Penny Wise, Pound Foolish: Clothes
I think that mostly in this series I have been very positive on investing. The idea is that you buy fewer high quality items so that you keep them for longer, and that in turn saves you money in the long run.
With clothes, however, forget it. Toss all that out the window and go as cheap as you possibly can. If you’re paying more than a few dollars for almost anything you’re wearing, you’re paying too much. All my T-shirts cost about $5, my regular dress shirts around $20, and my most expensive item in my closet is currently a pair of jeans clocking in at around $40 from H&M. Spending money on clothes is stupid, and here’s why.
They go out of fashion too damn quickly to spend a ton of money on them!
Remember when wedge heels were all the rage? Yeah, well, they’re not anymore. They’re so last year. If you own a pair of wedge heels, you’re lame. How much do they cost? Well, anywhere from $20 (reasonable) to slightly more than double your monthly rent. The same’s true for peasant dresses, bell bottoms, skirts for men, flared collars, and just about everything else fashionable. If you’re a fashion plate, you shouldn’t be spending a ton of money on your clothes. You are almost literally throwing your money away on an investment that has no tangible return. I have gotten job interviews and successfully landed a position wearing a suit that cost me $50.
Does spending money mean that you look good? That’s patently untrue. While it is the case that some will ask you what label you’re wearing, you can get those very labels marked down at sales outlets like Gilt Groupe, TJ Maxx, and Filene’s Basement. In fact, I have a fantastic pair of Kenneth Cole oxfords that I picked up for $40 from there, and they look just as good as if I’d picked them up for $150.
Women, you get screwed. Women’s clothing is always more expensive than men’s clothing, which is why I often tell people if they’re looking for a new look to swap clothes with their friends. It’s free (or cheap, if you wanna buy clothes off of each other) and it’s a way to look awesome without wasting your time shopping.
The only thing I’d say it makes sense to invest in is shoes. They are meant to last for years and are much more timeless (unless they’re the aforementioned wedges). Even though I still insist on finding my shoes on sale, paying full price for them can make sense if they’re meant to be worn for the next decade.