My Best Clothing Purchase Ever

Over the years I’ve bought a lot of clothes. I’ve never kept a closet stuffed full, but I’ve had my share of clothing. I’ve always tried to be a frugal shopper. I’ve shopped for deals. I’ve shopped at second-hand stores. I’ve found bargains. So my best clothing purchase ever might come as a surprise. 

Best Clothing Purchase: Photo of Dan Erickson
Photo by Deccio Creative

We’ve been sold a big lie. We’ve been led to believe that saving money is good. You’ve all seen the seasonal clearance sales: 40%, 60%, 80% off original prices. Do you think the stores would mark things this low if it didn’t benefit them? Of course not. They’re getting you to spend more money on clothes than ever before.

Are You Really Saving Money on Clothing?

Think about this: when you buy clothing on sale, you’re not saving money. You’re spending money. It doesn’t matter if it’s 95% off. You’re still spending money. You save money when you buy something that lasts a lifetime. 

I’ve noticed something in the past 10-15 years: the more clothes I’ve bought on sale, the less time they seem to last. Let me say that again: the more clothes I buy, the shorter their lifespan. Before I tell you about my best clothing purchase ever, you need to understand why buying cheap, Chinese-made clothing only leads to repeat behavior.

  1. The psychological buying effect: First, if you make a habit of buying sale items, it becomes just that: a habit. You find yourself gleaning the clearance racks on a regular basis. You start buying clothing more frequently. You think it’s what you need. You think you’re getting good deals, but…
  2. Quality has decreased: I’ve noticed a few things about the clothing I buy on clearance. It’s more likely to shrink. It’s more likely to rip or tear. The stitching is more likely to come loose. That means you’ll be needing to buy more clothing during the next clearance sale.
  3. Style is fleeting: I’ve also noticed that many of the items I find on clearance lose their appeal in a short period of time. Have you ever bought something that looked great only to dislike it a few short months later? It winds up hanging in your closet, rarely worn. When you buy sale items on impulse, you’re buying based on emotion, not logic.

My Best Clothing Purchase Ever

In the winter of 2005, I drove 150 miles to the Filson flagship store in Seattle, Washington to buy a coat. It’s the coat I’m wearing in the picture above. It’s called the Weekender. I paid $250 for my Weekender. For me, that was a lot of money for a coat. In the past, I’d always bought coats for $50-$75. Here’s what I discovered:

  • My Weekender is still like new, even ten years later.
  • My Weekender will likely last another 10-20 years.
  • I’d have to buy a new $50-$75 coat every year or two.
  • Do the math. Buying a high quality, USA-made coat: less than $20 a year.
  • The style is timeless.

So What’s The Takeaway?

I did my research before I bought my Filson Weekender. I intentionally set out to buy a coat that could essentially last a lifetime. Being a minimalist doesn’t mean that you should by cheap or inexpensive clothing. In fact, I’d argue the opposite. My best clothing purchase ever was also one of my most expensive. It was well worth it.

Americans have fallen prey to bargains. We believe we’re getting great deals when we walk out of the store with a bag full of shit. We might have just bought five items for $100, but how long will those items last? If they only last a season, or even a year, we just threw our money away.

Don’t bargain shop and support a corrupt system. Don’t support cheap-Chinese labor and the inhumane treatment of human beings. Instead, try this:

  1. Research the highest quality clothing.
  2. Buy minimal amounts of quality clothing.
  3. Calculate your savings over time.
  4. See your clothes take less space.
  5. Wear timeless and fashionable clothing.
  6. Don’t support sweat shops.

I hope you’ve learned something from my best clothing purchase ever. I’m currently in the process of recreating my wardrobe. I’m letting many of my old, cheap clothes wear out. I’m researching simple, quality clothing. Look for more posts about minimalism and clothing in the future.

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8 Comments

  1. I have noticed that myself! Spent a lot of time in my teens and early 20s buying sale stuff or things from popular trendy shops. Then I calculated how often I was replacing the low-quality goods and stopped that buying habit. Now spending much less when I thought I was saving then! Thanks for sharing, Dan, and that’s a beautiful coat!

    1. Thanks, Daisy. I’ve done the same thing with jeans and shoes. I buy high-quality but more expensive. In the end it creates savings and a less cluttered closet. Thanks for stoping by!

  2. Can you give some examples of high quality clothing brands? I totally agree. Some of my best purchases have been the most expensive. They last forever though. Just wondering if you had done research as to high quality brands that one can get anywhere.

  3. My personal favorites are Filson and Pendleton. They are both more rugged outdoor wear. Some of the hiking brands are good, too: Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, and Marmot. For jeans, I go with Levis. They are still reasonably priced and still last.

  4. I like this idea, but do you never get ‘fed up’ with wearing the same things over? Some clothes I’ve had for 5 or 6 years or longer, but I’m bored with seeing me in them, especially in photos going back over that time!! I have a winter coat I’ve had for 10 years, but I couldn’t bear to get it out the wardrobe as I’m fed up with seeing it! It’s been relined in that time and still looks good as new, but I don’t know how to get over this ‘fed up’ stage.

    1. Yes, I do get tired of the same styles sometimes. One way I deal with that is t-shirts. I keep a few t-shirts in different colors and with varied topics.

  5. Filson is questionable these days.

    You really have to watch which ones you buy since they started offloading some of their manufacturing, some of their stuff is still made in Seattle but others are being produced in China now, a lot of the new stuff is nowhere near the quality of the old coat I had that lasted for decades before the fabric wore through while all the stitching was still holding strong.

    It’s a shame, Filson was one of my top companies, but now you need to make sure it’s one of their items made right there at their factory in Seattle. The US made stuff still seems to be top quality, but a lot of their old products I loved have really taken a hit, in everything but price.

    1. Yes, I know they’ve sold out and have quite a few lines made in China. Pendleton has also started manufacturing outside the USA. So sad.

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