Our Semi Reasonable, Semi-Annual Clothing Expense Check-In

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Our Clothing Budget

“The recommended clothing budget allotment should be 5% of your annual salary according to industry consensus.”

“Wait, which industry?”

Hahaha, my smart (ass) husband chirped right back at me while I was doing research on budgeting for clothes. As a guy, his closet is full of video game tees and $2 “dress” shirts from Goodwill. A chunk of my closet came from our local thrift store too. He doesn’t care about the way he dresses as long as it’s comfortable and I’m about the same.

We allow for $1,200 per year in all covering areas under personal care. This includes anything and everything that cleans, dresses, and grooms us under this roof (including any Airbnb expenses too). If it will be physically touching any of us then it goes under the umbrella term ‘Personal Care’ on our budget spreadsheet. This includes haircuts, clothes, shoes, scarfs, glasses, makeup, hats, socks, belts and toilet paper.

Related: List of Budget Categories + FREE Google Budget Download

This ‘personal care’ allotment doesn’t come close to that 5% fitted for our income even though it’s a very pervasive category. I make sure to always keep it under $600 for myself. That’s what I have to work with. Mr. Hippo uses up about $150 worth of that. Airbnb guests might use up $100 of that.

I don’t know if $1,200 per year is a lot but there’s typically a $300 surplus at the end of the year if I try to be frugal so I think we’re reasonable. I can’t imagine what to do with a $1,000 clothing budget a month. Usually, we have budget leftover and that gets reinvested (which becomes heavy incentive to spend less knowing that money will grow.)

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Why It’s Low (For Us)

Because we don’t care that much. I remember caring at one point…when I became the 4th grade in America because my clothes were not “American” fashion. Then I got teased every day in middle school about my clothes and shoes to a point I just didn’t care anymore.

“Hey, talk-to-yourself-girl, where did you get those shoes? The dumpster?”


*Mutters to Self*

“At least I’m not failing all of my classes and wearing pants down to my knees.” :p 

Related: 11 Perks of Growing Up Poor (I Can’t Tell If I Sound Crazy…)

Our annual dining out budget is almost 3 times $1,200 except I don’t question if dining out is worth it to me. It’s always worth it.

I wish more YouTube vloggers were open about their annual shopping reserve. Watching those haul videos makes me feel broke and curious at the same time. There are videos like “my $750 haul + review!” and they have 3 of those clothes haul videos on top of the huge makeup hauls in the past 6 months. Those haul videos have a hundred of these lines: “this is relly cuuuuuute so I got it.”

But wait, I need more info, did it hold up after going through the wash? Is it comfortable? How come I don’t see you wearing ANY of this stuff in any of your YouTube videos since?

Our Closet Cleanse

I’ve been saying clean out for months and finally got around to it. My local thrift store sends all of their unsold extra inventory to third world countries. That explains why you see third world orphans walking around wearing American branded shirts.


I sent ThredUP 3 clean out boxes of clothes. 2 boxes were donations; 1 was so I can test their sale side. I was hedging my bets since our clothes would have a better chance of selling on the great wide web than a thrift store. Things that don’t sell will be recycled as fabric textile. I don’t think the third world has a use for our closet unless they wanted lace kimonos and 90s mom jeans so I went with fabric recycling.

Overall we cleared out $200+ worth of clothes between me and my husband. I shipped off ¾ of my closet and now I realize I have no clothes (for a girl). I overdid it because…decluttering feels so good.

My entire wardrobe now has a total of 11 tops, 3 dresses, 3 pairs of pants, 4 jackets, some pajamas, and 6 pairs of shoes. If you count the shoes I will sell or donate soon then I have 4 pairs of shoes left. That’s not a lot…for a girl. My husband has more shirts and pants than me. I can’t make it to laundry day, roughly every 2 weeks, with just 11 tops.

Need to Restock

More like reinvent. I looked up how to dress as a petite person and…I’ve been doing everything wrong. Which is why my closet has been decimated. This video helped me so much because she gave a side by side comparisons. My mind is blown, clothing IS trickery!

I told my husband how sad it was that I’m 26 and just starting to learn how to dress properly because of what happened to me in elementary school and middle school.

I happily try a clothing ban when my closet has clothes in it again. It’s 2/3s empty and that’s not including the empty racks of shelves underneath.

2018 Purchases Thus Far

Remember I have $600 to work with and then some wiggle room at the end of the year! (Although I rather reinvest that wiggle.)

*Prada d’Orsay Heels – $122

Sister of frugal wins. OK, it doesn’t beat the Prada heels I found in the thrift store last year for $15…but how could anything beat that!

(You guys remember that? How awesome was that? GO THRIFT STORE HUNTING! You’re just leaving me with this goldmine :3)

There were 2 pairs for sale at the thrift store. One tan leather pump that I scooped up and one black leather pump I didn’t know if I needed. I hesitated, walked away, came back soon after to reconsider. But between that time when I made my mind up to get both, the black one had already been sold. I’ve been regretting it ever since!

The thrift store Prada pumps are very comfortable on me. I’ve worn them 10+ hours over Christmas and was going strong. Usually, I’m crippled after 5 hours in crap shoes.

Under $140 for 2 pairs of Prada pumps; one used; one new. I think that’s pretty good 🙂

Take it from El Cheapo and DO INVEST IN GOOD SHOES. They don’t have to be Prada or whatever but I would steer away from anything cheap-cheap.

Anyway! I purchased a pair of Prada d’Orsay pumps because my cheap 9-year-old Payless heels desperately needed to retire. They were $122 after shipping, no tax which I thought was a total win because Prada pumps normally cost $600 dollars before tax at retail.

More specifically, this pair, since it probably cost the original owner over $800+ to customize and initial at the bottom. Did you know you can order and design your own Pradas and add your initials to the bottom? It ain’t cheap though. Too rich for my blood.

But yeah, there are another woman’s initials on the bottom (laughs like crazy) and she goes by “R K” from Hollywood, CA. No problem-o, my name is Rachel Kung…Fu from now on. Just gimme the shoes!

I ended up donating those Payless heels to the thrift store bin. I doubt they’re worth even $5. About 9 years ago I paid $20 for them and reflecting back now…that was very overpriced for what I got. I was in 10th grade, it was my first pair of heels, I didn’t know what was going on.

The Payless polyester satin looks cheap, the back heel scraped and pinched, the heel taps sounded cheap (like hollow plastic hitting pavement), and the sole had no rubberized anything to keep it from slipping or fraying. I have worn them 7x times in 9 years but it looks like I’ve worn them for 30x already.

Real satin vs polyester satin. It’s like putting Angelina Jolie next to Octo-mom:


The d’Orsay doesn’t beat my other leather Prada pump in terms of price but I still think it was worth it. That or I am still suffering FOMO after I left the other black pair slip through my hands. These sat on eBay at $186 for a few days, dropped to $136, and then I decided to put in an offer that was accepted.

(P.S. I would have gotten $25 off on the top of that with a coupon, bringing it down to under $100 like I planned but I accidentally submitted the order on confusing mobile layout and couldn’t go back. I didn’t even use my Double Cash credit card! Ahh, well.)

I am still well under my clothing budget for 2018 at the time so I thought, alright, this is too good to pass up. I needed black d’Orsay pumps specifically because *I learned this the other day and it’s very true* they elongate your legs. You’re showing more skin when it’s cut at the foot arch so it tricks the eye with a longer line of view.

*Mark Nason ‘Frisco’ Shoes – $30 $20!

And by the frugal gods, I found sneakers that I was going to buy from Zappos on Amazon for less than half the price by random chance while browsing around for nail polish acetone. It retails for $95, on sale for $65 at Zappos. It was the last pair and the lowest price according to CamelCamelCamel at $30 new from Amazon. Yay! Zappos is owned by Amazon but supposedly Amazon has better prices. It definitely was in this case, less than half the price for the exact thing I would have paid $65 a day before. Wee!

Edit: Holy crap, Amazon automatically refunded me $10 because of an “item billing error” SO, like I got it over 2/3 price off for no reason. ALL HAIL AMAZON!

*ThredUP Goody Box – $30 ($10 per box)

These are just for the boxes themselves. It’s a big time saver for me because I tend to get absorbed into thrift stores and their nit-nack section. I like the random selection of vintage stuff. The best part about these boxes is discovering brands and styles that I wouldn’t have picked up to try. A lot of the things I thought were cute looked unflattering when I tried it on and snapped a picture. Then some items of clothing that I would never have picked up looked surprisingly flattering. They’re kind of like training wheels for the inexperienced closet and $10 is a price I’m willing to pay to explore from the comforts of my home.

(I went to a new thrift store today and that one had the dressing room right next to the cash register where everybody is bored waiting in line and staring. And you close it with a curtain that was too short so it left space on both ends. All in all, a thrift store grandma probably saw me naked. -_-)

*J.Crew Dress – $21 (Including tax)

This thingy I kept from one of my ThredUP boxes. It’s a fair price. After tax, it rolled out to be $20.82 total.

thredup box

*Prescription Glasses – $29 (After insurance)

Vision insurance reimbursed me and my total out of my pocket was $29. I am allowed 2 pairs of glasses a year so I think the second part of the year I might get another one. My Bonlook glasses last 1 year without much maintenance but after that first year, you have to start taking care of it. I find the hinge and screws gets loose after a while and need a quick twist to tighten.

*Hair Accessories – $4.77 (Pearl spin pins)

Pearl spin pins 🙂 Half of my order came with visible glue so I requested the seller to give me a partial refund. I ordered these pearl pins in the past for cheaper over on Aliexpress and I never had glue showing.

*Baby Lips Lip Balm – $1.76 (via Amazon)

So I’m allergic to most lip balms with the exception of EOS. But my lips are 100% OK with lipsticks and lipglosses. There’s something inside chapstick that doesn’t agree with me. It is genetic, I got it from my mom who has the same allergic reaction as I do to lip balms. These I haven’t tried yet but they should work. Tinted lip balms never caused problems with me unless they’re expired.

*Pants – $58.83 (from Aliexpress)

I decided to give up on American pants because they’re all too long for your short Lily. All of my ThredUP pants were either too big or much too long. Although you can get them hemmed for cheap, that’s still an added cost and I already found pants I’ve ordered before and love.


I bought like…5 of these in 3 different colors because I love them. In 2016, I purchased $100 worth of pants (just pants) directly from China and I tested a bunch of styles and materials. My rough summary would be to stay away from anything denim. Even if it is denim (which often it’s not), it’s bad quality denim with shoddy defects. Out of my order of 10 pairs of pants, I hated 5 and tossed it, 2 of them were OK, and 3 of them I fell completely in love with and you’re looking at the 3. They fit my body well and they’re so comfortable. I’ve machine washed them loads of times and they’re holding up, unlike most Aliexpress clothes. For the friendly price tag, I recommend it for petite girls out there, even if it takes 4 weeks to arrive.

6 Month Total = $297.36

I’ve made one or two returns so far this year. The UGG boots I ordered when I was bed-ridden made me look super stubby, which makes sense because of my stature. They just ended up exacerbating my lack of height for the price I paid to look stubby. I decided to make a return, that will be the last pair of ugg boots for me.

Things I Still Need…

Sorted in orders of importance.

*Nude heels (under 3.5 inches) – if anyone has recommendations or designers they like, I’m open.

*Nude sneakers/kitten flats (under 2 inches).

*2 long necklaces – It’s supposed to make create the illusion of height and I want to draw attention away from my bottom half.

*Black, V-neck, sleeveless peplum top – I tried on one and it’s like I grew 2 inches instantly! Too bad the J. Crew one I tried on at my thrift store was of terrible make and quality.

*Blush pink 3/4 sleeve top – I have one from Gap that was a hand-me-down from one of my mom’s friends and I’ve worn it for…7+ years now and it’s time to retire it because as much as I love it, it’s starting to show wear and tears.

*Black thigh high boots – This one might break the budget so I’m holding out until next year. I’ve been wanting thigh highs since I was in college.

*Short sleeve crop top – I’m short.

*Empire waist dresses – BECAUSE I’M SHORT OK!!

Ooh, I’m midway through the year and I’m midway through the budget. This might get harder now so I should probably head back to my local thrift store instead of depending on ThredUP for clothes and accessories alone.

Budget Remaining = $302.64

The new thrift store I went to (the one with the peeping grandma LOL) had a terrible selection. It was all ran by volunteers, which is great, but the volunteers do not care and have no interest in managing the store. You would be off having employers. In a store that’s less than 1,000 square feet and no proper changing rooms, I still managed to dig up this baby! Hanger with hooks? What’s the official name? Hahaha. But I really needed this and for 50 cents!


Today, I’m dragging my husband to our local tried and true thrift store to try our luck as a treat, then a nice lunch.

Have a wonderful Saturday! 🙂 Don’t buy anything I wouldn’t buy!


35 thoughts on “Our Semi Reasonable, Semi-Annual Clothing Expense Check-In”

  • Wow I am way under the recommended 5% budget for clothing (who came up with that idea? Probably same company that marketed 3 months salary for an engagement ring) which would suggest I spend over $45k/yr on clothes. I think I spent MAYBE $300 or so on clothes for myself (though my daughter bumps it up a bit, so let’s say under $1500 for the year).

    I am definitely like you in that I prioritize food over clothing. I have spent $600 on a meal for 2 that I would do again in a heartbeat but would have a tough time justifying buying $600 of clothing at one time.

  • What a fun recap! The Prada heels look so beautiful and elegant! I’d totally wear them too . I usually just wear flats from Payless since they are cheap and comfortable (for the most part). I had a pair I got for $15 and wore every summer for 3 years. They gave their last breath this summer. But since I’m on a clothing ban, I just try to get by with a Nine West pair of flats Mr. FAF pressured me to get for $45 (totally overpriced). Those are not my favorite since the tip is too pointy and makes my toes hurt. I just wear them in the office. Oh well…

    • Oh! Sign up for DealNews or watch for Amazon price drops. My husband’s shoes run out at the year mark too. They retail for $100+ (the ACIS brand) but we wait and get them for $60 usually during sale season (months before Xmas).

  • Heheh, I like the grades come back.

    It’s a little sad but true. When it comes to image, there’s certain connotations associated to each image we project. I was forced into these situations, but nowadays I do appreciate craftsmanship and design in clothing. I guess you can liken it to wearable art, and as a form of expression.

    I would say the dropping good money on shoes are worth it. Quite easy to stay 10+ hours on your feet, where I would say that my dress shoes are more comfortable than trainers; look better with age too. At around $400-$600 is probably the sweet spot for men’s shoes. Even my Edward Green’s now come to around 20c/wear.

    Chanel heels seem to have positive opinions with the women in my circle, and Stuart Weitzman for boots maybe the designs you’re looking for.

    • Thanks Will I’m proud that by the end of 8th grade, I was really good at not caring and talking back 🙂 now I can’t…..stop hahaha.

      What kind of dress shoes do you have? Is Edward Green the name?

      I was looking at the Weitzman thigh highs that was gonna break the budget. It’s like you’re psychic O_O

      • Just don’t care. Definitely with you on that one. I really don’t care for anything else, just their character. I run in the weirdest, most eclectic circles ever, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

        Yeah, Edward Greens a brand, unnecessarily expensive; a gift. Best price ratios are Crockett&Jones, Carmina, Allen Edmond’s, Alden etc. C&J are my go to for shoes, as they allowed me to go to tour the factory, meet the workers etc. Some sentimental value too. For clothing, as a Brit, I support the British Heritage shoemakers and tailors when kitted for business and formal dress.

        As for the boots, I’ve definitely seen them go for £2-300 range and on sale, much less the arm and a leg 700+ rrp. I also felt really weird when I bought first pair of really expensive shoes. Like Luxe said, eventually you buy less, and wear things over and over. (“Slow fashion”???)

        If you posted this earlier I could’ve asked what footwear Princess Beatriz would recommend for long functions etc, and I had two occasions! Now that’s some real old money knowledge! Maybe there might be more sealed letters next time to meet the Royals.

        As for the old money Brits, old Chanel and Prada were popular due to their modesty and low heels. Funnily enough, at that stage, bragging rights become about how long you’ve own it for. Despite the holes or ragged cuffs and collars. 👌

        • “Bragging rights become about how long you’ve own it for. ”

          Lol! I noticed that too! Like “I’m planning to give it to my daughter someday” etc. Cute thought 🙂

    • Yes my budget wouldn’t last if I didn’t wear second hand! Helps the environment, win win!

      Lol I had no idea either until I looked it up. The lady never worn it it seems like. Peace of mind from ebay – no custom initial for fakes! Lol that works right?

  • I’m so far under 5% it’s ridiculous. Can’t remember the last time I bought anything but underwear. Maybe a pair of hiking shoes last year.

    Thanks for the Octomom mention, made my day!

  • This year I am 0% for clothing. The perks of being able to wear “pajamas” to work, hehe.

    Your entire wardrobe makes you sound like quite the minimalist! Nice work! And great find on the heels. Having nice/comfortable shoes is a must,

    By the way, don’t feel too broke when you see fashion Vloggers and their video hauls. I’m sure most of their haul is paid for by the industry so they can advertise products to their followers.
    Dr. McFrugal recently posted…5 Simple Steps to Preventing “Dad Bod”, Maintaining a Loving Marriage, and Making a Happy Baby: A Fun Guide for New Dads!

    • You really get to wear PJs to work?!

      I am pretty minimalistic but I went crap quality so it was small and cheap. I’m trying to get better quality clothes but keeping the number at…about a 2 week – 2.5 week supply 🙂

    • I told Luxe I was gonna do a 6 month check in but thought it would be boring. But then I read hers and I loved it! I wish there was MORE detail with her because it was interesting to me. Hopefully, mine’s seems interesting to some people….or not…xD

      Damn your year has been frugal! I will take it easy next year, this year…giving away 60% of my closet on a whim was not thought through hahaha.

  • I don’t know how you follow a budget. I know what I spend and where it goes but I figure a budget is made to be broken so why try. My daughter when she moved out of the house had an entire closet full of shoes. We still do. She couldn’t fit them all in the car when she moved.
    TRS recently posted…How to achieve Market-Beating Returns

  • I always thought 5% of your salary on clothes was kind of bunk, to be honest. Although it depends on your priorities, too. I spend a lot less now that I have more money, which seems kind of counterintuitive. But I used to buy a lot of junk.

    Those Prada shoes are classic! And you’re right the d’orsay cut and pointy heel do a lot of elongating. Nude shoes do that, too. Nice finds! I have heels from my old business-casual days, but I don’t have a reason to wear them anymore.
    The Luxe Strategist recently posted…Six Month Shopping Check-In: What I Bought, What’s on My Wishlist

    • I was gonna argue 5% too! Can’t imagine someone spending $1k on clothes a month! But I thought well if someone made 30k then that’s more reasonable.

      The cut makes me stubby legs less stubby and it’s definitely way more comfortable than the heels I use to buy from Aliexpress.

  • This comment is a bit late but I wanted to add: I am a shorty as well and I did something a few years ago that has saved me a lot of money: I went to an image consultant and had my colors done (not that stupid seasons thing 😜, she really did my individual colors) and got a shopping guide for my body shape and height. It helps me eliminate so much noise and zero in on what will look best when buying clothes, makeup and shoes. I had already started buying only nice shoes and it makes a huge difference in comfort (right out of the box!) and they last so much longer. Good luck!

    • Not late at all!! Just yesterday I was watching this video about how to ‘find your season’ and I…man I was already confused the moment they got past the ‘are you WARM or COOL?’ (which I also don’t know yet, mix?) May I asked how much did it cost? Was it done online or in person? I think I need to get my colors done too…:)

      • It was about $300.00. That was 4 years ago. That included a big key ring of fabric swatches with all my best colors, a bottle of custom blended foundation and a book with all my best clothing cuts and lengths circled and the absolutely nots crossed out. It was in person and took a couple of hours. She also went through my makeup bag and pulled out the stuff that wasn’t quite right. She did do my makeup in what she thought were my best colors and of course I could buy that makeup. But there was no pressure and she would let me take a picture of and write down all the make up. I did buy a few things because the prices were less than department store and only a bit more than drugstore. That was not included in $300. And gave me advice on my haircut and color (which was actually: that my cut and color were great!). She was extremely nice and kind and didn’t make me feel bad or awkward about any of the stuff I had been getting wrong. I live in Texas, so not really convenient for you. But I will link the website and maybe you can find someone similar in Seattle. Good luck!

        • Thanks Nichole! She did all that for $300!? That’s pretty awesome! Thank you for the reference big time. I may not be in Texas but I can see her services and business to see what I should target in Seattle.

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