How Much You Should Really Be Spending on Clothing Every Month

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(Image credit: Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

We can confidently say that we spend a substantial amount of our hard-earned paycheck on clothes, but what exactly should our clothing budget be? To be quite frank, we had no idea, which is why we were excited to research this story. And just in case you’re in the dark about your spending habits as well, we thought we’d bring the matter to light with a super-simple equation.

To get to the bottom of it, we looked to award-winning financial planner Pete Dunn. Based on his expertise, we calculated what your clothing cost per month should be based on your salary. And because we still fully condone adding a few pieces to your wardrobe each month, we included a few on-budget items that we recommend for each of the salaries listed below. Keep scrolling to get ready for your reality check.

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5% of Your Take-Home Pay
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According to Dunn, you should spend 5% of your monthly income on clothing. To find the exact dollar amount you should be spending per month, multiply your take-home pay by 0.05. For example, if your monthly take-home pay is $3000, you should spend around $150 per month on clothing. While everyone has a unique financial position and you likely know your own situation best, we find that the 5% guide is helpful for reeling in those oh-so-tempting shopping sprees. Read on to see the types of purchases that are appropriate for different income brackets.

If your annual salary is around $30,000…

You likely don’t have much cash to spare on non-essentials, so focus your spending at more affordable stores that are still high-quality, such as Zara, Topshop, Everlane, Mango, H&M, and ASOS.

If your annual salary is around $60,000…

Your disposable income is growing, but your expenses might be too if, for example, you’ve upgraded your car or apartment. Accordingly, keep your thrifty shopping haunts in regular rotation and choose one clothing item a month to spend slightly more on.

If your annual salary is around $90,000…

You likely are feeling relatively comfortable financially and have the freedom to purchase a few nicer items for yourself. At this bracket, clothing and accessories from midpriced boutiques like Shopbop are a good fit.

If your annual salary is around $120,000…

If you’re in this income bracket, you might be able to afford to splurge on a luxury item that you’ll have forever. Consider adding a classic pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps or timeless items to your closet. Just be sure to limit these clothing purchases so you don’t exceed spending 5% of your take-home pay.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out how much you should be spending on clothes per month. But like we’ve said before, you know your financial situation best.

This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated. 

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Editor in Chief

Kat has over a decade of experience in fashion writing, and she joined Who What Wear in 2012 as our co-founder Katherine Power’s assistant. She currently leads the vision for editorial content at WhoWhatWear.com. Working on the site with our editors takes up most of my day, but I also contribute trend direction for our namesake fashion line, the Who What Wear collection. Prior to Who What Wear, I did assistant styling work for brands like Vogue, Teen Vogue, Lucky, and Oliver Peoples, as well as freelance fashion writing. I graduated from UCLA with a BA in communications and now call West Hollywood home. As for my fashion perspective, I gravitate toward more tailored pieces and add touches of personality with items like a mesh metal belt or cow-print mules. I’ve always been a vintage fan and know that I’m destined to do some damage whenever I enter my favorite local haunt, Scout, usually scooping up ’90s-era pieces from Japanese designers. When I’m not shopping or writing about shopping, I can be found reading (my book club’s current pick is The Beauty Myth), planning my next trip to Tokyo, or delighting in food usually reserved for 5-year-olds.