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Clothes budget - Status and responsibility vs. Frugal living: Where is the balance

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  • Clothes budget - Status and responsibility vs. Frugal living: Where is the balance

    So now, that I am finishing training and moving to become an attending, I am focusing more on my credibility as a doctor in the social system that we have.
    Although Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg can get away with their minimal and simplistic approach to clothing and appearance, my observation that doctors will not be able to get away with the same if they are to appear "authoritative and trustworthy" for patients during rounds, clinic visits, etc.

    In this context, what is a reasonable budget for clothes that one should consider seasonally or yearly? how can one budget such an aspect taking in context a focus to live below one means as well as being minimalistic.

    I am trying to live a life of minimalism as I have read it is a source of inner peace and financial growth, without appearing to be cheap in my work environment or with patients.

    A budget and plan for one's wardrobe are therefore crucial in my mind (I realize this may be different between men and women (i am a man), but hope to hear an opinion from both genders!)


  • #2
    When I was graduating residency and fellowship and moving from scrubs full time to business casual, I spent about $2000 over the course of a few years buying nice shirts and dress pants whenever they were on sale (so when pants were $50-60 and shirts were $40-50). I was mostly starting from scratch on the wardrobe. I haven't bought much more since in the last 3-4 years, maybe a couple of sweaters for winter. If you take care of them, the clothes will last and stay in style for a long time. For guys, just avoid wearing wrinkled clothes and make sure the collar is neat (ironed or dry cleaned).


    • #3
      Eh, I dress more casually. I'm a woman and a psychiatrist if that matters, plus I'm under 40, technically a millennial . . . Half my patients accuse me of being in highschool and I don't think an expensive suit would change anything. I want my patients to feel like I'm relatable as well. And some days I just want to wear clean white sneakers to work. I'm just never going to be the person wearing dress pants and button down every day . . . But whatever you want to do, you don't have to break the bank. Gap, lands end, j crew, heck I think half the posters here shop at Costco. Basically, you do you. Dress how you want, spend what you want. It's unlikely to impact your networth the way that student loans and a big house will. Unless you're buying a birkin bag in every color or something crazy like that.


      • #4
        Where will you be practicing? In the Pacific Northwest casual is the norm. No suits or ties. Decent chinos or slacks from Banana Republic, et. al. and button down shirts are perfectly acceptable. Never wear a white coat. Perhaps different in the Midwest, Northeast or South , but I wouldn’t know.


        • #5
          it will be an academic environment in the east.

          i am trying to know how much should i budget and what others do in similar situations! i am very grateful for the replies here!


          • #6
            You are overthinking this. Just get something that’s nice and convenient. Wrinkle free anything is a good start.


            • #7
              48 urgentologist. I still wear scrubs that I ‘borrowed’ from my residency. I also wear cords or chinos that I got from gap from residency 2 decades ago. Every few years for my bday or Father’s Day I’ll get a new shiny pair of scrubs. They are added to the scrub queue, they don’t replace the old ones.

              My wife who is a hospitalist who actually is in the hospital gets nice dry clean worthy clothes seemingly every other week. No scrubs for her.


              • #8
                Haha, well, I am a proceduralist, so 3/5 days ill be doing procedures, i gotta find the budget for 1 day of clinic and 1 day of research time

                I may be overthinking this as ENT Doc eloquently suggested!


                • #9
                  How is spending more than you need to on clothing a sign of “responsibility“?

                  Buy high quality, traditional clothing that fits well, is made of good materials, and won’t look out of place 5-10 years from now. Buy things that mix and match together so you have maximal use of fewer articles of clothing. Don’t overpay just because the label says Armani or something.


                  • #10
                    Status and responsibility don’t go together in my book. If people dress up a little, then match the style within reason. Doesn’t have to be overpriced name brand stuff but reliable is worth the cost. Just don’t let the “fitting in” with clothes translate to other more expensive things


                    • #11
                      When I was a resident I would hit up the Macy’s sales. Now I hit up the Nordstrom’s sales. I tend to get a couple years out of shirts before I start to blow out the elbows (no idea why?) I only buy clothes i can wash at home, down side is pants start to fade over time too. A few to several hundred a year for updates.


                      • #12
                        If you are worried about expenses, my husband use to find really nice dress shirts at Goodwill (The Seattle Goodwill is amazing!)

                        In the Pacific Northwest casual is the norm.

                        The dry cleaners would donate what was not picked up in 30 days. Mostly Nordstrom tailored shirts for under $10 (worth about $70-100!).

                        Just had a quickly find a shirt for my son for a funeral and our Thrift store had multiple with dry-cleaning tags still on them, super great brand, spent $8. He'll likely never where again although he did say "This is a super nice shirt!"


                        • #13
                          You can easily get away with the minimal simplistic approach as well without spending much money.  Apply the same concept of having your personal uniform.  Buy well fitted clothing.  This surpasses anything else.  You'll look miles better wearing a well-fitted $10 shirt over a frumpy $200 shirt.  A handful of simple dress shirts, plain white or light blue, maybe with very small checks or stripes.  Buy multiples to last the week(s).  Pants you only need to last you a week, even less if you're ok re-wearing the same during the week.  Dark, mid or light greys are the staples, navy, mid-light khaki colors, cotton (chino material) or wool.  For shoes, you can rotate between 2 pairs of oxfords, probably brown in color, minimal to moderate detailing, maybe even experiment with boots.  Loafers may be ok too.  If you're wearing ties, keep it simple, minimal designs, simple colors, etc.  Mix and match everything can provide a large combo of outfits. In the end no one really remembers what you wear, especially as a man.

                          For brands, depending on your budget, can go brooks brothers, jcrew, banana republic, etc.  Again fit is paramount and tailoring isn't a bad thing.


                          • #14
                            My wife, who is a physician, drives me crazy on this front.  Our clothing spending much be some 10K per year, all brand name, much of which clutters our bedroom and bathroom from the overflow of our walk in closets.   I have maybe some 10-12 dress shirts, all bought for less then 20 dollars, 3 dress pants, all non-iron stuff.   You should look professional, but I don't think patients can tell the difference or care between a 15 dollar shirt or a 40 dollar shirt, and certainly won't be able to tell if you've had the same shirt for 10 years or you just bought it.


                            • #15
                              I'm a former clothes horse who lost interest over time. I agree with most posters above: simple, clean, well-fitted. No need to spend a lot.

                              I wear these:

                              They are available in flat front or pleated. They're durable and versatile and inexpensive. I have similar pants from a custom clothier (at almost 4 times the cost), but I prefer these. Go figure.