The average American adult spends just over $160 per month on new clothing. This includes shoes, jackets, pants, and so forth. Add that up over the course of a year and you have an annual spend of more than $1,900. That seems like an awful lot. Given that well-made clothes should last at least a couple of years, that amount might even sound like too much.
How do you know whether buying that new piece you have your eye is wise? You need to ask yourself some basic questions. Then you need to compare your answers against your circumstances. Everyone is different. What makes a smart clothing investment for someone else may not be equally smart for you.
Here are five questions to ask before buying a new piece of clothing:
1. Do I really need it?
The first question is one of need. Whether you are looking at a couple of LatinX hoodies from Plurawl or a brand-new pair of Skechers, you need to ask yourself if you really need what you’re wanting to buy. The absence of a need doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy. But it does mean that you stop and ask yourself why you want to buy something you don’t need. Understanding the root of your desire could influence your decision to purchase.
2. How often will I wear it?
Next up is how often you will wear that particular piece of clothing. Maybe you are looking at an expensive cocktail dress or a finely tailored men’s suit. Either one would be a good investment if you have plenty of occasions to don formal dress. But if you are looking at a once-in-a-lifetime event, you might be better off borrowing from someone else.
Most of the clothing we own falls somewhere between regular and one-off use. So it’s really a matter of evaluating whether you will wear the piece often enough to justify purchasing it.
3. Can I afford it?
A big question for every consumer is whether new purchases are actually affordable. Can you afford that new jacket? Do you have the money in your budget for that new pair of shoes? With money as tight as it is right now, it may not make sense to stretch the budget on new clothing items you do not need and probably will not wear so often.
Incidentally, you can still buy very good clothing on a budget. Savvy shoppers know how to do it. They shop at thrift stores and second-hand shops. They shop online at discount retailers and social media sites. They do not have to spend a bundle to get good clothes.
4. Does it fit comfortably?
Nothing is worse in the new clothing realm than purchasing new clothes that ultimately don’t fit comfortably. I can attest to this from personal experience. I have a bunch of shirts in my closet that I haven’t touched in years, only because they are uncomfortable. I never should have bought them.
5. Does it match my style?
Along the same lines as fit is personal style. Buying something that doesn’t match your style probably means the item will languish in the closet or a drawer after you wear it once or twice. Your money would have been better spent on something else.
Shopping for new clothes can be an exciting experience. But it can also be a wasteful one. Before you buy new clothes, ask yourself the five questions posed in this post. How you answer may save you from making a purchase you will regret later.