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Since reading this and this about the essentials a guy needs in his closet, I've come to realize that mine is...perhaps somewhat lacking.

My wardrobe was seriously overhauled about 2.5 to 3 years ago, and since then, aside from buying a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt here and there, I haven't spent any significant amount of money on clothes.

My job doesn't require me to dress/invest any more than I currently have - I'm a software engineer, so standards are reasonably loose. No one has made any comments about my wardrobe, so it's all pretty much a personal thing.

Two questions (at the moment...more may follow in edits...):

Is 2-3 years enough time to justify a few updates, or should I just suck it up until I HAVE to get new stuff?

What's a good way to budget for clothing expenses? Should I just plan on one splurge every so often, or is it better to budget for monthly shopping trips (keeping in mind that I also tend not to prioritize spending time in a mall every month)?

Any advice/personal experience on this front would be of help.

Thanks in advance!

EDIT: Tough to pick just one answer since they all had good information! Thanks everyone!

  • The answers covered the budgeting side well. I just wanted to although as an engineer you can wear pretty much anything, wearing nicer clothing can convey that you are a stand-up person who values yourself and respects your coworkers. This, combined with a matching attitude, can greatly boost your career. – Steven Mar 29 '12 at 14:17
  • no one says you have to spend time in a mall to obtain clothes :) – warren Mar 29 '12 at 20:45
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New clothes isn't exactly an emergency expense :) so I would strongly suggest that you budget for it on a monthly basis.

This doesn't mean you have to go spend the money every month, just put a reasonable amount of money into the clothes budget/savings every month and when you need a new shirt or two, take the money out of the saved money and go shopping.

If you buy a piece or two of good quality clothing at a time you'd also not run into the situation where all your clothes fall apart at the same time.

  • 2
    +1 for a clothing budget. Our budget includes about 1000 for suits, but we stock away for it monthly. – justkt Aug 17 '10 at 11:54
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    +1 for monthly savings. I do this with several expenses now - I've got an "electronics insurance" account slowly accumulating money. Cheaper than extended warranties, and I know the money's there if anything ever breaks. Never thought to do it with clothes though, so thanks for the idea! – awshepard Aug 18 '10 at 13:27
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Sounds more of a question for the fine people at StyleForum.net but i would suggest to start looking carefully at the quality of the fabrics: once you start studying the subject you will quickly recognize a solid shirt from a cheap one. That'll help you save money in the long term. Also keeping it simple (by choosing classic color tones and patterns) will make your wardrobe more resistant to the fashion du jour.

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    My grandfather always said, "The pain of poor quality outlasts the joy of a low price." +1 for timeless wisdom! I guess I need to brush up on my fabric knowledge... – awshepard Aug 18 '10 at 13:30
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    Popular wisdom here says: 'The money of the poor goes twice to the market'. – GUI Junkie Mar 3 '11 at 13:17
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I buy new clothes when the old ones fall apart, literally. When jeans get holes in the knees, they're relegated to gardening or really messy jobs. Shirts go until they're worn so much that I can't reasonably wear them to work any more.

Sounds like your "dress code" at work is about like mine (also a software engineer). I've found that the Dickies jeans and work pants are sturdy, long lasting, fit in reasonably at the workplace, and are very inexpensive. If you know that you're going to need to replace some pants or shirts, wait for a sale to roll around at a local store, and then stock up.

I don't specifically budget for clothes since I spend so little.

But I'd be at the bottom of anybody's list in terms of giving fashion advice...

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    +1 for software engineer fashion advice! Hadn't looked at Dickies before, so I'll check that out. – awshepard Aug 18 '10 at 13:29
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The best way to save on clothes is up to you. I have friends who save all year for two yearly shopping trips to update anything that may need updating at the time. By allowing themselves only two trips, they control the money spent. Bring it in cash and stop buying when you run out.

On the other hand in my family we shop sales. When we determine that we need something we wait until we find a sale. When we see an exceptionally good sale on something we know we will need (basic work dress shoes, for example), we'll purchase it and save it until the existing item it is replacing has worn out. Our strategy is to know what we need and buy it when the price is right. We tend to wait on anything that isn't on sale until we can find the right item at a price we like, which sometimes means stretching the existing piece of clothing it is replacing until well after its prime.

If you've got a list you're shopping from, you know what you need. The question becomes: how will you control your spending best? Carefully shopping sales and using coupons, or budgeting for a spree within limits?

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If you budget for cloths and save up the money, you may be able to take advantage of sales when they are on. However only buy what you will use!

You need to ask yourself what value you put on cloths compared to other things you can spend the money on. Also would you rather have money in the bank encase you need it rather than lots of cloths in the wardrobe?

  • Good point, Ian, about money in the bank vs in the closet. Thanks! – awshepard Aug 18 '10 at 13:32
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The way I handle clothing purchases, is I save a little bit with each paycheck but don't commit to spending each month. I wait until I find the exact item I need or know I will need in the near future. I have a list of things to look for so I don't get off track and blow my budget. And each time I consider hitting Starbucks or buying a random something at Target, I think which is a better investment - a great pair of pants that will work for me for a decade, or a latte?

Thank you for linking to me. Your question is one many people have. I feel that clothing should be purchased slowly, with care. If you do it this you will buy items that don't need to be replaced every two years, and will maintain style and quality longer. :)

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We have a ton of student loan debt (mostly mine) and right now, I'm on a strict 'replace' only budget. I have some shirts I put elbow holes in that I'm only keeping around as a reminder to replace them. I wait until there is a deal of some sort (50% off or BOGO Free) unless I really need it - a white dress shirt for job interviews for instance.

Outside of that, make it a line item in your budget and decide when you will spend it. For example, budget $60/mo for it, but only spend it when it reaches $180 or $300 or either of those amounts AND a sale (memorial day is the next big shopping sale after Easter). It is totally up to you.

Waiting to replace two shirts (gray and green) and a pair of black dress pants.

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