Its a hot summer in the Big Smoke, and theres no air conditioning in my office until today. Someone must have had a heat stroke because now the A.C. is cranked full tilt. Im supposed to be typing on my keyboard, but my hands are shaking and my legs have goose-bumps. The temperature has gone from one extreme to the other. I dash to the Eaton Centre on my lunchbreak and buy the warmest, thickest, softest hoody I can find. I rush back to work and am comfortable for the rest of the day. However, the sweater was an impulse purchase. Its cost was almost $100 and I hardly ever wear it.
This blog posting is about how to be a smart consumer when buying clothes. Researchers dispute the amount that the average North American consumer spends on clothes each year, but the estimated averages range from $500 to $2,000 per year, depending on your source.
I find it funny that people spend all kinds of time researching and pricing out things like mobile phones, TVs and furniture, yet when it comes to clothes, the motivation behind the purchase is often questionable. In many cases, peoples emotions have a huge impact on their clothing purchases.
Marketers are experts at making you feel like you need to overhaul your wardrobe every season, and theyre getting better at their craft every year. Heres proof: Between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, sales of clothing, footwear and accessories increased 9.5%, Statistics Canada reports. But thats because the economys improving, you say? Well, consider this: Between 1999 and 2007, the profit for clothing and clothing accessories stores in Canada jumped from $0.7-billion to $2.2-billion. In less than 10 years, apparel stores tripled their profits.
Growing up as the daughter of an accountant and working in business journalism has helped to keep my financial discipline on track, but I love clothes just as much as anybody else who can quote from The Devil Wears Prada.
10 ways to blow money on clothes
We all make mistakes. Perhaps I should be embarrassed by some of my own, but if sharing them can help prevent others from making them, Im happy to make myself fodder for people in the comments section who are having a bad day. At the end of this list, well add up all the costs to see how much I could have saved.
- I havent done laundry or bothered to sort my clothes properly. Im looking for an item I need, and I cant find it. Mistake: Strapless bra $50
- It’s been a busy week and an important event has crept up on me. Tonight is the only chance I’ll have to shop. Mistake: Dress $150(Not a terrible price, but I don’t have time to get it tailored. Feeling of “It’s good enough.”)
- It’s the start of the season. Retailers aren’t putting anything on sale. Mistake: Winter boots $300
- I think this is an investment. It will pay off in the long run. Mistake: Matching blazer and pencil skirt $400
- I’ve lost weight, and this item makes me look better than I’ve ever looked. I deserve it. Mistake: Single pair of jeans $150(If you improve your fitness, you’ll look better in anything you try on.)
- I’m on vacation and forgot to pack it. Mistake: Flimsy sunglasses $25
- I’m walking outside and am too hot, too cold or getting soaked. I look to my right, and there’s a clothing store. Mistake: Another scarf to add to the collection $30
- I don’t need these clothes, but they’re a great price. Mistake: Two T-shirts for the price of one $20
- I’ve got a date and this person wears more expensive clothes than I do. I’m feeling nervous, financially careless and competitive. Mistake: Shrug $80
- I love the vintage look and everything in this second-hand store is cheap. I’m going to get a cart. Mistake: 15 inexpensive vintage items $100
Conclusion:The jeans, business suit, boots and dress cost me a total of $1,000. These items were necessary, but I think I could have bought all of them for under $500 if I made smarter purchases. I spent over $300 on the other items, and I didnt need any of them. Had I eliminated the unnecessary purchases and spent more reasonable amounts on the necessary items, I’d have saved myself more than $800 (more than what I pay in rent each month).