How to buy clothes you can't afford, part 2 blog graphic

If you’ve ever lusted after a piece of clothing that you stopped yourself from buying because you “couldn’t afford it” even though you could, this post is for you. In this post we’re covering part 2 of how to buy clothes you can’t afford and we’re focusing on the money mindset part of “I can’t afford it.” 

Quick Refresh:

In part 1 we covered buying clothes you can’t afford as a math problem. Here in part 2 we’re covering the mindset challenge that often sounds like: “how to buy clothes you can’t afford but actually can afford but are not comfortable buying.” 

This is the “I can’t afford” of “This dress costs $2000 and I routinely spend that on clothing but I’m used to spending that on dozens of fast fashion pieces so spending it all on a small number of high quality items makes me uncomfortable.” Or “I have a budget line item for clothing, but can’t bring myself to spend it.” or “I’m perfectly fine spending $300 at The Container Store, but not $80 on the blouse I’ve been eyeing.”

Those are the challenges we’re tackling today. 

If you’re new around here, I’m a personal style coach and consultant helping people find their authentic personal style and be brave enough to wear it. As you might imagine, buying high quality clothes and raising your standards of “successful purchases” comes up a lot. As does the refrain “I can’t afford it.”

This post assumes you have the money to buy the clothes you’re considering and are not doing yourself financial harm to do so. We’re assuming that you’re dealing with mindset money challenges, rather than dollars and cents money challenges. 

If you’re dealing with a dollars and cents money challenge, check out part one here.

This money mindset challenge can show up a few different ways, such as…

Here are just a few of the ways it can show up:

  1. I have the money and I routinely spend it on clothing, but I’m upgrading the quality of clothing I buy and I’m uncomfortable getting so few pieces for this dollar amount. 
  2. I have the money and I set it aside for clothing, but I can’t bring myself to spend it on clothing. 
  3. I have the money, I routinely spend more money on other fun categories, but cannot seem to buy good clothing for myself. 

But in all these cases I hear people telling themselves “I can’t afford this.” After some unpacking they tend to come to the realization that this might not be about afford after all. It’s usually discomfort around buying yourself nice things. 

The shift from not buying nice, high quality clothes, to buying nice, high quality clothes is often fraught. It can stir up some upper limit stuff. 

Telling ourselves we don’t deserve nice things is obviously mean. 

But, if we tell ourselves we can’t afford those nice things we get to stay well within our comfort zones and avoid challenging our mindset assumptions. We can tell ourselves we’re being practical, or sensible, or prudent. 

This is especially true of being able to comfortably and easily afford these clothes is new. 


If you’re not buying yourself nice things because you can’t afford them – you do you. You know your bank balance better than I do. (And read part one about solving the math equation of “I can’t afford it.”)

But if you’re not buying yourself nice things because you think you don’t deserve them – cut that out. We all deserve nice things, including you.

Next time you encounter a piece of clothing and find yourself dismissing it as too expensive or something you can’t afford, ask yourself: is that still accurate? 

And consider implementing “dress 5% fancier” to your clothes buying too. 

I hope this helps. Talk soon!