How an Expensive Wardrobe Saves You Money

by Nicholas Pell on 23 July 2014 3 comments

No one wants to spend more than they have to. Still, the saying "you get what you pay for" is a truism. While you might ask "why pay more?" when it comes to clothes there are ways that having an expensive wardrobe can actually save you money in the long run.

Here are some ways that spending a little more up front will help you to avoid costs on the back end or even increase your earning potential. (See also: 8 Cheap Ways to Update a Wardrobe You Hate)

Shoes

When it comes to shoes, there are basically two ways they're going to save you money: buying quality dress shoes and quality sneakers.

Dress Shoes

Dress shoes are a serious "you get what you pay for" kind of thing. People thought I was nuts when I shelled out $800 for a pair of biker boots. They thought I was less nuts when I told them the boots have a lifetime guarantee and that I met a guy once who owned his for over 20 years. A lot of companies have similar guarantees, be they lifetime, 25 years or 10 years. Divide $800 by 20 years and $40 a year doesn't sound that bad.

When buying shoes with a 20-plus year guarantee, keep in mind that fashions change over time. As such, you're going to want to buy something basic and versatile — something that will go with your wardrobe just as well in 10 years as it does today.

Sneakers

Quality sneakers will save you money by saving on hospital bills. A pair of ten dollar running shoes from Payless just aren't going to get the job done — no matter what "the job" is. Good sneakers last longer, work better for what they're designed to do, and keep your feet and legs better protected.

The National Center for Biotechnical Information found that 60% of running-related injuries were due to poor training, with the wrong footwear cited as a major contributing factor. The NYU Lagone Medical Center found that poor footwear contributed to such injuries and ailments as bunions, hammer toes, blisters, corns, callouses, and even athlete's foot.

If you're just using sneakers to walk around the block, this might not be as much of a concern; But if you're engaging in any physical activity, get yourself a pair of good sneakers.

Denim

I don't wear cheap denim and I urge you to do the same. Not only will one pair of $150 jeans last longer than five pairs of $30 jeans, they also look and fit better. High-end denim is a huge trend right now. But again, the upside of it is that you only have to have a couple of pairs. Honestly, anything more than three is sort of overkill.

Remember: You shouldn't be washing your jeans. No less a source than the CEO of Levi Strauss says so. Buy them, wear them and throw them in the freezer when they start to smell bad. This works because it kills the bacteria that create smell. Maybe wash them every six months or a year or so, if you must. And hang them in your closet — don't fold them or throw them in a heap. (See also: 25+ Secrets to Keep Your Clothes Brighter, Whiter, and Lasting Longer)

Suits

To be honest, I think "expensive" is the wrong word here. You can get killer suits from the thrift store for cheap. However, you need to meet a minimum bar of quality.

Quality Materials

The suit has to look nice from far away and close up, even if you only paid $100 for it. Inexpensive suits can look nice. "Cheap" suits cannot. Look for things like wear (especially on the knees and elbows) or "pilling" — those little balls that form on cheap materials.

Canvas

If your suit is glued together, it's not going to last as long as a half-canvas or a full-canvas suit. There are several ways to tell if a suit is canvassed or fused, including feeling for a third layer of fabric on the jacket torso, looking for stitching underneath the lapel or just asking the salesperson if there is one.

Fit

Even if you get a made-to-measure suit it's going to require some tailoring. A good fit means a better-looking you, which can result in a higher earning potential. Nothing makes you look more pro than a well-tailored suit when you head down to that job interview.

A Good Suit Is Easy to Find

Again, the issue here is not "more equals more." It's an issue of meeting some minimum requirements — no matter what they cost. So where do you find suits?

  • Thrift Store: This is a bit risky, but you can also score some killer finds for next to nothing. Still, if you're especially concerned that you won't be able to tell what's acceptable, try the next option.
     
  • Suit Outlets: These have the advantage of a salesperson on site who can answer your questions like "Is this a full-canvas or a half-canvas" and "Do these suits pill quickly?"
     
  • Made-to-Measure Online: One of the great things about the 21st Century is that you can get a MTM suit for cheap online. My personal favorites are Indochino based in Canada and LA's own Thick As Thieves.
     
  • Your Local Tailor: Yes, you can still get a suit from the local tailor. This is probably the most expensive way of doing it, but if you have the money to throw around, why not?

Dry Cleaning

Here's something else I do that people think is nuts: I dry clean all of my clothes. Seriously. I never wash anything.

First of all, it's not as expensive as you think. A home dry-clean kit can be got for pretty much nothing and that will get you through 2-3 "washes" before you have to bring the heavy hitters in.

When you spend more money on clothes, you're going to want to maintain them. I liken dry cleaning my clothes to putting gas in my car: Sure, I put low-octane regular in my 2002 Chevy Cavalier. But when it comes to my 1968 El Camino, it's premium only.

Maybe have some stuff around you don't need to dry clean. But the stuff you spend money on you should treat as an investment; The more you wash it, the faster it depreciates.

Socks

Dress socks? Save your money. But when it comes to athletic socks, or socks you're wearing out hiking or hunting or doing other outdoor activities. Not only are they going to keep your feet in better shape (drier and warmer) when you wear them, they're also going to last longer, which as you might have noticed is a recurring theme here.

What part of your wardrobe do you splurge on?

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Guest

Just as an FYI, the note on freezing your jeans to keep them clean is false. Levi's admits that they have no scientific evidence to back up how well freezing jeans actually works. More here: http://gizmodo.com/5857596/sorry-levis-freezing-your-jeans-will-not-ungr...

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Noah BoardwalkSavers

I agree that sometimes quality beats quantity. But quality shouldn’t always be paired up with high prices. People can always purchase durable clothing and accessories for lower prices at the right time. I purchased my Dr. Martens during a semi-annual sales few years ago and paid only $80 from the $130 price. The boots are resistant to almost everything and I didn’t have to go overboard spending $800 on shoes. With the right amount of patience and timing, you can revamp your wardrobe with top notch gear without busting your wallet.

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Unless you've modded the engine in your 68 El Camino for high compression then premium fuel is not necessary.