It’s one of the greatest compliments you can receive after buying new clothes: “you look like a million dollars!” But how much does looking “a million dollars” actually cost us?

Clothes, whether we like it or not, is a necessity for our work, social and everyday life. If you want to walk out of your front door and go to work feeling good, you want to look good first. Personal style is important for a number of reasons and for most of us; it’s to make a great first impression. We make impressions at work all the time through what we wear. From interviews to presentations to meeting new colleagues; what we wear ultimately becomes an important part of our routine. However, it is true that looking good and making that stand out impression does come at a hefty price.

Clothes are a girl’s best friend

In 2013, Roy Morgan conducted a study on clothing expenses for women and revealed that females who want to keep stylish and fashionable are label-conscious and believe it’s very important to spend more than average on clothes to look good. Although the average annual amount spent on clothing by Australian women (14 years and over) is $834, those who want to maintain a stylish and up-to-date wardrobe spend much higher.

The most lavish spenders are women who say that they “wear clothes to get noticed” and will spend an incredible $1,288 per year on clothing. Next are women who agree that “it’s important to look stylish and fashionable” and they will spend $1,179 per year on their wardrobe. Aussie women who “purchased a product based on its label/designer” spend an average of $1,071 every year and those who just “try to look stylish” spend $1,031 annually. Finally there are those who only look for “quality over price” and choose to spend approximately $907 a year on clothing.

Deciding which state is the “fashion capital of Australia” has been a long-running debate. However, Roy Morgan Research discovered that women who live in New South Wales and wore clothes to “get noticed” have the highest annual spend by a long shot at $1,424.

woman with many shoes

How to make your wardrobe last longer

It seems that personal style is very important to all of us and we definitely seem to spend a lot of money trying to make the right impression on others! However, it doesn’t mean you can’t budget what you spend on clothes and make your outfits last longer. Being well groomed can make the difference in any type of situation. You could be catching up with old work colleagues or hosting an event, what you wear matters. Clothes should ultimately become an investment. You want others to look at you and think “wow they care!” rather than “wow that looks expensive”. Planning your purchases and outfits wisely will balance out how good your wardrobe will look with how much you’re taking out of the bank. So how can you make your clothes last longer?

Look after your clothes the right way

You should always take care of the things you buy, no matter how much they cost. Do you regularly clean and polish your shoes? If your clothes are ripped, do you sew them back together? Are you washing your clothes the right way and not letting the colours run? Treat your clothes better and they are guaranteed to last longer!

washing white clothing

Add more outfits to your repertoire

If you have one good dress or suit or outfit that you continuously wear to work, it’s most likely wearing out. Consistently wearing that favourite piece of clothing will shorten its shelf-life. However, if you split your time with another suit or favourite dress, then you’ve already extended the shelf life of the original outfit. Keep adding more and more to your wardrobe rotation and soon, you’ll have a number of favourite outfits that won’t be wearing out anytime soon.

Quality above all else

It has to be said that some clothes just don’t cut it in terms of quality. Some clothes can look amazing but are made poorly and with low quality material. These types of outfits will get you by however; they will eventually tear or break easily and will become uncomfortable to wear. Price should remain a factor when it comes to shopping around for clothes but don’t forget the sole purpose of what shoes, shirts, pants or ties were made for: to make you look and feel Take a look at what stores offer affordable and quality material to make your next few outfits a worthwhile buy.

man looking at suits

How to start from scratch when picking outfits

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and redesign your wardrobe and kick up your style a notch, then start by choosing a few basic outfits and then add more and more accessories to your outfits. Plan and strategise – first decide what kinds of activities you’ll need outfits for and in what quantities. Start by making a list of all of your regular activities: working, meeting friends, staying at home etc. Group your activities together where you will wear similar types of outfits.

Next, go through your calendar for the last month or so and see how many days you needed an outfit for each type of activity. You can then begin to map out where your outfits fit into your day to day life and which clothes can be grouped together. After you have a better idea of your lifestyle and the ideal wardrobe you’re working towards, you can now decided which types of items will have the biggest impact on your look (first impressions count!) and how the future of your clothing choices take shape. Try to focus on which types of clothes might be good for your starter kit wardrobe and don’t focus too much on where you might find these items or their labels. Dress for style and comfort first! So here’s what you need to do:

  1. Look at your activity analysis and rate each of your top three biggest activities on a scale of 1 – 10 based on how happy you are doing that particular activity. For a wardrobe with maximum impact, remember that the majority of your starter clothes should be bought with the one activity in mind that gives you with the least happiness and satisfaction. Clothes are a huge mood booster and can turn that least favourite activity into something you look forward to.
  1. Choose pieces that bring together the overall look you are going for. Whether this incorporates pencil skirts and blouses or jeans and leather jackets, start sorting your clothes by colours, fabrics and proportions. For example, if you particularly like the look of a fitted pencil skirt with different types of blazers then choose one or two fitted skirts and then a variety of blazers to go with. Go with what you know you like and look good in, then try out new clothes and styles as you build your wardrobe.
  2. Choose pieces of clothing that are neither too dressed up or too casual but can be a bit of both. Plain clothes usually won’t make a big different to your overall look and statement outfits are not versatile enough to be worn for a variety of occasions. Find clothing items that can be dressed up or down depending on where you’re going. This gets a lot more wear out of your wardrobe!
  3. Make sure what you’re buying fits! A well fitted suit or pair of pants can make all the difference and wanting something that fits won’t cost you extra money. If you’re struggling to find something that fits then consider a tailor who can alter your outfits for a reasonable price.
tailoring clothes

Final fashion and budgeting tips

Clothes can have an impacting impression on others and also on your career. Your outfits can influence the way you feel about yourself and most importantly, can provide you with the option of getting creative. Clothing can be viewed as an investment towards your personal brand… if you put in the time and effort (and some money). Caring about the way you look isn’t vain and you can do it on a budget if you work at it.

You may have wanted that $20 t-shirt you saw while walking home from work but putting that money aside for something much more important for your wardrobe (maybe a pair of comfy work shoes) will benefit you in the long run. Perhaps there’s a pair of shoes that you would absolutely love and need for work. Now that extra $20 can be put towards your dream work shoes. Weighing everything you buy helps to make those shopping decisions that little bit easier. Make balanced choices, don’t say yes to everything and put your money towards clothes you actually need and want.


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