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. 

img_7176-266x400-1766632 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.

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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James Ewen
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