Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Year's Worth of Clothing Purchases

OK... so apparently, in her book "Overdressed" (which I have not read) author Elizabeth Cline states that the average American buys 68 items of clothing plus 8 pairs of shoes per year - spending an average of $1100.

Since Dar at AnExactingLife and Candi at MinHus have posted their annual clothing tallies, I figured maybe I'd join in and list my clothing purchases for the past year.

I have to admit that doing this inventory made me giggle a little bit... there seems to be a bit of a theme emerging, can you spot it?

So this year I bought:

1 pair of bike shoes
1 pair of summer bike gloves
1 pair of bike shorts
3 pairs of merino wool bike socks
1 pair of winter bike gloves
1 pair of insulated 3/4 length bike pants
1 winter bike jacket
1 SmartWool base layer top
1 Ibex wool mid-layer top
1 pair of bike-shoe wind stopper toe covers
1 pair of insulated winter bike-shoe covers
1 wind stopper skull cap
1 wind stopper balaclava

Hmmmm... I'm sensing a definite tired of freezing my ass off on my bike trend!

Actually, every single thing I bought was for cycling! I suppose one could make a case that this stuff is "equipment" not clothing, but I dunno. With the exception of the socks and the 2 wool tops - all of which I wear regularly for general use, all of it is pretty bike-specific and not the sort of thing you'd want to wear out in public.

I think you were supposed to add up the total amount spent, but alas, I was too lazy to try to go back and research it all, but I'd guess I'm probably pushing around $700 which is a LOT for me.

But I think it's mostly because after a year of so of hunting unsuccessfully for this kind of thing at the thrift store I made a conscious decision to spend some money acquiring some gear that I knew I needed and would use. While I could get by pretty well with "regular" clothes on my old bike, I found that when I bought my road bike I really needed some more specialized equipment.

Realistically, it's pretty hard to find this sort of stuff on the used market, and having the right gear makes a HUGE difference in terms of bike ride enjoy-ability. So the only piece that was a used purchase was the Ibex wool top - which retails for well over $100, and I got it for about $5!

At any rate, since I have a habit of wearing my clothing for a VERY long time (hello 40 year old ski jacket) with any luck I'll be set for a while when it comes to bike-wear!

So how about you? How much clothing did you buy this year?


  1. I'm going to do a clothing post in the next couple of days... I've bought quite a few pairs of leggings and a couple of dresses this year..oh and new jodhpurs, as mine were developing holes. Definitely a need to replace!

    Sounds like your clothing purchases have been well worth it for the extra enjoyment of bike riding brought about by not being FREEZING!

    1. OK... I had to go look up jodhpurs on Google... I was so sure it was one of those crazy typos but no! They actually exist! So does this mean you ride horses? If so, I am incredibly jealous.

      One of the trails that CatMan and I regularly ride takes us through a section of town where everybody has horses. There's one group that I regularly stop and pick grass for because they live in a tiny dirt pen with no fresh grass. The come running when they see me coming! In my next life I'm gonna have horses!

    2. I do ride horses...I don't have my own, as it's quite a time and money commitment (not that lessons are cheap either!). I had my first lesson for my 9th (or possibly 10th!) birthday and have been riding ever since. If I won the lottery, I would have a horse sanctury alongside my kitty rescue..a place for all of the slightly broken horses to retire, as well as a non- broken one for me to ride about on!
      I feel a bit sorry for the horses with no fresh grass :( (Although horses are sometimes put in areas with no grass to stop them getting laminitis, which usually affects small fat ponies which have had too much sweet grass!!)

    3. Hmmm... I hope I haven't been hurting their tummies by giving them grass. But I honestly don't think they're being kept there for that reason, that's just the pen that's attached to that particular house. The owners don't seem to mind when I give them grass, and I think they'd ask me to stop if the horses weren't supposed to have it.

  2. I think you can chalk the whole list up as equipment and claim you didn't spend anything on clothes :)

  3. I agree with Dar. All but one of the clothing items I purchased were for work, although I wear them at other times too. But if I didn't have to dress up a bit everyday my wardrobe would be so much smaller.

    So does having the right gear make winter bike rising comfortable? Cause when the temp goes under 60 I put the bike to bed until next spring because it becomes painfully cold

    1. My wardrobe shrunk considerably after I quit my job. I'm still hanging onto a few pieces that I like a lot, but honestly, I seldom have anywhere to wear them!

      And in terms of bike gear - it's made a HUGE difference for me. The main thing that keeps me warm is the wind-stopper fabrics. I'm not sure how they're made (and not sure I want to know because I kinda doubt it's an environmentally friendly process) but having clothes that stop the cold wind but still let the sweat evaporate has made all the difference for me. I literally used to be in pain because I was so cold, but now I'm actually comfortable!

  4. To my surprise I've spent exactly $77 this year on clothes:

    1 pair of pantyhose
    10 pairs of socks
    4 pairs of pants
    5 shirts
    1 dress

    The only things bought new were the socks and pantyhose.

    1. Congratulations! For regular clothes, I've seldom found any advantage to buying new. It just costs more and you never really know what you're getting. When you buy used, anything that was gonna fall apart instantaneously already has... if it was gonna shrink it already did it, yadda yadda yadda. Used is a much better deal IMHO.

  5. As someone who just uses regular workout clothes (or, sometimes, jeans if I'm going to a bar or someone's house) on his bike, I am blissfully unaware of what proper riding clothes might do for me. But I defer to you and based on your other approaches to spending/frugality, I'm sure these are quality purchases that will last for a long time.

    And anything that gets you on the bike is probably a pretty good purchase, right?

    1. Well, if you're comfortable then you probably don't need anything special. Everything I bought was because I was either miserably cold (probably not an issue where you live) or in pain.

      When I ride my old hybrid bike I don't need to be so fussy about the gear - I'm in a pretty upright position, going at fairly slow speeds (usually under 12mph - so wind is less of a factor), and I'm also generally taking shorter trips. But when you spend 4 hours at a time in the saddle, things like chafing become a BIG problem - plus the bent over position on a road bike requires pockets in odd places, and extra room in the sleeves, shoulders and tail.

      But hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Trust me, if your bike clothes weren't working for you, you would know it!

  6. Enjoy your purchases! Bike riding is important to you, you do it a lot, and you should be properly equipped.

    1. Thanks Kris, I think pretty much everything I've bought has been worth its weight in gold. Well... some of the stuff for extreme cold has yet to be thoroughly tested because we've had such a mild fall and I'm not quite crazy enough to ride when it's 10 degrees out! But hopefully I'll be set for a while!

  7. In your case the bike gear is well worth the money as you ride crazy miles in a single trip. You got me on what I bought, I had to stop and think back to January. I bought 2 pairs of sweat pants, love wearing them in the cold when I'm working, 2 pairs of summer pants from the thrift shop, 2 packages of underwear, (no I won't buy these used), I can't think of anything else. The sweats were 6 or 7 dollars each, the thrift pants were .25 each and the underwear maybe $3-4 a pack. That's it for the year. I did acquire a winter hat now that I'm out in the cold having given up my car but my son had a bunch from the military and gave me one so no money out there. I can't EVER imagine spending a thousand a year, although I do know people who plop down $200 or more ever week, and for them 8 pairs of new shoes is an understatement. What's funny to me in a warped way is watching said friends search for a pair of shoes they know they bought and want to wear. One friend stores her shoes under her king-sized bed, it is jam packed and the over flow are all over the bedroom closet and around the main door of the house. It's crazy.

    1. I'm totally with you. I just think there's a huge difference between buying clothes and buying "fashion", and it seems to me that the whole "fashion" industry is really just taking advantage of people's insecurities.

      I remember once when I was still working a few of us were sitting around waiting for a meeting to start. One woman was complimenting another on her boots and then she said something like "I'm so embarrassed of my boots because they're last year's style." I was totally floored! I mean seriously? Do boots really come in and out of style every single year? And are people really so gullible that they actually believe that they need to replace all of their clothing each year in order to be socially acceptable?

      And the thing was... the woman who made the remark was raising 3 kids on a salary of about $20K, with NO help from their respective fathers. I mean, she could barely afford to keep a roof over her head, yet here she was worried about her boots being out of style. I sorta wanted to shake her! I can't help but be angry when I think of the fashion fat cats making billions off of people like her.

    2. That's pretty mad...I wouldn't even know what is cutting edge fashion right now...possibly because I don't read glossy magazines. (Apart from Harper's Bazaar whilst waiting to give blood the other day- just a ridiculous brochure of adverts for expensive things, as far as I could tell!)
      All of my boots are at least a couple of years old (I have three pairs)...I'll replace them when they wear out, not when someone else decides they are no longer cool (err...not sure that they were ever cool in the first place!) Fashion is just a waste of resources!

  8. Somebody must be buying a lot of clothing to come out with the average American figures because everyone commenting here, including me, buy a whole lot less than that. With that being said, lifestyle has a lot to do with how much clothing you need. If I weren't working outside the house, I'd have a smaller wardrobe. Even if I wanted to spend more money on clothing, I don't want to take all of the time shopping and fitting clothes and shoes. It always seems like an arduous task to me and one that I rarely enjoy.

    1. Totally agree. If you'd told me 5 years ago that I would have plunked down $100 for a cycling jacket, I'd have said that you were off your rocker! And my desire not to have to wear pantyhose and other nonsense like that was a big part of what kept me out of corporate America - at least in the beginning.

      And I'm so glad to learn that I'm not the only person who HATES shopping for clothes. Yuck! Just YUCK! I hate trying things on, and having to look at myself in those horrible fitting room mirrors with the fluorescent lights that make my hair look green. Seriously, who enjoys that?

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  10. I refreshed this page to see if you'd responded yet, and realized my original comment sounded judgmental - not my intent! So here's my revised comment . . . hope you don't mind the delete!

    This year I bought two new tops ($20), a dress ($35), a new bathing suit top - luckily the bottoms are black and go with anything ($12), a hoodie - because I was cold on vacation ($15), a sweater - because I was still cold on the same vacation ($8), and yoga pants - because my one pair of exercise pants is the insulated kind and too thick for yoga indoors ($2). A total of 7 things and $92.

    I think your purchases are worth it if they allow you to use your bike for more of the year - which means more bike rides (yay!) AND you're more comfortable doing it.

    1. Hey Amanda, I read the original comment but hadn't gotten around to responding yet... but it didn't sound terribly judgmental to me. I can't imagine spending that kind of money on clothes each and every year!

      Anyhow, sounds like you did great on clothes this year! I'm chuckling because I too have a few items in my wardrobe that were purchased on some vacation or another when I got cold! I think that freezing my rear end off seems to be a big motivator for me in general! :-)

  11. Wow, I can actually answer this question fairly easily (because I have a spreadsheet):

    $12.99 t-shirt with a design (3 "dine-o-saurs": steak-o-saurus (with steaks as the plates along the back), T-Mex (with a body shaped like a taco), and I can't remember the other one.

    $35.17 blazer (50% off at Gap Outlet) - I'd really been wanting something to go with navy slacks and a white t-shirt for work and I found something I really like.

    $2.17 - 2 pairs of socks

    $17.30 - 2 t-shirts (sale)

    $18.93 - straw hat with pretty band

    $108.25 - running shoes (too bad these didn't work; still haven't returned them)

    $16.24 - another design t-shirt (beavers sliding down water slides)

    $12 - another design t-shirt (Starry, Starry Night as might be seen by the cookie monster)

    $2.06 - socks

    $12.34 - sneakers (on sale)

    $42.46 - tan cable-knit button-up sweater (on sale) - I've really been wanting one; I'm wearing it right now

    $7.58 - slippers from Dollar Tree--my last cheapo slippers lasted many many years before the soles cracked off, so I got some more

    $3.23 - solid hunter green t-shirt (thrift) - just like another shirt I already have and like

    $16.24 - another design t-shirt

    $10.24 - 2 pairs of jeans (thrift) - replacing old jeans

    $32.48 - more design t-shirts

    Total: $370.92, including 3 pairs of shoes. I knew I'd gone overboard with the t-shirts this year but had forgotten about getting so much stuff at outlet stores instead of thrift stores this year. Of course I think I spent way more than usual, but might I think that every year? Perhaps.

    Oh, living-simply-free is reminding me that I also acquired a scarf. After knitting one for my boyfriend, I had lots of leftover yarn, but it was too late to return it, so I gave it to some friends. One of the friends made hers into a scarf and gave it to me.

    And I will add that I am so uncool that I don't have any boots at all. Where normal people would wear boots, I either wear sneakers or just refuse to wear skirts in winter because I don't have any good shoes for them.

    1. Ha! Well I have 2 pairs of boots... one pair of UG boots for wearing in the snow, and one pair of rubber "duck" boots (rubber on the bottom, leather on the top with felt insulation inside) for when it gets warm enough to make slush. Nothing fashionable here!

      I'm sensing that you have a weakness for "design t-shirts" :-) I have to admit that I don't know what that is, but sounds like you enjoy them and if Elizabeth Cline's numbers are correct you're only spending about 1/4 what the average American does, so that's pretty darned good!

    2. I just meant t-shirts with designs on them rather than just plain t-shirts like you might wear to work.

      I find that every year I tend to stock up on one or two things. This year it was clearly t-shirts!

    3. Oh... I get it. I have a PILE of t-shirts with interesting designs that I've been trying to get rid of for years. When you spend as many years as I did working in the music world, you can't help but collect them. Seemingly EVERY event has a free t-shirt attached to it. And it's not like you can say no to them since you're generally required to wear it while you're working the event. I've gotten rid of hundreds and am currently working on re-crafting the ones that I kept so that they're more fitted instead of having the giant one-size-fits-all square sack look. :-)

    4. Yeah, I've gotten rid of most of the free t-shirts. If you have a lot that mean something, you can make a quilt out of them. Googling shows you a few designs and gives some good hints.

      I keep mine with the square sack look. I pretend that tucking them in helps. Unless I forgot to wear a belt.

    5. Ha! Well, I thought about the quilt idea, but since I don't, ahem, have such a great track record with projects I decided to give myself a break and just hauled most of theme to the thrift store.

  12. This year I have purchased:
    a 6 pack of underwear $8
    a Blouse for work $.99 (had a $10GC and it was on sale for $10.99)
    a skirt and blouse for a meeting since i had gained weight $32
    dress pants for work (same reason as above) $16
    sock yarn to knit another pair of socks for me $20 (and leftover yarn for a pair of fingerless mitts!)
    a 6 pack of ankle socks since the pack i bought 3 years ago were kind of holey $8

    That makes $85 for the year.

    now for my son growing a few inches this year.....i've only bought a few things because i have been given quite a few hand me downs!!!!! YAY!!!!! but, i've had to purchase karate gear for him for about $150 in all.

    Hubby, we probably spent about 250 - which includes new winter boots.

    I do also try to buy things that aren't trendy or obviously seasonal. that way i can wear them year after year. turtlenecks/mocknecks are basic colors, etc and sweaters are plain snowflakes or things like that.

    last year i bought new timberlands and sneakers for my son and myself so we should be okay until next year for that. (my son will need running shoes for spring track and his black belt testing in the spring.....i had better start saving now!)

    1. Sounds like you did great! The whole fluctuating weight thing is such a pain to deal with isn't it? I find that I have to keep three sizes on hand because my weight goes up and down so much throughout the year.

  13. Since going on a self-initiated mission to invest in a functional work-wardrobe (where I work, suits would be a no-no), I have spent an uncharacteristically huge amount on clothing this year. But it's ok. I don't know the running total off the top of my head but at an estimate probably €500 at least. I have a plan of basics that I want to slowly get together, I don't want to heavily wear them and I hope to have them for a long time.

    Prior to this, everything I had was 5-7 years old and heavily worn - so, worn out too. Luckily I switched jobs so many times during this period, so nobody really noticed that I wore the same things all this time! Only my friends. A couple of them, who although didn't mean to be, well... mean, mentioned it on a few occasions and as a more sensitive person back then, it was quite hurtful.

    I bought some expensive items new and some second-hand things (I LOVE the german website But nothing that's not on my list. If I can get something second-hand I'm prepared to be patient. Other things are needed more urgently - e.g. winter boots.

    I find with second-hand clothing, that I am more prone to donating them quicker than things I have bought new. I donated a lot of stuff that was given to me by friends or family or older things I'd bought secondhand that don't make me feel good, things that never fitted me well etc.

    I think it's better to invest in something that makes you feel good and wear it out - second hand or not - than to have a gazillion tops that you wear once and then throw away. That's just clutter and wasteful.

    Now, although I have a LOT less in my wardrobe, I feel like I have things that I can adapt for any occasion that comes up - work dinners, presentations, parties, hillwalking... but it is a lot of effort to go out and try things on and get them. I prefer to be relaxing at home or doing something else with my weekend rather than shopping, but it is also reassuring to know that I don't have to RUN out and buy something (anything) for that thing you have to go to next week, which turns out doesn't fit, which turns out I don't wear....

    1. Sounds like a great strategy to me. Funny enough, that's sort of the same tactic I'm using with bike clothes! I was trying to get by with thrift store purchases, but I ended up with a bunch of stuff that just wasn't quite right. I don't consider it all to be a loss though, because some of the pieces worked, and it also helped me to figure out exactly which pieces I did need to go buy new. Much better to experiment on a $5 purchase than a $75 one!

  14. I think the only things I bought this year were some Cacique bras and panties (new), and a pair of jeans and 2 pairs of sleep pants from Goodwill. I mostly wear T-shirts and in the winter I just add an insulated shirt under them.

    I hear you on the bike clothing though. My husband is out either road or mountain biking almost every day that he's not at work. He has so many pieces but uses them all, depending on the season. Seems as though there is always something that needs replacing though! He also participates in lots of 5K/half-marathons/fun rides and so there is a T-shirt that comes home to live in his closet from every one of those too.

    1. Ha! Back in my music days I gathered enough t-shirts to fill an entire dresser! Not kidding!

      Anyhow, it's rather amazing how a few degrees difference in the temperature can require a whole different set of biking clothes. CatMan actually has a spreadsheet where he logs his bike rides and keeps track of what he wore and how hot/cold he got so he'll know what to wear the next time!


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