A lot of people new to dressing well have no idea what a reasonable amount of money to spend on clothing is. To me it really depends on your income. I spent a little bit of time making a table that should help a few people out. Each dollar amount is, in my opinion, the MAXIMUM you should spend on an item in that category at your income level. This table does not express how much I feel like you SHOULD spend on that item at your income level but the MAXIMUM that you should spend (usually the sweet spot is about 80% of that number though.)
Let me repeat that one more time for the people skimming:
This table does not express how much I feel like you SHOULD spend on that item at your income level but the MAXIMUM that you should spend
If you make less than $35k a year pretax your column is GREY.
If you make between $35k and $90k a year pretax your column is BLUE.
If you make more than $90k a year pretax your column is PURPLE.
If you are IN LOVE with an item you’re allowed to move one column to the right for it. You can do this ONCE A YEAR.
Unless you are COMPLETELY overhauling your wardrobe you should, with RARE exception, only be buying one item every 2 weeks MAX (for comparison I’m obsessed with fashion and I only buy about one article of clothing a month.)
You may notice that the prices of each category don’t scale proportionally with income.
For example, if you make $15k a year I think you should only spend $20 on a pair of sunglasses while if you make $35k a year I think you’re okay to spend $150. That’s 650% more for sunglasses when you only make 133% more.
If you make $90k a year I think you should spend $300 (100% more) max on sunglasses even though when you make 157% more money.
So what gives?
This is because at each income level the extra money you can afford to budget on clothing is better spent on some things than other things.
Let’s look at sunglasses.
I love sunglasses.
Wait. Let me rephrase.
I fucking love sunglasses.
I mean not to toot my own horn but look at my Illesteva Leonard Split sunglasses in the picture above. They’re BEAUTIFUL.
I have owned multiple pairs of $10 sunglasses, $20 sunglasses, $50 sunglasses, $150 sunglasses and $300+ sunglasses. The build quality at each price-point for sunglasses looks something like this:
There is barely a difference between most $20 and $50 sunglasses but there is a HUGE difference between most $50 and $100 sunglasses. The same is true with most $100 and $150 sunglasses. The frames look much better, the hinges are much more durable and you can feel the difference in build quality just by holding them. Past $150 you start to get diminishing returns until about $300 where there’s basically no difference (unless you can afford to buy horn sunglasses which will run you north of four digits per pair.)
Some exceptions obviously do apply. For example in my e-book I recommend Kent Wang’s sunglasses which are $55 but are better than $95 Warby Parker sunglasses.
I’m not going to go through every category and explain my reasoning in detail like I did with sunglasses. I just love sunglasses a lot and wanted to explain why the categories don’t scale proportionally.
And AGAIN I’m not saying if you make $35k a year you should buy $150 sunglasses. I’m saying $150 is the MAX you should spend on sunglasses.
But what if I want a dope nasty OFF-WHITE tee, Balenciaga sneakers or Geobaskets?
Do you. I’m wearing a pair of Y-3 sandals as I write this article.
This article is merely to help people new to dressing well get an idea of how much money they should be spending on clothing max. If you’re a hobbyist of course you’re going to be spending a bunch of money on your toys.
Where should I shop?
In no particular order here are the first few stores that come to mind:
Less than $35k a year pretax: Target Goodfellows & Co, Old Navy, Uniqlo, H&M, ASOS
Between $35k and $90k a year pretax: J. Crew, Banana Republic, Nordstrom Rack, COS
More than $90k a year pretax: Mr. Porter, SSENSE, Nordstrom, Barneys New York
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