Putting Your Money Where Your Wardrobe Is

I’ve created a clothing budget again.

This is noteworthy because I haven’t been “organized” about wardrobe acquisition in quite some time.

The first real budget I ever had though, was for clothes, bless my mother. When I was in high school, she converted to giving me a monthly allowance that I had to use to pay for all personal expenses — including all back to school shopping. This was intended to teach me fiduciary responsibility before I was off the leash in college and it worked to greater or lesser degrees. Yeah, I had a few tussles with the credit cards, damn their seductive shininess.

So, later, after I dug myself out of my grad school debt, I went on a strict budget. Which included $50/month to buy clothes. For those aghast that I would spend so little — this was nearly 20 years ago, so $50 went quite a bit further. Also, what I didn’t spend each month would roll over into the next month. Since I lived in the Land of No Malls, I sometimes would have as much as $300 by the time I got a chance to go shopping. Mad Money, indeed!

Now, for those who think that clothing should not be a budgetary line item, and I know who some of you are: the other reason I did this was to make sure that I was buying good quality clothing on a regular basis. I was starting to work in the professional world and my mother taught me to dress for the job I wanted to have. And I had high aspirations.

Still do, as a matter of fact.

Over time, as the cash flow improved, I abandoned the budget. And waxed and waned on how important I thought good clothes were. I have a tendency to keep stuff — yes, I still have clothes from high school, so what? — and so my wardrobe got huge and unweildy.

I also got somewhat huge and unweildy, myself.

Fat, that is. Alas.

Letting yourself blimp out is hell on the wardrobe, because you cease to care about what you put on your body, just so long as you can pretend you’re not really as fat as you’ve become. Denial can be an ugly thing. Soon you find your wardrobe consists of large drapey things and those cute clothes from your twenties? Stuffed in the back of the closet, staring at you in grave reproach.

Two things happened then. First, I saw The Devil Wears Prada. I know, I know — it sounds dumb. But I actually had to own the experience, which I seldom do. Sometimes I put in the DVD just to watch the fasion montage scenes. Call me shallow, but I was inspired.

I started to get rid of all the nasty, outdated and unflattering clothes. I gave David and my best friend carte blanche to tell me when something didn’t look good and then promptly got rid of it. And I went shopping. I read What Not to Wear and bought nice clothes that flattered my body as it was.

Then I got serious about losing weight.

This can also wreak hell on the wardrobe, because you don’t want to buy anything for fat you, and you’re not entirely sure where the new thinner you will come out, as far as size, or when that will be. Because real fat loss takes a freaking long time. Nearly two years for me now.

But I’m happy with my new size and shape. And I’ve decided it’s time to buy clothes again. So I have money set aside. $200/month now. It’s lovely to go shopping with a little money in your pocket — but only enough to encourage yourself to buy just a few key items.

Dressing for the me I want to be.

3 Replies to “Putting Your Money Where Your Wardrobe Is”

  1. Like you, I tend to hang onto things…and there are many, many pieces of clothing in my closet that should never see the light of day again. I'm now inspired to throw away anything that doesn't fit or look good. Good luck sticking to the budget. I can never manage it.

  2. Oh, you are such a fashionista, I love it. I probably only spend $200 a YEAR on clothing. Of course, I only shop the clearance racks and don't pay more than $10 an item normally. I am soooo cheap! My mom would be so proud!

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