Without clothing, we would all just be naked bodies walking around. Consider for a moment how odd that world would be… Well, luckily for us, that is not our reality. Instead, our reality is multi-million dollar facilities all over the world and billions of dollars spent trying to get us to buy a new t-shirt and replace our perfectly fine older ones. Clothing is one of my naughty 3 expenses. And it’s one of those categories that we spend much more on than we realize. Let’s talk about the real cost of our clothing habit and how we can save money on clothing.
Why Clothing Is a Wasteful Category
I’m probably going to offend some people with this one, but some truth needs to be dropped right now. The truth is, as I’ve mentioned in other contexts, no one cares about you as much as you do. [This goes for our haircuts and our investments as well.] The sad truth is, we all really only care about ourselves. We are hyper focused on how we look, sound, and are perceived by other people. It’s why we spend so much time picking out our outfits. It’s why we justify spending lots of money on new, trendy clothing. Our obsession with ourselves and our image is what drives a trillion dollar fashion industry.
The truth that people don’t actually care about our new clothing is well documented and proven with projects like the 333 Project. We think we have to have such a wide variety of clothing or else people might notice that we wore those same pants on Monday! I will admit, the 333 Project is an extreme practice, but it could be worth trying to break the clothing habit if it’s a particularly bad one for you.
How to Get Our Clothing Spending Under Control
I’ve noticed that simplifying my wardrobe has made me much more content with the clothing that I have. Because I purchase and wear mostly greys and blacks, much more of what I have matches and I spend less time stressing about what to buy and what to wear.
I’m going to be totally honest here, I’m probably the worst person to write about this category of spending. While I care about what I wear and care about looking good, I am happy with my 5 pairs of black BCG 5″ Running shorts and wear them almost every day. I’m still happy with my black Carhart Hoodie that I got for Christmas 2 years ago. I am happy with my 8 pairs of black Balega Blister Resist socks that seem to literally never wear out. Seriously, I wish these socks would get a hole in them so I could get rid of a pair. But they are like bulletproof socks.
I can’t recommend you become like me and stop wearing anything that’s not black, grey, or brown. But I can recommend a few practices that my wife and I have used to help save money on clothing.
1. Start Buying Better Quality
Want to save money on clothing? Stop buying cheap clothing that will only last for a few wash cycles. This is one of those situations where I would counter-intuitively recommend spending MORE money on FEWER clothing items that last longer. And the truth is, most of us get rid of clothing long before it’s no longer in good shape. Or worse, we just keep packing new clothing into our closets which we are more likely to wear because it’s new. Spend more money on clothing that will last multiple seasons.
2. Buy Neutral Colors
When we buy really loud clothing, it draws attention to us and makes it more likely that people will remember that we’ve worn it before. But when we start buying neutrals like greys, blacks, and earth tones, it’s much less likely to stand out and be memorable to other people. This means we can wear it more often without feeling self conscious about it.
3. Guard Ourselves
We have a tendency to want to model the world around us. Ever watched harry potter and wish you could fly around on a broom and play Quidditch too? How about spending hours every day scrolling through Instagram and seeing cute people in cute clothing and beautiful homes? How about our Saturday afternoon tradition of meeting our friends at the mall?
Whether we are aware of it or not, we constantly set ourselves up to fail by feeding our desire for more. Instagram is nothing more than an envy factory making people unhappy and unsatisfied with their lives. Not at all saying that’s what it was designed for. But I am saying that’s what it has become. Fake people showing off their fake lives. Making all of us super unhappy about our real lives, real budgets, and real bodies.
4. Practice the 7 Day Rule
Want a silver bullet for spending less on shopping? Commit to the 7 day rule. My wife and I were in Walmart last month just for the heck of it. [Obviously breaking my Guard Ourselves recommendation above.] And we both were surprised at how much we liked some of the clothing. I wanted a beanie and a t-shirt and my wife wanted a sweater. We were holding the items in our hands about to walk to the register when we realized that we were about to impulse purchase some things we really didn’t need.
My wife said, “Babe, we should not get this stuff. We should give it a week and if we still want it, we can come back and get it.” The truth is, I totally forgot about the shirt and beanie that I wanted until I started trying to remember the last time we used the 7 Day Rule. It is crazy how well this works. If you really want to go all out, try a 30 day rule or a 3 month rule. I was so close to replacing my old Mac this year with a new one. But after waiting a month, I got past my initial excitement to buy a new computer and realized that it really wouldn’t be any different than the one I already have.
How Much Money Can We Save On Clothing?
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I love to run the numbers on how big an impact a small change can have on our future wealth. It’s just really hard to standardize this one for example sake. What I can say is, my wife and I have spent anywhere between $21 and $459 on clothing over the course of the last 6 months. If we buy quality, stay out of the malls, buy neutrals, and practice the 7 day rule, I can promise you that you will save money on clothing over the long run. The truth is, we have to buy clothing because our stuff wears out over time. The trick is setting ourselves up for success by practicing the above tips to maximize the dollars spent on clothing.