9 Things Your Clothing Budget Should Cover blog graphic

Building a wardrobe you love means more than just buying new clothes. It also means taking care of the clothes you want to keep around. But the items you need to take care of your clothes can be easy to forget when you’re setting up your clothing budget. If nothing else, your clothing budget should cover the items you need to take care of the clothes you’re buying because if a garment isn’t worth taking care of, it’s probably not worth buying in the first place.

So, here are 9 things your clothing budget should be covering (in addition to buying fabulous new clothes). 

  1. Tailoring & Alterations.
    Getting pants hemmed, jackets taken in, buttons changed, sleeves shortened, etc. Take the cost of any work that needs to be done into account when considering a new purchase.
  2. Mending.
    Replacing buttons, fixing rips, replacing zippers, etc. If a piece of clothing isn’t worth taking care of, it’s probably not worth buying in the first place. 
  3. Laundering & Specialty Laundering.
    Regular washing, spot cleaning, dry cleaning, specialty items, etc. Thinking about these as “clothing expenses” instead of “household expenses” will help you make more aligned clothing purchases in the first place. 
  4. Shoe Repair.
    Getting your shoes cleaned, or resoled, or repaired is also a clothing expense. Having a space for this in your clothing budget, will help you invest in better shoes because you have a plan to take care of them. 
  5. Returns.
    Depending on where you shop, you may have to pay return shipping for items you want to return. So factor that in. Or if you’re renting items, do you need to pay to dry clean them or pay to ship them back. 
  6. Clothing Comfort Incidentals.
    Shoe inserts, bra strap clips, nipple covers, no-slip shoe sole patches, moleskin, body-safe double stick tape, etc. These can be easy to forget about and add up quickly. But not accounting for them can mean not wearing clothes you love because they are uncomfortable.  
  7. Wardrobe Care Incidentals.
    Lavender drawer bags, cedar chips, stain remover, shoe bags, deodorant sponges, lint brushes, leather care, etc. Again, moving these from household expenses to clothing expenses will help change the budget question from “do I buy cedar chips or toilet paper?” (If 2020 taught us anything, the answer is TP just in case.) To the budget question of “do I buy a new garment or do I take care of the garments I already own?” Then taking care of the clothes you own will help you make more confident clothing purchases in the future.
  8. Wardrobe Organization.
    Specialty storage like shoe racks and drawer dividers, and also regular storage that needs to be replenished every so often like hangers. 
  9. Event Garments and Specific Undergarments.
    Depending on your lifestyle these might fall as items under an event specific budget (like graduations or anniversaries). Or it might fall into your more general clothing category for events like Halloween or being a wedding guest, or hobbies that call for specific clothes. And don’t forget the strapless bra or skin-toned no-show underwear. (For more on this, check out “How many bras should I own?”)

How much of your clothing budget you devote to each item, is up to you. But your clothing budget should cover and take into account all nine of these items. Even if you can’t remember the last time you bought hangers, there will come a time when you need more.

No matter how you set up your clothing budget – as part of your miscellaneous items, or a monthly clothing budget, or as a sinking fund – keep these items in mind as you think about the cost of clothing. You’ll have fewer budget surprises, and will be able to take care of the clothes you love so you can wear them for years to come.

And when you are buying new clothes, consider utilizing a Pocket Shopping List to avoid impulse shopping and keep your purchases focused on clothes you love.


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