According to this article, the average American family spent $1700 on clothing in 2010. Because we humans are all afflicted with The Comparison Disease (which often gets us in trouble), I pulled up my family’s budget to see how we measured up.
I don’t really budget a fixed amount for clothing. I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Clearance Rack Shopping, so I rarely pay full price for clothes. Of course, that means that I often buy things that I technically don’t need or things that are off-season. The exceptions are when I am desperate for a particular item, like, when my daughter needs a dress for a school dance.
We have a 17-year old daughter, whose expenses should be shrinking now that her growth spurt seems to be slowing. And she also has her own income now, so I’ll be pushing more “marginal” wardrobe items to her responsibility. I always thought the 9-year-old daughter would wear mostly hand-me-downs, but you wouldn’t believe how much styles have changed in the seven years between them! I mean, I can’t send her to school wearing Hannah Montana and bedazzled flared jeans when everyone else is wearing super-skinny jeans and long tunics. Plus, they’re very different body types. Long and lean vs. short and lean.
So, basically, I buy practical items when I see them at a great price. Or I buy not-so-practical items when I find them at exceptional prices. For example, I love the Signature line at LL Bean, and some of my best outlet finds include a classic charcoal gray sheath dress that was originally $250 for just about $30. I work from home, but how can you not have a basic in your wardrobe of that quality for that price?!
While I don’t budget for clothing, I don’t go crazy either. If I spend more than I expect, it’s usually because I found better deal than expected. However, I can say that, after many years of tracking clothing purchases in YNAB (You Need a Budget, again, for another post), I have learned that a) about 50% of the clothing expenses go to the teen, b) about 25% of the expenses go to myself and the 9 year old, and c) my husband occasionally buys new socks.