Sunday, May 28, 2017

Clothing Allowances

Once upon a time, my mother sewed all my clothes and there wasn't a clothing allowance as such, just what we'd spend on fabric, thread, buttons, etc.  I didn't budget for my clothes, or the items needed to make them, at all.  Later, when she found it difficult to sew for me, I'd go on a shopping spree and buy some items and I'd spend about $100, maybe once or twice a year.

As a result, when I started budgeting, I had no idea how much I actually spent on clothes, so I estimated and allowed myself $25 per month for clothing, which amounted to $300 per year.  I figured that was a reasonable amount to spend on clothes for me.  At the time, my mother sewed for my daughter, so I didn't budget for her clothes.  Later, when my mother was no longer able to sew, I allocated another $25 per month for my daughter's clothing, as well.

Initially, I did all the clothes shopping for my daughter; for the most part, she was a child who was quite happy to wear what was picked out for her.    Once she became a teenager, however, I took her shopping with me for her clothes and allowed her to pick what she wanted, within reason, and, always, subject to my approval (her schools had dress codes, but, in general, my dress codes were stricter than the ones the schools imposed).

We'd do a "back to school" shopping trip at the end of summer, and I'd tell her she had $200 to spend on clothes and a pair of shoes for school (the balance $100 was  kept for a winter jacket, a second pair of shoes if needed, other items such as socks, undies, etc.)  I'd tell her what I expected her to buy for that amount of money - 1 pair of shoes for $25, 5 pairs of pants (or a combination of skirts and pants) for $15 each, and 10 tops (had to include at least one sweatshirt or sweater) for $10 each.    If she was able to find those necessary items for less, then, she could spend the remaining portion of the budget  on additional items or extras such as hair bows, etc.  She soon learned to seek out the sales racks at the back of the stores!  LOL.

In addition to these back to school clothes, she'd often receive clothing as gifts for Christmas and her birthday (in March), so she had new clothes every 3 months or so, during the school year, and at summer, we might buy a new pair of shorts if needed.

When I needed to cut back on my budget, during the recession, I reduced daughter's clothing allowance to $20/month and mine to $10/month.  Once daughter started university and working part time, she told me she didn't want an allowance, as I was paying for tuition, etc.

My clothing budget (which includes shoes as well as clothes) has continued to be $10/month or $120/year.  It is a good thing I am not at all interested in designer clothes or high fashion!  LOL.    For the past several years, I have been wearing what I had and replacing items as needed, so this amount of money for clothes and shoes has worked out well.  I budget $20 for a pair of pants, $30 for a dress or a jacket, $10 for a blouse, $30 for a pair of shoes.  Obviously, I am not someone who feels the need to buy something new to wear for every social occasion.

The last time I went shopping for clothes and actually bought something was in August/September 2015.  I needed a couple of loose fitting blouses with the opening in front to wear after my surgery in October of that year, and I bought two blouses on clearance for $1.99 and $2.99; a packet of socks and a packet of undies, and a knit hat from the dollar store to wear when I lost my hair (later, I knitted two hats for myself).

I didn't buy any clothes or shoes during 2016.  So I carried over that $120 clothing allowance to this year.  Then, earlier this year, just before I returned to the office, I went shopping for a pair of pants, but didn't actually buy any.  As a result, I have $50 accumulated in my clothing budget for this year (in addition to the $120 from 2016).

I have managed with what I have in my closet (especially with access to daughter's closet, as well!)  But, I am thinking, it might be time to go shopping for clothes. 

Do you have a budget for clothing?  If not, how do you decide how much to spend on your clothing?


  1. I don't have a specific budget, but I don't spend much on clothes. Mostly, because I don't like shopping. As long as I have enough to go to work in and an occasional outing. I'm good to go. However, I have several everyday pieces that are wearing out and will need to go shopping soon. Then to find the elusive feels good and also looks good piece of clothing will be the challenge.

    1. I don't like shopping that much, myself. I have one or two styles that I like and I tend to buy the same thing all the time. My mother used to complain that I had the same "look", but that's what I am comfortable with. Good luck with your shopping! Hope you find what you like and feels good to you. :)

  2. What an interesting column. When my three reached high school it became very hard to meet what they saw as their clothes need. I was vigilant on watching for a sale on the brand they wanted. My two boys continued to grow until they were away at university. Nothing fit from year to year. Oh how I wished for the school uniform requirement that I had grown up with.

    My job required me to dress smartly and required dresses, skirts, nylon stockings with dress shoes. In time we were allowed a to wear slacks but they had to be professional. Didn't have a set budget but always on the hunt for coupons, sales etc. Mangement implemented a standard uniform during my last years. I didn't mind. It was cheaper to comply and no decision as to what to wear.

    I buy very little these days. When I do I like Kohls and purchase t-shirts etc. from K-Mart or similar.


    1. Uniforms can be a blessing in a way! I wore uniforms to school and my daughter had a uniform during her first three years at elementary school (then she transferred to a different school that didn't require uniforms). We don't have a dress code at my work place, except we are all expected to dress somewhat professionally or "business casual". There was a time when I wore mostly suits to the office, but these days, I am more relaxed. :)

  3. Perhaps it's time to assess your wardrobe relative to how it relates to your stage of life, your activities and events. Have you heard of a 'capsule' wardrobe? There is a lot of detailed information on line to make it easy. It basically has you initially shop your closet for 11 garments that fit and flatter of two, basic, co ordinating colors with a third accent color.
    With time our bodies change so as a cancer survivor I found my most beneficial action was to be fitted by a specialist for a quality bra.

    Stage II adds 10 more garments that build on your color palette whether shopping my closet, making better fitting slacks or buying a new jacket and fashion booties.

    Once I decided to limit working, I swung more to a home 'uniform' of yoga style pull-on pants and long, tunic type shirts with embroidered necklines. Easy care but look co ordinated and suitable to walk the dog, go to the grocery or enjoy friends or neighbours who drop by for coffee. On the recent trip to Thailand, I bought several of their bright colored, long, beach cover-ups ...really handy in my current state of stapled together.

    1. Hon, I hope your recovery is going well. Glad you were able to get several comfortable and colorful garments to wear during this period! :)

      Yes, I have heard and read about capsule wardrobes. I really like the concept and I have tried out different versions of it at different times. I think what I have right now are several capsule wardrobes! LOL!

      I am still working, so I still need a somewhat pulled together look for the office. I have plenty of leisure wear for the house and enough casual/formal wear for social occasions (although I might need some new blouses to wear with my saris!)

      What I really want right now is a better fitting pair of black pants. Maybe one or two new blouses, too, although I can manage with what I have. Any wardrobe overhaul I had been planning is more or less on hold for now, pending my ultrasound and results.

  4. My mother used to sew most of my clothes too as a child and then started giving me a clothing allowance. I shopped sales like crazy and still do. My kids also learned to do this and shop the thrift stores. Most of my clothing now comes from thrift stores and I did have to buy new items with my large weight gain. Luckily I am able to find things in great condition and some even new with tags for pennies on the dollar.

    1. Debbie, I've seen some of the lovely garments you've bought and the prices you've paid. I think you have some of the best thrift stores up there! My problem is, it takes energy to go clothes shopping! And I have to be in the proper mood to shop, because, in general, I don't like to shop. :)


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