What about Clothes?

Many people, especially women, overspend on clothes. But not all clothes buying is over-spending. This is one of those areas where the line between need and want can get a little blurry. For humans, lacking fur, clothes are a basic need. But, also because we are human, they are also a cultural statement. They tell the world who you are, or at least who you think you are. They create a type of shorthand that allows other people to place you in the order of things. They allow you to express yourself without saying a word. And, if you want to create an income for yourself, they telegraph to the world your competence to do a job. For that reason all “business” clothing is a uniform of sorts. And for that reason, depending on what you are trying to accomplish, the $300 shoes might not be an extravagance.

Nice Clothes Don't Have to be Expensive

The key, as usual, is self-knowledge. The labor intensive part is knowing exactly what your major activities are going to be in the near and medium term, and then creating a wardrobe plan to fit your own very personal goals.

Because we are so often judged by others based on our appearance it is not an extravagance to spend the time and/or money to find out what looks good on you. Get your colors done, either by a professional or a friend with a keen eye. Know your body type, as it is right now.

Take a look at your activities and schedule. If you are an office worker your needs will be very different from a freelance business person who has to go to two or three networking events every week, and be dressed in different outfits every time because some of the same people will be there. In that case as many as five relatively pricey business outfits would not be a luxury but actually a necessity. There are still ways of tempering the expense, but in that case stinting on basic quality and fashion would not be one of them. When I started my first small business after my economic situation crashed I was actually handicapped by a lack of clothes to wear to networking events. It makes no sense to spend $40 on a women’s business lunch if you are only going to be rejected on the basis of your shabby attire.

But, if you work at home and only go out for errands and fun you just have to come to terms with the fact that you don’t really need three pairs of Jimmy Choos. Probably not even one pair.

There are lots of strategies for getting reasonably nice workable clothes at much less than retail prices. Second hand stores, garage sales, and my favorite, the clothing swap, are a few of these.  Unless you are trying to build a high powered business in an area where the judgments run heavy, there is no reason to spend heavily on clothes at all.

But, the frugal life is about abundance. So, if clothes are your passion, use the discretionary income that will accrue from leading a frugal life. Just be aware that you can’t really have everything, at least not all at once. So, if you know you don’t really need that new jacket or handbag but you are about to buy it anyhow, just go back to your true values. What are you giving up to get the shiny new thing? If you don’t like the answer just put it back.

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