I’m guilty. While I consider myself fairly frugal, I am seriously addicted to purchasing second-hand clothing. Most people probably look at me and think, “Damn how many North Face jackets does a woman need?!”
It’s true, I have quite a few. In fact, despite telling myself that I would never buy expensive clothes for my kids, I’m running an experiment to see if it will save me money in the long run. I rarely pay full price for the clothes I own and all but two of my beloved jackets have had a previous owner. Maybe it’s a flaw, maybe it’s a strength. Let’s talk about it today and you be the judge.
In today’s post, I’m going to talk about how I was introduced to this and why I choose to invest in quality clothing for myself. I’m also going to talk about considering doing the same for my children, and my hypothesis that it could save me money in the long run.
How It All Started
This whole situation is actually my husband’s fault and to an extent, he admits to it.
When we first started dating 10 years ago, he bought me a $200 North Face jacket as a Christmas present. My lifestyle had me still buying cheap $30 jackets that would last me the winter without a zipper breaking (hopefully), but rarely made it two winters. I was also a pack-a-day smoker, so the idea of having a nice winter jacket seemed like a waste even though I spent so many hours of my life outside freezing my butt off.
Why I Make the Investment for Myself?
A $200 jacket that replaced six or seven $30 jackets over the next few years ended up being a really good investment. While the jacket my husband bought me finally started showing visual signs of wear, it’s still very much so functional. Unfortunately for me, I am not the same skinny me that I was 10 years ago, so the jacket is a little snugger than I’d like.
This brings me to resale value. To date, I buy most of my name-brand products through online consignment. I typically pay only 30-50% of the retail price and many times the items I buy appear brand new. Let’s say that I bought that $200 jacket for $100 and decided to sell it for $30 when it no longer fit me. Now I’ve only paid $70 for a jacket that lasted me almost a decade despite daily use all winter long. In this scenario, the winter jacket would have paid for itself in 3 years or less.
In addition to the savings long term, I also value an article of clothing that is extremely versatile. For example, I have a lighter jacket that I wear to work almost every day through the spring and the fall. Even in the summer, I wear the same jacket because the air conditioning in the building runs pretty cold. It matches with everything, looks professional, and also keeps me comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. Since it’s waterproof, it covers me for just about everything. This means when I travel, it is the one jacket I bring, and I can typically get by with smaller layers underneath, allowing me to pack light.
You may be asking why I have so many jackets if they are versatile. It all comes down to weather, comfort, color. The engineer in me is tempted to write out a flow chart for exactly how this decision is made, but my assumption is that will only reiterate how weird I can be sometimes. On the plus side, it helps me keep decision fatigue to a minimum when trying to decide what to wear that day.
- Winter Jacket (Black) – The one winter jacket I need and wear daily (except for when I was pregnant).
- Professional Jackets (Gray and Black) – For when I need to dress professionally in Spring, Fall, and when I’m indoors during the summer. Thanks to Covid and working remote, these stay in the closet until someone insists I turn on my camera for work.
- Comfortable Jackets (Gray and Black) – For when comfort over style is acceptable. One of these has a hood and I’m pretty sure my in-laws are starting to think I sleep in that one since I started working from home.
- Thin Rain Jacket (Hot Pink) – For Running and Camping in the rain.
Luckily, the maximum I’ve spent on these jackets is $40, despite the retail value being $100-$200 for most of them. My winter jacket (the original and the decade later replacement), were both gifts from my husband. 6 Jackets for $40 each means that this guilty pleasure has cost be about $240.
Is It Worth Buying Name Brand Kids Clothes?
Enough about me, on to the real decision. I’m still divided on this thought process, so hear me out and don’t judge me too much if I sound like a hypocrite.
If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m a mom, and buying kids clothing as they grow like weeds is a pretty decent chunk of money. I was pretty fortunate to get several hand-me-downs as our kids were little, but it seems like as they get older, the clothes wear out before being able to find a new home.
At this stage, my son is almost 3, and I’m pretty disappointed to see how poorly some of the clothes I bought him for his 2nd birthday have held out. I was hoping these could last for his sister, but with stretched-out necks and waistbands, I’m not sure how much life they still have left. Good for spares, but likely won’t last for kid number two.
Over the last year or so, I’ve felt conflicted as my son was gifted some more expensive clothes. It’s not that I don’t want him to experience having nice things, but I am nervous that if he grows up living that lifestyle, then it doesn’t give him the freedom to define his own. I want my kids to be happy, and if I raise them to have an attachment to expensive stuff from the beginning, it will be difficult for them to dial that back later in life.
But what if it isn’t more expensive in the long run? In my mind, I found it difficult to justify spending more on clothes that kids will wear a handful of times before they quickly grow out of them.
The Break Down
How much to pay for an outfit of clothes?
I initially didn’t see the value in selling my kinds clothes after they were done using them. Most likely because I felt obligated to pass on to someone else as others passed their kids’ clothes on to us. I was also super stressed out and overwhelmed because while I appreciated the hand-me-down clothes, I was hesitant to turn anything away and found ourselves swimming in clothes. I found it was easier to drop them off to someone or to goodwill versus letting them take up valuable real estate in our two-bedroom house.
My son is almost 3 and I’m smarter now than I was a couple of years ago. I’ve seen how certain brands have lasted much longer, and how he is more comfortable in specific brands. Even used, many of these clothes far outlasted the quality of cheaper clothes I was purchasing new. So it brings me to the question – is it possible to save money while buying more expensive clothing?
Option 1: Buy Lower Price, Minimal Resale Value Spend $15 per outfit, potentially resell by bundling 10 outfits for $20 ($2 each).
Option 2: Spend More for Higher Quality, Sell After Use Spend $40 on an outfit and resell for $25
Option 3: Find Higher Quality Used Clothes, Sell After Use Spend $25 on an outfit and resell for $20
|Purchase Price||Resale Value||Total Cost of Outfit|
|Option 1 – Buy Low Quality Cheap||$15||$2||$13|
|Option 2- Buy High Quality New||$40||$25||$15|
|Option 3- Buy High Quality Used||$25||$20||$5|
Questions to Consider
- Are you quick to rule out more expensive clothing because you question if it’s worth it?
- Have you ever tried to sell your clothes when you no longer use them?
- Have you ever tried to sell your kids clothes when they grow out of them?
- How much do you pay per outfit for your kids?
Comment below, I’d love to hear what your experience is and how you save money.
Interested in trying to sell your clothes (or other stuff) while saving money and minimizing your life? Here’s a promo code for Mercari, the platform I’ve been using to buy/sell clothes for my kids lately. You get $10 for using the promo code and an additional $20 when you sell your first $100 on the app.