Blowing your clothing budget is easy when you encounter a to-die-for piece that you just can’t live without.

But if this happens a lot, it can derail your finances.

Here are 5 clothing budget killers that can cause you to overspend…and what you should do instead.

But First, Let Me Tell You A Story…

One fall about 20 years ago, my husband announced that he needed to replace some of his clothes. 

I usually shopped for him in the decade before we had kids because whenever I went with him, it would drive me nuts.  He’d take forever to choose anything, and I would lose patience as a “quick trip” turned into hours and hours of me standing in the men’s department, bored out of my mind, while he mulled over buying a pair of socks with as much consideration as he would if he were buying a house or car.  So once I learned what suited him, I’d just buy clothes for him and save us both the hassle.

But after we had kids, my limited clothes shopping time was usually devoted to replacing the kids’ clothes that they so quickly outgrew. I really hadn’t bought anything new for my husband or myself in some time.  

So after discussing whether we should take the kids and go together – which was a firm “no” from me since our girls were a very busy 1 and 3 at the time – we went through his closet and made a list of things he needed.  I withdrew $1,000 cash for him and sent him to the mall by himself.  

Big mistake.  HUGE.

Leather Bomber JacketBecause after shopping all afternoon, he came home with just ONE item:  a leather coat.

That cost $1,000.

Yes, it was gorgeous.  Yes, he got a lot of wear out of it over the years.

But he already had 4 leather coats.  What he needed were shirts, pants, and other work staples.  

He blew his entire clothing budget on an item that wasn’t even on his list.

As the family accountant, I knew our finances couldn’t take many more impulse buy trips like that, so from that day forward, I returned to doing the bulk of his clothes shopping for him.  It’s what worked for us.

So…do you have a similar tale to tell?

Most women do.

In fact, here are…

5 Clothing Budget Killers

If you do any of these, it can get expensive fast.


1.  Impulse Shopping

Ever see something you HAVE to have, buy it, but then NEVER wear it because it doesn’t go with anything else you own?

You’re not alone.  

Buying clothes without a plan is like taking a road trip without a map (see story, above). A whimsical skirt here, a trendy blouse there, and soon you have a bunch of clothes that don’t go with anything else.  

Impulse Shopping

It’s the wardrobe equivalent of junk food – it drains your wallet and pads your closet with lots of unnecessary weight.

So don’t do it.

What to do instead:  only buy something if it goes with 3 other things in your closet.  If you can’t make it work with your existing wardrobe, don’t buy it.


2. Clothes That Require Special Care

Special care clothesFind a great tissue-weight silk blouse or a linen suit that you just couldn’t resist?  Awesome!  

You do know that you have to hand wash that blouse, right?  And that the linen suit has to be ironed?

The time to think about clothing maintenance is before you buy, not after.

Because if your clothes spend more time in the “needs to be hand washed” or “needs to be ironed” pile than on your back, they’re no bargain.  They’re a pain.

What to do instead:  Always, ALWAYS check the care label on clothes you’re thinking about buying, particularly if they’re in a fabric with which you’re unfamiliar or have delicate embellishments that might not stay on in the wash.  Know what you’re getting yourself into care-wise before you buy.  If something doesn’t fit your laundry lifestyle, leave it at the store.


3. A New Outfit for Every Occasion

Graduation. Engagement.  Wedding.  Anniversary.  


Special Occasions


These are the moments of your life, and you need to look awesome.  

But if you spend more money on clothes you wear once than on clothes you wear every day, it can seriously cripple your budget – and your image.  Don’t do it.

What to do instead:  create a wardrobe of special occasion pieces that you can mix and match for various occasions as they arise.


4. Something For Somebody Else’s Life

Embellished gownA beautiful sequined gown marked down from $600 to $60? Great, huh?

Maybe. Maybe not.

If your life is softball, not sequins, you’ll probably never wear it. That means you’ll waste $60 on something that will hang in your closet for years, then fall out of fashion before you give it away.

What to do instead:  Dream all you want.  But don’t buy clothes for a different life until you’re actually living that life.

Instead, create a dream board or a Pinterest board with looks you love for the life you want to lead.  Use them to inspire and motivate until you’re living that new life.


5. A Garment You Don’t Like But It’s Designer and It’s 50% Off

Don’t let the designer’s name fool you.

If you don’t like it now, you won’t wear it later. Period.  

Just ask yourself:  if it wasn’t designer, would I still buy it?

Designer Clothes

If not, then don’t.

What to do instead:  If you find a discounted piece from a favorite designer that you would have paid full price for, grab it.  That’s a bargain.



Do you see yourself in any of these?

I’ve been guilty of all of them at one time or another!

Thank goodness I learned a better, budget-friendly way to look great and stay on budget.

Want to know what it is?

This resource can help.


Diana Pemberton-SikesDiana Pemberton is an image consultant and author of Wardrobe Magic, her best-selling ebook on how to build a wardrobe that works whatever your age, shape, style, or budget.  Want to dress better tomorrow? Download Wardrobe Magic today!



Clothing Budget Killers

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