The world of personal finance is filled with plans. Bloggers and experts will tell you that you need a plan for your saving, a plan for your investing, a plan for your spending, a meal plan, a plan for your long term goals. Strangely, I have yet to come across a wardrobe creation plan.
I HAVE seen plans for getting rid of clothes. There are some great suggestions such as turning all of your hangers backwards and, at the end of the year, any hanger still backwards is something you can donate. For me, someone for whom fashion is functional (I like to look sharp and presentable, but don’t care to be the most fashionable guy in the room), the solution is looking at my clothing needs and coming up with a plan first.
Let me begin explaining exactly how a plan might work by sharing my own. These plans are definitely not one-size-fits-all, so you will have to look at your lifestyle and needs to come up with your plan:
Mr. NYBudget’s Wardrobe Plan (If this is too long, feel free to only look at the recaps in each section):
I work 5 days a week and adhere to a relatively casual dress code. I usually wear a button down shirt and jeans along with black dress shoes and a black belt. Sometimes, I have meetings with clients and I will need to class up my look a bit, so I also own a pair of dress pants as well as a pair of khaki pants to fit whatever level of dress I need. I do also need a few nicer looking dress shirts (the kind I will actually tuck in) to go along with those nicer pants. I also have two sweaters that I got as gifts. If I want to mix up my look at work, I can wear a sweater over a dress shirt, or just over an undershirt. Finally, I have a blazer and I can mix up my outfit even more with that. With that ability to mix and match, I have enough options that I have never felt as though my repeating wardrobe reflects negatively on me in the workplace. Oh, and I also have NINE ties. I barely wear ties, so this is way too many.
- 5 casual dress shirts
- 4 nice dress shirts
- 1 Blazer
- 2 pairs of work-appropriate jeans
- 1 pair of dress pants
- 1 pair of khaki pants
- 2 sweaters
- 1 pair of dress shoes
- 1 belt
- 9 ties
Before my plan, I had probably 5 more dress shirts and a couple more dress pants. After I made my plan, I realized I didn’t need those. I should also be getting rid of some ties soon. I really only ever wear 2 or 3 of them.
I own too many t-shirts. This is a weakness of mine. I really like all my t-shirts. However, as they get old, I know I won’t need to replace them because according to my plan, I don’t need 10 t-shirts. I will only count 8 t-shirts here, though, because I count the other two in another section below. In addition, I have 5 polo shirts, for those casual instances where I need a collar to look just a tad nicer. 2 polo shirts hang, rarely used in my closet. I also have a pair of loose-fitting jeans. On the weekends, if I am wearing my loose fitting jeans and an oversized t-shirt, I am wearing what I call “my give-ups” (as in I am giving up on being at ALL fashionable). I also wear my work jeans on the weekends a lot. For the warmer months, I have 4 pairs of shorts. This is the one area where I might actually INCREASE my wardrobe and buy one more pair, likely from a thrift store. Finally, I have a pair of non-athletic sneakers, two pairs of flip flops, and two caps (trucker hat style).
- 8 t-shirts
- 5 polo shirts
- 2 long sleeve shirts
- 1 pair of loose jeans
- 4 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of casual sneakers
- 2 pairs of flip flops
- 2 hats
Believe it or not, before my plan, I had even MORE t-shirts and polo shirts. It felt great donating a bunch of them and knowing that I wouldn’t miss them. I should probably get rid of at least 1 long sleeve shirt, but either way, I know I probably won’t buy any new ones in the next few years.
I have one work jacket. I really don’t need more than that for work. It is a nice, black pea coat that I paid a lot for (about $100, market down from almost $500), but I when it comes to work, I want to make sure I’m not hurting my credibility and ability to increase my earning potential. For the weekends, I have a big, warm puffy coat that I love and got in 8th grade! It is definitely my oldest active piece of clothing. I also have 2 hooded sweatshirts (one from 12th grade, one was a recent gift) and a track jacket. Finally, I have a pair of gloves, a beanie, a scarf, a rain jacket/shell, and snow pants. I am considering losing the snow pants as I only ever use them when I go skiing, which happens maybe once ever 4 years or so. I imagine I could rent them when I do go. For now, I have the room to keep them.
- 1 black pea coat
- 1 casual, puffy coat
- 2 hoodies (will downsize to 1 as soon as one of them wears out)
- 1 track jacket
- 1 pair of gloves
- 1 beanie
- 1 scarf
- 1 rain jacket
- 1 pair of snow pants
I definitely had newer hoodies and jackets before I figured out my plan, but I ended up getting rid of them because I liked my older items better! I also had a collection of warm beanies, but I only rarely wear the one I currently own. Even in super cold weather, I generally let my ears tough it out.
So I realize that this category is unnecessary. However, I really like showing my support for my favorite teams. Though I no longer use body paint as I did back in my college days, I do still have a few articles of clothing that I wear when watching games. I have an NFL jersey that I purchased at a deep discount as well as an NCAA basketball jersey. I also have 2 t-shirts with team logos on them. This is part of the reason why I have too many t-shirts. I also have one zipper jacket that I didn’t include in the outerwear section above.
- 2 sports jersey
- 2 team logo t-shirts
- 1 team zipper jacket
I actually have two pairs of athletic sneakers, one that I keep at my office for midday workouts and one that I keep at home. I also have a pair of basketball sneakers that I don’t use often, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of. I sadly don’t get to play casual basketball too much in NYC because most public courts are taken up by players much better than I am. I have three sweat-wicking shirts that I (of course) got at a discount and 3 pairs of athletic shorts. Finally, I have a pair of track pants (that actually match my track jacket – it’s a great day when I wear both together!)
- 2 pairs of athletic sneakers
- 1 pair of basketball sneakeres
- 3 workout shirts
- 3 pairs of athletic shorts
- 1 pair of track pants
Even after the discount, the sweat-wicking shirts cost a little more than normal t-shirts, but they replaced about 10 workout shirts that I owned that were all disgusting. The material of these new shirts lasts longer and holds up much better to my gross sweat.
Socks and Underwear
I am currently transitioning to mostly black, slightly above ankle-high socks. These work for me when I am wearing dress shoes as well as my casual shoes. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this strategy before! I will still keep 3-4 pairs of actual dress socks for conferences where I have to look a bit nicer. Now to get a little personal with the Internet! I am a boxers guy. I do laundry at least every two weeks, so I have 16 pairs of boxers (2 extra, just in case). I only wear undershirts with my nicer dress shirts, so I only have 3 of those.
- 16 pairs of socks (currently a mix of white and black)
- 4 pairs of dress socks
- 16 pairs of boxers
- 3 undershirts
Because I had a plan, I was actually able to move my socks and underwear from a huge dresser drawer to one of the top, half-wide drawers in my dresser.
I have a pair of pajama pants. Usually, I just wear boxers to bed, but sometimes I like lounging in pajama pants. For colder days, I also have a pair of sweatpants. If I end up wearing these out, I also consider them a part of my “give-ups”. I have two pairs of board shorts. I really only need one, so as soon as one of them wears out, I will be downsizing. I have one ref costume that I can use for Halloween in a pinch. And finally, I have a pair of boots that I wear in the rain and sometimes on hikes.
- 1 pair of pajama pants
- 1 pair of sweatpants
- 2 pairs of board shorts
- 1 referee costume
- 1 pair of boots
So aside from socks and underwear, I have a grand total of 83 articles of clothing. For some of you readers, that may sound like a TON. For others, you may marvel at how I get by with so few. Again, different people have different needs. However, by making a plan, I realized that I needed far fewer clothes than I had at the time and I think the vast majority of people will come to the same conclusion for their wardrobes. Fewer clothing needs means less money spent. Meanwhile, you won’t even notice the clothes you jettisoned because all your needs and wants are met! I also realize that I have room to donate a few more items.
But here’s where the REAL value of a wardrobe plan comes in: eliminating the need to buy new clothes. I don’t even feel the pull to purchase new clothes, because I very firmly know that I have everything that I need. If I saw a cool t-shirt in a store, why would I even THINK about buying it? I know that I already have too many! Just as in other areas of personal finance, if all your needs and wants are met, you are done – no need to even consider trying to keep up with the Joneses. You buy clothes if and only if an item needs to be replaced (or in the rare instance that you develop a new need by e.g. changing jobs, moving to a different climate, etc).
It bears reiterating, it’s not just that I don’t NEED new clothes because of my plan, I have reduced my WANT of new clothes. Eliminating temptations systematically? Now that saves money.
Do you have a wardrobe plan? If not, do you think you might create one in the future?
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