Olof Hoverfalt tracked every item of clothing he wore for three years and at the end of the day came to a number of interesting conclusions about buying and wearing clothes. It turns out that the things he’s noticed are actually very much in line with frugal best practices for buying and wearing clothes.
In a nutshell, Olof’s conclusions fit very well with the idea of the capsule lock where you maintain a surprisingly small wardrobe. This is all part of an overall budget buying and maintenance strategy that works for almost everyone.
Underlying all of this is a key principle: the longer you hold on to an item of clothing, the less likely it is to fit you, and the less likely it is of a style that will appeal to you. People gain and lose weight over time, and their tastes and styles change.
Let’s go over some of Olof’s conclusions and the big ideas of the capsule closure.
Most of the time, people wear the same relatively small handful of clothes again
There are a number of reasons for this, but it mainly boils down to convenience. When we put clothes away after washing, they are usually placed on our dresser drawers and in the most accessible places in our closet. When we choose clothes in the morning, we generally choose the most comfortable items – those above the chest of drawers or in the convenient places in the closet.
What does that mean? Many of our clothes, especially those that are seldom worn, simply weren’t an inexpensive purchase. An inexpensive purchase of clothing is one that will make it into your regular rotation of clothing. If it’s not in that heavy rotation, chances are either the clothes don’t suit you or they just don’t fit your style long before they wear out, which means you’ll likely donate them if you get them have only worn a fraction of the time.
Remember, the goal here is not to lead an uncomfortable lifestyle. It’s about finding the best value for money so that you have a functional wardrobe while minimizing costs. Minimalism and frugality are very different things.
Solution: Only buy clothes if they go right into your heavy rotation. Most likely, it should directly replace an item of clothing that is already in your rotation. In short, you only have “favorite clothes” – you rarely wear second grade stuff, and you often grow out and tire of it long before it is worn out. So avoid buying it unless you literally love it and intend to go straight into your heavy rotation.
Buy only what you need and then buy what you love to meet that need.
Frequently worn items are cheaper if they are well made
It can be difficult for many people to feel okay when they invest a significant amount of money in a single piece of clothing. Pants that cost $ 20 are much more bearable when you need a pair of pants than one that costs $ 80.
However, on average, Olaf found that up to a point, the more expensive items more than pay for themselves in the long run, as you can get much, much more use out of them before they appear worn out or harmed. In other words, the $ 80 pants can, on average, be worn more than four times as much as the $ 20 pants before you have to get rid of them.
Solution: Buy clothes for quality, not sticker price. Take the time to learn how to identify clothes that are well made. Learn how to examine the seams and the quality of the fabric. You pay a little more for the well-made stuff, but it lasts many times longer than the cheap items and it won’t be long before you rarely buy clothes.
Items that are difficult to clean are worn less often
Two factors are at work here.
First, items that are difficult to clean simply don’t wear out because of the cleaning effort. You may need to take a trip to clean up or hand wash the item. Whatever it is, it’s an extra job outside of your normal laundry routine which means the item just won’t get used that much.
Second, items that need to be specially laundered usually have some fragility. They are not designed to withstand the rigors of normal laundry, which means that other normal loads are more likely to damage them in some way. They naturally have a shorter lifespan.
Solution: Avoid putting anything that is difficult to wash in your heavy rotation.
Cross compatibility saves a huge amount of money
What is “Cross Compatibility”? This means that one item of clothing that you have goes well with a large number of other items of clothing that you may also wear with it. You don’t have a lot of items that conflict with each other, in other words. This keeps your wardrobe smaller as you effectively have a large number of outfits.
For example, suppose you usually wear a shirt and pants. You have 10 shirts and 10 pants. If each shirt only goes with one specific pair of pants, you have 10 possible outfits, which means you might repeat yourself if you stop buying. On the other hand, if each shirt matches 7 of the 10 pants, you have 70 possible outfits. You don’t have to repeat an outfit 10 weeks. Chances are, a piece of clothing will wear out before you deplete the entire wardrobe more than a couple of times, meaning that suddenly you have another seven new outfits to twirl through.
Solution: Identify multiple colors you like that work well together and stick with items in those colors. For example, I choose almost all clothes that go well with dark blue pants so that I can wear either dark jeans or dark blue dress pants. Almost everything I have works with it. When a pair of pants needs to be replaced, I look for something dark blue. When a shirt needs to be replaced I look for something that goes with dark blue pants.
Small corrections save a lot of money
Just knowing how to fix a small problem in an otherwise well-made garment can save you a ton of money. If you lose a button on a shirt or see a small tear along a seam, you can probably keep this item in your closet for much longer if you know how to fix it yourself so it looks as good as new.
Solution: Learn to sew. You don’t need a sewing machine for casual clothes. If you have a needle, thread, and buttons similar to those on clothes that you wear frequently, this will work just fine. The trick is knowing how to use them. If you run into a little problem, head over to Youtube and see how to fix it instead of replacing it. Worst scenario is that you don’t actually fix it. If so, replace it anyway and have wasted no more than a little time.
Don’t feel guilty about moving on
The goal of an inexpensive wardrobe is to last a long time, and that is exactly what these other principles are about. However, there comes a point where an item has to go: it has significant signs of wear, there are real problems with it, or it no longer fits you well. In situations like this, don’t feel guilty for moving on. Sale of it appropriate.
As you do this, consider whether you actually need to replace it or whether you can go ahead with a smaller closet. This is actually the best way to shrink your wardrobe down to things that you really need and that you really love over time. Just don’t replace things unless you need to replace them.
Remember, you are trying to be thrifty, not cheap. Do not hold onto ill-fitting or worn clothes. Instead, feel good that you have drawn value in them and realize that it is time to move on.
Solution: If a piece of clothing is clearly worn out or no longer fits you, don’t feel bad about donating or mailing it (if it’s in good condition).
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