Maternity Clothes Are Like Christmas Trees: The Clothes-Buying Ban Continues

Me at 39 weeks pregnant in my hand-me-down maternity garb

Me at 39 weeks pregnant in my hand-me-down maternity garb

It has been 23 months since I last purchased an item of clothing. Yes indeed, my self-imposed, one-woman, frugal weirdo clothes shopping ban is still going with the strength of a thousand greyhounds (if you want to catch-up on the entire history of my ban, see part 1, part 2, and part 3).

This absence of sartorial acquisition has followed me through every season (twice now), a slew of fancy events (including weddings, graduations, conferences, family photos, and the like), a number of professional engagements (both for my day job and my Frugalwoods “work”–though it’s hard to call what I do here work since it’s so delightful), and–most notably–an entire pregnancy. At 39 weeks pregnant, with Babywoods due in a mere nine days (!!!), I think it’s pretty darn safe to say I won’t be purchasing any maternity clothes.

When Does The Ban End, Mrs. Frugalwoods?

When I inaugurated this embargo in January 2014, I didn’t have a termination date in mind. I had a vague idea that perhaps it would last a year or so, but I decided not to assign a firm stop on the calendar. My rationale behind leaving the ban undefined stems primarily from the following: If I had an end date, couldn’t I just save up a list of the things I wanted and then buy them all at once the day after the ban ceased?


Frugal Hound is on a clothes-buying ban too

This seemed like a dangerous proposition and akin to going on a diet for a finite period as opposed to making wholesale changes to lifelong eating habits. The goal here wasn’t to forestall a bunch of shopping for a future time, it was to radically alter the way I think about consumption, stuff, and the need to gratify myself with new threads. Delaying purchases wouldn’t address the core of that goal. While calling it a “clothes shopping ban” is a nifty convention, its much more of a “clothes shopping lifestyle reinvention.”

Although saving money is one outcome of this self-restriction, it’s by no means the most prominent. Since I’ve always shopped used, primarily at thrift stores and garage sales, I wasn’t spending an exorbitant amount on my duds. The broader issue for me to overcome was my preoccupation with my appearance and the role that clothing played in my self-image. As it so often happens with incorporating frugality into my life, the tertiary benefits very often outweigh the merit of the money saved.

How To Not Buy Clothes For Almost Two Years

34.5 weeks pregnant at my cousin's wedding in a hand-me-down dress

34.5 weeks pregnant at my cousin’s wedding in a hand-me-down dress

The mechanics behind not buying clothes are alarmingly straightforward and I’ll tell you my secrets right here and now: I don’t enter clothing stores, thrift shops with lots of clothes, or casually browse outfits online. For me, it’s as though the world has stopped vending clothing. Simple as that.

But the mindset shift behind the ban was far more challenging for me to master. For years–nay, decades–clothes were a hobby and a fixation for me. I’d intrinsically linked my self-worth to how I looked on the exterior, and my outfits were a central component of that. And new clothes (well, new-to-me clothes as I’ve always been a thrift store devotee), were my crowning achievement.

I loved scoping out fashionable deals at Goodwill and assembling adorable outfits on a regular basis. But the result of all this superfluous purchasing was both unnecessary funds expended and, perhaps more crucially, an excessive amount of clothing in my closet(s).

It’s not a good feeling to be overwhelmed by how much clothing you have. I actually found it to be relatively embarrassing. Why do I own all these things? What was I thinking when I kept bringing home more tops and skirts to an already overcrowded dresser? Gah! Thankfully, as part of my manic mega pre-Babywoods de-cluttering this year, Mr. Frugalwoods and I donated a veritable mountain of clothes to a thrift store and our Buy Nothing* group.

*Buy Nothing is an international organization with hyper-local branches, organized via Facebook, that facilitates giving away things for free to one’s neighbors (check to see if there’s one in your area, and if not, consider starting your own).

Me at 31 weeks (aka 7.75 months) pregnant!

31 weeks in hand-me-downs (recognize that skirt 😉 ?)

I needed to disabuse myself of the notion that clothes shopping is a hobby. It’s not. I needed to transform my conception of clothes shopping into what it really is: a means to procure the threads we need to cover our little human bodies. Much like eating is a way to sustain us, clothes are there to keep us warm, comfortable, and not arrested for indecent exposure (there are practical considerations here, people).

Once I let go of trying to force clothes shopping to fulfill me in ways that it’s not intended to–creatively and as amusement–I was able to step away from it. And the farther I’ve gotten from my last purchase, the easier it is. Giving up shopping is, I imagine, precisely like giving up any other form of unhealthy obsession. The longer I do it, the less I think about it and the more ingrained it is in my personality.

The first few months of this endeavor were marked by me actively thinking about not buying clothes. I would consciously tally up things I was not buying and then mull them over in a ponderous fit. But after those initial cold turkey months, I sort of forgot about it. Now, when people ask if I’m still doing the clothes ban, I think “oh yeah, I guess I am!” Its become such a natural extension of my frugality and my worldview that I don’t have to exert energy or concentration over it anymore. In much the same way as Mr. Frugalwoods and I don’t budget or actively think about our money with regularity, I don’t have to give much thought to the fact that I don’t buy clothes.

Now at some point here, legitimate wardrobe needs will intervene and I’ll have to buy something. And that’s absolutely fine. It’s not reasonable to assume I’ll go through the rest of my life without buying any clothes, but hey, I’ve made it two years thus far! The salient lesson is that, once I do need to acquire clothes again, I won’t feel the emotional pull to overbuy. I’ll get what I need and be done with it.

Maternity Clothes = Christmas Trees

Just like our Christmas tree

Just like our Christmas tree

When Mr. FW and I learned the joyful news of our pregnancy last March, I wondered if that would signal the death knell of the clothes-buying ban. But, I decided to bide my time and see just how long I could go without purchasing bump-accommodating fashions. I used to procure clothes well in advance of actually needing them with the thought that I was “planning ahead.”

But here’s the thing, I was never certain what future me would need/want and so I ended up with a lot of unworn summer dresses bought in January and wool coats sourced in July. Not so wise a strategy after all.

And so, I took the tack of wait and see. Sure enough, I was able to wear my regular clothing–especially those items of the loose and stretchy variety–for the first 16 weeks or so of pregnancy. And after that point, I learned the valuable proverb:

Maternity clothes are like Christmas trees: when the time is right, you really want them, but once the season is over, you really want them out of your house.

This lesson was taught to me by the many wonderful women–my sister, colleagues, friends, members of my local Buy Nothing group, and parent email listserves–who handed down their maternity clothes to me. I am deeply grateful to all of them for passing along their no-longer-needed belly-covering outfits and I intend to continue the virtuous cycle once I’m finished wearing them.

Pregnancy yoga!

Pregnancy yoga!

In fact, last week I passed along a massive bag of maternity clothes that I won’t need in the future to another member of the Buy Nothing group who is in her first trimester. Makes me very happy to see these clothes worn again and again by so many different pregnant women. There is such a plethora of stuff in the world that it scarcely makes sense to buy anything new. My friend Mr. 1500 pointed out to me that he thinks some products never need to be manufactured again–that’s how saturated our world is with material goods.

If we were to all simply use things when we need them and then pass them along to others, just think how radically different our spending and exploitation of the earth’s resources would be. Plus, Mr. FW and I take judicious care of our clothing, so it lasts for quite awhile.

I also want to point out here that not all of these hand-me-downs are the right size, the right color, the right season, or even remotely my style. But you know what? It just doesn’t matter. I cobbled together plenty of serviceable outfits to be presentable at work every single day, party at a wedding, speak at New York University about frugality, hike, attend a conference, practice yoga, and go on dates with my husband. And at the end of the day, while I enjoy looking nice, I’d rather save money than resemble some hot mama maternity model. It’s all about priorities.

12 weeks pregnant in stretchy regular clothes

12 weeks pregnant in stretchy regular clothes

My frugal weirdo pro-tips for making hand-me-down maternity clothes work:

  • Summer maternity tops can be worn year-round with a regular-size cardigan thrown over them (just don’t button the cardigan);
  • Maternity pants that are too short or too long are totally workable: move the belly band a bit lower or higher on your bump;
  • You can wear the same black maternity pants to work every day for a week and no one will notice;
  • Pair different cardigans and necklaces with the same tops for entirely new looks;
  • You can wear non-maternity undies, PJ pants, yoga pants, and hiking pants for an entire pregnancy (at least I did)–simply position the stretchy waistband below your bump;
  • When your winter coat is a great trash find that was a few sizes too big to start with, it’ll fit perfectly at 9 months pregnant;
  • Most importantly: wear whatever the heck you want–you’re pregnant!

Coat Tail Thoughts

While I’m sure this ban will conclude out of necessity one day, the shift in my perspective on what it means to be beautiful is permanent. I no longer consider my self-worth or self-esteem tied to how I look. Sure, I enjoy dressing up and presenting myself nicely, but it’s no longer an compulsion. I look the way I look. I’m content not wearing make-up and not obsessing over my wardrobe.

It’s liberating to not feel the self-imposed pressure of appearing perfect in the best outfits I can muster. I save time, I save money, I’m no longer “owned” by my possessions, and I’m just generally a happier gal. I’ve prioritized other things in life above my appearance, and I’m a better person for it.

Have you ever gone on a shopping ban? Would you consider it?

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84 Responses

  1. Congratulations! It’s so wonderful to hear that the shopping ban held strong through the entire pregnancy. That is quite an accomplishment. When I had my Mini Monster I think I rotated between three maternity pants that I bought at a huge discount, and only as a last resort. WooHoo for sweats and belly bands. At the time, I was the first of my friends to experience pregnancy so I didn’t have the luxury of borrowing stuff. Thankfully I saved my three pants (and you’re right, no one at work notices or cares) and will be able to use them again in the event of baby #2 (fingers crossed :).

    It’s awesome to hear you were able to make the clothing ban last and still look and feel fabulous 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your journey!

    Mrs. Money Monster

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks! It’s awesome how you can just keep wearing those same few pairs of maternity pants over and over again…. I’m wearing “the” black pants right now 🙂

  2. We have expressed the same sentiment about food being for sustenance and clothing for warmth & avoiding indecent exposure. You look great and that’s awesome you avoided buying maternity clothing–I found I didn’t need to buy much during my two pregnancies spanning difference seasons, if you get creative and accept hand-me-downs. I did regret stretching out a few of my normal shirts, but no big deal.

    • I forgot to mention–have you seen The True Cost? It’s a documentary about the social and environmental impact of flash fashion. There are some very compelling reasons in addition to personal financial impact for opting to not shop, wear hand-me-downs, and buy used only when you really need something.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        Oh very interesting, I haven’t seen that documentary, but it sounds right up my alley. Perhaps a perfect thing for me to watch while waiting for Babywoods :)! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I only bought two pairs of maternity trousers for work during my pregnancy – I had a small bump and could wear the majority of my own tops all the way through. Good luck with the immenent arrival 🙂

  4. Anna says:

    This is a difficult point for me! I would love to go on a clothing ban (or to buy thrift store clothes). But I can’t. I’m so non-standard shaped that there is no such thing as hand-me-downs or secondhand clothes in my size (unless I move to a city with only basketball, volleyball and crew people).

    For the same reason, I can’t buy clothes in stores that don’t cater to the ridiculously tall, so that’s a definite plus! But once I’m in a tall store, it’s very hard to resist ‘bargains’ and items that are almost really nice. It would be easier if I could just decide to go on a ban altogether.

    Maybe I should learn how to sew…

    • Megan says:

      I am in the same boat… Except I’m extremely short (and not as slender as I’d like to be) thus making clothes shopping difficult!

      I have four pairs of pants that are currently on their second fall/winter/spring season, along with approximately 10 shirts and sweaters. I wear clothes until they are totally worn out and mix and match enough that I always feel well dressed at the office.

      The only recent necessity I had to buy was 3 new pairs of shoes. My feet were killing me in my worn out shoes and that’s no way to live! Luckily I had a $50 off coupon for the shoes.

      • Anna says:

        Feast of recognition 🙂 One of my friends invited me to do the ’33 challenge’ with her, so I took a look at my closet and informed her that if she bought me a sweater I’d be there 🙂

    • Marcia says:

      You need to come to my area of California. I’m 5’2″, boy do I feel short!!

      So many of my friends and neighbors are SUPER tall.

      • Revanche says:

        We’re in the Bay Area and at a 5′ even, I’ve been surprised at the number of people shorter than me around here! Adult people, even. I’m so used to being the shortest person, it always confuses me 🙂

    • Rachel says:

      This is very difficult for me too. I’m 6 ft tall around a size 14. It is really hard for me to find things in my size in regular stores, much more difficult in thrift stores and almost impossible from free clothing/local swap sites.
      I’ve had three pregnancies and gotten by with a pretty limited maternity wardrobe that I cobbled together from H&M and buying off eBay. I donated my clothes at the end of my last pregnancy but they were really in tatters after three pregnancies.

      • Cat says:

        I hear ya sister! Just a hair under six feet here and I can attest that pants that are too short cannot be fixed by moving the belly band up or down. 🙂 I was able to score quite a few hand me down maternity shirts, but pants are a different story and shorts dont work in the winter in Montana. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I live in an area where there are few clothing stores so the opportunities to purchase clothing are limited. I spent $15 last year on clothes because I needed new shoes and happened to find brand new Nike Shox in my size at Goodwill- that had never happened before and will likely never happen again. I was looking for an orange shirt for my son’s Halloween costume and got lucky. Were they an impulse buy? Yes. Have I regretted it? Not once.

  5. I love the analogy of the diet vs. the lifelong shift in eating habits. I think there are actually a LOT of parallels between dieting and trying to reduce one’s spending (one major one being that just as you can’t go cold turkey on eating, you also can’t go cold turkey on spending: you have to pay your electricity bill). I would love to go on a clothing shopping “ban”, and actually I haven’t bought anything in a while, but I suspect I’ll need to purchase some professional-looking clothes soon when I get a Real Job — jeans probably won’t cut it. :/ But if and when the time comes, I’m going to check out that place in Belmont that you mentioned (Revolve, I think).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes! Revolve in Belmont (and I think they may have some other locations too) is the best for nice, used professional clothes. That is a store I absolutely cannot enter as I would surely buy something :). I’ll live vicariously through you…

  6. Congrats is in order on so many fronts. It’s awesome that you’ve been able to keep clothes shopping out of your life and improve your self-esteem at the same time. I think it’s a lesson that Babywoods will benefit from, too. Too many women I know derive self-worth from appearance, and consequently, spend thousands annually to maintain the habit.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! Yeah, the desire to disrupt the self-worth/appearance cycle I felt trapped in was paramount with this goal. I hope I can pass this lesson along to Babywoods!

  7. I wore a lot of my “regular” clothes when I was pregnant. I bought a lot of maternity clothes second-hand through sites like Craigslist once I started getting really big. I didn’t want to stretch out everything I owned! Fortunately, maternity clothes are easy to resell.

  8. urban vegan says:

    This is a great article and I love your blog. I, like you, used to love clothes and fashion as a hobby– and I still do enjoy clothing as a means to express myself (My day job is in the creative field). While I have not embarked on an all-out shopping ban, I have been buying drastically less – nothing for the past 2 months, just by chance. And like you, I prefer to peruse thrift and consignment stores. A blogger named Kendie started the 30 x 30 wardrobe remix and I tried this last fall. This fun exercise It really helps you re-envision and remix the clothing you already own in creative ways.×30-remix.html

  9. I can’t believe you haven’t had to buy a single item of maternity clothes!! When I was pregnant, I was the first of all of my friends and family to have a baby so I couldn’t borrow from anyone else, but I was glad by the time I had Will, one of my friends who was a similar size could benefit from my hand-me-downs. I have been on an unofficial clothing ban for the last two years as well. Once I changed my mindset on what was important, it was easy to see that clothing wasn’t part of that. I hated shopping anyway, so now it’s just a win/win that I don’t do it.

    • The Roamer says:

      I was also the 1st and did purchase some items but had a nice coworker lend me a lot of clothes as well. Yup lend as in she had one but knew she wanted more and I returned her items as soon as I was done.

      My biggest pregnancy mistake purchase was buying nursing bras before I had actually delivered. Big mistake since you don’t know how much your chest will change once you deliver.

      I would totally break a shopping ban Mrs.Frugalwoods to buy at least 3 well fitting nursing bras if your planning to nurse. It makes a big difference. But if you can go without or get a good pair donated more power to you. Same thing with tops that make nursing easier. I made do with what I had pretty well. But I got a new one for my second birth and pretty much lived in it for a whole year because it was the best shirt for nursing.

      • Leah says:

        I found tops with loose necks worked well for nursing. The other is to wear a stretchy cami underneath a shirt. I actually liked those better than official nursing tanks. I bought 3 spaghetti strap camis in colors that went with my wardrobe. I wore than under everything. I’d pull up the shirt and tuck the cami underneath my nursing bra flap. Super easy and pretty modest.

  10. Kristen says:

    I wouldn’t say I am on a clothes shopping ban, I am on a mindful purchasing lifestyle. In the last year I have purchased a new bathing suit bottom (board shorts) to replace the one I had for 12 years that didn’t stay up anymore. I purchased this new (I can’t wrap my head around used underwear or bathing suits), but got it on sale for 70% so was very happy. I also purchased a new sweater on a clearance rack for $5. I didn’t have a brown sweater and this meant a lot of my “brown” clothes were not worn 1/2 the year (the joys of being a Canadian). I do see the possibility of needing some new undergarments in the near future (helped along by a dog who got into the laundry and chewed several pairs up), but unless a needed cloth item is ruined, I don’t foresee shopping in the future. I did recently go “window” shopping with my mom when she was in town. Like you, I stay away, and I was very proud that while I found a few things I loved, I bought nothing! When I felt the urge I thought of your blog and a few others I read and asked “want or need” and because it was a want, I walked away! Thank you for inspiring me to think twice!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s awesome, Kristen! Way to walk away from a “want”! And, I agree with you on used underwear–ain’t gonna happen ;). Fortunately, mine have held out these past few years.

  11. I’m pretty proud that I’ve only purchased two items of clothing over the past two years: a dress for a job interview and a dress for a funeral. And both have been worn for multiple occasions since! 🙂

  12. Gwen says:

    Even though I’m not pregnant, I switch between the two pairs of identical black pants for work clothes. All I change is the top! It cuts down on my choices in the morning if I already know what I’m going to wear. I’m debating taking it a step further and getting rid of all my fancy work clothes I don’t particularly like anymore (or that don’t fit) and go with a specific set list of tops. Today is the first Monday? Wear the green shirt. But, I have yet to pull the trigger on that. Maybe now is the perfect time!

  13. Lee says:

    Similar mindset and spending habits here, too! A clothes-shopping ban is like not having a budget. You only buy something when you need it, and you weigh your options out before purchasing something new. I am a year out from having my third baby and I am totally stuck in my old maternity jeans still (and by “my old maternity jeans” I mean, my co-worker’s old maternity jeans that I got as hand-me-downs for pregnancy #2, haha). I’d go out and buy some new pants to fit my dude-my-waist-won’t-go-back-after-my-third-kid waistline, but why bother?! I have a bin full of non-maternity clothes in my closet patiently waiting for me to end the food bender and get back into shape… and I am quite certain a new pair of bigger-waisted-jeans won’t make me feel any better. My get-back-in-shape motivation is boxed up in the closet!

    “I save time, I save money, I’m no longer “owned” by my possessions, and I’m just generally a happier gal. I’ve prioritized other things in life above my appearance, and I’m a better person for it.” HEAR, HEAR!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Woohoo! I like that you’re using it as motivation to get back in shape–that’s awesome. I’ve definitely used the clothes-buying ban as a major incentive to stay in shape. I gained a bunch of weight and had to buy bigger clothes a few years back and the desire not to do that again has been a powerful motivator. I wish you all the very best!

  14. Sheer awesomeness here, and you look great too! SO excited for you guys that the big day is almost here! I’m not on a shopping ban, per se, but don’t buy clothes unless it’s absolutely unavoidable (as in holes in socks and undies) and pretty much wear the same stuff over and over. Honestly, I dont’ miss it a bit. And I love saving the money. 🙂

  15. I’ve never had a large enough wardrobe to go on ban. When you own only 2 pairs of work pants and one of them wears out, you replace it! (I also own 3 year-round work skirts that currently fit, plus one that is only for winter, and currently too small.)

    That said, I have gotten much more efficient at clothes buying. I used to go to Kohls and a few other stores–Loft, maybe, and/or New York and Company–and buy a couple hundred dollars’ worth of new clothes every few years. I haven’t done that since 2012. This year, I have bought one lovely sweater ($5 at Goodwill), one pair of jeans, some fabric to make a skirt from scratch, and some rain gear, just because I owned no rain gear and kept getting unpleasantly soaked (especially biking my kids to school–they stay dry in the trailer, but not me!).

    I like how not buying stuff forces you to wear stuff you already own, but haven’t been wearing. I’m not going to win any fashion contents wearing white sweatpants that date back to the late 90s, but they are serviceable biking pants and it’s good to get some use out of them instead of just tossing them. Ditto some running shorts I bought in the early aughts. I try to use the stuff from the bottom of the dresser in hopes of, frankly, wearing it out someday and having a leaner, meaner wardrobe.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I bet those white sweatpants are HOT ;)! I’ll raise you my tattered PJ pants (which actually used to be Mr. FW’s… )

  16. Emily says:

    I love this post! The emphasis on how it changed your mindset first is so important! I’m 6 months into my own year-long clothes shopping ban and I’ve noticed how little I worry about clothes! I don’t care about having the latest styles or looking “current.” I have what I need and there’s no stress associated with pulling my staples out of the closet. And even though I’ve minimized greatly, I rarely need to repeat outfits! We all have so much more than we think we do! It’s cheesy but I’ve learned my greatest accessory is my smile and my personality!

  17. Tara says:

    I wish we had a good Buy Nothing group in my neighborhood but unfortunately we don’t. Because I live in an area with a lot of thrift and consignment stores, you don’t see as much on Craigslist either because people sell their stuff directly to said stores. I’ve had to go to Goodwill to buy maternity wear, but did score well with some clothing during a tag sale at that location. Spending $35 on a bunch of new work clothes is a lot more preferable than spending $150 new.

    Also, since I have storage space and I do plan on having another kid, I will hold onto the clothes for the time being before offloading them in the future to someone in need.

    My goal though is to go back into a shopping ban on clothing once all is said and done. More motivation to eat healthy and get fit!

  18. In Cambodia, the women put on a nice pajama set and hang out in that for nine months. No maternity clothes needed. Extra comfort. Win win. I was jealous of this custom when I was pregnant!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh yeah! I would totally get on board with that. I’m wondering if, at 39 weeks, I can just start wearing my white fluffy bathrobe to work?

  19. Kate says:

    I had my own version of a shopping ban, I didn’t buy anything new from January through June. The whole of my wardrobe consists of solid color tee shirts that match everything, solid color skirts (ditto), one pair of jeans that are 2 years old, one pair of cargo pants that are 5 years old (I’ve mended them where I ripped them last year), two pairs of winter pants that I rotate. I also have cardigans, some years old.

    My aesthetic is librarian. My job offers me a choice: wear scrubs that are navy and white into work, or business casual. I’m not going to buy scrubs to wear into work, change into hospital scrubs and then back into my own scrubs for my ten minute commute home. And I’ve gone up the ranks a bit and am now invited to more meetings, to which I have to wear business casual. No new clothes needed because I already have some that I wear in.

    My biggest weakness are workout clothes, especially running skirts. So I just don’t go into that section at Marshalls (much). Most of the races I do give out tee shirts with the racing fee. Or, if you’re me, you source free races from your sister’s restaurant or the hospital. If you see someone running in a years past race tee and a pleated running skirt, say hi.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh I love my running skirt–I’m with you there, those things are awesome! Also, I’m liking the “librarian” aesthetic–sounds perfect to me. Nicely done on not buying anything for that span of time!

  20. I don’t know if I’ll ever take the baby plunge, but I’ve always known that should I, I’ll have an endless supply of hand me downs to furnish my new wardrobe. Even now, most of my “new” items are hand me downs. The one exception has been television appearances. Doing more on camera stuff, I’ve had to supplement my wardrobe with a few higher quality items. But “going shopping” is most definitely not a hobby.

  21. Hannah says:

    Awesome! Nice job! Do you ever feel the twinge of want, though, when you see a sweet pair of wedge boots or a subtly glamorous cashmere sweater? Irresistible charms for me, unfortunately. I’m way beefy for thrift and my sisters are wee petite minions, not that they’d share!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a good question–you know, the longer I do the ban, the more natural it becomes for me to simply not shop. At the beginning, I definitely spent more time thinking about things I’d like to buy. But now, it rarely crosses my mind. I think it has just become habit for me over time.

  22. Cindy says:

    Good stuff (no pun intended!) as usual. I’ve been on a clothes-buying ban too. But a fancy-schmancy Chicago wedding last spring called for a break in the ban. Happily, the little thrift shop in my tiny community had a lovely dress ($12) and a cool pair of heels ($4) that worked perfectly! Thanks again for the great information and good luck with your upcoming bundle of joy!

  23. Christina says:

    So close to meeting FrugalBaby! I hope you have a smooth and easy delivery!!

    I’ve hit the point where I’m forced to get a few new things here and there. I have an unofficial ban on clothes. Between the part where I don’t really enjoy “browsing” and how frustrated I get when I do need something and can’t find anything that fits a tall athletic build I don’t buy much at all! At work I rotate through two pairs of jeans and that makes getting ready for work quick and easy. Everything matches jeans and steel toe shoes! I recently switched my wardrobe over to the fall/winter long sleeve selection and realized how many shirts I still had from the beginning of high school, six years ago! A few mended holes here and there but still going strong.

    Does anyone else know stores that fit a 5’10” lady other than eddie bauer and sometimes pategonia? Replacement shopping is rough.

    • Jenessa says:

      I’m 5’9 with a fairly athletic build and I also wear jeans and steel toed boots to work everyday! I have long legs and a short torso so I usually wear western brand jeans since they actually specify an inseam length instead of an arbitrary “tall” that is too short for me.
      For shirts I really love both the brands Icebreaker and Toad and Co. Neither of them are remotely cheap, but I usually buy a few pieces each season when they go on clearance. I am willing to pay a little more for clothes that actually fit me well and also wear extremely well. I always hated shopping for clothes and have only recently gotten over my old habit of buying clothes that kind of fit just because they were cheap.

  24. Marcia says:

    This is pretty amazing. I actually decided to join the MMM forums “no new clothes in 2015” ban.

    You are absolutely correct for the usefulness of maternity clothing. And the desire to get rid of it! About 6 months ago, I found a pair of maternity pants in my closet. Pants with the panel are great until you lose the weight. But I was happy to donate those! However, I still have four maternity t-shirts that I wear regularly, because they look like regular T-shirts.

    I agree with Mr 1500 on the idea that there’s so much stuff around that just gets wasted. Mind boggling really. Though I don’t quite have this talent, I love seeing what ReFashionista does with thrift store clothing. It inspires me enough to try altering my clothing to fit better.

    I did reasonably well so far on the clothing ban, but am not at $0:
    – I bought new underwear for $10, because I lost 25 pounds in 2014 and baggy underwear is uncomfortable. But I was between sizes, so I went a size down.
    – I bought new underwear for $8 (on sale) because going down a size was a bad idea.
    – I bought new running shoes (for $150!). I walk a lot and wear out my shoes. I made one pair of shoes go 8 months, which is generally 2 months too long. The next pair I started wearing in May, but they were not high quality and in 4 months, my shins and knees were bothering me. I’m hoping the new running shoes last me 8 months.
    – I bought three new swimsuits. Which seems excessive. I swim 2x a week, and my suit wore out. I usually pay $20 at Costco and they last 6 months. Well, it’s out of season for Costco. The first suit was $50! on vacation at the end of the summer. The stores were already on their way out in the northeast. But it was on vacation when my suit gave up the ghost. The next two were $20 to $25 each on line. I guess the silver lining is that these 3 suits should last at least a year and a half, if I rotate them properly.
    – I’ve lost more weight, so now I’m at my pre-pregnancy weight (my son is 3). But things aren’t in the same place. My pants are falling down. I bought a belt for $8.

    So what’s my total for the year? $253. Not too terribly bad.

    I think the amazing thing though is that I’ve been invited to no less than FIVE clothing/ fashion parties. For a clothing line that I adore, and makes up much of my closet already. I simply told each friend “I decided to buy no clothing for 2015, but thanks for the invite!” Especially for November, when I’ve also given up wheat, sugar, and alcohol – these parties always have wine and snacks too.

    • If you’re tired of buying swimsuits, spend the money on a good brand (tyr, speedo, etc). They’re made to support lots of contact with chlorinated water. Yes, you’ll pay $50-$75 for one, but you’ll get 3-4 years out of it with daily swimming. Now that I only swim once a week, I’ve had my latest Tyr suit for 6 years.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        That’s awesome, Marcia! Way to go on losing so much weight! And, I think underwear, swimsuits, and running shoes are all pretty key wardrobe elements since they’re enabling you to live a healthy lifestyle–rock on!

        Mom@ThreeisPlenty: good tip on the swimsuit! Definitely makes sense sometimes to spend upfront to avoid constant future purchases. That’s very much how I feel about shoes and underwear–buy the good ones the first time around!

  25. MrTako says:

    Good work on the clothing ban, and early congrats on the impending baby arrival. The clothing fun has only just begun! There is a far too common trend for new parents to want to give their new babies ‘new stuff’ and dress them like adults. Shoes for infants? Ridiculous! I call it the “Mommy Competition”. Use your frugality muscles to escape this nonsense. The reality is, it’s all going to get drooled, puked, and poo’ed on….your clothes included. Your baby doesn’t care if it’s new or not. Although, you may want to end your clothing ban just to escaped your seriously soiled cloths.

    When you and BabyWoods leave the nest, you’ll see this Mommy Competition in earnest. It’s almost as if the baby becomes the fashion accessory to show off. Moms may be haggard and disheveled, but those kids are like mini-fashion models. Avoid this clothing trap, if you can.

    The beauty of it is – the kids grow so fast, you can find barely worn baby clothes for nothing, or next to nothing. For my two kids, I don’t think we have purchased a single item of clothing at a non-thrift store.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You’ll be glad to know that Babywoods has an entirely hand-me-down wardrobe already :). She’ll be wearing her cousins’ clothes (as the 4th+ kid to wear them) for years–plus hand-me-downs we’ve received from other friends. I am totally on board the used baby clothes train. New clothes for kids seem like one of the worst purchases imaginable! Congrats to you for going all used for your kids too–that’s awesome :).

      • Kate says:

        We were at the consignment store with our frugal baby buying pajamas. There were no girls pajamas in her size so we raided the boys section (plus the “boy” patterns are more fun). The girl at the checkout asked if our baby had a little brother at home – she’s 6 months old!! But we just figure nobody sees the pajamas except us, so as long as she’s warm we’re good!

  26. thefrugalchick says:

    I told my husband, “We should try a new clothes ban!!!”
    He’s like, “I haven’t bought anything in like 5 or 7 years.
    So, we both kinda hate shopping. I do get a new dress for christmas and easter (sewn)…..I did get a summer dress this year (which I call my summer uniform).
    Most of my clothes are really really old and most are actually hand me downs from my sister who loves to shop. All my bras are actually hand me downs too (like new, barely worn, from my sister)
    I have all girls so hand me downs, hand me downs, and hand me downs save us so much money. We actually are at a point where we can share clothes now.
    My daughter is a highschooler, she told me that she hasn’t had a new coat since 7th grade (oops!). Thankfully all her jackets still fit her. I told her if she wants something, pick it out and I will get it.

    I normally don’t go to a store or online to browse unless I need something. Yesterday, I bought 3 jackets, 2 pair of boots, 1 skirt, and 2 tops for $0 (purchased with rewards I never knew I had until last week). I kinda feel like I won the lottery. I still have $50 in rewards left (saving that for Christmas)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nicely done! That’s awesome your whole family is on the clothes-buying ban train! Mr. FW is essentially on a lifelong clothes-buying ban as well by virtue of the fact that he hates to shop so much. Occasionally I have to force him to buy something when the holes in his clothes become larger than I can patch or sew up. And, I’m with you on hand-me-down bras–I’m rocking some myself!

  27. Hannah says:

    With my first pregnancy, everyone was pregnant, so I had to try really hard to keep from buying maternity clothes. I bought a few items, and wore a lot of dresses that no longer fit.

    This pregnancy, everyone is shoving their maternity (and baby girl) stuff at me. I can barely keep up with it all. I’ve been meaning to go through it to see what I will keep and what will get passed on, but I keep falling asleep instead.

  28. Taylor says:

    First of all, congratulations on your shopping ban! But even more importantly, yay for being so close to your birth day! I can only imagine how excited both of you must be 🙂 I love the sentiments behind this post and I’m so happy you found inner peace by shutting out the world’s scripts of what a woman “should” do or wear or be. I

    ‘m not going to lie though, I’m pretty high maintenance with beauty and I like it that way 😉 I dye my own hair, cut my own hair, whiten my own teeth, wear makeup nearly everyday and even tan myself at home. In total, I spend $200/year on all beauty related expenses and less than that on clothes. (Although I like to think that you couldn’t tell my costs are so low 😉 haha) Like you said, there’s nothing wrong with makeup, clothes or anything else as long as it’s not how you derive your self-worth. Women who don’t wear makeup are just as powerful (and beautiful!) as women who do and vice versa 🙂

  29. The Roamer says:

    I’ve never gone on a shopping ban officially but I’ve never been really big on buying stuff. Though I used to window shop a bunch, I go into the dressing rooms and try on lots of different outfits. But for some reason I’d always convince myself not to buy them.

    Honestly I buy so little if i had to tally my closet clothes I’d say more than half were gifts. Or are over 10 yrs old.

    I think its a good challenge. I think people really do need to learn to disassociate themselves of their possesions.

  30. I hate clothes shopping so much that it takes me a lot of effort to go clothes shopping. Things can get pretty bad before I do a targeted shopping blitz, which I do every few years.

  31. Ashley says:

    Wonderful thoughts! I have really cut down on clothes shopping and would like to go fully into a ban. We had quite a bit of buying last year because we moved from Phoenix to Minneapolis, so we found ourselves needing seasonal clothing that we hadn’t owned previously. We took the route of buying a few high quality items (off season so on sale!) that will hopefully last for many years.

    One thing I will say for maternity clothes, if someone doesn’t have a community to get many hand me downs from, is to just go for a few limits and simple pieces. I have a pair of jeans, a pair of khakis, three long sleeve shirts in black, navy and grey, and a black dress. (I work from home this time around – last time I had black pants as well.) Even though I have other pieces, thanks to hand me downs from others, honestly I rarely wear them. Like you wrote, I can use the couple of cardigans and scarves I have to make them different.

    Thanks for another thought provoking and interesting post!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You’re so right about the maternity clothes–it really is possible to get by on just a few outfits. I’ve been wearing basically the same five outfits to work for at least a month now. No one has noticed/cared (also I do not care 😉 ).

  32. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    It is great to be able to pass maternity clothes around. I tried helping my sister out and no sooner had I given her my stuff, and I found out I was pregnant with my second. REALLY embarrassing asking for it all back!! She forgave me and we both went on to have daughters that were just 11 days apart. I also pass on a lot of my daughters’ clothes to hers (well she has one that is only 2 now).

    Just keep a few items for yourself in what people forget to tell you about…the FOURTH trimester. The 8-12 weeks it takes to get totally back to normal…you will want to hang on to some of the comfy gear to tide you over. Also, sometimes things don’t ever go back to being the same. Not necessarily bad, just different. My clothes never fit in the same way again :0(

    • Revanche says:

      Too true about the 4th trimester! I was grumpy about buying new maternity clothes (no one had anything that would have fit me) until I realized that I still needed them for months after birth! Also, these thighs are never going to fit into most of my old jeans again 😀

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        Ahhh yes, I’ve read about the 4th trimester :)! I’m definitely not packing up my maternity clothes yet–I think it’s hilarious that people think they’re going to wear pre-pregnancy jeans home from the hospital–hah! I’ll be wearing sweatpants 😉

  33. Natalie T. says:

    To see and hear someone my age do the unconventional is utterly refreshing, inspiring and hope-instilling. Reminders such as this post is paramount in my resistance against the prevalent and unrentless messages to consume for every-occasion-in-life. A life based on experiences and personal growth to attain and maintain fulfillment and contentment is my cup of tea. Not another shiny gadget, designer clothes, bags and whatnots to impress people or for reasons that are found upon insecurities.

    Relatively new reader here but I am enjoy your take on life immensely, Mrs. FW. The warm, supportive, frugal-comaraderie in this virtual space is much appreciated as a real life version is solely lacking. Best wishes to you and Mr. FW as Baby FW approaches! Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys! 😊

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much, Natalie! We do love the frugal community we’ve got going on here–so glad you’ve joined us 🙂

  34. Norm says:

    “For me, it’s as though the world has stopped vending clothing.” Now you know what it feels like to be a guy!

    But seriously, it’s looking like for the second year in a row, Marge and I will spend around $850 combined on clothes, which is fine with me.

  35. Revanche says:

    9 days! That’s amazing. I rather loved the weird anxiety of being about 2 weeks out (and then counting down) to our due date, myself.

    You look far more put together than I ever did during pregnancy – I’m already a weirdo size as it is and then I turned into an *extra* weird size and shape when pregnant. Much like an old friend predicted, I did look like a popsicle stick with a gumball glued to it 😀 I received a gift of maternity clothes 4 weeks after I’d outgrown everything I could decently fit into, so it was too late to save me from shopping, but I’m a little glad that I did because the months of comfort (and not fighting to fit into those pants!) during and after pregnancy were pretty important.

    It’s going to be interesting when I go through my closet in a few months, there’s going to be some more donating happening. I think a year after birth should have given me enough time to figure out what size I am now, and some things simply do not go back the way they were before ;D

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh wow lady, I’m jealous that you loved the weird anxiety! I, for one, am finding it tough as an over-planner. Trying to just relax into the unknown, but it’s not totally natural for me :). Yeah, I’m curious to see what size I am post-pregnancy too–good thing I have a lot of stretchy dresses and pants on hand!

      • Revanche says:

        I’ll admit I only started to enjoy it when I realized that it might be the only time I might ever be in that position of looking forward and dreading a birth all at the same time. So it was one of those conscious – Look, Madam Type A, this is your only chance to live in this moment and not be all “but ALL THE THINGS TO DO!”

        I can’t say I miss being pregnant but I do miss that pause, that moment in your life when all the possibilities are opening before you, before the thing actually happens. I didn’t get that moment with the transitions from high school to college, or college to real life jobbing because things in life were so upended so that was the first time I appreciated that feeling.

  36. Leah says:

    I suppose some people may experience differently, but I never needed maternity underwear and still wonder somewhat about it. I suppose I did need some bra extenders, and I sprung for some amazing nursing bras. But my underpants went right on fitting just fine. Maybe a little tight near the end, so I just wore my looser pairs.

    I like your clothing ban. I think I could do the same thing myself. As it is, I spend under $100 a year in clothes and often even less than that. For me, tho, it’s just because I don’t like to shop :-p

  37. Sarah Jane says:

    It was an explicit goal of mine this year to not buy anything (for myself) I didn’t absolutely need.. and I mostly got there, or at least I’m satisfied with my effort. I only own one set of earrings, one ring and one necklace at a time and I happened to lose one of my earrings right before Christmas so I did replace my earrings in January. Then a month later I “downsized” from my $50 grocery store-purchased 2mm gold wedding band to a $42 1mm gold band with a itsy-bitsy raw cut diamond… I happened just after finding a $25,000 diamond ring on the sidewalk one afternoon (yes, seriously, I live in a fancy neighborhood) and boy, it was lovely! But it wasn’t mine.. I turned it into the police and it found it’s rightful owner (who didn’t even bother to say thanks 🙁 ). Although I didn’t need to replace my band the experience of finding, and then letting go, of that lovely ring (it was my size too!) reaffirmed my decisions to live simply and so I “celebrated” the occasion with a new ring. My final impulse purchase was thrift store fall sweater with a squirrel eating a nut.. because squirrels.

    All other items were legitimately needed for my work as a dog walker in rainy Seattle or for my yoga practice.

    I’ve never been overly concerned or preoccupied by appearances.. even in my younger years… first day of school sophomore year I wore a janitor’s uniform with the name “Maria” on the pocket. Junior year I put up a poster of me with my pants down sitting on the toilet to humor people enough to vote me in for a class office (I won!).. I wore black boots and a hand-me-down skirt to my own wedding… I did these things in part to make fun of cultural norms and expectations… an act of defiance…

    These days I’m all about comfort and safety. I have the nickname of “high vis girl” because I wear full body neon yellow rainproof gear for riding my bike.. and fleece… lots and lots of fleece… some of it I got free from Buy Nothing, some I had to buy thrift. It matters not how I really got it.

    Given my personality it kinda ended up being a lame challenge.. it was just too easy… so I’ve been thinking ahead and have already decided on something that WILL require effort: Zero Food Waste Challenge. Oh. Man…. all the slimy greens and moldy bread butts… random bits of cheeses and cereals… now, THIS, my friends, will be a challenge… and I can’t wait!

    Zero Food Waste Challenge 2016… bring it ON!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Love your philosophy and approach! Also totally agree with this purchase: “My final impulse purchase was thrift store fall sweater with a squirrel eating a nut.. because squirrels.” Good luck with the zero food waste challenge! We took that on last year and its been going pretty well–it’s sort of like all other aspects of frugal living: once it becomes a habit, it’s ingrained. I predict you’ll rock it!

  38. Congrats on avoiding the maternity clothing shopping! I hate clothes shopping in general, and with no other similar sized pregnant women before me, I was suckered into buying clothes. I bought one pair of maternity pants and hated them with a passion. I wore them once, and then tried to consign them, but they were too worn….). I ended up buying a bigger size of pants than I normally would wear and just wearing it all below the belly – I didn’t like things on my belly anyway, but I’ve been told that that’s abnormal for pregnant women. Once we decided that one was enough, I sold what I could at a garage sale, and donated the rest – it’s all gone….

  39. Mr. 1500 says:

    Nine days! Well, eight days now that I’m one day late to this party. If Babywoods does arrive on schedule, I’m happy for you, but also a bit sad for me because of that Name Rule that I told you about. That is, if Babywoods would have been born on my birthday (very soon, but not in 8 days), she would have to be named after me. While I think Baby 1500 is charming, you’d probably get lots of confused looks. And good luck trying find that name on a souvenir mug or toy license plate at ANY gift shop*…

    *Really, who buys this crap? Why on earth would I want a mug or keychain with my own name on it?!??? Is it in case you forget your name? I have no idea. What a ridiculous idea.

  40. Nate says:

    There you go hating on Christmas trees again! Haha…I love having a real tree in the a matter of fact we are going this weekend to pick one out. Look forward to it every year! In other bigger news, we had our baby early!

    Good luck with your little girl!

  41. OMG, I think I wore my black maternity pants every single work day during my last two trimesters!

  42. komal says:

    Take care and eager to hear the news and see babywoods 🙂

  43. Jo says:

    Hi Frugalwoods, love reading your blog and just want to add my best wishes for the arrival of baby frugalwoods:)

  44. Veronica says:

    I’ve decided to go on a no-clothes buying ban myself after I noticed I shopped a lot when I was bored and constantly was looking for new outfits. One app that has helped me make a lot of outfit combos is Stylebook (which was rather expensive at $4 but has helped me create so many different outfits using my real clothes and has kept me from buying a lot of other items), but I’m still nervous for the start of this ban, yet very excited for it! I’ve been frugal throughout my entire life, and have really enjoyed my discovery of your blog!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Very cool! Sounds like a great way to spend $4. Best of luck to you with the ban–I found that the hardest part was the first month or so. After that, it just becomes habit. So hang in there :)!

      • Veronica says:

        So, the clothes buying ban was going extremely well until I had to invest in a new winter coat after learning two feet of snow would be arriving right around when I would be walking around my college campus tomorrow and Friday. I got it at over 80% off and I know it will last me for several years to come…but the coat can’t come in the mail any sooner!

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