Why I Broke My Three Year Clothes Buying Ban
Today I mark a frugal milestone: my clothing ban is over! Well, it’s not actually over, it was simply suspended a tad. On January 1, 2014, I decided to stop buying clothes. And I mean fully stop. I didn’t have a list of items I was allowed to purchase and I didn’t make exceptions for anything–not even during my nine months of pregnancy. The rules of my self-imposed ban were as follows: no buying any clothing, which includes shoes, coats, jewelry, accessories, socks, hats, belts, underwear, and of course, any and all clothes! Really I could’ve just said “no buying clothes,” but I felt like making a list. Since I know everyone will ask about this, I own these undies, which I consider to be pure magic. I’ve had them for 7+ years and they’re still going strong with nary a stretched-out elastic and not a single rip. Mr. FW owns the similarly magical man version. You’re welcome.
So, am I going to buy a bunch of clothes now? Nope. I bought one item out of necessity, but my plan is to continue on with the ban for as long as possible. I imagine I’ll need to buy something else pressing at some point. But until that day comes, consider me re-banned. Perhaps I can go another three years!
If you’d like the background story on my clothes buying ban, please enjoy all of the posts in this series:
- Why I’m Not Buying Any Clothes in 2014
- What A Year Without Clothes Did For Me
- Pregnancy Hasn’t Foiled My Clothes-Buying Ban: Here’s How
- Maternity Clothes Are Like Christmas Trees: The Clothes-Buying Ban Continues
- Why I Haven’t Purchased Any Clothes in 2.5 years (and counting)
The culprit–the undoing of my three buy-less years–was none other than a pair of muck boots. Yep. Muck boots. They are not fashionable, they are not cute, and they are not something I lusted after. But they are immensely useful to me living out here on a homestead like I do. You see, these are no ordinary muck boots, these are arctic insulated winter muck boots that keep my feets roasty down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. And I held off on buying them for as long as possible.
Mr. FW bought a pair for himself a few months back and I grilled him incessantly on their relative merits. I even wore them around a bit. I remained unconvinced and certain I could soldier on with my aging winter boots. Until, that is, I was overcome by coldness. Or more precisely, my toesies were coldsies while out hiking. Also, they got wet.
Somehow, my stalwart, old winter boots were allowing water to seep in. In keeping with my mantra of priorities-based-spending, I realized it was foolish to avoid going on long hikes because of maladroit footwear. One of our great pastimes is daily hiking/walking around our land and warm, water-proof boots are perhaps the most integral piece of gear. And so, I finally capitulated to this pressing need and bought a pair.
I’m pleased with my newly warmed toes and I’m thrilled that these boots meet my requirements for comfort, warmth, water-proofedness, and ease-of-wear. Since one takes one’s shoes off when indoors here in Vermont, I’m forever slipping in and out of my boots, usually while holding Babywoods. Hence, slip-on boots are a boon. As you can see from the above photo, these boots aren’t exactly lookers, but they are durable and meant for harsh winters. What I’ve discovered is that ‘cute’ boots are rarely warm, rarely durable, and rarely sufficient for long hikes.
The only problem I’ve encountered thus far is that nearly everyone else in Vermont also owns this exact same pair of boots and so, on several occasions of leaving a party at friends’ houses, I’ve had to check twice to make sure I have the right boots on. I keep meaning to tie little ribbons through the loops at the back, but that strays dangerously close to crafting and you know how I feel about that.
Mrs. FW’s Frugal Fail
I’d be frugally remiss if I didn’t point out that I committed massive frugal oversight in buying these boots new. What I should’ve done is planned ahead and scouted used boots from a garage sale this summer (no winter garage sales in Vermont… ) or taken the time to search area thrift stores. However, I made the grievous assumption that I could weather this winter in my old boots. Thus, by the time I realized I needed these boots–I needed them immediately.
Waiting until you absolutely must have something is a terrible recipe for frugality–I had to buy boots new in a rush and bear the brunt of their full price. In light of this, I’m now making a list of things I predict we’ll need next year to sniff out at garage sales this summer. I hadn’t appreciated the seasonality of the used market here in Vermont and I made an expensive mistake in order to learn this lesson.
Never Set An End Date
When I undertook this self-imposed, all-encompassing clothing ban lo those three years ago, I didn’t set an end date. Much like my lifelong frugality, which I have no intention of ceasing, I entered my clothes-buying-ban with the same mindset. I find that end dates make me antsy. If I’d had an end date, I know I would’ve hoarded a list of clothing ‘necessities’ to buy the minute my prescribed timeframe ended.
End dates encourage us to view our efforts as deprivation. If whatever new enterprise we’re undertaking (a diet, a budget, a clothing ban) has a pre-determined end date, that must mean it’s not sustainable and enjoyable for the long-term. Conversely, if we tell ourselves that it’s simply a new aspect of how we live, we’ll look for ways to make the change permanent and tenable. Perhaps I’m merely playing psychological tricks on myself, but I really don’t care because it works.
In the absence of an end date, I fully incorporated the no-clothes-buying mentality into my lifestyle. It became an element of who I am and, ultimately, a habit. What this ban taught me is that we do almost everything out of habit. I was buying clothes on a monthly–if not weekly–basis purely out of habit. Not because I legitimately needed anything and not because anyone was forcing me to–but because I always had. These habitual practices are so easy to slip into and remarkably difficult–though not impossible–to break.
I decided to assume the mantle of this ban with zero excuses. I have plenty of clothing and I knew that any excuses (such as a wedding to attend or a conference or a family reunion or pregnancy) would be nothing more than thinly veiled ways for me to weasel out of the ban, rush to the thrift store, and stock up on new-to-me clothes.
When I started the ban, I wasn’t pregnant and didn’t know I’d be pregnant a year or so later. But since I’d internalized the ‘no excuses’ mentality, I was undaunted and determined to maintain the ban despite my growing bump. To meet my needs for maternity clothes, I sought out hand-me-downs. In so doing, I didn’t have to purchase a single maternity outfit or nursing top. My maternity clothes weren’t necessarily the height of fashion, some were pretty worn out, many weren’t exactly my size–but I made them work. I saw no reason to break my ban for items I’d only be wearing for a few short months. And now, a pregnant friend is wearing a bunch of my maternity clothes, which have been through countless mamas, but are still going strong.
Much like end dates, I find that excuses and exceptions to a rule are a slippery slope. If, for example, I was allowed to buy only “necessary” clothes, I’d find a way to rationalize cute shoes as “necessary.”
What’s A True Necessity?
Something I uncovered over the course of not buying clothing for three years is that few things in life are true necessities. I used to think new work clothes were a necessity because I needed to look good for my job. But that wasn’t true. Yes, I needed to look good for my job and yes, I enacted this ban while working in a professional office in Boston. But I didn’t need new clothes in order to accomplish this. I’d been working for close to eight years when I started this ban, ergo, I already owned plenty of clothes to wear to work. Plus, no one cares what you wear as much as you care. Not a single person (not even my close friends) noticed that I’d stopped buying clothes and I still got plenty of compliments on my outfits. If you think I’m kidding, try a little experiment: wear the exact same outfit to work two days in the same week, perhaps on a Monday and a Thursday. I can almost guarantee you that no one will notice or care.
I was using my job as an excuse to validate my unnecessary shopping. In doing so, I was subconsciously thwarting myself by–in essence–paying to work. The money we expend in service of maintaining a job–be it on our clothes, lunches out, drinks after work, our commute, take-out because we’re too tired to cook dinner, a house cleaner because we don’t have time to clean–is easily justified because we need it in order to do our job. But do we really? Or are we simply further entrenching our need for our job? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with working a job because you enjoy it–in fact, that’s what I’m doing right now. What’s scary, however, is putting yourself in a position where you must work because you otherwise can’t afford your lifestyle. You want to work a job because you want to, not because you must.
I used to create justifications for spending in quite a few areas of my life. I ‘needed’ an expensive haircut in order to look professional, I ‘needed’ restaurant meals to treat myself after a long week at work, and I ‘needed’ Starbucks on weekday afternoons to keep me chugging along at my desk. Did I ‘need’ these things? Obviously not, but I’d built up scenarios in my mind where these things constituted requirements for my lifestyle. And that’s key: these were requirements for a lifestyle that I’d created, that I’d imposed upon myself, and for which I was paying dearly–and not deriving much joy from. They were not, as it turns out, requirements for a happy life.
Rely On Yourself, Not Your Clothes
Aside from saving money, I had a second, weightier goal for my clothes-buying-ban. I wanted to decrease my obsession with my appearance. I found myself expending tremendous time and energy on how I looked. Not buying clothes (along with ceasing to wear makeup regularly) was a way to transform my thinking. It created an opportunity for me to recognize that I’d rather spend my resources of time, money, and energy on lasting and meaningful pursuits–not on what I look like. I’ve always been a feminist, but it took me years to recognize that I was holding myself back by exerting so much self-criticism over my appearance. Now, when I get dressed up, I do so with care–and I like how I look–but I don’t obsess about it and I never criticize my body. It’s a strong, happy body and one that I’m proud of. It’s entirely possible to look good, but not waste time and money doing so.
Having a daughter has reinforced this commitment. I want Babywoods to grow up focused on her intelligence, her bravery, her skills, and her kindness towards others–not on what she sees in the mirror. And the best way to inculcate anything in our children is to do it ourselves. At just 15 months old, she already watches everything I do and everything I say. She repeats my words back to me and she mimics my actions. Never have I had a more powerful motivator–or censor–for what I say and what I do.
Prior to the ban, I’d deluded myself into thinking that my career, my ego, and my self-worth were augmented by new clothing. Yet when I stopped shopping, none of those things went down the drain. In fact, I found the inverse to be true. I actually felt more confident because I wasn’t relying on my clothes to build me up and speak for me.
Appreciating What I Have
I also began to appreciate the clothes I already own. Before the ban, I’d rifle through my closet and complain that I had “nothing to wear.” I honestly don’t think I’ve uttered those words a single time since the start of the ban. Instead of seeing my possessions from the viewpoint of deprivation, I see the abundance of what I have. When I stepped off the carousel of consumerism and stopped trying to keep up with changing fashions, I started dressing in clothes that I enjoy wearing. I stopped wearing heels (except on rare special occasions) and I stopped wearing tight, itchy, or otherwise uncomfortable outfits. What’s the point?
Trying to keep up with ever-changing fashions is one of the most insidious elements of lifestyle inflation because styles change every few months. The fashion industry will happily induce us to overhaul our wardrobes four times a year (if not more).
In addition to the outrageous cost of such a pursuit, it has a horrendous impact on the environment. I’ve railed against food waste on many an occasion, but clothing waste is another detrimental byproduct of our disposable, greedy culture: “According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 84 percent of unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went into either a landfill or an incinerator” (Newsweek). Our consumer culture teaches us to view our possessions–clothes, food, etc–as transient and able to be trashed and replaced whenever we feel like it.
Be conscious about the possessions you allow to enter your life and, if you no longer need something, don’t discard it carelessly. Find a friend who is interested in your hand-me-downs or connect with a Buy Nothing Group or donate to a thrift store. As part of my new philosophy on clothing, I cleaned out my closet and donated massive piles of clothes I hadn’t worn in years. I let go of being controlled by my clothing. And I started taking better care of the clothes I own–after all, I want them to last for years.
While I’ve saved an untold amount of money (I estimate several thousand dollars), cut down on the clutter in my closet, and reduced my vanity, perhaps the thing I’m most grateful for is the mindfulness that resulted from my ban. Instead of seeing my clothes as shabby or out of fashion (which they probably are), I’m thankful that they keep me warm and allow me to do the things I love. I’ve radically changed my perspective from one of self-centered greed to one of acceptance for the imperfections in my life and gratitude for everything I’m blessed to have.
Have you ever done a clothes-buying-ban?
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I usually get new to me clothes once a year, but I definitely have cut down on my purchases over the years. I used to get new clothes from the stores a few times per year, with the same justifications you mentioned. As time went on, I realized just how few clothes I really need. I also found how many great things are available through thrift stores and consignment shops. Decluttering my closet also made me realize just how many clothes I had that I didn’t need. Now I keep them until they wear out and carefully consider new to me clothing purchases only when my old clothes have worn out. It’s amazing just how long clothes really last, and how few outfits we really need.
I get new to me clothes two times per year at Christmas and my birthday. I usually ask hubby for two pairs of jeans and two sweaters for christmas and a new pair of winter shoes. At my birthday I almost always ask for one pair of shorts , two shirts and a bathing suit or a pair of shoes. Socks he puts in my stocking , I have had one bra in 20 years which I rinse every night and allow it to dry (The thing is still going strong but it was $75 if I remember correctly so it should. I weed out anything that is overly worn , I sew so I use the scraps of clothing in the sewing. If I outgrow it and it still has life (which rarely happens then I sell it. Craigslist is a wonderful thing. I have 4 pairs of shoes to my name , 2 pairs of jeans right now and 4 pairs of shorts. I have about 10 sweaters total and about 10 summer shirts. My greatest space in my closet is coats I have 6 coats but three are up for sale.
My wife and I have both experimented with ‘limited wardrobes’. She does a straightforward capsule, and I have some key pieces to mix and match. Over the years we’ve learned that we simply don’t need all that many clothes. It not only saves money (bonus) but saves a tremendous amount of mental drain (double bonus).
I agree that setting an end-date encourages a negative mindset. Change should be gradual and permanent.
I’m not doing an outright clothes buying ban, but just last week my wife goes to me.. if you get a pay increase from here you’ll be making x dollars (read big money) and yet half your clothes date from before we met (2009). Me: no one can tell that but you and me. Besides I like my clothes. Her: True.
This is great. I just have a couple questions – didn’t you need bigger underwear while you were pregnant? And have you needed to darn socks to keep them going all this time?
I also have the same question about socks. I live in New Hampshire, and I have the hardest time finding good socks. I’ve bought SmartWool, athletic, cheap-o brand, etc. It doesn’t matter the brand, material, or style–they inevitably get holes within about two years. I’ve tried darning, but because we have such long winters and I’m so hard on my socks, it doesn’t seem to work. What works for you?
I live in the frigid north too. Six years ago, I bought merino wool expedition and hiking socks from REI. They come in various weights, and I bought second-quality. They have worn like iron. I even run in them which is normally the kiss of death for socks. (I run 30-40 miles per week.) I wore out one pair, but all of the others are going strong. I have around eight pairs left.
I have a menagerie of different socks and the best seem to be our knock-off SmartWool socks we got at Costco about five years ago–nary a hole. I wear bedroom slippers around the house, which keeps my fuzzy bedroom socks from getting holes and then I change into “outdoor” socks when I’m headed out. I also have a pair of wool REI hiking socks, which must be at least 7 years old that I like a lot. And, to the earlier question, I found I did not need larger underwear in pregnancy. I have these undies, which I’m convinced are magic (Mr. FW has the man version)–we’ve had them for 7 or 8 years and they’re still in excellent condition.
Sounds like the REI hiking socks might be a good bet when it’s time to go sock shopping again. I’ve just bought a pair of slippers, so maybe that will cut down on the ware. Thanks for the undie link–was looking for that! 🙂
Try Darn Tough socks; made in Vermont and have lifetime guarantee. You can find them online, some REIs and sometimes army surplus stores.
I second Darn Tough socks! I have four pairs and they are my favorites. 🙂
I hit the Darn Tough sock sale at Cabot Mills in Northfield Vermont. The socks are true to their name. If you buy the version that is not “factory seconds” then they have a warranty! I am just as please with the factory seconds.
I highly recommend Darn Tough socks, they come with a lifetime guarantee, so they are built to last (or they will replace them for free!). I’ve had a pair for a year and they still look brand new.
Have you heard of Darn Tough? They have a lifetime guarantee, are made in Vermont, and are really comparable in price to others from REI, etc. I have had a pair for a couple years and they’ve withstood some rough hikes and every day wear to work.
My running partner swears by Darn Tough, and goes to their sock sale every year when they sell for like $3 a pair. This fall, I’ll ask her to bring me some! Thanks for the reminder.
Are they wool? We can’t use wool and my kids go through socks in ways that defy physics. I guess the cotton/spandex and nylon stuff just can’t hold up.
I’m pretty sure they are wool–wool seems to be the most hearty.
I was also able to go without bigger underwear while pregnant. I wear the low-cut bikini kind and it sat under my bump.
pro tip: wear bikini underpants (not briefs)
I’ve found if it’s cut low as in bikini or boy shorts, you don’t need maternity undies. I’ve been happy with these types add they sit below the belly. You do need maternity everything else though, and some tops don’t fit in the chest even in first trimester.
Darn Tough socks have a lifetime warranty. They are the best socks every and are made in Vermont. I highly recommend them to all of my friends and often have hour long conversations about socks just because I think they are soooo awesome. They are an initial investment but so worth it. I have yet to test the warranty out, even with my initial two pairs that I purchased 7 years ago and wear at least once a week 9 months out of the year.
My Exofficio undies finally bit the dust after 9 years of use but I didn’t line dry them for the first few year and the elastic wore out. Now I line dry all of my undies and find that they last much longer.
Well done going so long without buying any clothes at all! Really quite amazing.
I have an unofficial no clothes buying ban, but that’s more because I hate shopping :). I tend to buy new clothes only when I have to, which is usually when my work clothes start to wear out. In fact, the sweatpants I have on this morning are at least 13 years old. Great point on never setting an end date. Similar to changing your eating habits. If you set an end date, you’re just going to go back to eating the way you were before after the end of your diet.
This is my main reason for the ban too. 🙂 I further limit myself by avoiding stores that sell new clothes made in in foreign countries with unsafe working conditions and child labor. That leaves thrift and consignment. I am particular there, and I often leave empty-handed. I have been looking for a good winter coat for four years. LOL
I was weirdly curious about what would break the ban. Anyway new boots sounds very reasonable.
I wore out a pair of rubber Extratuff’s in2 years in Alaska, and I’m working my way through a pair of muck boots now. Good luck with yours!
Mrs. FW, I have the same pair of boots and don’t know how I lived without them before! We have a smaller homestead (15 acres), but those boots are an absolute necessity for keeping your feet warm and dry. P.S. I find your clothing ban idea to be most clever and brilliant, bravo to you!
Well, I have not imposed a clothes-buying ban, but I could use a parka for snow shoveling. Actually, my old jacket, long underwear and old wind pants worked well so far… maybe I don’t “need” that parka at all! Mrs. FW, if you haven’t already read it, I recommend “The Tightwad GAzette” for good advice on planning your thrift and yard sale purchases.
I’ve slowly come around to the idea of buying clothes only when absolutely necessary. Big step for me, as I was raised by a “shopper” – every outing, time spent together, etc…was shopping. Gifts galore. “Buy two, it’s on SALE!!” As a 20-something, I continued the tradition – numerous cross-border shopping trips (Hello from Canada!!) buying hoards of items that were grabbed up in a fury…without even the possibility of returning them if they did not work out. Saturdays were spent at outlet malls, several chain stores emailed me deals every day..and way too often, they were too good a deal to pass up! Throw two adorable babies into the mix…and the shopping for me slowed, but the buying for them increased. They had more toys and clothes than any young child would need.
Fast forward to today, I only make a purchase when required – and always check the local Facebook group and thrift shop first. We’ve donated bags upon bags of items to families in need, and have carefully considered anything coming into the house. Last week I was invited for a cross-border shopping trip with friends – I declined, as the thought of shuffling through malls all day was overwhelming. Not to mention, I couldn’t think of anything I even wanted to purchase! I have recently lost enough weight to require smaller pants, so I have replaced those as needed, but before those, I couldn’t remember the last clothing purchase I’ve made.
Probably the best outcome of changing our habits, have been forming positive habits in our children. When we DO need to get something from the mall or a store, the kids know that it’s a place we go to get exactly what we need, and leave. Shopping doesn’t equal entertainment for them, and that’s a huge win for me!
Isn’t it rough when you were raised by a “shopper?” It’s taken so long for me to not equate “quality time” with shopping as almost all my weekends were spent going to the mall with my grandmother or headed to outlet malls with my mom. Even today that is their idea of a fun day. I’ve had to learn to go along for the bonding but leave my money at home. I was so proud of myself last time because not only did I not buy any clothing but I also brought along my own coffee, water, and lunch for my son so I didn’t even spend money on food like I usually do!
“keep my feets roasty up to -40 degrees Fahrenheit” – didn’t you mean ‘down to’?
Shoes are a problem for me. I have feet that demand a width wider than a standard B, an old foot injury which contributes to the width problem, and nerve damage from chemotherapy. When I find a shoe that works for me, I’ll wear it to death, and can plan to buy them when on sale. Now if the manufacturers would just quit trying to ‘improve’ them, I’d be in better shape. There was a Lands End style I wore for a very long time, until they ‘improved’ it to the point where even the ‘wide’ wasn’t wearable for me.
Oops, yes, I did mean down to!
I have started having a lot of feet issues (morton’s neuroma in both feet so nerve issues as well) and am looking for boots that come in a wide width. The muck boot claims that they stretch to wide, but I’m not excited about buying them without trying them on. Do you have any recommendations?
I’m sorry to hear that! I don’t know, unfortunately. I have extremely narrow feet, although the muck boots do seem fairly wide. I’m pretty sure you can return them to Amazon if they don’t fit.
That never-ending “improvement” does my head in too! My podiatrist once said “unfortunately shoe makers never go back to their best designs”.
Regarding clothes waste, I strongly encourage those who haven’t seen it yet to watch “True Cost”, the documentary about fast fashion, available on Netflix.
Thank you for the recommendation!
I watched this a few weeks ago – it’s fantastic. I couldn’t stop talking about it. I started researching ethical clothing companies afterwards, for when I eventually need to replace something in my wardrobe (but hopefully not anytime soon!).
This book is also fascinating: “Over-dressed. The shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline. You get insight into why that relatively “high” quality of clothing made even 5 years ago doesn’t exist today, let alone the quality of clothing made 15-20 years ago.
I admit — I enjoy clothes and fashion. But I have two pair of shoes (heels, for work, very good quality made of real leather (tops, lining and soles) purchased on sale (and discounted) 20 years ago are still stylish and still complimented. Quality like that is extremely rare today. And one of the first wool/lycra combination pencil skirts — from 1994 — is a cherished classic I still wear — and that looks as good today as it did when purchased.
Much of the clothing made today is designed to be disposable. It is designed to be made quickly and cheaply. So I buy well, (usually at the last chance mark-down prices 75 – 90% off) and take good care of the things Iove.
How do you get by with just two pair of shoes? I recently overhauled my shoe wardrobe and figured that six pair was the bare minimum to cover all seasons and roughly two categories (athletic and “dressy-casual”). I do live in the midwest which means cold winters, hot summers, and everything in between.
Cara, I read it as talking about two pairs that were very well made, not that those were her only two pairs.
I have started year #2 of my clothes-buying ban last month. Surprisingly, the first year flew by and I hardly even noticed. Because of that, I had no excuse to end it when I passed the one year mark. Alas, I continued and am continuing throughout 2017, with no end date in sight – other than necessity. I did receive a few pairs of socks and slippers as gifts for my birthday and Christmas last year, but since I didn’t buy them, I’m not counting them against my ban. My one concern is that I wear a few boots non-stop. I literally wear a pair of boots every day, and the souls are starting to wear out. I have utilized super glue several times, but now I’m starting to see actual holes. I’m thinking my next step is a shoe repair place. I’ve used these many times in the past and I’m surprised more people don’t know about the option of repairing their shoes. Every time I bring it up to someone they’re shocked.
On a work note – it’s incredible how little attention is paid to what I wear each day. I have a closet full of clothes that could literally last me a lifetime – hence the reason the ban isn’t too difficult – but I only rotate through a few outfits for work. Most of my clothes are simple and classic. This takes out the trendy equation that doesn’t compute in a clothes-buying ban. I realized that I could wear the same thing at least 3 times a week without anyone noticing. Now, I guess it’s possible they’re whispering at the water cooler – but I don’t care 😛
Yes to shoe repair! I successfully had my leather Frye boots re-soled a few years ago, which was a great decision. And, super glue does work pretty well on rubber boots–that’s what I use 🙂
Shoe repair places are good for other items as well. I received a leather tote as a gift, passed it along to our daughter, and she loved it. The handle had an odd construction though, and came apart in the middle, pulling out of a decorative over-wrap, where the ends of the loops making up the handle ends were concealed. We unlaced and pulled down the over-wrap, and then I heavily re-stitched the pulled-out end to its mate on my sewing machine, the leather being wrapped over an interior cord, and much too thick and difficult to hand stitch. Then she repaired the over-wrap, and you can’t even tell it was taken apart. However, I told her if it pulled out again (she lives in another city), that a shoe repair place, with their heavier equipment, was the best bet.
I’ve been running my clothes down for a long time now and only just recently starting to get a few bits from thrift stores to top them up. I usually wear things until they fall apart and only buy things that I really need and then with a lot of consideration. This has made me think though about things like underwear and how much of that I have and do I really need to buy anymore. However well you think your doing there is always room for improvement. Great article and lots to think about
Good job on the mucks! I’m sure you’ll get years of good use out of them. I’ve enjoyed purging my wardrobe of all but those items I actually wear and love. Why did I let all the other slackers just hang around all those years?! It felt good to pass them along and free up closet space. In addition, I noticed which brands held up well over time and didn’t pill or shrink. Those will be the brands I continue to buy in the future when I do have a need.
I’ve gotten rid of about half of what’s in my closet and there’s more that needs to go. It’s become an obsession! I don’t have an outright ban, because I’ve gained some weight and not much fits so I do shop at my favorite thrift store about 3x times per year. I’m about to go back to work in a new office and a new city after working from home for 8 years though – so let’s see how that goes! I might need to buy a few things OR god forbid, lose weight so I fit in what I already have.
An old saying…”There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.” So, I’m glad you bought your most-needed boots. They are not a luxury but a necessity. Frost-bite can set in quickly. Muck boots are the best. Glad you got them.
Good for you. As you get older, I think for the health of your feet and knees and hips that it can be best to buy new footwear unless they have only been worn a few times. This for shoes and boots that you are going to wear often of course-not dress shoes you wear for a few hours a couple times a year. The foot bed usually wears out long before they look worn out and that is where they end up not being comfortable long term. This has been my experience as I have gotten older. I know when it is time to buy new shoes by when my knees and hips start to ache. They don’t usually and they “clear” up within a few days when I get new again. This wasn’t a problem when I was younger. Happily clothing doesn’t fit in this category and it can be comfortably worn for many, many years. 😉
A great way to deal with those is to buy little gel or foam insoles – they are pretty cheap from pharmacies and you can even move them from one pair to another. I often get them to make uncomfortable or cheap shoes comfy.
I’ve had the same achy joints resolved by new walking shoes issue, and sadly the inserts were not helpful. Yes, I did try several brands and configurations. So when my knees and hips start to ache, I invest in one new pair of walking shoes and consider it well- invested.
First, that picture of Babywoods with the boots is just downright adorable!
The rest of the story brought back memories of a pair of boots I once owned. My family moved to Vermont when I was in high school, and my parents found a pair of brand-new, ugly boots on a clearance rack, apparently left over from the previous year. Even though I was a teenager, I didn’t stress too much about the ugliness because I knew I would take them off as soon as I got inside a building. After I graduated from high school, I took the boots with me when I went to college in South Carolina. It was in northwestern SC, which is in the foothills, which means we got a little bit of snow occasionally. During my Junior year we had a big snowstorm and got eight inches, which was pretty unusual. That’s when I discovered how many southern girls didn’t even own closed-toed shoes, much less boots. I went sailing through the piles of snow left by the plow in my ugly-but-practical boots, and then stood and laughed at the girls who were picking their way over those same piles, trying unsuccessfully to keep their toes dry.
In my former town, the fun thing was the day of and the day after a snow storm (admittedly it doesn’t snow often in Oklahoma but the exceptions are usually pretty spectacular), watching people slip and slide through the parking lot of the lone big-box store, getting out of the car in their pj bottoms or shorts and flip-flops and trying carefully not to fall on their heinnies before they can get in to buy the diapers, milk, and canned soup they failed to buy beforehand because no one ever believes the weather forecast… We’d be in boots, jeans, winter coats, scarves, hats… and people would look at us like WE were weird, LOL. Fun days.
All I need to say is that photo of your daughter with the boots might be the cutest picture ever!
We don’t really have a ban on clothes, but they’re usually very low on our list. Staying in fashion is definitely not a priority for us! 🙂
I did an almost 1 year shopping ban, right after having a baby. But apparently being pregnant did a doozy on my undies! That was the number #1item I had to replace. Apparently if you gain 60 lbs, all consolidated in one area, the elastic can only survive so much!
That made me laugh – almost spit out my coffee! Haven’t experienced the stretched elastic due to pregnancy, but am hoping to in the future. 🙂
Omg yes – I should have picked just a few pairs to destroy during my twin pregnancy!
I’m sure the boots will be worth it for your homestead adventures! The last two pair of used shoes I purchased (including winter boots) were a steal at $2, but did not quite last a year. I’m wondering if shoes and boots aren’t such a bad thing to buy new if you want to wear them for a long time. I was replacing shoes I’d worn for 7+ years. However, if you find a high quality item in good condition at a garage sale, I’m sure it’s worth a shot.
I’ve never done an official clothes-shopping ban but when we began trying to start a family I mostly stopped shopping because I didn’t know what size I’d be in the coming months and years. Fast forward to having one and then two kids, and clothes shopping is done only out of necessity because it’s not that fun trying to comb thrift store racks with two kids to wrangle. Plus if you are going to get spit up on, muddy, etc. it’s not worth wearing nice things!
I have cut back quite a bit on clothes buying since reading this blog. I would ask you: how would you deal with clothing acquisitions if you were a specialty size? Both my husband and I are quite tall and require tall-sized clothing in order to meet the bare-minimum standards (sleeves and pants that aren’t too short). Trading hand-me-downs isn’t really an option since we’re taller than most of our friends.
When I was in grad school, I took a job at a national chain that offers the specialty sizes we need, and I’ve kept that job for the discount, working one day a week, since then. I used to be more of a clothes person, but now I typically only buy clothes for us that are on extra sale. My husband’s clothes didn’t fit well before we met (he didn’t realize shirts long enough for his arms existed) so we’ve very slowly been replacing his and my clothing with higher quality pieces over the past few years.
I have this problem too 🙁 I’ve never found a way around it other than shopping sales. Although I think maybe being tall is good in a way since you can never just walk by a store and impulse buy – everything I buy comes from tall sizes sold online, so there is no grabbing a new jacket or something while in line at Target.
As a 6’3” woman, I feel your pain! I’ve started making some of my own clothes, and this year have decided that i’m only allowed to make, rather than buy, clothes. Although buying material isn’t necessarily cheaper than a thrift shop, the time it takes to make something to a standard I’m happy with means i really have to slow down and decide if something’s worth it.
I have this problem as well, but am 5’1″ and 100 pounds. Normal clothes do not fit me and I have to shop at places that sell petites that actually fit, not all do. When I was pregnant, I could wear hand me down tops, but had to buy a few bottoms. I have always thought it is more expensive to be specialty sized.
You inspired me to start my own clothes buying ban last year. My one year anniversary was last week! I feel so proud and liberated. I think back on my clothes buying HABIT and all the perfectly good clothes I gave away because I had so many, but then I would feel the need to go out and buy more. This past year, I went to multiple events including 3 weddings, 2 fancy work galas, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners etc. In the past I would have probably bought a new outfit for each of these things. But not this time.
I have even received multiple gift cards for some really great stores over the past year. I am hanging on to them for now, but I may consider regifting, or selling them in the future.
I also realized that although I thought I NEEDED to keep up with fashion, I didn’t. And part of the enjoyment was simply following the fashion blogs and accounts. I have managed to put together trendy outfits with things that are years old, even making my own distressed jeans from a pair I already owned.
It feels so good to really use the things I have and get an amazing amount of use out of things I would have already given awaybin the past. I will forever be more mindful of any article of clothing I choose to bring into my home. So thank you for the inspiration.
Congrats, Janine! That is AWESOME!!! I love your point about being able to attend all of those special events without buying new clothes–it is entirely possible! Well done 🙂
I am really glad you bought the boots and I think they are quite cute when you add your darling daughter to the picture! What a cutie-pie! I agree with your philosophy, particularly about the part that no one at work notices. I work with computer scientists and as long as you wear clothing, it’s fine. I like to look pulled together, but I can manage that well and I followed your example and got rid of a lot of clothes that either didn’t fit or that I didn’t like how they made me feel. So it is much easier to shop my closet. I always look fine and I don’t look like everyone else, which I like too. I am glad you bought the boots now and think that you could tie ribbons on the back–to my way of mind that’s a name tag, not a craft! LoL.
I’ve done a few months of clothes buying ban- my big issue is buying clothes for my husband! His get worn down so much more quickly than mine, and it is so much easier to shop for things that fit him!
I wasn’t as good through my pregnancy as you were- my first pregnancy I had all hand me downs, but after a 29 week loss I couldn’t stomach wearing any of them except the two pairs of jeans my second pregnancy, and so I spent about $150 on a pregnancy wardrobe appropriate for work and home. The two pairs of jeans got me to about 33 weeks, when I went and bought 2 pairs of leggings (I got 1 pair from buy nothing group), which I think should take me through the post partum period!
Then I will likely need to find jeans that fit my widened hips, post-pregnancy belly but otherwise be done buying and hopefully go all year without anything else. I do want to try to start buying at thrift stores more, but the ones around here rarely have good condition items, and I generally don’t spend more than $20 on jeans anyway…
I really hate shopping, which helps the no clothes buying. Having a little girl on the way it has been harder, because man there has been a lot of cute stuff for her! But I think I have a good 6 months of wardrobe for her on $20 with freebies and garage sales.
I’ve gone on a few rounds of clothing bans, usually because I’m fed up with how the clothing industry treats their workers. http://truecostmovie.com/ moved me, especially as someone who studied fashion and textiles. How I look to other people is not worth killing workers on cotton farms in India, or collapsing factories in Bangladesh.
These days I buy very limited amounts of clothing, sometimes for work related reasons (there was a while where I only owned very few nice shirts and a looooot of t-shirts, hard to make it through the laundry rotation). My purchases have to meet one of the following conditions:
1. Be made fairly and preferably use organic fabric
2. Be purchased second hand (or a hand me down)
3. Support a local business and something I’ll actually wear
4. Be made locally (Canada/US) and something I’d actually wear
5. Be of exceptionally high quality and something I’ll wear for the next 5-10 years at least (this particularly goes for shoes, bras and bags).
I also prolong the life of my clothes by de-pilling them regularly, making small fixes and adjustments and never using the dryer. It’s worked out quite well so far and I only purchase something every 6-9 months.
I fully support your muck-boots purchase and who knows, given that everyone else owns a pair maybe it would have been hard to find a pair second hand. Unless your neighbours also like shiny new muck-boots of course 😉
I love the idea of focusing on reusing existing clothes in my wardrobe in new ways and avoiding fast fashion for the very real negative environmental and labor issues connected with constantly manufacturing new clothes. That said, easily finding high quality hand-me-downs from friends and local sharing groups is challenging as a larger woman so an across the board clothes buying ban isn’t an option. The reminder to limit purchases is helpful though!
Glad you broke the ban and splurged on your new boots! Agree with you and Mad Money Monster about shoe repair – I used to live in NYC and walked everywhere – shoe repair was a life saver (budget friendly and allowed me to keep the shoes I loved, longer).
What a scary and sad statistic about the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills.The wasted clothing immediately made me think of many home renovation shows. I cringe every time they rip out (and destroy vs. repurpose or donate) quality material that isn’t “pretty” enough. I think of all the people that would be thankful for those used clothes, cabinets and material.
I’ve been doing this also for about 5 yrs. Due to necessity. What I thought was a curse turned out to be such a blessing. I appreciate my things so much more. I treasure them. Now my life is an adventure of how much money I can save. I’m truly grateful as I’m undercovers as cars are leaving in am for work. Loving my retirement now. It’s wonderful how fast I can adjust my requirements for happiness by twiking my attitude for happiness. Blessings to all. Babywoods is standing. Yeaaaaa.
We’ve never been huge money spenders on clothes or thought we had a lot of clothes until recently. After watching the Minimalism documentary on Netflix, my husband initiated his own project 333 challenge wear you select 33 items to wear for 3 months. This includes his work clothes and casual clothes. He’s more than a month into it now and even I haven’t really noticed he’s wearing the same casual clothes all the time, so I highly doubt his co-workers are noticing he’s wearing the same 5 shirts and same 5 ties every week. It’s been a really interesting experiment!
We segregated all of his clothes that weren’t part of the challenge and it just looks like a mini mountain of clothing! Every so often at the moment we are going through our wardrobes with a critical eye and slimming them down quite a lot with donations to Goodwill. It’s refreshing!
I was scared straight last year after a massive closet clean-out. I was embarrassed by my wastefulness. Less fortunate women could make a full work wardrobe out of my donation pile. Since then I’ve employed an informal work “uniform” – wearing only certain colors (black pants, gray or cream colored tops). As for shopping, I realized that I have owned my favorite items for 10+ years. I’d rather repair what I love instead of shopping for a less loved replacement. I do have a list of “wants” and will ask for gift cards to put towards those things for birthdays or Christmas. But I find throughout the year, most of these items fall off my list.
I did it for a year and boy did I need new underwear at the end! I retired in July 2016 and have a good sized wardrobe. I have bad feet so I did buy a new pair of sketchers with memory foam because my 2 year old Dansko clogs were not helping my foot pain. I don’t see me buying anything for a very long time!
Wowza! I really commend you for using hand-me-downs during pregnancy. Did you ask friends/family or did you put out a request on a Buy-Nothing group? We plan to have kiddos in the next couple of years, so I’m trying to think about money-saving strategies now.
I think my problem is that I’ve always bought fast fashion and didn’t prioritize QUALITY clothes. So I’d get holes in things and have to replace them not even a year later. I think No Buying Clothes is a wonderful thing, but it’s important to have good quality clothes from the get-go to stay strong.
So I have the full story in my two posts on the topic: Pregnancy Hasn’t Foiled My Clothes-Buying Ban: Here’s How and Maternity Clothes Are Like Christmas Trees: The Clothes-Buying Ban Continues. In short, I let friends and family know I’d love their hand-me-downs if they had them and I also put out specific asks on Buy Nothing for items that hadn’t come through the hand-me-down chain (for example for nursing tank tops). Hope this helps and good luck :)!
I did a clothing ban for 11 & a half months while I was paying off a credit card. Great experience. After, I went through my wardrobe (which isn’t very big) and donated the clothes that didn’t fit or make me feel good, and I purchased a few shirts & sweaters from thrift shops that I hope to wear for years to come. I did invest in brand new snowpants, good mitts & socks for snowshowing this winter as I had nothing on hand. My work wardrobe is scaled down and no one has made any comments about seeing me wear the same clothes all the time. I’m older so no one really cares! lol I’m also letting my grey/silver grow in at 51…right now it just looks like highlights, which is pretty cool.
I’ve never been good with full on bans (it makes me want something more for whatever reason (maybe it’s my rebellious nature), but I’ve never been a clothes or shoes person. I think I buy more workout stuff like shoes when they are worn down or spandex which eventually loses its elasticity. I have a couple nice pieces for special occasions (and there aren’t many of those) but other than that my closet is pretty small. One area that I DO spend quite a bit of money still is hair. I just can’t seem to get past that one yet.
Hi Ms. Frugalwoods.
I recommend that come springtime you host a clothing swap at your house. Swaps have been the only place I”ve gotten clothes for the last few years (except I do still buy socks and underwear as those keep wearing out and needing replacement).
My swap group is very relaxed. We often book one of the meeting rooms at the public library. Occasionally there is an attempt at organization (ie, Men’s clothes here, pants here, shirts here, household goods here) more often it devolves into a big pile of clothing that you dig through at will.
There’s no signing up, there’s no one-in/one-out rule, no tickets, no rules. Bring what you want, take what you want. It’s great fun and I’ve gotten some favorite outfits that I would never have bought because they aren’t my internalized style. When its free I’m willing to take more risk (and anything I change my mind on gets returned at the next swap.)
I had a similar frugal fail last month with winter boots for my toddler. I just kept putting off buying them and a day came when we absolutely had to have them and I ended up spending a lot more on them then I would’ve if I had just planned ahead and bought in advance. Luckily, the lady of the local shoe store where we go felt bad bc the only ones in his size were pink plaid so she gave us a discount on them. He loves them, though, and they keep his feet warm and dry despite jumps in muddy puddles and trumping through the woods.
You’ve inspired me to start my own shopping ban. I’ve been thinking about it a lot but had a list of “necessities” I needed to buy before beginning. I think I will just take the plunge and do it, though, and go all in like you did, with the exception of annual running shoes. I’m off to buy the undies you linked to, as mine will not last another 3 months, let alone 3 years!
Inspiring post. I love the change in mindset you have created for yourself. I definitely buy less clothing these days, but I took a different approach. After purging more than half in a decluttering frenzy, I started buying nicer things when I needed them. I paid no attention to price (well, maybe a little). I used joy as my filter. The stuff I did buy I wear all the time because I love it. I wear it out and it’s actually cheaper “per use” than before.
I also have done a lot of unnecessary clothes shopping over the years, but now am not buying anything new or used. My closets are still overly full, and I hang on to some items that are impractical for me being home with toddlers, but will be nice for work when I return in a couple of years. I wish I’d looked around for used maternity wear, but alas, I used my pregnancies as excuses to get new clothes to boost my self-esteem (ack!). Oh well, at least now my maternity clothes have gone to a friend who used them all gratefully!
I definitely am happy not buying any clothes now, and my mom still likes to spoil me with a new top for Christmas. It’s easier not worrying about clothes while I’m not working, and I remember I used to really get a boost from colleagues who complimented my attire. I will need to exercise self-control once back at work, as I don’t want to fall to that cycle of seeking approval for my appearance. Thanks for your updates on the clothes buying ban! Of course it would be silly to forego the boots and be cold all winter! Enjoy your hikes!
I wear the same thing to work every day. I have one set of layers for winter, a couple dresses for summer, and skirt/tights in the shoulder seasons. So basically four outfits that I wear to work and to any happy hours etc all year for the last three years. Not only does nobody notice my clothing (unless they are looking at photos over the years and happen to realize I’m wearing the same thing), I get regular compliments “I love that sweater” (thank you) “Oh cute outfit! Do you have a date tonight?” (nope) “That dress is so cute” (why thanks) and often from the same people.
I have a slightly bigger variety of sundresses for summer at home, but my winter gear is finely tuned and this way I only have to replace one spendy wool or winter item at a time (so far I haven’t needed to, but boots are on my list for next year). My favorite thing about my work ‘uniform’? It takes an entire decision process out of getting ready for work!
The clothes you have purchased in the past have a lovely classic look. I believe that wrap dress you posted will never go out of style. If you had been drawn to the latest trend and color palate, at some point you might appear dated. Your thoughtful selections will serve you for years. As a teen my mother agreed to buy the staples and I had to buy the trendy pieces I wanted. She had a classic sense of style so my basic clothes looked great. As young as 10 I could stop and think….hmm everyone is wearing florecent clothes, I bet that it a trend I can pass on, yes it was!
I have been out of college for 20 years. The Thorlo socks I purchased back then serve me well every winter. My 10 and 12 year olds have even taken to wearing them when they play in the snow. Same goes for my Patagonia long underwear. Well made classic clothes do pay for themselves over and over AND socks and long underwear truly NEVER go out of style!
I buy the occasional new piece, often as a gift, and they bolster my spirits because I have a different problem than most of you……clothes that are unreasonably old. It’s amazing how long some wardrobe pieces will last, if you let them. I have 4 coats, all hand-me-downs from family or friends. I acquired them (used, remember) in 1991, 1994, 1997, and 2006. They are all still wearable, and one of them gets positive comments on a regular basis. My problem is….I’m so tired of them. None of them are styles that I would choose, if I had my way, but they get the job done. So for us older folk, sometimes the issue is that used clothing lasts too long!
But that’s vanity speaking. On cold days I am grateful for the warmth and protection, and the FW philosophy is strong….who cares how stylish you look? So long as they are neat and reasonably clean, they get the job done. That’s all clothing should really be about anyway.
I never bought clothes too much, and have used hand-me-down and thrifted, along with new, I’ll admit, for my clothing. In fact, my husband once handed me money and told me to go shopping for clothes, no excuses. He said he was sick of seeing me in the same things all the time, and that it was time to get something else. That was 10 years ago, and I still have most of those clothes that I bought then. But I admit I still like to get clothes — I just don’t do it often at all. I agree with some others that socks cause me problems, and so does underwear — it just gives out on me in 2 or 3 years, mainly in the elastics, but I’ve had the fabric shred, too.
I was lucky in that my sister loaned me much of her maternity and nursing wear, as did a friend, but there was no way not to buy maternity underwear. They didn’t keep theirs to hand on, for one thing, and I couldn’t wear my regular underwear at all — I tried. I am barely 5’2″, had big babies and carried them way out front. People used to ask me if I was carrying twins, so no, the regular underwear didn’t even begin to stay on.
I fully support donating, selling, or swapping old clothes. I also try to re-use fabric when I can in a new project, although I’m not a quilter — yet. Old tee-shirts, cut in strips and braided, make handy stretchy headbands, for instance. Mrs. FW, have you thought about a tiny dab of paint on the inside of your boot shaft to identify it? That wouldn’t be TOO crafty, would it? 🙂
I don’t have an actual clothing ban. I don’t enjoy shopping and I really really hate shopping with kids. However, I have had to do more of it as my son gets older. The hand me downs really dried up around age 3.
I buy his stuff secondhand and of course save it for my younger son. It’s very hard to find kid’s shoes at thrift stores, so I buy these in sizes ahead. He’s been through three sizes since school started in the fall, so it’s nice to just have these on hand. I only buy the ones in like new condition and I replace the insoles.
I try not to buy new clothes at all, though I do sometimes give up. And my husband gets new clothes bc he needs professional clothes for work. He is 6’5″ and wears through the elbows of his dress shirts within a couple of years. You can’t wear patched elbows to client meetings and it is nigh on impossible to find clothes for unreasonably tall skinny men at thrift stores. We actually have to order online to get his size. I just don’t have the sewing skills necessary to tailor down secondhand XXXL shirts to fit him. Maybe someday!
I found that when I started to focus on FIRE I automatically greatly cut down on clothes shopping. I thought it would feel like a big sacrifice, but once I started to ask myself whether I wanted my $ to buy me that cute thing or my freedom, the choice seems pretty straightforward. I haven’t enacted a ban but I am down to buying one new thing about once a quarter.
I couldn’t have got by without new bras when I was pregnant and when I was nursing (and nursing bras are expensive!). How did you manage that?
I got hand-me-downs :)! I really loved nursing tank tops, which I also received as hand-me-downs.
Thanks for another great post! Inspired by you, I decided to start my own clothes buying ban this year. So far I have found it incredibly rewarding, and it’s only been a month and a half. I have never been super “into” fashion, but I realized I spent a lot of mental energy noticing and wanting clothes (especially fancy athletic clothes) and had a habit of frequently buying little things, a sweater here, socks there, that I didn’t need. Like you, I took stock of what I owned and realized I had 1) plenty of professional clothes to get me through the week, 2) enough athletic gear to keep up with my workouts, and 3) plenty of everything else, even too much. So I’m not buying any clothes for 2017. So far, the ban has freed up so much mental real estate for me and helped me realized how much I relied on clothes and accessories to try to tell the world who I am. Thanks for the inspiration!
I have a sort of modified clothing ban that works really well for me. I’m very picky with clothes, and I crave simplicity when it comes to choosing my outfit in the morning. I’ve found I’m happiest when I have an extreme minimalist wardrobe that doesn’t require me to think about what matches and what doesn’t, what’s clean and what’s in the laundry basket, etc. I bought three copies of the same pants (they’re comfy and appropriate for office wear and casual wear) and five of the same shirt, in five different colors. Plus I have one shirt in a different style for occasional variety, one dress, and one pair of jeans. In terms of pants/shirts/dresses, that’s everything! Any of my pants can be worn with any of my tops. Now when I’m getting ready in the morning, basically my only clothing decision is “what color do I want to wear today?” I love it! Definitely not for everyone, but it fits me to a T. If something wears out, I buy another copy of the same thing online.
The main benefit to me is that it saves me the hours and hours I used to spend picking through thrift store clothing. It was kind of addictive, and when I look at the value of the time I was spending, it wasn’t frugal at all. I’d say the time savings, and freeing myself from clothing-related decision making, were more of an incentive for me than frugality, but it definitely saves me a lot of money as well to have a minimalist wardrobe.
After I’d been wearing only those shirts for a few weeks, I asked my roommate and one close friend if they’d noticed anything unusual about my clothing, and they said no. So I think the “same shirt in different colors” strategy is safe. I work in tech, so if anyone ever does notice and comment on it, I can just say I’m doing what Steve Jobs did (he wore the same outfit every day so he didn’t have to think about clothing).
I love your capsule wardrobe strategy! I work in tech, too, and that’s how my minimalist wardrobe evolved over the years. It’s great not having to think about what you’re going to wear to work in the morning. Lately, I’ve evolved a more creative style for outside of work that is a bit more creative and edgy, but is based on the same basic uniform.
That’s exactly what I do. People definitely have noticed, but I don’t care. I’m not in to fashion or shopping. I love not thinking about it anymore.
New muck boots are totally reasonable!
I have a no retail clothes ban. 4 years so far! Everything is second hand. Not the same as no buying, but still that is pretty good to me.
Well except for 3 pieces of technical gear, but I scoured eBay and classifieds first.
My wife and I definitely watch how much we spend on clothes, but we’ve never gone full-ban. We are always practical with gifts and for Christmas it usually means asking for work clothes or a simple gift card to buy them. During my wife’s two pregnancies she has been very good with not overdoing the extra clothes purchases. It’s tough when that belly grows so big, but she saved lots by finding deals and also borrowing from friends. We also went through our closet this past fall and got rid of a bunch. It really feels good to purge and clean things out that are of no use!
The muck boots are nice! I do think that LL Bean wellie (rain boots) with the sock liners (you can get the liners for $10 at Ocean State Job Lot) are almost as good for less than 1/2 the $$. Mine are about 10 yrs old!!
I didn’t buy much clothing for several years when my children were born. I hate clothes shopping. Someone had given me some clothes that I liked, and that fit.
Where I live now, I have a thrift store nearby that has nice things – things that aren’t worn out. I got new (with tags) shorts for $8, and a coach handbag for $15 last year.
I also ‘shop’ facebook yard sales. People sell ‘lots’ of used clothing for children. I buy clothes for my daughter’s this way because she is very picky – even some $$ clothing she picked out in a mall often times doesn’t get worn at all. So I will buy her a lot of clothing for $30. There’s usually 1 or 2 things new with the tags on. I recently bought a big lot for her, that also included 3 pairs of jeans and 2 hoodies for myself for $1 each. (I fit in girls L or XL)
BUT, I do buy new things too. I have even used Stitchfix (a clothing/stylist subscription service), after spending hours at the mall unable to put together a decent outfit. I don’t mind spending $76 on a dress or pair of jeans that were made in USA, fit perfectly, and arrived on my doorstep in a nicely wrapped box. My entire wardrobe isn’t pricey though. I get 1 or 2 nice things per season. I buy shirts $5-10 shirts on sale at Target too.
For children, I highly recommend buying things used and getting hand-me-downs. I also buy high quality jackets in summer or end-of-winter for 40-50% off, and I buy them 1 or 2 sizes larger so they fit for 3 winters. I do the same with swimsuits.
That’s my 2 cents worth.
I love your philosophy about clothes and appearance! A dear friend gave me some wise words once. She said, “Do you realize that when you meet another woman she isn’t thinking about what you’re wearing, she’s wondering what you think about what she’s wearing!” 🙂
I suppose shoes are a type of clothing but I don’t think of these boots as clothing as much as a tool, or a necessity, for living within your new surroundings. Kudos to you for sticking to your guns on the clothing ban. I like shopping for clothes, often at thrift stores (but still new to me!) but after just purging about half of all my clothing, I realize I have way too much clothing as well as STUFF. It holds us back and creates unnecessary anxiety and chaos within our lives. We are constantly moving, organizing, cleaning, and otherwise dealing with all the STUFF. It also creates unnecessary spending, of course. Once the money is spent…poof, it’s gone.
I love your posts: the advice, your candor and authenticity, the pictures! They are always thought provoking in terms of how can I do better and what really are my goals. No, we can’t take it with us, but it sure would be nice not to do the daily grind and/or retire early. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and a little bit of your life with us all. 🙂
Great post! Last night after work I went to the fabric store and bought 1.5m of fabric, some thread and some buttons totaling $13.88. I don’t need a new shirt but after reading this post, I have decided that I would still make the purchase again. Sewing clothes is such an essential creative pursuit to me that I can’t imagine going without. I starting working towards financial independence six months ago and I’ve made a lot of changes to my budget (including cutting my own hair!) which has allowed me to make extra payments on some debt and turning things around significantly. I was feeling a little guilty this morning but I’m not anymore. The satisfaction that I will get from making that shirt is so worth the life-hours at work that it took to pay for it. I’m happy to have spent it! Sewing makes my life amazing, financially independent or not.
When my son went to college, he had sweat pants and shirts that weren’t “cool” enough to take along. They’re big and baggy, but I’ve been wearing them in the house for 27 years.
Having lived in the country for many years, I can confirm that good / appropriate footwear is the most important item of clothing one can own! One can NOT afford to get wet when it is cold, but to find used boots that are still in good condition and that also fit (!) on a garage sale is almost impossible, so I applaud you for making a prudent decision re: buying some good, safe, and comfortable boots!
I wear vintage for this reason – no one can say I’m out of fashion if my clothes are 60-80 years old! Lots of them are my favorite auntie’s duds. I send her pics when her outfits go out – she got a huge kick of seeing me in a brocade suit for my company holiday party this year that she wore to her Christmas party in 1965. About a year and a half ago, there was an estate sale two blocks over from me. The family matriarch kept her clothing in immaculate shape and she was nearly my size, about 6 inches taller. I bought 12 dresses and a skirt for $60 and had a friend take about 7 inches off the bottom. All fancy polished cotton, Irish linen and about half of them are silk. I work in opera and theater and my friends are in the zenith of their marrying days. I am set for weddings and show openings for life! I will do 4 shows with a company, so I can’t show up wearing the same dress 4 weekends in a row to open shows. With my new to me vintage wardrobe, I am always killing it in something “new.” I also never worry about someone having the same dress as me – most of these dresses were hand made, custom. It’s unique, eco-friendly, and I could never afford a new silk dress made to my exact size! I work in the arts, for the love of pudding! I also think that I’ll never look silly in my photos for being too on-trend. It’s already out of style!
I handle clothes and food the same way, if I eat something, I put it on the list to be replaced, if I wear something out, I put it on the list to be replaced. I have work clothes for different types of court, jury trial suits are immaculate, well fitting, high end brands and bought at (mostly) high end consignment stores. My regular Court motion docket clothes are cheaper suits, and sometimes mix and match blazers, pants, skirts, etc. They are also usually bought at thrift stores or on sale at the consignment shop. I will occasionally get a piece I need at J.C. Penneys, but that has been over a year. My casual clothes are either bought at Wal mart or at the thrift store, depending on the sale, need, and price. I only buy as needed. I probably spend about $40 a year, including the high end suits. That does not include shoes. I only buy Dansko clogs, a pair, once every year or two. Yes, I should buy heels. But I am old enough that I can get away with wearing the clogs with my suits because, well, I am an old lady…..lol. I do need a pair of jeans, mine have major holes in them, and I will eventually get around to buying a pair.
Here’s my challenge – white shirts! Most of my work wardrobe revolves around white blouses, and I can’t keep the darn things unstained! If I could ever figure that out, then I’m all for a clothing ban!
So ideally, rinse the stain with water immediately. Then, before laundering, treat stains with Shout or Spray-n-wash. And if that fails, bleach them! Bleach is a miracle worker on whites (although I can no longer use it since I now have a septic system!)
Bleach should work, but I have to throw this out there…the OxyClean Max Force Gel Stick is a-maz-ing! It removes stains I believed impossible. Try it!
Fels Naptha is the only thing I’ve found that really removes stains. It gets out berry juice even. Better yet, it’s $1 a bar, and the bar lasts a long time., it looks very old-school, comes wrapped in paper. I have tried all the other ‘stain removers’ when my kids were babies. Nothing works as well.
I don’t buy whites (except for underwear) because our well water is tough, and whites don’t stay white.
Hydrogen peroxide is gentler than bleach, and works wonders on wine and blood stains, especially when mixed with dish soap.
Oxiclean! It’s honestly a miracle worker. But it isn’t safe for protein fibers (i.e. silk or wool).
BEST STAIN FIGHTER EVER: soak garment in a bucket of cold water and shampoo (ironically, cheaper shampoo brands such as Suave etc. work the best). It’s safe for all fabric types, I’ve used on silk, linen etc. Let the garment soak for 24 hours and then wash (either hand-wash for delicate fabrics or machine wash). I guarantee the stain will be gone, whether it’s blood, grape juice or even fabric dye running.
I also live on a homestead and I could not live without my muck boots now. I tried for three years but finally gave up and spent way more money than I thought I would on a pair of sturdy, high-quality muck boots. Have had them for four years now and use them quite regularly. We don’t get the amount of snow that you do (a lot of mud here) so mine are shorter so that I can slip them off easily when I enter the house. I was not able to find my size muck boots second hand. I was able to find Baby Bogs for my grandson second hand. Might I suggest that you begin looking for Bogs for Babywoods early this summer when the donations come in from all the kids who have outgrown their winter boots ( If you haven’t noticed, I think Bogs are the best for kids!) And no I was not paid for this endorsement! lol
We have been living an uber-frugal lifestyle for years, following Zero Waste policies, eating healthy, unprocessed foods, and focusing on a minimalist lifestyle. All this so we can pursue the activities we enjoy, without guilt. If we have a ban on purchasing anything it’s a permanent ban on buying physical books and DVD’s, because these are costly and contribute to clutter. Digital options are clutter-free and are much lower cost, even free if you borrow from your library’s digital program.
Regarding clothing, I enjoy dressing in a style that suits me, albeit in a minimalist way. I don’t have a clothes shopping ban. Since my wardrobe is kept deliberately small and is a cohesive capsule it is fun to keep an eye out for items that stylishly fit in and extend what I have–but only at thrift stores and yard sales. I love the idea of owning only one dress but being able to style it seven different ways, from casual, to office, to uber dressy, and many ways in between. There are alterations and crafting involved, which makes my wardrobe a hobby, not just a necessity. Keeping to the clutter-free rule, there are few duplicates. You can be very stylish with just four pairs of shoes and one purse.
I have MuckBoots as well and love them! I’m sorry to say that mine were purchased for just $20 at Job Lots here in Mass, but it sounds like you were pressed to find them quick and couldn’t shop around. Great post and a great reminder that frugality isn’t a phase to “get through” but a way to live. I think my greatest takeaway from regularly reading your blog is that extreme frugality can find a place in all our lives, maybe not to the degree you practice it, but that we should all be trying — if not to free ourselves from awful consumerism and for peace of mind, but for our environment. I’m a clothes LOVER but I grew up loving thrift shops and still do today, but that doesn’t change how much I appreciate a beautiful full-price item here and there. Still, I’ve passed over more than a few items of clothes or home decor, etc just because when I ask myself if it’s worth that item possibly filling a landfill someday, the answer is no! It helps me to be more conscious of what I bring into my life to think of the environment. So thank you!
A couple random thoughts:
*I am afraid of those panties after I saw the description included “One hidden security zip pocket on right side that fits passport”. ?!
*I’m not sure “no one mentioned it” and “no one noticed” is the same thing. Things would have to be pretty bad for me to say to any of my coworkers “Didn’t you wear that a couple days ago?” or “That shirt looks a little ratty for work” or “A little too much boob is peaking out” (the last one isn’t frugal, but it’s one I’ve thought a few times but never said). People notice a lot of things they never say.
*I confess, I’m currently going in the opposite direction as I have moved from a jeans, sneakers, and scrubbed face kind of job to slacks, heals, and lipstick. Since I’m new to fashion I focus on solid color tops and bottoms and multi-color accessories to bring everything together.
*My closet is full because I have changed size so much through the last decade as I have gone through three pregnancies. Right now I have 3 wardrobes and will cull after I’m sure I won’t need them again.
*I get really jealous of many of you as, at 6′ tall with a 36″ inseam and size 11 shoes I just don’t have the same shopping experience. I have bought a number of items from the thrift store, but I don’t have the energy to get staples there. I have also purchased quite a few items from Costco, but few of them last long term because, while they work they just don’t quite FIT. It was especially difficult with maternity clothes. I don’t know anyone who is my size with whom I can swap clothes. It helps that the mall has little to no appeal to me since nothing will fit, but it also means I have to know what fits and when I find what I like just wait for sales.
I agree with not noticed vs not commented. I have seen people at work and thought “what the heck are you wearing” and also I have thought that wearing stained and worn out clothes is unprofessional. Fashion taste is one thing but if you can’t be trusted to wash or mend/replace torn and damaged clothing, then how can I trust you with your job?
I love shopping which is bad for me! Not very good at not buying clothes. I’m also affected by spending a childhood and early adulthood not finding clothes or shoes that fit. So I got into the habit of buying something the second it fit at all, even if they didn’t look good or I didn’t need them. Easier to find things nowadays of course but I’ve been looking for new leather boots for four years and so far not found any that fit in my size. At this point I’d pay up to £400 but nowhere sells any that fit.
Yeah, I agree that many things just don’t get commented on. But honestly even if people do notice that you repeat outfits, who cares? I’ve started to embrace my frequently worn items as “signature” items rather than thinking of rewear as a negative.
I’m not as tall as you, but I also wear size 11 shoes. Plus I only wear minimalist/”barefoot” shoes which further shrinks the available options dramatically. So I do buy shoes new, and exclusively online. Although I’m a big fan of thrifting (again, it’s only a good option for me because I’m relatively easy to fit), I don’t think buying new is such a bad thing as long as you aren’t constantly cycling through clothing. If you only buy a few pieces a season, say, you really aren’t taking much of a toll IMHO.
I have 7 of the same short sleeve tops, 5 of the same sweaters, all in different colors. I rotate them during the week. People have noticed and commented, but I don’t care. Fashion is not important to me, so I don’t give any energy to it. My clothes are clean and in good condition, and I have received many compliments on my professionalism, so my lack of fashion hasn’t affected people’s perceptions of that. I’m fine with people thinking my clothes are boring. I don’t dress for them.
I am delighted that you are publishing posts so regularly lately. I have to admit that I was a bit sad when the UFM challenge was over and I knew I wouldn’t be getting an email from you every day anymore. Your posts are a huge motivation to me and I often reread them.
“The Sweet Synergy Between Simple Living And Saving Money” and “In Praise Of Not Doing It All. At Least Not Right Away.” are among my favorite posts. I often find myself nodding when you write about your personality (perfectionist, spreadsheet lover just to name a few), it often feels like you are writing about me. 😉
Anyway one of my New Year’s resolutions was that I want to comment more on blogs that I love and gain so much from, so this will hopefully only be a starting point.
What I would love to read sometime is a post about some book recommendations from you (regarding simple living, parenting or just books you enjoyed reading).
You have inspired me to start a clothes buying ban as of Jan. 1 this year! I did however make a list of exceptions: 1. If my 1 pair of black tights rips I will replace them and 2. My bridesmaid attire for a wedding this fall. Other than that, zero clothes purchases for me. I have organized clothing swaps before and plan on hosting at least one more this year. Also, if there are items I know I won’t be wearing, I plan to take them to an exchange like Crossroads for store credit. In my book, that’s a frugal swap and requires no cash out of pocket. Thank you for the inspiration and congrats on the cozy boots!
Whoa there, Jos
I’m in England so maybe it’s a US thing generally- but do you mean that you get asked to be a bridesmaid and then YOU have to buy the hideous dress thing yourself??
Bride pays over here. No way, no how would I accept the request if I had to effectively pay to attend. Wowza.
Or did I misunderstand your post?
Oh yes, bridesmaids in the US buy their own dresses
To echo Mrs. Frugalwoods, yes, in the U.S. bridesmaids traditionally buy their own attire including dress and shoes. For my own wedding a few years ago I found the bridesmaid dresses on sale online for $30/each and each bridesmaid paid for her own dress. I’m not expecting an equally frugal experience this time around, but generally my friends are pretty respectful of my frugality so I’m hopeful the wedding this year won’t break the bank.
I am not a fan of this tradition. For our wedding, we asked two of my dearest friends to be my bridesmaids, and then gave them each $100 to find a pretty dress they would wear again (they didn’t match, but they both wound up with floral dresses that were really lovely).
I’ve been on a clothing ban. However, I just contributed money to a senator’s campaign and am now getting a shirt from her in return. Oh well.
What is on your list of things to be hunting for?
I suppose I would know this if I’d begun reading your blog sooner, but have you lived in the same place for a while? As a military spouse who moves around the country, I’m not surrounded with friends and family from whom to borrow clothing, nor do I live in a static climate. The only version of this ban that would be feasible for me is banning buying NEW clothes. A laudable goal, however.
Nope, we’ve actually moved quite a bit and unfortunately don’t live near any family. We’ve lived in our current home (and state for that matter) for about 8 months. Before that, it was approx. 2-3 years in each location :). The key for me are Buy Nothing Groups and similar listserve/Facebook yardsale/free groups.
We’re currently in the middle of a non intentional clothing ban. Basically if it’s not a need, we don’t get it. Simple as that 🙂
I buy clothes as needed … for the most part I bought very little last year. I have about 10 outfits – less than 30 pieces of clothing…and I love not having to “wonder” what to wear … the lack of choices has made it less stressful. And to be quite honest, do people really care how we look, just as long as we’re clean? We get so caught up in dressing for others … just be grateful you have clothing, that it is in good shape, and keeps you dry and warm. Counting our blessings is where it is at! Your baby &hound photos make me smile. Thank you for sharing!
I started caring less about my appearances when I met my guy. He isn’t fond of make-up, and so for the first year or two into our relationship, he would gently convince me to wear less make up. He would say I’m naturally beautiful and that I don’t need artificial stuff on my face.
And now I can safely say that he has reassured me so much that I don’t even mind taking pictures without make-up (and putting them on social media).
It’s wonderful to be in a place where you don’t have to worry about what you wear, how you look, or what other people migh think of you.
I loved reading this article, it’s very empowering!
Love your writing Mrs FW, it always makes me smile but your comment about ribbons on your boots being a little bit too near to crafting made me laugh out loud, my feelings exactly as I’m ‘craft challenged’ too! I’m a reformed shopper and just embarking on a clothes buying ban – last purchase was 6 weeks ago!
I love the irony of how the community you live in opts for function over fashion meaning that function becomes the fashion and you all have the same boots 😉
I followed the principles of Marie Kondo’s life changing magic of tidying last year and discovered that I had 60 tops (excluding jumpers and jackets!!). I wouldn’t say I buy a lot of clothes necessarily, but I do keep them for a long time, so I clearly buy a lot more than I genuinely need. I’ve since drastically cut my buying. But I do need some tights, as I only have 2 pairs and they won’t last long. But I’m going to opt for thick black ones rather than nude colour ones that tear so easily.
My husband has these Muckboots and the best part is that they were hardly used and FREE….from a friend who was working an outside job for only a short while and did not feel he needed them afterwards. He hunts and is outdoors a lot in general and loves them! Just this past weekend, I finally had a pair of boots from college (23-year-old Eddie Bauers) bite the dust….as in cracked rubber and water seeping in! My husband and I just laughed when we did the math and realized how old they were. I’m not completely on a shopping ban, but your blog has made a significant difference in the number of clothing items I buy…much, much less than previous years! Thank you for that!!
I live in PEI which, I think, has even worse winter weather than Vermont. I am on my second pair of thermal boots similar to yours and if it’s any consolation, I have never seen a good-enough pair in a thrift store or at a garage sale and I am an avid shopper at both. Sometimes one just has to buy new.
I think that Cody Lundin would be disappointed with your purchase…
I am on month six of buying no clothes. Don’t feel deprived one little bit! I feel the same way as most of you, no one seems to notice or care about what I wear day in and day out. I have plenty of dressy clothes for the occasional fancy occasion so I have no end date set for buying clothes again. I, too, stick with good will and clothing swaps with family at least once a year. On reflection, shopping was a real bonding experience for me and my daughter but she isn’t a crazy clothes horse–not a “gimme” kid but definitely a bargain shopper like her grandmothers. Keep the posts coming–love ’em!!
I have had a clothing ban on a few things for quite a while and I try to take it pretty seriously. The one thing I can’t not buy is gym shoes, I burn through a pair every three to four months because I’m super active and I don’t like the idea of new to me because, well someone else’s sweaty foot has essentially ingrained itself and whatever fun smells they have as well. I am however fantastic with things like pants, belts, and shirts as I tend to not replace dress pants until they absolutely need to be. I still have some short and even a belt from my high school days that still fit, which considering that they are vintage 1997 I’d like to think I’m doing pretty good. Great point on planning out your purchase, I moved to Phoenix last year so I experience the exact opposite of you and right now if I needed something that is for warm weather I should be looking now.
Yeah, when you need shoes often frugal turns into cheap. My mom is cheap and I finally got sick of her complaining about pain and not being able to walk for exercise because it just made the pain worse so I took her to Sports Systems and had her hook up with a good pair of sneakers.
Frugal isn’t worth the pain of working out in bad shoes.
My clothes-buying ban has got to be the most difficult thing I have ever embarked on in my life. Yes, I’ve been in tougher situations, but as a recovering spendaholic (full-blown, bona fide clinical addiction to spending), it has been my greatest emotional challenge to date. It’s caused me to explore some really deep and scary places in my psyche as to why I feel I NEED to spend, especially on clothing and other appearance-enhancing expenditures.
I completely understand you down to the cellular level when you say pre-ban you tied in your ego, self-worth, and career to new clothing, and perhaps to appearance in general. Detaching and letting go of the claw-grip I had on my appearance in an effort to make me feel (or not feel) a certain way has necessitated the exploration of more pure, genuine ways to find fulfillment and satisfaction (and dare I say self-love) to fill those areas with something real and worthwhile.
It’s so, so much more than just not shopping. It’s exploring how to have a different relationship with our self, with our true, inner self. It means letting go of the crutch and confronting some very raw and vulnerable sides of ourselves in an effort to develop a vastly more healthy and fulfilling approach to how we view ourselves.
Good for you for making it 3 years. To someone like me, who is undergoing a very tough and emotional struggle to do the same, this is nothing short of heroic.
I have really been conscious about all of my spending since starting to follow Frugalwoods. Last fall I realized I needed a new coat, setting a price limit of no more than $100. Then my husband had a serious health issue and we unexpected bills to cover. I realized I could no longer spend that amount on a coat, so I reset my limit to $25. After 3 weeks of checking thrift stores I found a good, warm winter coat for $13. That coat and a pair of jeans for $9.50 (again a thrift store purchase) are the only items I’ve bought in months. And I’m in the process of purging unnecessary items from my wardrobe. Thanks for the inspiration!!
My identity is not wrapped up in clothes- I wear clothes for me and I doubt I’ll do a ban. I buy second hand and after a 30 lb weight loss replaced my wardrobe at Goodwill for $20. They were having 10 items for $10 so I bought 20 items-sweaters, tops, pants, dresses for the winter (all designer labels!) and will have more things to pick up for warm weather. I’m not a tshirtjeans/pajamapants/yogapants/sweats wearer. I am donating my too big things and scaling back (who needs 7 black cardigans, right?). But a ban would have meant those Manolo Blahniks I got brand new at Goodwill for $4.99 would have been off the table and I couldn’t let them get away. (and yes, I have places to wear them!)
Yes I am imposing a clothing shopping ban for myself this year and on my 2 year old toddler. She receives a lot of hands-me-down and I think those should suffice for her, especially since she’s pretty petite and talks a while to outgrow those.
As for me, I just wanted to see how far I could go. I don’t have the biggest closet but neither do I think it’s small. And it’s also really to reduce the carbon footprint by buying unnecessarily.
I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to clothing, and have 4 summer outfits, 4 winter outfits, and 4 pairs of shoes. I like being able to fit all my clothes into 2 drawers and having extra space in my bedroom not taken up by a wardrobe. Therefore, I don’t have a problem with buying new clothes all the time, but the reason I’m unable to do a complete clothes ban is because my jeans always seem to wear out in the crotch after a few months. Jeans don’t seem to be made the way they used to. Does anyone else have this problem? I’m wondering which brands of jeans are still made well enough to last at least a year…
I’ve never done a flat-out ban–mostly because sadly, one thing I know about myself is that I rebel against my own self-imposed restrictions! Everyone is different in what works best for them. I DO have the intention of not buying new clothing, and in fact maintaining a limited wardrobe (since I hate washing, folding, and putting away clothes, plus have a small home). What I have found works well is simply staying out of thrift stores. If I go in, I will always find something I like. Then I find myself ruminating about whatever object it is. However, I’m sort of lucky in that I have a neighbor with a daughter who lives in a larger city and loves to shop at buy-by-the-pound Goodwill shops. For some reason, the daughter buys bags of brand-name clothing that doesn’t fit her, and brings it to her mom, who then redistributes it. Several work staples have come from those bags….
I attempted a similar kind of thing last year because I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes. I was successful to a point as I bought just a few clothes all year and what I did buy was mostly from the op-shop (exception new underwear). It made me very conscious when at the shops that I was trying not to spend money on clothes and that, if I wanted an item that I would have to make it myself. I did make a few things but nowhere near the number of items I may have bought from a shop during course of a year previously. I’m continuing on with this in 2017 and so far I haven’t bought a single piece of clothing but I have made a dress. I think this strategy & goal just makes me think more before purchasing any clothing. Meg:)
I won’t fault your for your clothing purchase Mrs. FrugalWoods….because I absolutely love mucksters. Best shoes-ever-made. I literally wear mine every single day. Yes, they aren’t cool looking, but they keep my feet warm and dry!
I prefer the ankle high version for the extra mobility, but if we had deep snow like you guys, the full size boot would be a great idea.
Enjoy the new boots!
“Waiting until you absolutely must have something is a terrible recipe for frugality”
So very true. I love the idea of your clothing buying ban but reality is clothing does wear out, eventually. I’m pretty frugal with clothing but ran into an issue with “ahem” bras… My size kept changing while pregnant, postpartum and now 15 months later as nursing is coming closer to an end… things are changing again. That’s one item I do spend the $$ on. Shoes are another. I don’t want to risk foot problems from crappy footwear, plus higher-quality footwear does last longer.
Your clothing ban posts really resonate with me. I love what you said about not putting an end date on it. I’m not quite at that point yet–I have a fairly small wardrobe so I think I will always have to buy a few new things each season as items wear out. But I do want to switch to seasonal shopping, just for things I need, rather than constant recreational shopping for whatever catches my eye. I’ve decided I won’t buy any clothes until Easter and then I’ll reevaluate. Thanks for the inspiration!
I love this post! This fall/winter I had purchased a few new pieces, most of them Patagonia. I’ve fully embraced dressing for warmth and comfort vs. style in the winter. I needed layers! I’m so much happier being outside and not freezing, so I am on board with your new purchase. I’ve got a few things I want for spring/summer that I’m hoping to purchase all with gift cards or receive as gifts (Spring B-days FTW!): 1) new summer sport sandals (my beloved merrells bit the dust in august and could not be repaired), 2) replacement yoga leggings (mine are starting to get to the point of retirement, hoping they last until summer), and 3) hiking pants! I don’t have any water resistant pants with the exception of my snow pants. I’m hoping this will make it easier to take more rainy spring hikes here in Washington.
Well done. I think you might be able to get away with modifying the clothing ban from “no excuses” into “no excuses except when my needs hit the bottom of the triangle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”. Not freezing toes sounds like a strong physiological motive with no alternate solution at the time.
I do not think you broke your clothing ban you merely bought snow-tires for your feet- and my dear Mud Season is coming
“…but that strays dangerously close to crafting and you know how I feel about that.” I laughed until I cried. Oh, crafting. How I loathe thee.
I’m going to give you a pass on this one. Utilitarian winter muck boots don’t really feel like clothes to me. I think you could fairly classify them as tools, or even categorize the spending as ‘transportation.’
I’m intrigued by your choice of undies. The men’s version seem pretty expensive to me. I’m sure they’re great, but when I can buy a seven-pack of tighty whities for less than $9, which last me for years, I can’t really justify paying $23.43 for each pair of fancy undies.
I fully embrace used stuff but with shoes I draw the line especially if they cannot be washed or thoroughly cleaned/disinfected. Plus the sizing really matters and shoes often adjust to a wearer’s foot. I think getting new good quality shoes and wearing them to death is frugal enough! You inspired me to start my own clothing shopping ban for a year (and that includes a wedding dress!). Love your posts, keep them coming!
Question for FW community. Any runners? What do you do if we are supposed to replace our high quality sneakers every ~500 miles in order to prevent injury from running on less supportive shoes. Used sneakers would need to be almost brand new to do the trick. Any suggestions Mrs. FW?
Fellow runner here…I never would buy shoes used. My feet/knees/ankles are worth spending the money to buy new shoes a few times a year. What I do is keep my eyes out for sales on the specific brand and style that work for me. When I find a sale, I buy a pair (or two) to keep on hand for when my other shoes wear out.
p.s. I also keep two pairs of shoes in rotation, I wear one pair MWF and the other TRS, with a break from running on Sundays. Hope that helps! 🙂
You have great priorities. Just because you can buy anything you want, doesn’t mean you should.
I’m late…but to be honest, I hardly think this counts as breaking your clothes buying ban. I was expecting something frivolous. Considering your location and lifestyle – those boots are tools, not a fashion item.
I would like to see you do a post on how you clothe your baby. I wonder if you buy any clothes for her. We found clothes easy to come by early on, and have been buying more and more now that they are 5 and 7. Also they are different genders so we don’t do hand me downs. My son looks great in pink but the other kids don’t think so. Shallow, I know.
Congratulations on your three year ban. I don’t have an official ban going on, but I still have my high school class of 1994 T-shirt, which is still in good shape. I sometimes wear it for “fun.”
We got/get given loads of clothes for our dds, and I store everything in the attic until they reach the right size. Then, it’s very easy to just go up and pick out the right-sized items, let them pick a few they need / fit / like (in that order), and pass on the rest. We have two places the clothes go to: dh’s relatives in Africa, and the local clothes bank.
I hate shopping, and loose patience after about 15 minutes. Being 6′, medium sized, and long-limbed, is not on any designer’s mind, I feel. So, I occasionally resign myself to a morning’s shopping, going through several stores at breakneck speed, trying on a few items, and discarding most, mainly because the fit is wrong. I’ve become good at judging in a few seconds whether something will be long enough, but for an exact fit, I have to really try it on.
I treat my work clothes as a ‘uniform’, so I don’t mind wearing the same few outfits week after week.
Thankyou for this wonderful article. Unfortunately I have just failed on a clothing ban I set myself and for no good reason. However I am going to try again but this time I won’t set an end date! My failure was due to the nagging voice of insecurity about my appearance. I feel like our culture smacks us over the head with the message that we must look a certain way otherwise we are unworthy. I find in my female heavy office a lot of comparison goes on and I do hear some people criticising others outfits and it feeds into my insecurity and propels me into buying stuff. However I find the whole experience of buying and actually worrying about how I look so darn stressful and I really don’t want to be someone who cares so much and puts so much value in aesthetics. Any tips on how to ignore this very damaging aspect of our culture gratefully received
The undies are great… but can I ask what brand of flats you have that is holding up so great? I need a new pair, but I want to invest in a lasting pair that will not wear out in one season. Also, this: “End dates encourage us to view our efforts as deprivation.” What a wonderful point! Thank you for writing.
My flats are from Target–I think they were $12 about five years ago. I have them in red, black, beige, and brown! I have very, very narrow feet and so when I found something cheap that fit and was comfortable, I bought them in four colors :). My strategy for making them last so long is that I don’t wear them for walking long distances and I actually rarely wear them outside at all. I save them for special occasions and church, etc. The brand is “Mossimo Supply Co.” Hope this helps :)!
I was just writing a post about how many pieces of clothing we bought over last year. it came out to be 6 articles of clothing and two pair of shoes between both of us. My real problem is jeans. with my absent thigh gap they wear put really quick and you can’t really mend them and make them appropriate for work.
Maybe it’s the difference of what the companies sell in India but my latest cheap jeans lasted me less than 6 months.
Let’s see when I can boast of a 3 year hiatus from clothes buying since I plan to buy some clothes because the ones I bought 2 years ago are wearing out.
I’m impressed you were able to keep the no clothing ban for so long! I don’t think anyone in my household or even extended family could stay disciplined for THAT long. I feel like I could pull off the a good 12months, but after that I’d feel the need to reward myself and it’s all downhill from there! Great job on the discipline
We don’t have a clothing buying ban but I can’t remember the last time I bought something new. It has more to do with focusing on eating healthy small portions and exercising regularly. I’ve found that since I’ve started to get into shape, I can get away with wearing older clothes and nobody cares. It almost seems like people who buy a ton of clothes are using them as a crutch to distract people from the shape of their body. I know I’ve been guilty of that, haha. Losing weight has had the unexpected side effect of helping me be frugal.
Hi I love your blog!
I have a question… how many clothes items do you have? Including shoes, but not underwear or pjs.
I understand you said you had a full professional wardrobe that you started with, and then downsized and stopped shopping, so I wondered what number of items you settled on that feels comfortable to you now. And does it still feel comfortable? Too little too much or just right?
Just a comment on bras: My French doctors (3) and midwives (certified nurse specialists who deliver in hospital, btw) all gave me the same recommendation: for the love of everything, wear bras that fit and support while you’re pregnant! They each said that it’s largely a myth that nursing destroys your breasts; usually, it’s due to ill-fitting bras during pregnancy! So, this is the one item I frugally splashed out on while pregnant, as I figured it would save me tons of money in the future. Now at 18 months post-partum and 4 months post-breastfeeding, they were right! They also severely admonished me about wearing supportive, comfortable footwear. These two items (bras and shoes) are, incidentally, the two that I do spend out on for new, but because I maintain what I have, this doesn’t happen more than once per year, so it’s a planned-for, frugalized expense, 🙂
Hi Ms F. I am really enjoying your blog after coming across it recently. The comments here are interesting, lots of good ideas and thoughts.
I love clothes, not ashamed by it but have noticed that in my mid-50’s now, I have finally switched from an attitude learnned when I was young (probably from other school-girls) that my clothing made my identity to one now where I express my identlity and creativity though clothing – a bit like a wearable paintbrush!
I grew up in Canada where most kids got new clothes for the start of school, perhaps a new coat if we had outgrown it and there were no older cousins about, bought at factory stores or a quick trip to the States (remember changing into the new things before crossing the border so that they were technically ‘worn’ therefore no duty (hopefully)??) Now, I live in Switzerland where the attitude to clothing is much different but also changing and becoming more ‘American”; buying frequently, few and less frequent but more expensive and better quality worn for years rather than more quanitity and cheaper of less quality disposed of quickly when the ‘fashion’ changes…. The second hand shops are fantastic – you can find quality things for a LOT less than new and best of all, you can sell good quality clothing you no longer wear for a good “profit” (nothing to live on but a tidy sum to save away). I try to buy clothing on FB Marketplace, expat pages, marked down at least 70% at the end of the season for the next year.
On thin I do, (gleaned from a blog somewhere) was evertime you wear something in your closet, trun the hanger around so you can easily see what you wear and what you don’t. At the end of the season or year, the unworn things can be sold or given away. Works really well and I find I wear a greater variety of things than I did before.
There is also another point with buying clothing. Firstly, there is the ethicacy of fast fashion in where, by whom and how things are made, shipping long distances, poor wages, etc. but there is another aspect. Some of the things sold in that famous two-lettered Swedish clothing company are cotton, not bad quality, etc and will last a long time if cared for carefully. I have cotton t-shirts that have been going strong from 8 or 9 years so far. But since “home ec” was taken out of schools, consumers don’t know how to repair, make simple alterations (i.e. shrotening jeans, replacing a zip, sewing a button), wash clothes properly and economically, etc. And, if the attitude is that, I just throw away what I am bored with, then it goes straight to landfil. If we can change the attitude that clothing is disposable simply because it is cheap to one that no matter the cost, we keep it and wear it for a long time.that would make a huge difference in what is just thrown away. It is fun to cut clothing apart and make a new unique jacket or skirt from different old garments, for instance. It would be fantastic if there were drop-in places where one could use a sewing machine for free or very little cost, maybe with someone to help or teach. But try to find zips, buttons or thread “notions” anymore, let along fabrics is really hard. They are so expensive so that repairing often costs more than the garment itself. Bring back sewing in school for all- it is a life skill just like budgeting, math and languages.