Making more money and having extra disposable income would definitely fall into the category of being a luxury problem. There have been times in my life where I have made a lot of money and times in my life where I have made very little. I’m quick to admit, having more money than less has always been easier. To not have to need to sweat the small expenses of life is a lot less stressful.
However, it is true what they say, money doesn’t solve everything and often a salary increase or influx of newfound money can be challenging to adjust to. If you have recently found yourself with extra money to spend and want to put some of it towards shopping for new clothes, here are some tips to consider before hitting the stores.
Salary Increase: How to Shop for Clothes when You Have More to Spend
More options can create overwhelm
We live in a time where we are constantly bombarded with tons of choices. Author and speaker Barry Schwartz calls this the paradox of choice. You can check out his talk on why more is often less here and read his book on the topic, as well.As Mr. Schwartz has pointed out, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
Being someone who can get overwhelmed easily with too many options (I can’t even navigate an all you can eat buffet without getting frazzled), a salary increase and more money to spend can often create this form of decision paralysis. When you don’t have extra money to put towards clothes, or much else, it forces you to be very discerning about what you buy and what you can afford. With less options it’s easier to narrow down. Without these limitations it can be difficult to know where to start.
When we think about having more money it’s easy to fantasize about what we would do with it. We dream of walking up and down Madison Avenue in New York City, not bothering with price tags and being able to say yes to everything we see. However, having more money is not and should not be a license to be irresponsible. Why should we abandon good judgment because we have more? If you feel overwhelmed by how to spend your money now that you have it, don’t think of buying more, necessarily, but being able to buy better. You should still shop with the same discerning eye you did before your salary increase, only now you might be paying more per item. You can read more about telling the difference between needs and wants in my post.
I think it is good to get the enthusiasm of a salary increase out of your system by treating yourself to one thing you have been coveting, like one of the items you always told yourself you would buy if you got that raise or promotion or were making a certain amount. This is a time to celebrate, you have moved up in your career and are making more money, you have earned the right to gift something back to yourself for your hard work. If you tend to deny yourself nice things or celebrate your accomplishments, this is the perfect time to break yourself of this. Choose one thing from your wish list that is within reach now that you are making more money and buy it.
Not sure what to purchase? Remember these two words: Practical passion. Put your money towards something that brings you passion and makes you happy to own but you will also use regularly. Maybe an investment handbag, a good pair of shoes or finally buying something like a Hermés scarf because you always wanted to own one. Use your salary increase to curate a wardrobe that is filled with pieces of value that you appreciate.
Learn better brands
Now that you are in a new tax bracket it’s time to start learning about better brands and putting your money towards labels of value. I have taken many clients from one price point to another and sometimes they need a little hand holding. In these cases, they have never shopped in a luxury retailer or spent their entire former wardrobe budget on one dress. Suddenly they find themselves with money to spend and no idea how to spend it.
If stepping into a better store or shopping racks that don’t have sales signs on them intimidates you, take a few trips to these retailers and look around. Feel the fabric, check out the construction, try things on. This might also be the time to enlist the help of someone like myself to introduce you to this level of shopping and help you choose items that are fitting for your style. Remember when I mentioned the paradox of choice and overwhelm earlier? Having someone help you navigate the racks can help you pinpoint the right choices for you.
Don’t abandon what is working
The women I work have all types of budgets for clothing. I have worked with a client whose family has Oprah level money and clients with more modest income. What I have learned from this is no matter how much money a woman has to spend, she will always shop different price points. I have cleaned out closets with designer hanging next to things clients have picked up from Target and Kohls. What I have also learned is that people of means tend to be incredibly frugal and just as discerning as clients with more limited budgets, if not more so.
Wardrobes are always filled with various price points and a salary increase does not mean you have to abandon your favorite discounters or mid-level price points if they are working for you. There is a time and place for everything, and just like you would likely spend more on clothing where it matters, the same will be true after a salary increase. The only difference is when you do spend money it will probably be greater amount than before your income went up.
Mixing high and low
Lastly, the best way to create a style that embodies who you are is by mixing and matching high price points with lower ones. Women of means tend to use their accessories, like their shoes, jewelry, handbags and other accessories to make their less expensive pieces look more upscale. In addition, money is typically spent on workhorse pieces and items will sustain the test of time and never go out of style. A stylish look is rarely created through an unlimited budget but, instead, how a woman mixes and matches from all price points.
Celebrating a salary increase and more money really doesn’t change how you should shop as much as what you are able to shop for. Keep the same smart shopper mentality, be discerning of what you add and consider buy less of greater value and over time you will create a wardrobe that is worthy of you and the money you have.
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When I went from a high five to a six figure income, I still gave myself a spending spree limit. I first shopped high-end consignment before retail, and shopped with a plan. I bought only one item (at that time) that was an extravagance and, frankly, everything I bought then are still my favorite pieces today.
That’s such great advice, to start with high-end consignment. I have found many women avoid spending decent amounts on clothing because they aren’t confident and don’t want to make expensive mistakes.
another great thing about high-end consignment (and ebay) is that I’m less paranoid all day about something happening to my clothes–like getting a spill at a lunch meeting. I don’t worry about it so the clothes don’t “wear me”.
Whenever I buy something new I always seem to get stain of some sort and am reminded of Vince (Bobby Cannavale), Will’s boyfriend on the show, who said, “Dad was right, I can’t have nice things!” I swear I say it every time something gets ruined.
Exactly – I spend a lot of time with a lot of dogs and I want to look good and feel great in what I wear but I don’t want to cry if (when) something gets damaged 🙂