The Empress Has No Clothes: Year Two Of My Clothes-Buying Ban

I am happy to say that I have successfully completed a year of not buying any clothes. Okay okay, it won’t be a full year until the 18th, but who’s counting? Furthermore, I have absolutely NO intention of dropping a single dime on anything to adorn my body for the next two weeks…and beyond! To be honest, that doesn’t mean I did not get new clothes in the past year. I received 6 pairs of everyday running socks on my birthday (from my mom) and a pair of super plush slippers for Christmas. I’m choosing not to count the socks or slippers because they were gifts. Therefore, as stated in my initial post, I did NOT purchase a single thread for myself this past year. It was so easy that I have decided to go for a second year. After all, when you hit a certain age, clothes really are durable goods.

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

After hopping on the clothes-buying ban bandwagon last January, I was a bit skeptical. I found that after I hit PUBLISH, I suddenly panicked and took inventory of every piece of clothing in my possession. I mean, others were doing it, and doing it well I might add. Here’s lookin’ at you, Mrs. Frugalwoods! Could a rookie such as myself keep up with the likes of Mrs. Frugalwoods? Eek!

Turns out it was surprisingly easy and something that didn’t really cross my mind. Granted, I do keep myself out of the malls and off of websites that would temp my inner fashion diva. And I will admit, when I see someone wearing something dashing at work or out and about, I do get a little jealous and think about getting an outfit for myself. But if I wait a bit, the thought turns out to be fleeting and I end up floating back down to reality. The reality of my very public clothes-buying ban!


Frugal Minimalists


3 out of 4 of these boots were repaired with super glue…and no one would ever know

Being a frugal minimalist, I realize it is not necessary to buy the latest fashion trends. For me, and probably you, it’s best to purchase classic pieces that can be mixed and matched. Trends can often be imitated with a little creativity and an accessory or two. I also realized that it’s not necessary to have an extensive work ensemble. Here again, a few classic pieces are fine. No one is paying attention. Trust me.  Did I mention that I repaired 3 pairs of boots with 1 tube of super glue last month? Yes, I did. My co-workers laughed, and I saved because I was able to extend the life of those boots for the rest of this season.

When I do finally decide I need some new threads I will first try local consignment shops and even eBay before hitting the mall or adding anything to a virtual shopping cart. This time will eventually come. Clothes-buying bans cannot last forever; our current threads will wear out and we will need to purchase new, or nearly new, clothes. Thus, the ban can begin anew!

What Did We Do With All That Extra Cash?

It’s funny you should ask! I’m not sure exactly where the “extra” cash went, but I can tell you that we managed to squirrel away an “extra” $5,000 last year. Every little bit helps. Let’s see, a year ago we also gave ourselves a hefty raise by cutting out some of our regular expenses. Read all about that here. My gut tells me that the money we didn’t spend on clothes ended up in that extra fund. Yes! Major score for 2016.

Have you started your clothes-buying ban? If not, what are you waiting for? Leave a comment so we can cheer you on or help you get started!

Pets 4

Mad Money Pup – Winter Style

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Lisa is the creator and resident writer at Mad Money Monster. She's a mother, scientist, and financial guru on a mission to save Generation X from working until they die!

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17 comments… add one
  • Ray Cage Feb 4, 2017, 3:13 pm

    I can’t say I consciously have a no clothes ban, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t bought new clothes in almost two years. Take that back, I do buy running shoes every 6 months months but that’s it. I am active duty military so it makes it a bit easier to do that.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think this is one I’ll share with my military peers.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 5, 2017, 10:42 am

      It’s so much easier than people realize. When you become an adult, clothes really do last for years – running sneakers aside 😉

  • rilmanstuff Jan 28, 2017, 11:21 pm

    Lol. Neat

  • uptightprettygirl Jan 23, 2017, 4:26 pm

    I have always wanted to do something like this! I am truly inspired by you. I am not sure I could go for a full year but I could definitely take it one month at a time. I am such a huge amazon shopper I am addicted. I buy shoes and clothes every week, and I know I could easily save a few hundred dollars a month by not doing it. The problem is I have no self control. After reading this I could definitely try, this was so encouraging.

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 23, 2017, 6:22 pm

      You can definitely do it! Maybe start with one month. You can always extend it. I’m sure you could go shopping in your own closet 😉 If you try it, you must stop back and let us know how it’s going!

  • The Spirited Tulip Jan 21, 2017, 4:31 pm

    This is AWESOME! I used to be an avid clothes shopper throughout high school and college and even a little after, not thinking about the money I was spending at all – and it wasn’t like I had any extra money floating around. I haven’t bought clothes for myself since September I believe as I’m trying to cut costs… it’s good to hear that there can be some success in this!
    Now to try and piece together all of the “old” stuff I have!
    xo Tausha

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 21, 2017, 7:29 pm

      That’s great to hear! We’re definitely here to inspire and cheer you on. You’ll be shocked at how much you can save by just wearing what you have. I bet you’ll rediscover clothes you already have in your closet 🙂

  • Ning Jan 11, 2017, 9:39 am

    Wow!! That’s amazing!! I didn’t track how much money I spent on clothes last year, but probably somewhere around $800-$1000 bucks? I’m on a semi ban this year, since we only budgeted $200 for clothing this year, which should cover most of the wear and tear on our clothes. My goal is that even if I need 1 or 2 pieces for work, I’d start at Marshalls or a consignment store and I won’t spend more than $25 on any piece of clothing!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 11, 2017, 9:47 am

      That sounds like a great plan! It’s really easier than you think. I once found a Gap winter vest at Goodwill for $7! Like new. That was before my clothes-buying ban 🙂 I hope you let us know how it goes!

  • Margaret L Kroll Jan 10, 2017, 1:50 pm

    This is a great idea. I’ve cut down extensively. In 2015 I spent over $1,000 on my store credit card (that I paid off right away) and then in 2016 I spent $500. I’m buying myself less, which is awesome, but I know that my family and friends have continued to buy me clothes/accessories when we go out. How do I get them to STOP and help really go on a “no clothes buying” streak?

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 10, 2017, 2:41 pm

      Sometimes you really just have to be firm with friends and family. Suggest alternatives. You might need to skip the shopping excursions with friends, even though you’re not buying much. Or, suggest an alternative. It’s completely possible to hang out with friends and not spend money. Good luck and let us know how things go!

  • youmeanme Jan 3, 2017, 12:56 pm

    That’s awesome! I’m really impressed and so glad that you’ve shared this. It seems less terrifying when someone so similar to me undertakes that project.
    I’ve definitely cut back on my clothing purchases though I’m not ready to do a complete ban yet. This morning I discovered one of my go to work sweaters has an unfortunate tear and my only pair of skinny jeans are getting a bit too worn.

    I think I’ll track what I do purchase in terms of clothing this year. I may be closer than I think! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 3, 2017, 4:37 pm

      I’m so glad I could inspire you! It sounds like you’re pretty close to a ban of your own. Although, it’s probably not necessary to do a complete ban as long as you’re very conscious of the pieces you do buy. I just started it as a challenge and figured I keep going. We’ll see how year #2 goes 🙂

  • BeaFreitas Jan 3, 2017, 11:57 am

    That is very impressive!

  • The Green Swan Jan 3, 2017, 7:40 am

    Solid work on going strong for a whole year. You’re right, as an adult I think I can go longer without buying clothes. My wife and I spend a little less than $1k combined per year on clothes which I don’t think is too bad, but I could probably cut this back. I tend to wear through shoes though and this last year my wife needed to buy some more maternity clothes. Besides those unusual circumstances we do pretty good. Maybe it’s time to jump on the ban bandwagon ourselves!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 3, 2017, 10:26 am

      Thanks! It was surprisingly easy. $1k for an entire year for two people (including one pregnant person) is pretty awesome too! Congrats back at ya. You should jump on the bandwagon though. The more the merrier. 🙂

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