On not buying clothes

I mentioned in my last post that I haven’t bought clothes in a while.

My previous clothing purchase was a Sounders green item to wear to Sounders games, bought at my husband’s urging.  I bought bras in February.  In September 2009 I replaced 3 worn-out pairs of knit pants and some bras.  July 2009 I bought two knit tops that were thinner and cooler than others I owned.

That’s what I bought in the year that ended in June.  It’s a lot less than I would usually buy.  It also wasn’t an accident.

I quit buying clothes because the man of the house was concerned about our budget. He was between jobs at the time, so we had less income.  That ended last fall, but I continued the not-buying-clothes experiment.

I quit buying clothes because I have a lot of clothes already. Partly because I’ve worn the same sizes for over 10 years.  Yes, I have clothes that are over 10 years old.  I do get rid of the clothing that’s worn out, but a lot of it—especially the special-occasion stuff—hasn’t worn out.

I quit buying clothes because I didn’t feel like there was all that much I could buy that was better than what I already have. I sometimes feel like I already had one of everything, or one of everything I’d probably want to wear. This is partly a comment on the state of supersize women’s clothing and partly a statement on me.  Check out the “Extended Sizes” clothing at Silhouettes:

  • Knit tees.
  • Knit tunics.
  • Knit elastic-waist pants.
  • Knit elastic-waist skirts.
  • Jeans.
  • Big shirts.
  • Sweaters
  • Hoodies.
  • Tent dresses.
  • Maybe a blazer or mother-of-the-bride dress.

That is not atypical.  Yes, I realize I have a hard to fit body.  (My waist size varies by 8 inches depending on whether I’m sitting or standing, yeah, that’s hard.)   Yes, I like knits and elastic waists and v-neck tees.

But guess what else?

I already HAVE those clothes.

  • I have knit elastic-waist pants in black (4), red, blue, green, and brown.
  • I have corduroy elastic-waist pants in burgundy (2) and brown.  I have 2 pairs of jeans.
  • I have black, brown, and blue leggings.  I have skirts, most of them with pockets.
  • I have 9 or 10 tank and sleeveless tops for summer and layering.
  • I have a dozen pairs of  shorts for summer. All but the bike shorts have pockets.
  • I have a dozen sweaters and cardigans.
  • I have a navy blazer that fits me well.
  • I have lots of v-neck and jewel-neck tees and tunics in short and long sleeves, mostly in black and red with other colors mixed in.  I also have a few dressy blouses.
  • I have dresses.  Some I could wear for a funeral, some to a wedding, some to a formal occasion, some I could wear clubbing.
  • I have 4 swimsuits.

Longtime readers know I certainly don’t limit myself to shopping at Silhouettes or Lane Bryant or One Stop Plus.  Even then, I already have most of what I’ll actually wear.

Yes, I quit buying clothes because I have a rut.  It works for me.   Have I tried other looks?  Yup.  The “uniform” I have now was chosen consciously for looks, comfort, practicality, and ease of matching.   I have the clothing I need day-to-day, and I don’t need to slay a dragon or learn to sew just to find more.  My recent purchases were all of things I didn’t already have (capris) or to replace proven items in my wardrobe (I have a black knit top that’s similar to the blue one and I’ve been trying to find another for years; I’d worn out my previous pair of brown knit pants).

Finally, I quit buying clothes because I like myself. New clothes often come with the promise that they’ll make the wearer different in some way, or look better than before.  If the new item fits better or has a better color, this makes sense…but often this promise is unfulfilled.  Often I’ve bought clothes that looked great but were for someone else’s life.  Over time, I found that not worrying about new clothes meant I had a better acceptance and appreciation of myself as I am, instead of searching for the “slimming” new piece that would emphasize the approved parts of my body and downplay the rest.

So it was a bit interesting to see this article on “clothing diets”.  The main focus is on a challenge to wear only 6 pieces for a month (undies, shoes, accessories and duplicates don’t count by their rules).   I was surprised to find I didn’t want to try it…and that the main reason I wouldn’t want to try is to avoid the extra laundry involved.  I guess not buying (much) clothing isn’t deprivation for me, but having having to do laundry more than once a week is!  ;)







17 responses to “On not buying clothes”

  1. Noel Lynne Figart Avatar

    Six pieces? I hardly have an excessive wardrobe, but I do have more clothes than that!

    I have:

    5 shells
    5 kimono jackets
    4 broomstick skirts
    5 straight skirts
    3 pr slacks

    They all mix and match, so it’s a fairly extensive wardrobe. But six pieces? I’m good at the wardrobing thing and I’d find that boring even WITH my scarf collection.

    1. Living 400lbs Avatar

      Exactly. Even when I’m doing a “everything mix and match” 4 or 5-day trip I’ll have more than 6.

      (Though I do count each pair of black pants separately.)

  2. notblueatall Avatar

    Since opening my cafe last Sept. I suddenly found myself without a personal income. Husband’s wage barely covers our bills. So clothes shopping is few and far between. And mentioning “uniforms” I pretty much wear jeans and some sort of cute top every day. It’s comfortable and I won’t care if it gets coffee grounds all over it. Everyone’s tightening their budget though. I think it’s a nice change from the BUY EVERYTHING lifestyle so many were living before the great recession.

    1. Living 400lbs Avatar

      “Uniforms” can definitely be a useful way to think of things like “work clothes”. Part of why I like pants, for example, is that I occasionally do get on the floor to plug in hardware. If I was in a job where I was always digging around under desks I probably wouldn’t wear skirts at all.

      I think it’s a nice change from the BUY EVERYTHING lifestyle so many were living before the great recession.

      It also may have to do with where you’re at in life in general. I went through stages of buying anything that fit because I was afraid I’d never find it again, or of wanting to try different looks now instead of waiting til I was thin. Heck, sometimes having the ability to buy things that fit just went to my head! :)

      Now that I’ve gotten rid of more mistakes it’s been easier to limit myself to what I know I’ll wear and that goes with the rest of my clothing.

      1. LT Avatar

        “Heck, sometimes having the ability to buy things that fit just went to my head! :)”

        Having very large feet for a cis woman (11.5-12!), I can so relate! I’ve bought expensive shoes that I didn’t really like simply because they FIT.

  3. Jackie Avatar

    This really made me think:
    “Finally, I quit buying clothes because I like myself. New clothes often come with the promise that they’ll make the wearer different in some way, or look better than before.”

    Buying clothes that I think are cute has always been a way to validate myself. Since I’ve returned to the supersizes of my youth I’ve noticed how much harder it is to find the clothes I want and how that messes with my self esteem. But, I haven’t considered how much power I’ve been giving clothes over my self esteem. It’s an interesting point.

    1. Living 400lbs Avatar

      Buying clothes that I think are cute has always been a way to validate myself. Since I’ve returned to the supersizes of my youth I’ve noticed how much harder it is to find the clothes I want and how that messes with my self esteem. But, I haven’t considered how much power I’ve been giving clothes over my self esteem.

      This made my day. Thank you. :)

      I do think a lot of has to do with the why. If you are buying clothes because you need them, or you want them, or it’s fun, that’s one thing. If you are buying clothes in hope of becoming acceptable…that’s what I’ve tried to let go of ;)

  4. inge Avatar

    I had to replace 80% of my wardrobe this year because of a change in shape. Which finally made me get rid of the “clothes for someone else’s life”. (That’s a very good description of what had accumulated in the back of my wardrobe!)

    I now have (not counting special-occasion clothes like the stage dress or gym clothes) four jeans/pants, one pair of shorts, eight shirts/blouses, three jackets, four pullovers, one dress, and two sets of house clothes (cat-damaged T-Shirts and shapeless sweatpants) — but it makes for more outfits than I had in the last twenty years, because now everything goes together and suits my life.

    Six pieces is what I wear in the average week. I could do with the same six pieces over and over again (weather premitting), but then I’d have to wash everything by hand, or run the washing machine with only one piece in it several times a week, which is a big old case of Not Worth It.

  5. Regina T Avatar
    Regina T

    “Often I’ve bought clothes that looked great but were for someone else’s life.”

    This really spoke to me. In the past, I have bought into the hype that THIS! EXCITING! BLOUSE! will turn me into that fun, popular, trendy person seen wearing said blouse…..which I suppose is the whole point of advertising. Nevertheless, I have found it easier to resist this now that I have embraced FA…not perfectly, but easier.

    For the first time ever, I packed clothes for a recent vacation in which I wore every thing I packed (minus two pair of undies and a pair of socks). This was a monumental thing for me as I always–always have packed clothing that never makes it on my body and needs rewashed anyway because it has that travelling smell.

    I have seriously reduced the time and money I have spent in the past seeking and buying clothes since adopting the FA lifestyle. My challenge with shirts has always been their length ( I have a long torso and feel most comfortable hiding my tummy) so I need shirts that are minimum 32 inches long. I hang dry every shirt I own because they always shorten in the dryer, but sometimes the washer stretches them out sideways and they shorten then. Thus, I am always on the lookout for shirts that are long enough.

    I also wear capris six months out of the year because I get hot and like not having to worry about the length due to my height. I have bought tall pants that often end up under my heels, and avg. pants show too much of my socks. Capris are the perfect solution for me and I have 12 of them in khaki, dark denim, light denim, white and off white. Some with pockets, some without, all stretch waist and comfy. Perfect with sandals, sneakers, and even those vented hiking shoes with a back strap.

    As for the 6 pieces of clothing for a month….I want more variety in my life than that! Besides….with a family of four, I’m already doing laundry at least twice a week…why would I want more of THAT fun??!!

  6. Patsy Nevins Avatar
    Patsy Nevins

    Well, I had told myself that I was done buying clothes for awhile, but I got the Fall MIB catalog today, & now I really want the green peace tee, so maybe I can make room for ONE more thing. It is a case here of really loving the shirt, the style being really me, & fitting into my life & the fall/winter climate where I live, so if I buy it, it will get worn. As for pants, & think I have a good 5-year supply of jeans & jeggings, which are what I live in.

  7. Constance Avatar

    This would be an interesting experiment for autumn/ winter when one can wear things more than once. In summer I sweat too much to be able to wear clothing more than once.

    My legs are wrapped daily in elastic bandages for compression. My shoe choices are limited to what fits over the wraps so I wear oxfords. As a result I’ve lived in pants for too many years. Dresses were singing their siren song though. I decided to say screw it, if the bandages and oxfords bother people it’s their problem. And I’ve been buying and wearing dresses and skirts this summer. Ebay is my go to place for both. Silhouettes, Lane Bryant, Ulla Popkin, all cheaper than buying from the catalog/ website.

  8. lifeonfats Avatar

    I’m a clotheshorse so when I have the income, I’ll shop. I do have my favorites that I always wear. I do either trash or donate clothes that no longer fit. It’s not lamenting my size, it’s a good thing, because I’ve gotten rid of some clutter, which means I’m able to purchase more clothing. ;) I’m more of a shopper that looks for things I can mix and match with what I already own.

    Being unemployed for almost five months, I have drastically cut down my spending. I did purchase a few casual summer tops at Lane Bryant Outlet and I’m looking for a nice dress for a job interview next week, but for now, I will have to do without the online sprees and going to the mall or outlets.

  9. Lori Avatar

    I love this post.

    I’m not a clothes shopper, personally. I just spent a month visiting family, and managed to clothe myself and my children quite well with what I was able to fit into one suitcase. I think I ended up wearing four bottoms and six tops the whole month. And, it was just fine. I think I probably could have managed with two bottoms and five tops, but I don’t know about much less than that.

    I don’t need many clothes. I only teach two mornings a week, so my “work wardrobe” tends to just consist of 2-3 pairs of nice pants and maybe 4-5 nice shirts. The rest of the time I’m home and I wear jeans or knit pants and t-shirts. In the winter I throw a cardigan on over my t-shirts. I have a pair of Danko clogs I wear to work and two pairs of casual shoes I wear when I’m hanging out, and that’s really all I need.

    I can appreciate it when other people have a good fashion sense, but clothes just aren’t my thing. I treat them, shopping-wise, as a necessity: if I really need something, I’ll buy it, but I don’t tend to buy clothing just because. If I have money to spend on anything i want, I wouldn’t choose clothing; it’s just not one of my preferred “luxuries.”

  10. […] On not buying clothes […]

  11. Mulberry Avatar

    Apologies if this has already been mentioned somewhere, but if your budget loosens up a little bit, you might try holyclothing.com if you’re looking for something vaguely reminiscent of renfaire-style duds. They design in sizes up to 7x (dress size 38-40). Prices are reasonable, and I’ve found their clothing to be cut generously.
    Now if I could just find a shop that designs interesting footwear in a 10 double-wide…

    1. Living 400lbs Avatar

      I’ve got a dress from holyclothing. But before I buy anything else I have to find ROOM for it….

  12. […] lately, written by a frequent commenter of this blog, whose comments I also enjoy. Hi! I liked this piece about not buying clothes (kind of the antithesis of the above). A really good read. New clothes […]

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