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I own a lot of cheap clothes.
By cheap, I mean my clothes are either free or less than $30.
I have plenty of T-shirts and even jackets I got for free.
I have a couple of more expensive outfits that I got for more than $500 altogether.
But they are for work and definitely not my typical purchases.
The most expensive clothes I have are two Calvin Klein dresses I got from Macy’s for roughly $100 each.
I was window shopping at Macy’s to kill time (prior to blogging) one day and saw those two beauties feeling lonely among hundreds of other outfits.
I wanted to try them on and later decided they were made for me (eh).
I don’t advocate buying cheap clothes since you usually get what you pay for.
I also believe that high quality clothing usually lasts for a long time and thus are worth the money.
You can be frugal and enjoy luxurious things in life as Luxe at The Luxe Strategist points out.
However, even if your mind tells you to eat healthy veggies, you hands might still be reaching out for those French fries or chips that are both cheap and unhealthy.
That would be me with clothing.
I whole-heartedly agree that buying something expensive that lasts is better than something that breaks after a couple of days.
Yet, my stubborn head still holds on to the four reasons below and dictates my action of buying cheap clothes.
1. I was poor.
I grew up poor in a low-income family in Vietnam. Wearing socks with holes in them despite multiple rounds of mending was what I did.
Whenever I inherited some “new” hand-me-down clothes from my aunt, I would would super happy. I felt like I was going to be on a fashion show.
After I came to America on a scholarship, I was a poor college and grad student for ten years. I did multiple part-time jobs on campus earning minimum wage. I knew what it took to earn $5/hour and didn’t want to spend $20 on a shirt.
You can say I was cheap, but being fashionable or looking nice in college wasn’t my goal. Not running out of money, especially in case of an emergency, was.
I would hate to ask my parents for their hard-earned money. I just kept saving and saving. Fear was one of my strongest motivations not to spend. I was afraid of being broke in a new country where I had no family.
After I started working, I went on to buy some nice blazers and dresses to look presentable. One time I had to go on a business trip and had to meet with an important delegation from overseas.
I reasoned that I was presenting my employer and didn’t want to look shabby. I spent $250 on a dress suit, two blazers, and a top for the occasion. I haven’t shopped for work clothes for more than a year. And the interesting thing is I wore the dress suit only once over the past year.
When it comes to casual clothes, I try to stay within the $30 budget for a new clothing item.
2. I’m lazy.
One thing I’ve noticed about expensive clothes is that they require either hand-washing or dry-cleaning, something I try to stay away from.
Regardless of the price or quality of the clothes, hand-washing can make them last longer since the washer can be rough on delicate material.
When something is made from silk and is expensive, it just needs to be hand-washed. There’s no way the item can withstand multiple rounds of being machine-washed without losing color.
As for me, I’m not a big fan of hand-washing clothes since it can take up to 30 minutes of my day. If I toss them into the washer, it takes less than one minute. I can then go do something else and wait for the wash to finish.
I grew up washing clothes for my family by hand almost every day. Coming to America and seeing the magic of the washer is something I’ve gotten a bit addicted to. You can say I’m spoiled, but I would prefer to have the washer do its job and save me some time.
3. Expensive clothes cost more to maintain.
I have had a couple of wool pea coats that need to be dry-cleaned. I dread dropping $10-$30 cleaning something I had already spent money on. I want to do it for free or on the cheap.
The last time I dry-cleaned my pea coat was probably 7-8 years ago when I brought it back to Vietnam and had it dry-cleaned for $2. I wasn’t even sure if the coat got any cleaner. But since then, I try my very best to not have to dry-clean anything.
I’ve bought work dresses from H&M or other brands for $30-35 which need to be dry-cleaned according to the instructions. I just put them into a small wash bag and toss them into the washer.
I will hang the clothes on a hanger instead of putting them in the dryer. I’ve done that with some of my other clothes as well.
Whenever I wear something more expensive that need to be hand-washed or dry-cleaned, I have to be extra careful not to get them dirty or ripped. That makes me feel more self-conscious and less comfortable.
As a result, I rarely wear those items and just revert to my cheap clothes which I know I can toss in the washer. Some people wear a clothing item a couple of times. But I sweat so much that it’s definitely out of the question.
In fact, my go-to outfits are a $15 H&M dress, a top and a caprice I got from Vietnam 7-8 years ago, a $7 fleece jacket from I don’t remember where, and some other comfortable items that are washer-friendly.
I try to dress up on special occasions. My favorite jacket to wear to work is a $10 blazer I got from a thrift store instead of the $80 Tommy Hilfiger jackets I got from Macy’s.
Whenever I want to wear one of those prettier and more expensive dresses, the thought of having to hand-wash or dry-clean them makes me change my mind.
My favorite clothes to wear at home are free T-shirts I got from various events. They are comfortable and washer-friendly. I can definitely notice the wear and tear over the years, but they’re made from cotton and thus are comfortable.
Cheap clothes in this cause doesn’t mean they are made from polyester. They just cost us nothing to acquire.
Related: How We Save On Hubby’s Clothes
4. My weight changes.
When we buy expensive clothes, we hope that we will get years of use out of them. I know it works for a lot of people. However, for me, my weight fluctuates so much due to pregnancy and sometimes careless eating habits that some more expensive items no longer fit me.
I used to be able to fit into size 0 dresses, but now it’s out of the question. I have two nice Calvin Klein work dresses I got for $35-40 each from Ross. They retail for almost $100, but they were on sale at the store. I wore them for one summer and got pregnant.
Since then, they’re constant reminders that I have grown in size. Although I lost 40 lbs after giving birth, we’re planning to have 1-2 more children. My weight is bound to fluctuate widely in the next few years.
There are many more items I got before having Baby FAF that no longer fit me. However, those are $10 jeans from Forever 21, $5 tops from Ross, and $25 dresses from Marshal’s.
I can’t wear them anymore, but I don’t feel too bad for spending too much money on those purchases. Also, I believe the stresses are out of style and are a bit too revealing for my age (31).
My taste in clothes has changed now that I work and have a baby.
I have seen the debate on buying expensive clothes as an investment versus finding cheap clothes for comfort.
You can actually scour thrift stores and achieve both goals: high quality clothes at a low price. I have found great items at Ross and Marshal’s for a fraction of the original prices.
I would love to have the freedom to buy any clothes I want without having to check the price. But that’s not the case. Mr. FAF and I live on a budget. We can budget for expensive items, but we would like to allocate our disposable income to other purposes.
Choosing what clothes to wear and what food to eat is a personal choice. I don’t give people a hard time about buying expensive items and understand the cons of buying cheap clothes.
We choose what makes us comfortable and happy within our means. And I think that’s the most important takeaway from this post.