In the reader survey I did back in January a couple of people requested some help with budgeting for their clothes.  I have to admit I had no idea how to advice anyone how to budget. My own budget methods over the years have ranged from "shop until my credit card is declined" to "nothing over $20" to the current "I wing it" (see poll in right side bar to tell us how you budget).  Now I know in the past year I've learnt to shop a lot smarter.  But I still had really no idea where to start on setting a clothing budget. My March challenge of "nothing new" came in part because I needed to take stock and make myself a budget.  So I sought expert advice from Joanna Muir of Dear Piggy Bank, who I met through the Vancouver Enterprising Moms Chapter.  She is an expert and was happy to contribute some tips on getting started. 

Dear Piggy Bank

Gone are the days of perusing the shops for the perfect pair of jeans. Time, money and a different body have changed the game.

Synchronizing wardrobe and budget:

  • Make a list of the items needed
  • Estimate the cost
  • Plan your strategy. Where and when to buy

A basic wardrobe including day-to-day clothes, shoes, outer wear, sports clothing and a smattering of work (business casual) attire and dressy clothes could easily cost between $5,000 and $10,000 to replace the whole lot.

Budget an estimated 10% of wardrobe value for annual replacement of high use items and updating. Some years will cost more depending on what needs replacing. Start with $500 to $1,000 (10% of the above wardrobe value) and adjust for any lifestyle changes (maternity, career change). If you work in an environment that requires smarter dress, your budget must reflect this. If you love to keep up with fashion trends, budget for it.

This is a guideline for adults, it’s really up to you how much you spend on children under age 7 but once they take an interest in their closet, the budget must expand accordingly… they grow so fast!

Deciding how to spend your budget is the hard part. Will you buy a trendy dress or a classic? My mom always said that if you really like it and will wear it often it’s worth spending more.


  • Clean out your closet so you know what you have and what you need
  • Get some help*
  • Go with a list
  • Buy on sale
  • Buy second hand/consignment
  • Promptly return what you don’t need
  • Enjoy a splurge purchase that will always put a smile on your face!

* The upfront cost of an advisor could be helpful to focus your shopping, show you how to make outfits from items already in your closet and provide an estimate of a wardrobe update.

$750 per person per year is a budget amount. You could do with less or you could spend a lot more! The key is to have an idea what you typically spend or take the time to make a list and price it out, divide by twelve and you have your budget.



Joanna Muir

As an accountant, she’s comfortable with numbers however recognizes that for many, money is a source of anxiety. Joanna Muir created Dear Piggy Bank while on maternity leave to fill a gap  for those who want to have a plan but don’t know where to start.

Disclosure:  Fashion Forward 40 received no financial or in-kind compensation for this guest post. I contacted Joanna and asked her to contribute this guest post.