Here’s exactly how much money you should spend on your work wardrobe

You don't have to spend a fortune on your work clothes.

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You don’t have to spend a fortune on your work clothes.
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Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella

  • Figuring out how to budget for clothes spending can be tricky.
  • Personal finance experts told Business Insider that your overall clothing budget should be no more than 5% of your take-home income, for both work and casual clothes.
  • The most important thing for those who are creating a work wardrobe from scratch: Don’t go into debt for it.

As the rules around office attire evolve, it’s important to ensure that your work apparel matches those around you.

But keeping up with trends can get pricey. And considering work clothes tend to be pricier than what you might wear on the weekends, figuring out your clothing budget is crucial.

The general rule of thumb: Your monthly clothing budget should comprise no more than 5% of your after-tax income, financial planner Pete Dunn told Who What Wear.

So if your take-home paycheck comes in at around $1,200 every two weeks ($2,400 per month), keep your monthly shopping visits to about $120. Those who are earning $3,000 every two weeks can bump it up to $300 a month.

If you’re building your work wardrobe entirely from scratch, personal finance author Lauren Bowling told Business Insider that it’s okay to allot about 7% of your income.

If you need to get the total basics, like sensible black pants or a versatile cardigan, put aside $300 for a one-time trip, image curator Scarlett De Bease told Business Insider. “Then add on when possible,” De Bease said.

And if you need a suit for work, high-quality options can cost up to $1,000. If your budget is tight, you can probably get a decent option for about $250 to $300. Once you have one, you can match those basic pieces with things you already have in your closet.

Whether you’re creating a new work wardrobe or just adding on a few new pieces, Kat Griffin, founder of Corporette, a blog about women’s work clothes, emphasized that you should never spend more than what’s already in your bank account.

“I would argue that you should never go into debt to buy a bunch of new clothes,” Griffin told Business Insider. “Don’t put it on a credit card and figure you’ll pay it off later.”