September 13, 2022


Guilt of Spending on Style

By: Leah Nalepa

A sense of guilt often surrounds the act of investing in ourselves, specifically in clothes. Guilt about how much we’re spending, shame that the money is going towards us and not someone else, not feeling worthy to be invested in, and the list goes on. 

There are numerous reasons for a sense of guilt including psychological, financial, or emotional stress around seemingly frivolous things. Perhaps it was the way we were raised, or maybe we simply want to maintain more sustainability and minimalism in our life. Whatever the reason may be, we should consider why we may feel guilt around spending money on our style to determine if it’s justified or an old mental model we’re operating off of. Afterall, we are worth investing in but investment looks different for each one of us depending on our life circumstances and stages.  


There are plenty of psychological reasons people feel guilty spending money. We may not feel justified in buying items that don’t seem to support life essentials like food, housing, family needs, medical bills, etc. It may feel wrong to throw away money on clothes when there are so many opportunity costs present that money can be spent on. Maybe we were raised in a family that couldn’t afford nice clothing or didn’t invest in it at all. Being raised in a household that spent little to no money on clothing tarnishes how we may perceive what’s worth spending money on now. Perhaps our families only purchased sale items, and that way of thinking now prevents us from investing in pieces that are full price. Simply, we may not feel like we deserve new clothes or updates to our style. The psychology of style goes deep and we may need to break our habits of negative thinking through reflection and reading, working with a stylist, or, if it goes deeper, speaking with a therapist about our feelings of self-worth and esteem. 


Certain financial concerns are legitimate financial reasons not to spend money on clothes: job transitions or job losses, paying off debt, reevaluating finances with a new child, and or something else. What tends to be more frequent is when we have the financial resources to invest in our style, but don’t budget accordingly and therefore feel guilty about spending money we don’t have on clothes we may not need. Don’t let poor financial excuses or decisions around money prevent you from investing in yourself. At the end of the day, clothes are a necessity but each individual has to determine if they should be a line item under their disposable or discretionary income. Even if resources are temporarily low, budget accordingly and shop at low-cost stores like thrift shops or TJMaxx to afford new clothes. Eventually, the money will grow and investing in higher cost pieces won’t break the bank. 

Not Knowing Our Style 

Not understanding our style can create doubt about our clothes, bodies, and shopping, and may ultimately prevent us from investing in ourselves. If we don’t have a direction, we don’t know where to go. When we don’t understand our style, we may not know what to buy or feel guilty about spending money at all for pieces we may not wear. Style is exploratory; it’s an evolution. Be open to creativity, try new things, purchase essential everyday pieces, eliminate clothes that don’t work, consult a stylist. Each of these will contribute to having a better sense of style and self, and guide us on how and where to shop.  


Another reason some of us may feel guilty investing in our style is because we prefer to maintain a sustainable and minimalist lifestyle. By and large, the fashion industry isn’t the most sustainable business and with several new trends debuted each season, it isn’t conducive to a minimalist lifestyle either. However, sustainability and capsule wardrobes are rising trends in the industry and have opened new opportunities for investment in style and shopping. Purchasing items from used boutiques or thrift stores, ensures clothes are recycled, reused, and respected. Some stores only sell clothes made from recycled material. Finally, knowing how to build out a capsule wardrobe for each season will create a sense of direction, calm, and fulfillment when investing in quality pieces for our wardrobes. 


Our clothes are a direct reflection of our sense of confidence and self-worth. We can make more money by investing in our style because an elevated style creates higher confidence, instills trust, commands respect, and sends a positive message out into the world. Wearing clothes that we feel amazing in literally raises our mood, energy, and vibration. Sometimes we have to “fake it until we make it” and the right clothes can help us do that. We are worth investing in and it takes thoughtfulness, resources, and consideration to cultivate the right style for each of us.