Clothes shopping spending habits

Last year, I don’t think I was very public on my blog about a challenge I set with my mother: We’d buy no NEW clothing from my birthday on 30th January, for a year.  My mother and I did spend two weeks in January 2015 in the USA, so my annual total does include ‘new’ items in this time.  We were allowed to buy clothing second hand and that helped us get together and go to events like ‘Around She Goes’ where we both succeeded in finding items to add to our closets.  We weren’t saints – I bought three items from Lulu Lemon – a zip up jacket that I could run in, a pair of cropped leggings and a workout top.  I bought some replacement knickers too (but I think we exempted those).  I also got a dress whilst on holidays in Thailand, which I said the BF bought me (partially true) – it’s also not really a public dress, so it’s like underwear perhaps? I’m clutching at straws here!  I don’t believe my mother held true the whole time, but it certainly curbed her spending, and opened her mind to how often she shopped, and whether it was necessary.  I also think my father loved it (he’s a saver if there ever was one!).

Silk top $120+
Silk top $120+

Over the year, I spent $823 which is considerably less than past years, on 45 items, 26 of which we second hand.

2014: $1875 for 79 items, of which 29 second hand.

2013: $1613 for 40 items.

I’ve been tracking spending on clothing since 2010, and had one ‘no clothes at all’ year!  On average I have spent about $1500 AUD per annum.

Every pair of knickers = 1 item, if you’re wondering.

I don’t actually set a budget for my clothing, it just gets bought out of the ‘walking around’ money – which is to say, I budget backwards.  I ‘pay myself first’, which is allocating money to all my savings: rent/food; bills; charitable giving; goals (travel).  Then I spend from what remains directly out of my bank account. Before pay day, I transfer what money I have left into whichever savings account I’m prioritising at the time.

I also do a lot of shopping whilst I’m travelling overseas.  When I add an item to my spreadsheet, I do account for it’s price in AUD, even if it was bought in USD or EUR.  Yep, bankers daughter here!

What I noticed from my year of shopping second hand:

  • I settled for ‘good enough’ and as such, many items we re-thrifted within the year due to poor fit
  • I felt less investment in second hand items, so less guilt to offload them, and buy more (second hand)
  • I couldn’t shop to specifics with second hand, I could more shop to ‘themes’ like ‘work clothing’ or ‘party dress’.  It meant there were a few items I was keen to buy new on Feb 1!  Actually, my mother gave me new skinny white jeans for my birthday as she knew I’d been hankering to have some!
  • I prefer thrift stores which sort by colour (as per this post, I rule out the ‘warm colours’ such as yellow, red and orange)
  • I shop on brand – I won’t be buying a second hand item that was ‘cheap’ to start with usually.  I don’t think it’s that I’m snobby, but I have to have a quick filter to get through racks and this is one of them.  As such, I have found some international brands in Australian stores, which is a bonus.
  • For pants, I like to shop on touch – I will feel for a non synthetic fabric.  More often than not, this is where I’ve struck the above point – Banana Republic or The Gap pants, which by and large are of a far better fabric blend than most pants sold in Australia.
  • I still browsed items in first hand, normal stores.  I found my photography of items i liked was usually more than enough to sate my desire (I do this with homewares a lot too)

I don’t plan to set a budget this year, though I do know a lot of bloggers do.  I do wonder whether it’d be worth setting a budget – what are your thoughts?

7 Replies to “Clothes shopping spending habits”

  1. Ooh – I really like some of your comments about buying-styles e.g. shopping by colour palette as well as fabric type. My ‘filters’ include fabric type first up, usually, then cut (V neck vrs round neck and so on.) It helps to think it through as it makes shopping so much faster. I love the idea of photographing things as a way to avoid spending! (must do that with camping gear!!) I don’t set a clothes budget because I do tend to buy strictly to need so I spend whatever is necessary to buy a long-lasting, good-quality product. But I’d set stricter limits if I was more of a temptation clothes shopper or had so much that I didn’t really need more.

    1. Enjoy the photographing of your ‘wants’ – I do it with all sorts of stuff, homewares and knick knacks. It works like pinterest really!

      Good on you for having such restraint on clothes shopping – I am utilitarian at times, but in the past years, I’ve become more interested. Maybe it’s because i’m getting more confident to dress how I want, and not listen to the voice in my head I thought was ‘others’!

  2. I have had the same experience as you when thrift shopping. I have to keep my categories more general, for example, instead of “black v-neck top” I might settle for “dark-colour work-suitable top.” Likewise, I always donate second-hand clothes much more readily due to buying mistakes. I do set a budget but usually overspend and take the money from another “line.” My weakness is buying new clothes prior to going on vacation so I can wear new things when I’m away. I am trying to reduce that! Maybe the problem is that I have work clothes and in-the-house-only clothes, but not smart casual outfits.

    1. I definitely ID a portion of my clothing which I only wear on holidays really. I don’t have the whole ‘buy clothes for a vacation’ often, though I do remember this post, but I buy a lot whilst on holidays, and it’s important to keep in mind when I’ll truly wear things (ie at work!!).

      I could really do with a few less ‘in the house’ clothes I think, but in the heat of summer, it’s nice to have fresh things to put on.

  3. I was really interested to read this. My spending totals on clothing are very similar to yours (numbers too I think but I haven’t kept track of those). I’m having a low-spend year on clothes this year. What I like about this approach is that it can quite dramatically lower the annual average cost of what we spend on clothing. I think my spend last year scared me into cutting back this year. And it’s easiest when I just stay out of clothes shops 🙂

    I enjoyed reading your list as well. I agree that a theme rather than specific item approach to secondhand clothes is better. And it’s always exciting to pick up a great brand at such a low price.

    1. Are you intentionally spending less this year, or has it just happened like that so far and you might blow out later?

      Great brands at low prices is the BEST feeling!

  4. It’s happened without any conscious planning which has somehow made it easier. And now that I’ve not bought anything for a few months, I tell myself, “well, I’ll just go a bit longer” and so far it’s working! I have a tendency to blow out when I go clothes (and book) shopping so will be more careful to shop deliberately this year.

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