work your wardrobe: #4 – set the financial investment

This financial strategy is appropriate for the Canada and United States economies.

The suggested annual clothing investment for all clothing items (including inner wear, outerwear, and accessories) is 5 – 10% of the gross annual salary, or 5 – 10% of the desired gross annual salary.

If your lifestyle is predominantly: Your investment would be:
Casual 5 – 6 %
Business Casual 7 – 8 %
Business 9 – 10 %


To have an idea of the cost and quality of each item, we can use the example of a business suit.  If a business suit is worn only occasionally, it would cost about 1% of the gross annual salary.  If it is worn on a regular basis, it would cost about 1½% of the gross annual salary.  The cost and quality of other items would then fall in line accordingly.

Joann is vice president of a bank and wears a suit every day. Her suit would be 1.2 percent – 1.5 percent of her gross annual income. Leslie is a consultant and wears a suit once a month for meetings. Her suit is 0.8 percent – 1.2 percent of her gross annual income. Gordon is a farmer and rarely wears a suit. His suit would be 0.5 percent – 0.8 percent of his gross annual income.

A Professional Wardrobe Module (excluding outerwear and underwear) would cost about 3% of the total annual salary.   For a person with an income of $50,000, the price breakdown could look like this:

  •     1 Jacket @ $450             =  $450
  •     2 Bottoms @ $175 each =  $350
  •     3 Tops @ $80 each         =  $240
  •     1 Shoes @ $200              =  $200
  •     1 Belt @ $75                    =     $75
  •     2 pairs socks @ $20        =     $40
  •     Ties or scarf                     =  $145
  •     TOTAL                              = $1,500 (3% of $50,000)

The typical duration of a garment is five years.  The higher the refinement and quality of the clothing, the longer it will last.  Cold weather’s heavier weight clothing costs more and lasts longer than hot weather’s lighter weight clothing.

Karen Brunger, holistic image consultant, is President of International Image Institute Inc. and a Past-President of the Association of Image Consultants International.

About kbrunger

KAREN BRUNGER, BHEc, AICI CIP - CHIEF STYLIST, STYLE INSTITUTE: Founder and President of the International Image Institute and international Past-President of the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI). She is a recipient of the international Award of Excellence and was Who’s Who Canadian of the Year for 2009. Karen served as AICI’s international VP Education for four years, where she was responsible for the standards of image training worldwide. She is also a Past-President of the Toronto chapter of AICI. Media-trained, and a regular guest expert, Karen has appeared in most major print and broadcast media in Canada, as well as in international media. She is co-author of Executive Power Image and Bushido Business and is a contributing writer to Active Magazine. A pioneer in the industry, Karen’s in-depth knowledge and broad experience spans 28 years. As an image trainer, she has coached some of the top consultants in the industry. Karen's systems and products are in 68 countries, and she has presented on five continents. Karen’s corporate clients include many of Canada’s Fortune 500. Her private clients have included executives, entertainers, and politicians. She has collaborated with renowned leaders on image programs. Karen is responsible for the Image Consulting Program at George Brown College in Toronto, and has taught for numerous colleges. Karen is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Seasons’ Academy of Colour Analysis. Karen is known for her holistic, transformational, inspirational approach, her dynamic, entertaining, fun presentation style, and her open, sharing, encouraging nature.

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