4 Reasons Why I Buy Cheap Clothes

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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.

Related: 10 Expensive Things That Are Worth The Money

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.

Related: 5 Similarities Between Weight Loss & Debt Payoff


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.


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24 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why I Buy Cheap Clothes”

  • Interesting. Also, many people associate cheap clothes with used or unattractive clothes, or those bought from a thrift shop. But you can get very inexpensive and nice new clothing brand new at various big department or warehouse stores, for example. It just takes a bit of looking around and buying at the right time during sales, clearance, etc.

    For many people, myself included, it is impossible to tell the difference between a $10 dress and a $200 dress.

  • My wife found a couple of $5 Top Shop brand clothes/dresses at a store (Last Chance) two weeks ago. I think they are part of the Nordstrom Group of companies. The dresses look fantastic.

  • Like you, the shirts I wear at home are mostly free shirts I get from various places. I have lounging pants that I’ve worn for over ten years now. I’m lucky they still fit! As for work, I have five different color blouses for every day of the week and black suit pants. So I don’t have to think about what to wear in the morning. It’s the same every week. Because I have an office job, I can wear the same black pants for the whole week because they don’t get dirty and then I dry clean them. It’s worth dry cleaning the pants for me because I’ve had the same pants for at least five years now and they still look brand new (I paid about $40 for them after a 50% discount from The Limited when it was still in business).

    • I didn’t know The Limited went out of business. I think I bought a couple of items on clearance from that store.

      I also don’t like spending too much time getting dresses in the morning. I allow myself 2 minutes to pick what to wear depending on the weather. Any time longer than that makes me feel anxious about missing the train and being late for work. >_<

  • I definitely feel you on these points! I hate dry cleaning, and will almost never wear “nice” things because I don’t want them to get dirty, tear, stretch, wrinkle, etc. So why spend a lot on what you know you won’t use?

    • I cringe at dry cleaning too. I might change my mind when I’m super rich or something. But now, I’m more than happy with my washer and dryer. 😀

  • I’m another we really doesn’t care about clothes, and happily lounge about at home in any old clothes. Hence I love working from home days! I have to dress up a bit for the office, but I go on the casual side…….

    • I wear old clothes at home too and always become so alert when I hear someone knocking on the door 😀

  • I like both camps of thought but I’m in my own camp…go naked. Hahahahah I like how my lazy options are usually for freaky dingbats. I don’t have any PJs, I just sleep naked. I said I would come with an occasion to buy higher end clothes but I couldn’t do anything with my right-now clothes. They were going to end up in the trash bin for sure – they’re not good enough to be donated back…so I’m still wearing my cheap but wearable clothes since I know they’ll go into the landfills.

    • LOL my ex-roommate told me she slept naked too. She said it was liberating I had to be super careful not to walk into her room unannounced lol j/k I think I might get a cold if I sleep naked at night though >_<

  • I definitely don’t think everyone needs to be expensive clothes. As you mentioned, not everyone values them the same way. I think as long as there isn’t judgment over other people’s spending, it’s all good!

  • I use to like wearing fancy expensive clothing. But as i got older, my priorities have changed.
    I’d rather spend the money on a nice vacation than on clothes.

  • That’s a bargain if you were able to dry cleaned your pea coat for only$2! Dressed shirts were already that price when I had to dress formal at work. Thank goodness they went to business casual and allow me to work remote on other days.

  • Pros and cons to everything. Care is definitely one, but not as bad as you initially would think. Dry cleaning you can get away with for quite along time if you just let clothes air, and spot treat areas instead.

    I get to wear some pretty nice stuff due to current work, but I don’t really put too much emphasis on expensive clothes. I just use them the same as everything else. They look better worn in anyway, as it gives character to them. 😉

    I’m pretty sentimental about mine. I know who bought them or made them for me, with wear and repairs serving as reminders to what I did on a certain occasions, “growing” along side me. 🙂

  • Honestly 90% of my day today wear is thrifted. Stuff like underwear I buy new but even shoes… I can get good quality stuff for a steal secondhand.

  • I know the feeling. Before I met my wife, I used to shop at the fast fashion stores because the clothes looked good but, more importantly, were cheaper than some of the other brand name clothes. However, my wife is really good at looking for deals and we are able to spend the same or less than what it would cost us at the fast fashion stores.

    The only thing is it takes time to look for those deals and those deals don’t happen often so we tend to have spikes in our shopping expense.

  • Haha! It’s nice to know I’m not the only sartorial challenged blogger out there. I buy cheap clothes mainly because 1) I don’t care about being fashionable, and 2) I have a penchant for spilling things on my clothes.

  • Hi Mrs. FAF! I completely buy your point about not buying expensive clothes. Unlike you though, in my head, I judge people who do. Lol!

    I have been struggling with losing weight for some time now and always tell myself that I will buy it as a reward for when I am at a happy place, weight wise.

    For my daily clothes, I have also realized I am lazy. But, my laziness is of a different nature. I do not wear make-up every day or take much time in getting ready. Instinctively, I think good clothes will need me to expend that effort to do justice to them.

    Also, I like variety in my clothes. So, cheap short-lived clothes is a personal preference over expensive long-time clothing.

  • I like cheap clothes too for the same reasons. I find that fashion recycles constantly and so buying basics for me is the way to go.

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