Yesterday I went to bed at 10 PM but couldn’t fall asleep. And what did I do?
I looked up Mrs. Frugalwoods’s blog posts about her clothing ban and relished the progress of my own for the first half of 2018.
I grew up poor and always wished that I would have money one day to buy whatever clothes I wanted.
From the age of 19 to 30, I went through a couple of phases where I bought more clothes than I needed at higher prices than I was comfortable with.
I reasoned that those $100 dresses or $50 Victoria’s Secret undergarment would make me feel happy after a childhood of inheriting old clothes from my aunt.
And I was. I was happy during and right after the purchases. But that happiness didn’t last long.
After a couple of months, such expensive clothing items would stare me in the face and remind me of how much cash I had dropped on them.
And most importantly, they don’t make me happy anymore.
Some of the more expensive clothes I bought are collecting dust in the closet.
My family is not well-off, but we usually get used clothes from the people we know in our family instead of buying used clothes from strangers.
My mom feels weird about it and thinks we can contract some kind of contagious disease from wearing strangers’ used clothes. That belief somehow stuck with me for years.
So far, I’ve bought mainly new clothes that are cheap and/or on sale.
However, after joining the personal finance (PF) community and seeing that other PF bloggers such as Mrs. Frugalwoods and Lily have no problem wearing thrift clothes, I have gradually changed my mind about wearing a total stranger’s clothes.
It’s not bad. And no blogger has reported any case of contracting disease from wearing hand-me-downs before.
At the end of 2017, after seeing that I hadn’t worn 4-5 new outfits/dresses and half of my wardrobe, I decided to implement a clothing ban for myself.
My definition of a clothing ban is no purchase of any clothing items, including shoes, undergarments and accessories like scarves, gloves, and belts.
As half of the year has gone by, my clothing ban is going strong despite my pregnancy. In this post, I will tell you exactly how I do that.
1. You don’t need to donate or sell clothes that you haven’t worn in the past year.
I read everywhere that you could declutter your wardrobe and donate or sell the clothes you haven’t worn for six months. That’s something I don’t do, maybe not often enough.
In a way, I’m kind of a hoarder. You see, there are four seasons in a year, and each season might call for a certain type of clothes. A top you haven’t worn six months in the winter might come in handy in a year when the summer is scorching hot.
What’s more, if your weight fluctuates like my mine due to pregnancy or whatever reason, a dress you can’t fit in this year might be perfect for you next year.
That’s the case unless you care about style, which I really don’t as long as the clothes look and feel fine. I don’t need to walk at a fashion show, so I don’t need to keep up with the latest trend.
That said, if there’s something you haven’t worn in 2-3 years, it might be time to consider donating or selling it.
Related: How To Have A Successful Yard Sale
2. Get hand-me-downs from neighbors and friends
I was pregnant with Baby FAF during the winter, so I do have some winter maternity clothes I could wear during the first few months of my second pregnancy (winter & spring).
However, the last trimester would be during the summer, so I was thinking that I might have to hit the store for some summer maternity clothes early this year.
Whenever the urge to buy maternity clothes surged, however, I would remind myself about the 2018 clothing ban and stood my ground.
A couple of weeks later, my neighbor, who just had a baby, gave me a huge bag of summer maternity clothes.
I offered to pay, but she declined, saying that she was just happy to get them out of her house.
I got 10 tops, two knit dresses, and 5 pairs of pants for FREE!
I have to admit that I felt shy asking people to give me their old clothes, so I just waited for them to ask me first.
But if you’re more extroverted than I am, you can be more proactive in asking around. I’m sure people will send their stuff your way.
Related: 10 Things I’m Grateful For
3. Shop thrift stores, yard sales, and community sales
One thing I find frustrating about thrift stores and yard sales is that they don’t usually have the clothes that I need or want. I’ve been to a couple of yard sales and came back disappointed.
Sometimes I get upset since I feel like I’ve wasted an hour of my life searching for work clothes or a nice dress at a community sale in vain while I can easily get them at the mall in 15 minutes.
After all, you have to be excited about hunting for deals and looking for a diamond in the rough. I’m usually pretty impatient when it comes to shopping.
If I know I need something, I just want to go to the store to get it and go home. I don’t derive much satisfaction from digging through piles of clothes to find what I like or need.
That said, one of my most own work vests is a $10 H&M blazer I got from Uptown Cheapskates in the DC area.
I also got a $20 Theory blazer from that store, but it was a bit of a disappointment since the fabric got wrinkly easily and called for dry cleaning which I never did. I tossed the blazer in the washer, and there went the nice look.
Related: 4 Reasons Why I Buy Cheap Clothes
4. Don’t underestimate your clothes.
As my belly gets bigger from the pregnancy, it suddenly dawned on me that some of my tops that are flowy at the waistline might be perfect for the baby pump. And I was right!
I dug through my closet and found two baby doll tops and a large-sized $26 Calvin Klein top I had bought while I was a bit overweight.
Those tops fit me really well even with the big belly and still have extra room for a growing baby bump. In addition, I also have some free XL and XXL t-shirts I’ve accumulated just for this very occasion.
I have to own up to the fact that I got two maternity dresses from my aunt and uncle, who came to visit us in DC in May. I told her repeatedly not to buy me any gifts.
But she still brought me two dresses and two sets of pajamas. I now wear the two dresses on a regular basis, but not the pajamas since they don’t fit my pregnant body.
You can call this a clothing ban failure, but it was really beyond my control.
What the clothing ban has taught me
I’ve learned 3 important lessons from this clothing ban.
1. Buying expensive and/new clothes don’t make me happy in the long-run.
Sure, I might get some satisfaction from the new purchase, but it fades away quickly. I understand that in some professions you need to look presentable, so it’s different.
But since I feel like I have all the basic work clothes I need, I won’t feel much happier with a new fancy blazer or work dress. I think that my wardrobe is enough for me to function casually and professionally.
Only financial stability will make me feel fulfilled and happy in the long run.
2. I have more clothes I can wear than I thought.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of mentality. If I know that I have had some clothes for years, I might think that they are old, not fashionable, and not wearable. But the truth of the matter is that they can work just fine.
I bought two baby doll tops when I was a freshman or sophomore in college, so I’ve had them for 12+ years now. I actually tried to give them to my sister, but she turn down my gesture, saying it wasn’t her style.
I wanted to get rid of those tops because I thought I had had them for years, and it was about time I moved on to something else. Now that I’m 31 and pregnant, they come in handy and serve me well just like any maternity clothes I can get.
Related: How To Save Money With Substitutes
3. Sometimes I don’t need to buy new clothes even when I think I do.
She said that if I don’t look good, Mr. FAF will start looking at other beautiful women. I think there’s some truth in what she said. After all, I don’t want Mr. FAF to be unkempt, unhygienic, and totally unattractive either.
However, what I’ve realized is that equating dressing nicely with always buying new and expensive clothes is a bit of a misconception.
Mrs. Frugalwoods has shown me that it is possible to look presentable on a budget and even with trash-find clothes. You don’t need to spend a ton to look beautiful.
Mrs. Frugalwoods’s clothing ban lasted for three years. Mine is in the first year. I don’t know if I will still be happy after the first and second years of not buying anything new, especially after I had frugal fatigue lately.
But currently, I’m super excited and proud of the fact that I have been able to maximize the utility of the clothes that I have for my current purposes.
It also makes me think about many other things that I have in life. Do I need a new pair of shoes or can I make do with the ones I already have? Do I need an air-fryer when I already have a convection oven?
All I can say is that I feel perfectly with all the material thing that I have. What I want to focus my energy on right now is advancing my career and building wealth for my family. Everything else that has to do with materialism is secondary.