I want to preface this blog post by saying that I am incredibly economical and in no way wealthy. Like most Americans, I have to budget and can’t spend all willy nilly at the drop of a hat. I’m obsessed with Poshmark to get deals on clothing and accessories, follow sales and text my mom when I get a great price on something new. So let me be clear, there is a big difference between being cheap and being frugal. My mom, the original Bargain Hunter, has always said that she doesn’t buy cheap clothes, she gets nice clothes at a good price. There is a big difference.
Here’s an old video of me and my mom (you may have seen it before) discussing this along with how she gets her best bargains.
I say all this because I don’t want the title of this post to imply that I think anyone should spend more than they have or not get a great sale. However, buying cheap clothes that you feel ambivalent about can wind up costing more and that spending more or buying better quality can be more economical. Here’s why.
Why Spending More on Clothing May Save You Money
You’re more thoughtful with more expensive purchases
Anytime anyone is planning on spending more on something they tend to take their time and think through the purchase. They make sure they will get value on the investment, will wear it and enjoy it. There’s a chance they have thought it about the purchase for weeks, months, even years before pulling the trigger.
Compare it to times when someone has picked something up because it was on sale and the money they parted with didn’t have any impact on their finances. It’s easy to not value these purchases or be thoughtful about them. Being lured in by a sale without any thought can cost more money because there is typically less appreciation about them. On the surface, cheap clothing seems like the smart route to take because you are getting such a good deal. However, if you never wear these cheap items or the pieces fell apart after just a few wears, they wind up costing you more in the end.
You will take better care of your more expensive purchases
When we value something we take care of it. Often, the amount we have spent on something dictates how we care for it. Who cares if you toss that cheap shirt in the dryer, it only cost $9.99. But the t-shirt that cost $79.99, well, you will make sure it never sees the inside of a dryer, gets folded neatly and never gets a stain. As a result, your more expensive purchases wear better, last longer because they are valued and better cared for.
You value more expensive purchases when you earn them
People who have nice things don’t typically get them all at once. Some even have lists of items they would like to buy over time. There is such a feeling of victory when someone has worked hard to earn the money to buy something they have always wanted, and nobody walks away with these items being flip about them.
When we invest in things, we’re also typically cognizant of purchasing things we know we’ll get the most use from and will wear. Over time, these purchases quite often pay for themselves. A cheap top that costs $14.99 that gets worn once costs more per wear than a $300 pair of pants that get worn 100 times.
You appreciate the sale
With brick and mortar retail being soft and online sales being impossible not to find, it’s rare that anyone has to pay full price for anything any longer. As I said earlier, the cardinal rule I was raised on about sales was to get nice things at a good price. That said, you don’t necessarily need to pay full retail to value the purchase. In fact, there is a great chance you will appreciate it even more when you know you loved it and got it for a steal.
The key here is to never just buy cheap clothing for the sake of the price or to be mindless about shopping. Sales are wonderful and should be taken advantage of just as long as the the things you buy bring you more value than what you paid for it through wear and appreciation of it.
Quality over quantity
Buying the best can have a profound effect on how we treat the clothes and accessories that we buy. It’s not necessarily how much money is spent as much as it is the value we feel towards these things. Instead of dropping small amounts on things that you feel ambivalent about, save money instead by purchasing things that have great value to you.
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Bridgette this is such an important topic in this age of conspicuous and thoughtless consumption! The word “need” has been redefined in our culture – it’s not “Little House on the Prairie” need but more like I “need” a pick-me-up because I’m feeling blue and I’m bored and it’s cold out so I have to buy a new sweater or something or anything right now. I can’t remember the last time I “needed” an item of clothing because the one I have wore out.
So true, Krys, and thanks for the comment. The worst is when people say, “I am getting it because I deserve it.” That’s such a dumb excuse.
I agree with the wearing out thing. I have worn a pair of cognac boots into the ground and I will now be replacing them with the same exact pair.
I’m of the same mind set as you. I purchase high quality clothing that I can wear year after year. I have a St. John’s classic pant/jacket that I’ve had for 13 years. I get soooo many compliments on it everytime I wear it. No one can believe it’s not new. I also find I take better care of my clothes that I paid more for than the Old Navy t-shirt I paid $9.00.
This is so true and the T-shirt caught me. Several (5? 8?) years ago, I came across a Lafayette 148 T at Nordstrom. At the time, I thought it was insane to pay that amount for a T-shirt. But it fit so well and was so flattering that I bought not one, but two in different colors. I’m still wearing them and they look like they did the day I bought them. I do take good care of them in the laundry, but I do with all my good clothes. They really taught me the value of a good piece of casual clothing as well as a good brand, and I bought a lovely L148 white blouse at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale a couple years later. It’s also still going strong. Classics for the win!
I couldn’t agree more. This holiday season I purchased an ethically and sustainably made, very expensive holiday top that I have worn on average 2x a week between work and holiday parties. Because it is a red tartan plaid I won’t get much use out of it after next week but it is such a well made, classic piece that I will have it for a very long time and it will be something I look forward to bringing out again and again in the years to come. I have no regrets about purchasing this piece and was willing to curb fall shopping on mediocre clothing items once I found this in early fall. I have always taken good care of my clothes but I find that I am even more vigilant on higher quality and higher priced items.