Fashion Theory – How To Calculate Your Clothing Budget

I suggested to Aisha, a recent client, that she invest in a durable leather handbag. Aisha argued that she simply couldn’t afford to spend upwards of $300. The remarkable thing about this was that once we analyzed her recent clothing purchases we realized that she was spending about $300 monthly on clothing! Aisha was actually suffering from sticker shock and had kind of become accustomed to buying quantity instead of quality. The end result was that her closet was essentially bursting at the seams with discount and poorly constructed clothing. In the end, Aisha was in effect spending $3,600 annually (nearly 10% of her $37,000 salary) on a wardrobe that lacked both function and style.

Establishing a budget is a very difficult question to answer from a general perspective because everyone’s financial and clothing situation is different. If you have a job that allows you to work in a casual environment where some of your everyday clothing can be incorporated into you daily work outfits, I would estimate the overall clothing allowance to be somewhere around 7%. For those that work in a more professional office environment where you are expected to dress the part and dressing the part may overall affect your promotion-ability factor; I would estimate around 10% of your salary. Keep in mind, this budget should include the costs of alterations and professional cleaning services. It is also important to note that if you are maintaining a household on this salary, i.e. you have children or a spouse you must allocate a portion of this amount to their clothing allowance as well.

Example 1: Aisha works in a business casual environment. Her salary is $37,000. Her clothing allowance is: $2,590.

Example 2: Elaine works in a professional business environment. Her salary is $85,000. Her clothing allowance is: $8,500.

1. Invest in Investment Pieces: Investment pieces are just that – “investment” pieces! So, don’t be afraid to spend a little more money on the classics which are required to create a functional wardrobe. Discount stores such as Marshalls, Century 21, and DSW could produce some very valuable finds, however it is important that you don’t become distracted and divert from the standard classics when shopping at these stores. For classics, I recommend shopping at a formula store. A formula store is typically a specialty retail store that stocks key basics. Some great formula stores are Gap, Ann Taylor LOFT and The Limited. The great thing about a formula store is that once you find the sizes and styles that suit you best, you can shop there season to season with little difficulty. These are great stores for purchasing a classic a-line skirt, trousers, jeans, button-ups, and tees, tanks and camis of variety.

2. Don’t Be a Label Whore: When it comes to beautiful dresses, handbags, shoes and scarves there are some designers that are simply ahead of the par, however to simply focus all of your efforts into collecting clothing that has a designer label tag regardless of how flattering or well-fitting the item is – is simply not a good option.

3. Do Apply The Cost-Per-Wear Concept: To get back to the example I gave previously of Aisha spending $300 on a leather handbag. The leather handbag is an investment piece which can be carried for months or possibly years to come. If Aisha carried this handbag for just six months her cost per wear would be $50. I discuss the Cost per Wear Concept in more detail in a recent post.

4. Don’t Charge: I know to some people this may seem unthinkable; however I think whenever you shop with credit cards you are always tempted to get caught up in the emotional buzz of said item and go well over your budget. If you’re carrying a lot of debt (particularly from past shopping activities) you really need to think long and hard about plunking 7-10% of your income towards clothing. A simple rule of thumb I often use is “Don’t buy it unless you can afford to buy two.” No, I’m not saying that you should buy two of everything; rather what I am suggesting is that every time you buy something, you take that same dollar amount and apply it towards paying off debt or towards savings. So in effect, that $300 handbag will now cost you $600; $300 to purchase and another $300 in savings or debt payment. The amount of your clothing budget should match or exceed the amount you are saving or applying towards debt repayment.

5. Make It Automatic: Now that you have established your clothing budget, the only sure fire way to stick to it is to make it automatic. Here are two great ideas for actually staying on budget.
Low Tech Option: If your budget allows for $200 to be spent a month on clothing. Place this amount of cash in an envelope. When shopping for clothing only spend what is in the envelope. Once this amount is gone you have exhausted your clothing budget for the month.
High Tech Option: Set up a separate checking account (I suggest an ING Orange account) and have a specific amount deposited into your account periodically; for example $50 a week. When shopping for clothing only use the debit card associated with this checking account. The nice thing about this option is that if you are not someone who shops on a weekly or monthly basis the money continues to grow towards your much anticipated shopping spree.

6. Maximize Your Budget: A pair of Jimmy Choo shoes is no longer $500. It’s $500 minus the $165 you will get for selling them on EBay the following year. EBay and consignment stores are a great source for stretching your clothing allowance. If you don’t have a lot of designer clothing in your closet you can still receive some financial benefit from making a tax-deductible donation to your local goodwill or charity.

How to Save Money With Mix-And-Match Clothing

Clothing can take a big bite out of your budget if you do not learn frugal clothing strategies. To save money you must learn to make the best use of the smallest amount of clothing.

This article is for women. It is about the need to buy the correct pieces to stretch wardrobes, and how to use all of the clothes in your closet.

Many women have huge closets of clothing, but they don’t wear all of them. The obsession with clothing and shoes in our society has gotten ridiculous. Sometimes price tags are not even taken off items that hang in closets. What a waste of money.

The best way to make good use of your clothing is to mix and match that which you own, and wear everything. This can be done by mixing-and-matching items and dressing them up and down.

Here are some tips to help you with some of the basic pieces in your closet.

Jackets

Jackets serve two purposes- fashion and warmth. You can find Jackets in fabrics from velvet to corduroy. There are conservative cuts, and trendy pieces. If you want to build a frugal wardrobe, stick with the classics. There are many classic cuts, from double breasted to the classic channel jacket.

There are so many ways to wear jackets. Invest in one good jacket, wear it over and over, and the price per wearing becomes only a few pennies.

The High Powered Business Jacket

This jacket is usually very dark, (black, navy or gray) and is worn with a skirt (or pants) in the same color. It is worn with a shirt that is also in a dark color. Not everyone looks good wearing all dark colors, but this is what you wear when you want to look very conservative.

Regular Business Attire

You may soften the look of your outfit by wearing a white shirt, or a shirt in a pastel color. You can also mix the fabrics and colors. However, the jacket and skirt should be classic in style and conservative in color.

Meetings

Take the same black jacket, and relax the look even more by wearing a colorful shirt or sweater under the jacket. Wear a more patterned skirt or pair of pants. Give a little more personality to the outfit with colorful jewelry.

Casual Wear

Finally, for very casual wear, use your jacket with your blue jeans. The jeans should be in a more formal dark wash.

Sweaters

Sweaters are another versatile piece in the frugal wardrobe. Once again, sweaters serve two purposes- fashion and warmth. Sweaters come in several styles, are made of knitted fabric, and almost always soft and snuggly.

Sweaters are knit from many types of yarn, from heavy ply to very thin yarn. You want to buy sweaters that will last, so don’t choose any with a very loose knit.

Again, there are conservative and trendy cuts. If you are buying a cardigan (which functions as a jacket), you want to stick with a conservative cut. However, you can be more stylish with pullover sweaters. Knit fabrics do not last as long as other garments. The fabric often tears, snags, and ravels.

Here are 4 basic ways to wear sweaters.

Under a Jacket

As mentioned in the jacket section, you can wear a sweater under a jacket for a more casual, yet dressy appearance. To make it more interesting, you can also wear a blouse under the sweater. Sweaters look good when dressed up with both scarves and jewelry.

Combined with a Blouse

Sweaters can achieve many looks when worn over blouses. You can improve the appearance of many of your blouses by topping them with a sweater. Many blouses and sweaters are now are made with 3/4 length sleeves. This provides the opportunity to wear a long sleeve blouse under a sweater with 3/4 long sleeves, and then roll up the sleeves on the blouse.

Worn Alone

Sweaters look great worn alone over skirts or pants. Again, both jewelry and scarves look great on sweaters.

Blouses

Blouses will be one of the least expensive items in your wardrobe, and here is where you want to have a variety of colors and styles.

Blouses are worn close to your face, so you do want to be sure and buy them in colors that flatter your face.

Unless you work in a conservative business environment, you can have a lot of fun with colors and styles. If you have kept your skirts and pants in neutral colors, you should be able to pair them with almost everything in your wardrobe.

If you are large busted, but sure the sleeve length does not end at the same place as your bust If your blouse buttons, be sure you can move your arms freely, and there are not gaps between the buttons. If your legs are short, do not buy your blouses too long, or your legs will look shorter if you do not tuck them in.

Here are some ideas for your blouses:

Business Wear

As mentioned in the Jacket section, the most conservative, sophisticated way to wear a blouse is to wear a dark blouse under a dark suit. Wear a light colored blouse to make the outfit less conservative. You can also wear a vest over the blouse for a very business-like look

Vests

Vests lend versatility to blouses. Wear a tailored vest over a blouse for a more formal look. You have a variety of options when it comes to vests, from the conservative blouse, to the very informal looks you can achieve when you wear vests made of fleece and denim. Vests are very easy to sew, and a good choice to expand a small wardrobe.

Casual Wear

Blouses worn alone are usually worn with a piece of jewelry, unless the blouse has a lot of style from the cut and design of the blouse. The accessories worn with a blouse will dress it up or down. Blouses are versatile. You can wear the same cotton blouse with a pair of shorts or a skirt and sweater. They cost less than the other items in your wardrobe so have some fun with color.

Pants

The most versatile pants are conservative business pants and jeans. You can wear them with all of the items above. The fabric and the cut are what make pants go from dressy to casual.

Keep your dress pants conservative, and without pockets or other design details that draw attention, and you can get by with just a couple of pairs for work and special occasions.

Add a couple pair of jeans and a corduroy or twill pant in a neutral color, and that should be all you need. No one is going to remember your pants. You can wear them over and over until they need replacing.

Casual Wear

How much casual wear you need depends on whether you stay at home or work. It also depends on your leisure activities. If you don’t work, you should have more casual wear than business attire. Keeping your wardrobe in balance to your needs is another skill for a frugal clothes shopper.

So these are the basic pieces for a mix-and-match wardrobe. I’ve seen people with as few as 3 blouses and 3 skirts put together amazing outfits with the use of accessories like scarves and jewelry.

When it comes to clothes, less is more. You will take better care of your clothing, and it will always be clean and ready to go. When everything goes together, a little goes a long way.

The Denim Jacket is a Menswear Design Classic

The denim jacket is a design classic that any man can wear. Whether for high fashion or everyday casual wear, it can be adapted to his look. Whatever way he chooses to wear it, it is comfortable and relaxing. Worn properly it is also timelessly stylish.

Like all design classics it is instantly recognizable. The very familiarity of a jacket that has been around for over a century makes it a versatile item of apparel that can be adjusted to suit any size, shape or taste. At the same time, the very familiarity of it means that it remains casually cool and avoids looking over styled.

The attraction for men is that it is an easy choice of clothing. Everyone has worn one at some stage and most people have one in their wardrobe. It can be worn with most other clothes without clashing too much. It can be dressed up or down to taste. From the smart casual combination of denim jacket and chinos to the everyday work pants and jacket, it is a comfortable and reliable choice.

The classic choice of jeans jacket is the traditional blue jacket. Denim comes in many colors but blue, whether faded or dark blue, is the best choice for men. The jacket should never be too tight or too loose and should reach to the waist of the pants. Detailing is a matter of choice but should be as simple and traditional as possible.

The denim jacket works a s a menswear design classic because it is practical, comfortable and easy to wear. It looks good, feels good and is easy to maintain. When they are looking for a reliable everyday casual jacket, men should reach for the old standby denim jacket.

Classic Women’s Summer Fashions Are Nautical, Seersucker, Country Checks, and Tropical Prints

Four flattering and classic looks in women’s summer fashion are

  • the nautical look
  • crisp seersucker suits and dresses
  • country cotton red-and-white checks
  • and tropical print fabric.

How flattering any style is depends on how it looks on you. Buy clothing that fits or spend money to have it fitted. Check the finishing for hanging threads and loose buttons. Choose fabrics that feel nice against your skin and drape well.

The nautical look can be achieved by pairing sparkling, crisp white with darker shades of blue. A horizontally-striped cotton knit T-shirt is a good start. Add earrings with a nautical motif such as an anchor, dolphins, seahorses, or a ship’s wheel. A hemp braid belt and comfortable rubber-soled deck shoes complete this fashion style.

We no longer see many blouses with the traditional large, square sailor’s collar. MIddy blouses, as they were called (for midshipman, a rank in the Navy) were popular in years past and may come into style again.

Red is a dramatic accent color. Try red shoes, bag, and belt to spark your white-and-blue nautical ensemble. Red lipstick is appropriate, if you can find a shade that complements your skin tone.

Red-and-white cotton checks are another summer fashion classic. County checks have an easy-going, cheerful look, especially in carefree cotton. Stick to a smaller check so you don’t end up looking like a picnic tablecloth.

Country red checks are ideal for a pretty blouse or a summer sun dress. Pair the blouse with bright yellow shorts or yellow accent sandals and handbag, for a combination that is fresh. Fred Perry has two styles and a handbag in red-and-white checks for summer 2009. This is an innovative way to add this classic women’s summer fashion to update clothing you already own.

A third summer fashion classic is crisp, cool seersucker suits and dresses. This timeless cotton fabric traditionally is a subtle stripe of white and an alternative color, with little puckers in the white stripes. Ironing is mostly unnecessary because of these natural wrinkles in seersucker natural cotton. Today’s stretch blends make it easier than ever to wash and air-dry seersucker suits, dresses, and blouses. Seersucker is perfect for robes and sleepwear, too.

Once upon a time, the only seersucker color was pinstripe navy blue and white. Now, stripe widths vary and occasionally we see a seersucker check. Gray and white, green and white, red and white are among the expanding range of colors for seersucker clothing.

A fourth summer fashion classic is tropical print fabric. Hawaiian print dresses, blouses, and shirts evoke umbrella drinks and white beaches.

Tropical print fabric became popular in the wake of World War II, chiefly as patterns for draperies and furniture in the warmer United States. These big, bold tropical print fabric designs have been scaled down for the colorful shirts and dresses we wear today. Florals and travel themes are among choices you will find available for women’s summer clothing.

To wrap it all up, four summer fashion wardrobe investments that will pay off for years to come are the blue-and-white nautical look, red-and-white country cotton checks, crisp seersucker, and tropical print fabric in shirts, dresses, and skirts.

Unique Children’s Clothing: The Trends of Today

There is a difference between fashion trends among adults and among children. For adults, fashion trends are sometimes a short-lived craze over an item such as designer jeans or something of the same sort but for the kids, a fashion trend usually means finding unique children’s clothing that follows a more general trend. Now let us look at some of the recent trends for unique children’s clothing.

Personalized clothes and accessories

What best way to represent unique children’s clothing than personalized items such as clothes and accessories. In the past, monogrammed shirts and sweaters were a big hit but as of today, a bold initial is the trend. Fashion people call it the “letter sweater”, and it has become the ultimate in unique children’s clothing. Some clothing shops manufacture on an order basis while some stock them in variety of initials. For accessories on the other hand, you have winter hats, scarves, and mittens with their initials as well.

You can still go for monogram as well, while considering the item you want it on and its use. Monogramming produces a classic look so it may be more appropriate on a dress shirt or blouse rather than a backpack or some other accessories. You can also have iron-appliqu├ęs to have that unique children’s clothing. Just remember not to overdo the initials and monograms on every item your child has, moderation is still the key. Use one trendy and unique children’s clothing at a time.

Outer wear

Lasting trends for outer wear are the “lumberjack” look, which is a two-tone buffalo plaid, the “snowboarder” look which is of nylon jackets with a longer tail in back and the classic “pea coat”.

For warmer climates, it is best to go for shirt-jackets made out of cotton flannel and when winter comes, wool or polyester fleece jacket would do. All these have become part of the unique children’s clothing collection that you might want to have your little one to have in his or her closet. Word of advice: Look for unique children’s clothing in classic combinations of colors like red and black, navy and black, and orange and dark brown, because you can never go wrong in them.

The snowboarding-inspired jackets may cost a bit much but they have properties such as its breathability and water-repellency. These items you can find in outdoors outfitter to prepare for the winter season. The pea coats on the other hand have been a favorite for many years. They may not seem as though they are unique children’s clothing but they come in a dazzling variety of fabrics and colors so you can easily mix and match. You can use wool pea coats when you dress your kids up for fancier occasions as well.

Footwear

An outfit isn’t complete without the footwear. UGGs has been an all-time favorite because of its distinctive look that comes in a wide array of shades and styles that you can match with even the most unique children’s clothing. They are comfortable, durable and very easy to pull on and off that is why parents love them for the kids. They can survive being handed down a lot of times so you are sure to get your money’s worth. For gender specific footwear, you have “mary janes” for girls and “hiking boots” as a great addition to the boys’ wardrobe.