Nordstrom Rack are fantastic places to find deals. These discount department stores approach brands and purchase extra inventory that couldn’t be sold in their retail establishments. The shopper then gets to buy them at a discount. The issue with these stores is that you will have to hunt, so if you hate to shop, this is not the place for you. For instance, you may find a perfect shirt, but it’s not your size, causing you to hunt through racks for your size.

Hitting up daily deals and flash sale sites is another option to find discounted clothing. These include Groupon, Amazon, Overstock, and Zulily. You will discover brand-name items mixed with some unbranded items. Be creative and step outside your style box, as these sites are a notable way to save some cash.

I always sign up for my favorite stores’ mailing lists for discounts. Visit the websites and sign up – from there, you’ll get emails for sales they are having, which many of these sales are not found in the retail stores. Remember that when you buy online and it does not fit, these stores typically have easy to return policies (although return policies have been changing recently, becoming a bit more stringent).

Abandon your cart for a money-saving hack. After creating an account and shopping, add everything to your cart and leave it. The company will email you a deal to incentivize you with coupons or discounts to complete the purchase. If you want to easily have the internet scoured for the best deals and discounts, install a browser extension that will aggregate and apply discounts automatically. Examples are Honey and Capital One Shopping (Wikibuy).

When I was younger, I was stylish but didn’t have much money to spend on clothes, and even so, I was selected as the Best Dressed in high school. I frequently shopped at secondhand stores (thrift stores) like Plato’s Closet. Again, like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, you’ll have to hunt, but you’ll get outstanding deals. Plato’s Closet is very particular with the items they buy – they vet everything to ensure it’s in style, in good shape, and not worn out. Plato’s Closet will be more expensive than other thrift stores like the Salvation Army or Goodwill. eBay is another place to look for discounted and resold items. But with these thrift stores, if you’re willing to hunt and not afraid to wear somebody else’s discarded stuff, you will save some serious cash!

Lower price point retail stores are other places to shop and save. In the past, I have purchased an entire new wardrobe from JCPenney for an alpha m. Project participant for only $600. Also, check out Old Navy, Forever 21, Target, and H&M. I’ve also found some sweet dress shirts at Costco — so don’t leave this option on the table either.

This one may not be for everyone, but getting creative can save you money – DIY (do it yourself). Buy a sewing machine and learn to sew to modify your old garments. Some of my best outfits and items I absolutely love are ones that I upgraded myself. For example, I’ve dyed my boots, cut off my jeans to shorts, created headbands from undies, and distressed my shoes. Also, I replaced buttons on my old sports coats and jackets and changed buttons to give a little bit of a funkier edge. You can find a lot of tutorials on YouTube. Recycle and upcycle by taking the old items and wearing them again.

If you have more critical bills than your wardrobe, paying off those instead of picking up new clothes makes sense. But I recommend habitually expanding or upgrading your wardrobe one piece at a time, month by month. Caring about your appearance is the difference between confidence and cockiness. Cockiness with style is purchasing an expensive outfit simply because you’re flexing and acting like others are beneath you. Confidence is knowing who you are and showing to the world that you care about yourself by dressing with intention and purpose. Spend a bit to care about your appearance, but keep your wardrobe from taking all of your money by shopping smart.

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