Work your Wardrobe: #4 – What to Spend

This financial strategy for what to spend on your wardrobe is appropriate for Canada and United States economies.

The suggested annual wardrobe investment for all clothing items (including inner wear, outerwear, and accessories) is 5 – 10% of the gross annual salary, or 5 – 10% of the desired gross annual salary.

If your lifestyle is predominantly: Your investment would be:
Casual 5 – 6 %
Business Casual 7 – 8 %
Business 9 – 10 %

To have an idea of the cost and quality of each item, we can use the example of a business suit.  If a business suit is worn only occasionally, it would cost about 1% of the gross annual salary.  If it is worn on a regular basis, it would cost about 1½% of the gross annual salary.  The cost and quality of other items would then fall in line accordingly.

Joann is vice president of a bank and wears a suit every day. Her suit would be 1.2 percent – 1.5 percent of her gross annual income. Leslie is a consultant and wears a suit once a month for meetings. Her suit is 0.8 percent – 1.2 percent of her gross annual income. Gordon is a farmer and rarely wears a suit. His suit would be 0.5 percent – 0.8 percent of his gross annual income.

A Professional Wardrobe Module (excluding outerwear and underwear) would cost about 3% of the total annual salary.   For a person with an income of $50,000, the price breakdown could look like this:

Jacket@ $450= $450
2 Bottoms@ $175 each= $350
3 Tops@ $80 each= $240
1 Shoe@ $200= $200
1 Belt@ $75= $75
2 pairs socks@ $20= 40
Ties or scarf= 145
TOTAL= $1,500 (3% of $50,000)

The typical duration of a garment is five years.  The higher the refinement and quality of the clothing, the longer it will last.  Cold weather’s heavier weight clothing costs more and lasts longer than hot weather’s lighter weight clothing.

Karen Brunger, holistic image consultant, is President of International Image Institute Inc. and a Past-President of the Association of Image Consultants International.

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