I’m Not Buying Any More Clothes

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Perhaps I’m odd, but I think about some weird things.

Take clothing, for example.  Somewhere along the way I started thinking about work clothes, and it led to a decision which I made recently, and am now declaring publically to the world:

“I’m not buying any more clothes.”

“Ok, that’s random,” you think.  Hear me out. There’s some logic in that statement, and the thought process that led to that conclusion is something I think justifies a blog post and some thought.

Let’s start with this:   Why do you buy stuff?  

I’d argue that, in an ideal world, we buy stuff because the value it provides is of greater worth than the cost we expend in the purchase.  Our need for the stuff is greater than the cost of the stuff.  Said another way:

If the benefit of something is greater than the cost, we buy it. Right? Benefit > Cost = Buy Click To Tweet

While that should be the case, I suspect more often than not we don’t do that simple calculation in our head. In reality, most of us don’t put a lot of thought into our purchasing decisions.

We want something, we buy it.  Simple.

Think Before You Buy

Challenge yourself to be a bit more intentional in your purchasing decisions. To clarify where I’m going with this, let me throw a hypothetical situation at you.

If you knew you were going to lose your driver’s license tomorrow (and you’d never drive again), would you buy a new car today?  

The answer is (I hope) obvious.  Since you’d only get 1 day of utility from that pricey new car before having to park it for the rest of your life, you’d most likely use your money for something of greater value.

Is it any different with “work clothes”?  If you had one day of work left, would you go out and buy a new work suit?

I doubt most folks think about this stuff, but I find it interesting.  As I said…my active mind thinks about weird stuff.

Developing a work clothes strategy has been an interesting topic for my brain. How about yours? Click To Tweet

So…..”work clothes”.  I have a lot of them.  After I retire, I won’t need them anymore.  How should I transition from here to there?

24 Dress Shirts – I won’t need these after retirement!

My Post Retirement Wardrobe

Here’s what I’m thinking I’ll realistically need after I retire:

  • 1 sport coat
  • 1 suit
  • 1-2 pairs of dress pants
  • 3-4 dress shirts.

I really can’t imagine I’ll need more than that.  Compare the above list to what I have in my closet today:

11 Dress Pants, 7 suits…

The Wardrobe “Glide Path”

In theory, if I have 24 shirts today, and I want to end up with 4 shirts at retirement, I should be working to eliminate 20 shirts from my “inventory” by the time I retire.

If I buy one, that’s really just one more I’ll have to get rid of.

Same with pants.

Same with suits.

Same with shoes.

To execute a smooth landing, I actually need to go the other direction:

I need to discard/donate 1-2 shirts per month between now and retirement. Click To Tweet

So, I’ve decided to firm up my position, and formally state “I’m Not Buying Any More Clothes.”  Now, I’m looking at whichever outfit I happen to be wearing, and thinking whether it’s time to donate that shirt.

Time To Donate

It’s nice to be where I’m at. It’s a sign that the retirement date is getting closer. Soon, I won’t need those clothes.

Conclusion

After last week’s heavy article on the “One More Year Syndrome”, I decided to throw a light one your way.

Clothes.

Do you have a retirement plan for your wardrobe?  Have some fun in life, and look at various aspects of your life in light of your retirement goals.  It’s amazing how many things are affected if you take the time to think.

Plus, it’s kind of fun.

In a weird sort of way.

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52 comments

  1. I laughed when I read this because I did a total closet purge a year ago this month – and then I went back to work! I did my best this year to keep clothing costs to a minimum. Luckily when you work with 5 and 6 year-olds and have to sit on the floor a lot during the day, fancy isn’t in fashion! I can keep most of the clothes and shoes I bought this time – but buying work clothes is one thing I won’t miss! Smaller closets – here we come! (Good thing, because the house we’re downsizing into has much smaller closets!)

  2. I’m with ya! I am constantly purging through there is little left. A few years back I started wearing the clothes I love instead of keeping them in the back of the closet for special occasions. I never go clothes shopping because it’s always tempting to freshen a wardrobe but when you are wearing the clothes you love you are tempted less.

  3. I really enjoy cleaning my closet of clothes! I found that there were a few pieces from college/just after that were trendy but either looked awful or were just not me. A clean sweep is really refreshing!

    Last year, I transitioned from working in an office to working remotely (due to a cross-country move). While only in my late 20s, I now have a post-office life wardrobe that consists of a few business outfits for business travel, a few nicer outfits for church/weddings/events/dates, and mostly casual or very casual (t-shirts and athletic clothes) outfits. It is really nice to look at my closet now and think “yup, I don’t need anything right now!”.

  4. I’m in the same boat, yep, time to lighten up on my dress clothes.

    A good friend of mine retired a couple of months ago and at his party he had a “take a free tie home” table. He’s a snappy dresser with some fashionable ties but I didn’t take him up on the offer. I have about two dozen myself and need to reduce that to 2-3.

    I was planning to unload after I retire but I like your idea to start now but I won’t fully take the pledge not too buy new clothes, just no more new dress clothes. I’ll transition to my new retirement wardrobe now – shorts and polos for the summer and Jeans and “work”shirts for the winter. One benefit, I’ll need a lot less so I won’t be buying all that much and it’s always a good feeling to donate what you don’t need. Thanks for the smiles. Paul

    1. Paul (the star of last week’s post!!), thanks for your continued engagement with The Retirement Manifesto! I LOVE the idea of a “take a free tie” table, may have to steal that for my retirement party! (probably too tacky to give away faded shirts, ya think?). Good point about buying “retirement clothes”, and I must admit I think I bought a pair of shorts this spring (retirement wardrobe!).

      Maybe I should rename the post “I’m Not Buying Any More Clothes, Unless They’re Clothes That I’ll Use In Retirement While We’re Traveling Around The Country In Our 5th Wheel”, but seems a bit too long…..

  5. LOL, good luck!

    I need work clothes for a few months each year and reasonably nice clothes for church. While Jon rarely needs to wear nicer clothes, he does tend to dress nicer whenever the occasion remotely suggests it. He wears button downs and khakis even for parent-teacher conferences, any dinner out fancier than fast food, and doctor’s appointments. Maybe he just misses wearing work clothes?

    That said, most of those rare times he dons a tie, there’s a cartoon character on it.

  6. To go along with clothes, you also should consider cuff links and all the other stuff that goes along with work. Brief cases? Backpacks? Business books you no longer need on the shelf. When it comes down to donating, I would say donate the stuff in good condition. If YOU would not wear it to an interview, maybe it should become car wash rages rather than Goodwill or Salvation Army or thrift shop fodder.

  7. Just re-soled some work shoes that will last long beyond my career. Wasn’t expensive, but why did I do it? I have too many pairs already!

    Fritz, you’re not alone! I think about this one too. Love this topic and way of thinking. Good stuff!

  8. I did the same thing practically. Two years before I retired I quit buying clothes . Then once I retired I kept very few basics for funerals, weddings, etc. Then after retirement I was giving away and donating clothes and shoes. My closet and life are so much lighter now!

    I really enjoy your posts!

  9. I recently went through and got rid of about 10 dress shirts. Now I have it down to 7 shirts and 5 pairs of pants (2 of which are a part of 2 suits I own). I am a ways away from retirement, but I figure this way I will be minimizing my stuff.

    The next step will be to modify my wardrobe to be only either black belt/shoes matching or brown belt/shoes matching. I have not decided which way to go yet. Then I can just focus on clothes that match that style. Boom!

    My father-in-law who wore a suit everyday to work has not worn one in the 5 years he has been retired. He now owns only one and loves not having to use it. I can’t wait for that day.

  10. I kept one outfit for meetings and got rid of the work clothes years ago. Supposedly I had mandatory monthly meetings in NY but I hadn’t been to the office in the 2 years before retirement. And I bailed out of all other travel meetings (although nerdy computer scientists wore shorts to those meetings so why I dressed like a grownup, I don’t know).

    There’s an agency that began in NY that is now national, called “Dress for Success”. They give gently used work clothing (entire outfits of suits, shoes, jewelry and purse) to women for job interviews. I wonder if there’s a similar organization for men. Maybe you can give yours away for that purpose?

  11. I finally did my closet purge yesterday. I retired a little over a year ago and this was way over due. I think my remaining dress clothes are about the same type and quantity you plan on having post retirement. There are still times that you need to look your best. I still have an armoire that needs a little purging and then off to Goodwill.

    I did find myself buying quite a few clothing items after I retired to fit in with my new volunteer and outdoor activities. I have certain items that I wear only for volunteer efforts and I call these my uniforms, even though they’re mainly t-shirts and shorts. I also needed more outdoor clothing now that I spend time hiking in the woods, swamps and marshes of Florida.

  12. I was a little concerned when I read the title that we were going to have to rename your blog to ‘The Nudist Manifesto’. But you’re right- it’s important to consider how much we will use any given time before we buy.

  13. I’m still a few years from retiring but I’ve already transitioned from a dressed up work wardrobe to a pretty casual one and donated lots of suits, skirts, and dresses. Such a relief to minimize the wardrobe, you’ll love it!

  14. Great idea! I am reminded of people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who have “uniforms” they wear to work, so they don’t have to waste energy choosing clothes in the morning. I have a relatively limited work wardrobe, but even so find myself choosing the same few shirts and pants among the few I have.

    Vacations are a nice way to test-drive a limited wardrobe: see if you can go a couple of weeks with only 1-2 outfits. I have often been surprised with how few clothing items I need to take on vacation.

    Take care,
    Dr. C

    1. Check out Dads Dollars Debts comment above. Black or Brown? While not as radical as Steve Jobs black turtleneck, there’s something to be said for wardrobe simplicity! LOL on the “vacation test”. Added bonus:
      no lost bags since you can carry everything on with you! Thanks for your engagement with my site, it’s noticed!

  15. A retired coworker has given my hubby some nice suits and shirts. Problem is, there is simply too much to fit in his closet. So recently when he came home with even more, I told him to clean out his closet first. So now he can wear the “new” stuff and we have 3 bags of older clothes ready to donate.

  16. I’ve been trying to update my wardrobe recently, but that also consists of cleaning out clothing that I will no longer be wearing. I’ve been selling a lot of my older but still in good condition clothes on Poshmark, and if after a few price drops it doesn’t sell – I donate it. When purchasing new items I also use Poshmark or wait specifically for clearance sales. You can then combine those savings by using discounted gift cards or cash back sites.

    I’m hoping once I’m done with that my clothing purchases will go back to minimal!

  17. I’m not planning on a retirement per say, but looking at moving from an accounting position for someone else to running out property management business. I’ve been on a “I refuse to buy work/dressy clothes” kick. My plan is about 6-9 months out and once I am out of here and working there, we have T-shirts so it will be t-shirts and jeans instead of suits and dresses.

    Can’t lie, pretty excited!

    1. No need to retire if you love the work you’re doing. Good for you, hope the prop mgmt biz works out well for you. Would LOVE to work in a t-shirt and jeans office, congratulations! You have every right to be excited, you’ve earned it, and went after it!

  18. Thanks for sharing. I’m a huge cheapo when it comes to clothes. I spent a good amount this year. Probably more than I ever have because I kept getting dissed about how homeless I look =( I make $300K in income, but I wear clothes with holes in them. Go figure. My wife secretly throws away my clothes. And I always protest, because they’re the most comfortable!!!

  19. I think it totally makes sense. Besides the fact that you aren’t going to need all those work clothes, we are suckers for buying things we really and truly don’t “need.” And then, like those boots of mine that I have worn just once , you fill your closet with stuff you never wear. And it truly weighs you down. As we move toward financial independence day, embracing a more minimal lifestyle fits. And that can start with paring down your closet and donating all that “stuff” to a worthy cause. Good idea, Fritz!

  20. I agree with this approach. Why buy more than you need? (I also wear shirts until I have frayed cuffs and then donate them.)

    Michelle Obama recently noted that nobody noticed that Barack only had one tux and wore the same thing to every formal event for the eight years of his presidency. People don’t pay as much attention to our clothes as we think they do.

  21. Great minds think alike! I made a new years’ resolution that I will not buy any cloths for the year. Recently retired with more shirts and suits than I will ever need. I also have more casual clothing than I need so why buy more?

    So far, I an holding to my resolution. Well, maybe with one questionable exception – bought a hat with flaps so I don’t get sunburn on my neck when I hike in national parks. Is a hat considered clothing?

  22. I retired a couple of years ago, and while your post makes perfect sense assuming you will not be doing “formal” work after you retire it wouldn’t have worked for me at all. I chose to start up four side gigs after I left my 38 year career as a chemical engineer and corporate executive. These all require me to wear a suit, something my previous career only required on occasions. I don’t need to earn money, I’m well past FI by anyone’s measure because I was lucky enough to be both frugal and a high earner and also did not retire very early because I loved my career. Precisely because I enjoy what I did I was not ready to walk completely away from it. I now spend about two days a week on my four gigs and they have consistently earned me six figures. My only point is you don’t really know how you’ll feel about the rest of your life when you retire. You may think you’ll only wear a suit to funerals and weddings but you might decide to work part time or start your own business, maybe go on the speaking circuit? In my limited experience planning to get to FIRE is fairly easy if your mind works like mine or yours, but knowing what your ideal retirement will look like and feel like enough to know how you’ll need to dress, that’s harder than I thought. Great work you are doing, thanks for helping others navigate through life.

    1. Congrats for finding a perfect part-time side hustle that generates six figures on 2 days/week of work! Some real advantages in the chemical engineering field, and I encourage youngsters to pursue fields (like STEM) that offer great income opportunities, as you’ve demonstrated with your story.

      Well worth the cost of carrying a few suits! Thanks for sharing your story, a good reminder that none of us really know what our retirements will look like, and we have to be prepared to Adjust & Improve!

  23. Great approach Fritz. I followed this pretty similarly when I arranged to work from home one day a week. Leading up to that, we’d been downsizing and minimizing our wardrobes, so I was down to 5 dress shirts. Once I knew I was going to be home every Friday, I was comfortable getting rid of that last one and never going back 🙂

    The great thing about these decisions is that they are pretty easily reversible. If, for example, you decide to take up a hobby job that requires you to get more work clothes, it’s not too much of a loss to go back on the bold statement you’ve made and buy a shirt or two 🙂

  24. Nice decision!

    I have not bought new suits and shirts since a long time. I used to be full formal (suit,shirt, tie) and then moved on to jobs with less formal dress code. I am still wearing down now my older clothes. As long as they are in a good condition, I do not care that it is the 2014 model (or older)

    1. ATL, nice to see you on my site! I’ve probably got some suits from 2000 (still in good shape since I only wear them a few times a year, so why buy newer?), so I’d say you’re doing pretty well with suits that are only 3 years old!

  25. As a fashion-conscious male, whether one is working or retired, simplicity in the wardrobe works very well and I’m a firm believer in having a “uniform” of sorts. I think a lot of people (both men and women) have many clothing items and try to look fashionable but often fail to do so, they would be better served by a simpler, well thought out wardrobe. Having a few simple, basic pieces that can be mixed and matched can keep costs down and minimize decision fatigue.

  26. I love this! I’m a few years out and was already asking “why should I buy clothes that I hope I will never wear again?”. This affirms my thinking and gave me a chuckle…thanks!

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