Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Welcome to Racked’s How Do You Shop? series, in which we ask a variety of people some deeply personal questions about how they earn, save, and especially spend their money. If you know or are someone with an interesting relationship to $$$, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week we talked to Meghan, 38, who lives in Milwaukee and works in biotech sales. She loves fashion and has a penchant for bold colors and pieces with one-of-a-kind accents.
Mortgage: $2,400 a month
Most she’d spend on jeans: Usually $150, but more on the right pair.
A T-shirt: $50
A bag: It depends. She loves bags and shoes, and a Chanel bag could run well over $5,000.
Aside from your mortgage, what’s your biggest monthly expense?
Food or fashion could be tied; it just depends on the month. I like to have friends over and make meals.
I love my home, too. In the last year a lot of money went into my house rather than fashion. So it’s kind of a mix. Home and fashion purchases are probably more high-ticket items over food, but I just love food. A lot. I go out often.
How much do you spend on fashion in a month? Do you budget for specific items?
There’s not really an average. $1,500 is the max I’d spend on clothing in a month. I like nice bags and shoes, and if I do buy a bag or a pair of shoes that month then yeah, [that budget] is already done. But there’s definitely months in a row where I spend nothing on fashion.
I don’t budget for specific items. It’s more impulsive. Like with jeans, it doesn’t depend on budget, just on my mood and what I’m feeling about it at that moment. I have jeans that I still wear from college. When I’m buying shoes and purses, purses specifically, those are almost like collector’s items. I have all sorts of purses; I have some vintage ones from my mom, some Fendi, some Chanel.
I’m not loyal to specific brands. I’ll buy whatever I see that I love.
What about shopping for special occasions, like an outfit to wear to a wedding?
Don’t you feel like when you shop for something specific, you can never find what you’re looking for? I guess I don’t really shop when I have a specific event. I try to shop my own closet and maybe I’ll then go and shop for a pair of shoes or an accessory, but I don’t buy new pieces for events anymore because I’ve got enough in my closet and I can make it look unique. Plus, when you go shop for that one dress to wear to a wedding, you run into the same people at all these different weddings, so it’s like, “Oh, I can’t wear that again.”
So when you shop, how do you go about it?
I don’t like to actually shop [at a brick-and-mortar store] unless I’m going to a boutique. I do like to go to Chicago’s Nordstrom just because that’s where one of my friends works.
I mostly shop online. Almost, like, boredom browsing. I’ll go on Net-a-Porter, Instagram, Who What Wear, Nordstrom. My friend owns Twigs [a boutique store in Madison and the Milwaukee suburbs]. It’s not like I’m following fashion sites typically on my Instagram; I follow fashion people. So now they all tag what they wear and then I’ll go and look.
Do you try to shop sales?
I mean, I love sales, but… there are only a few brands where I’ll actually go and look at their sales — Miu Miu, Gucci. And I’ll look at Nordstrom’s SPACE collection, which is all their new designers that are coming in. Not even for shopping purposes, I just like to see what’s out there.
You work in biotech sales. Does your job have a strict dress code?
No. I work mostly out in the field, but also at home. I’m going into doctor’s offices and interacting with office staff wearing scrubs, so I’m way more dressed up than they are. I’ve never gotten a bad reaction [to my style]. I feel like the bad reactions happened when I used to wear suits, when I didn’t actually like what I was wearing. I’m not necessarily a suit kind of girl. It was almost too professional, and now it’s much more low key, like, “This is who I am.”
When did you start feeling comfortable embracing your style at work?
When I was around 30. I think that’s when I could start to spend money as I pleased on the pieces that I wanted, versus thinking “I need to wear this and present this way.”
I think money and style go hand-in-hand. I didn’t fully come into my own style until I had the income. I had my own style, but I felt as though I had to commit to a certain aesthetic [in my field].
My fashion for work is a little bit different than what other people would wear because it’s going to be something that I’d wear on a weekend, something I’d wear to a special event, and something I’d wear to work, too.
Do you feel like Milwaukee is a city where you can’t really wear certain pieces because they would be too high-end or dressed up?
Maybe for only two or three things I have, but I wear them anyways because I just don’t care.
It’s definitely not known as a fashion city. So where did you pick up your interest in fashion?
I think it came from having older sisters. I always liked fashion. I can’t even think of a time I didn’t. I didn’t really play with Barbies, I just dressed them, and that was what it was all about — the clothes. My sisters were five and 10 years older than me, and they were both tennis players. One was a model, one was artsy, both with kind of different aesthetics. When they would leave, I would go play in their closets.
They were probably really thrilled about that.
How do you think your shopping habits compare to your friends’ habits?
I feel like I probably spend more. There’s a younger generation of my friends that are just in different financial positions, and then my friends that are married with children are dedicating their money to their families, whereas I’m a single person that is dedicating my finances to whatever I want, pretty much.
It’s just different lifestyles. I have the luxury to spend money wherever I feel like it. If I had a family, that would be where I would dedicate it. I would not buy a purse [some months] and be okay with it!