Cheap clothes aren’t necessarily the best investment. Smart shoppers can cut their clothing bill by paying more for clothes that last.
Think about the clothes in your closet. How many items do you own and how often do you wear each one? If you’re like most, you may wear 20% of your clothing about 80% of the time. Are your occasionally-worn items really worth the closet space and money?
We often justify non-essential clothing purchases because they’re affordable. (I’m certainly guilty.) After all, what’s another $15 t-shirt or $50 jacket? But cheap clothes aren’t necessarily cheap. Often, these “bargains” simply don’t last. A few washes and the seams fray or a hole may form – and the item needs to be replaced or tossed in the donate pile. It may seem counterintuitive at first, especially to those of us who love a good bargain. But when you consider the long term cost of repeatedly replacing fast fashion, it starts to make sense to pay more for fewer high quality items that you truly love, that you’ll wear over and over, and that will last for years.
Here are some numbers. According to Quartz, the average American household has an annual income of approximately $50,000. If we assume that the household spends 3% of their income on clothes, that means they spend $1,500 a year, or $125 per month. What if instead of buying five inexpensive, low-quality items costing $25 each, they invested in one or two high-quality items at a higher price ($125 or $63 respectively)? They’d need less closet space and have fewer clothes to dispose of later on.
If you’re ready to invest in fewer clothes that last longer, and cut your clothing bill while reclaiming closet space, here are some brands and strategies to try.
1. American Apparel. The clothes are made in the USA and often constructed with organic materials. Check them out for basic and layering pieces that compare well in terms of quality to other clothing lines that sell trendy, quick fashion.
2. Land’s End. The casual, durable clothes come with an unconditional guarantee so you can return any item at any time for an exchange or full refund.
3. Patagonia. These high quality clothes come with an “ironclad guarantee” that states that items can be returned for repair, replacement, or refund. So, a single favorite sweater can theoretically last indefinitely. Talk about an investment!
4. How to spot quality if you don’t recognize the brand:
- Check the seams. Are they sewn securely? Grip the fabric on both sides of the seam and pull gently. If the thread holding the seams together pulls apart slightly, it’s not sewn properly.
- Look for high-end details. Is there top-stitching? Are there four buttons on the cuff rather than three? Is there any bead work? Is there a 2-inch hem for pants? Are the buttons or fasteners sewn on securely? Details like these identify a quality garment.
5. Once you’ve identified clothing brands you trust: Try eBay. Find previously-worn, high-quality clothes at bargain prices by scouring eBay or local consignment stores. Pre-worn well-made clothes often look new and will have plenty of wear left in them.
How do you stretch your clothing budget? Please share your suggestions!