Build a Clothing Uniform and Save Big

There are a million ways to save on the cost of clothes and fashion apparel. We can’t cover all of those in this post, but what we will discuss is a powerful approach by creating a uniform approach to your wardrobe that keeps costs low and helps you save time over the long-run by automating your buying preferences over time.

Eyewear

Eyewear is a fortune if you go straight to the optometrist. It’s also a fortune if you head to Warby Parker or other high end glasses solutions.

One of the best sources we’ve been using for years is called EyeBuyDirect.com. You can save hundreds of dollars in an individual transaction when you shop on EyeBuyDirect.

To give you an idea of how affordable it can be – I’ve been buying glasses there for the past 6 years. I have spent a total of $157 on over 6 pairs of glasses. Some of these have come with the advanced glare protection features which cost quite a bit of money if you go to a normal optometrist’s office or to Warby Parker.

The only negative I can say about the service is that glasses will sometimes take some time to get delivered, maybe a week or so, but you can pay for faster shipping options. That and sometimes the glasses can scuff easily since they’re virtually all made of plastic. If you keep them in good condition and don’t throw them around however, they keep really well over time and I’ve had the pair I’m wearing now for 2 years, after my last eye exam.

Business Attire

Finding professional looking business attire on the cheap is absolutely not easy.

When I worked at a consulting firm, everyone was pretty much expected to wear Brooks Brothers, or equivalent, and to have nice shoes and pants as well. For me, the only way I could work around this was to use store discounts and wait until the yearly sales opened up to get the most affordable deals. As well as through converting airline miles into gift cards at the stores to afford such high end clothes.

However, in about 2013, I saw the light. After I left consulting and was working at a small startup I founded, I needed some inexpensive work attire that made me look professional but not low quality.

I started crawling Amazon for what they had to offer.

We all know that Amazon has pretty much everything, but shopping for clothes there, if you have the right mindset can save you a fortune and help automate your clothes buying process well into the future.

My approach to buying clothes on Amazon is follows – let’s take for example buying a plane white button down for work:

  • Find the cheapest White Button Downs available from different vendors around your size range
  • Buy all of those shirts from say the first 5 vendors that look quality
  • Try on all the shirts when they’re delivered to you
  • Return all the other shirts to Amazon
  • Buy multiple of the shirt that was the best fit for you

While this may sound a bit time consuming, I’ve managed to save a significant amount of money doing it as I’ve found high quality and low-cost vendors that have often been under appreciated or poorly advertised. I then buy many of those items, say 3 white shirts, to ensure I have enough for my work week. What usually makes this even better is that most companies offer the same shirts in multiple colors as well, so I just order maybe 7 shirts total to last me the entire week using this approach, all with different colors.

There we have it. I’ve used shopping around online, just as I would shop around in stores, to help me get the best fit and priced shirts for myself.

But this example doesn’t stop with shirts. I have used this approach to build a uniform for myself.

My current favorite item are some sweaters on Amazon Prime that fit me perfectly and I can order for about $18/each in different sizes to go over my collared shirts. I do this for two reasons – my office is freezing cold and it helps me avoid having to iron my button down shirts!

You can use this approach with pretty much any type of item on Amazon and I highly encourage it. For instance I had been wearing fairly expensive running shoes that cost around $100 a pair, but once I tried this approach on Amazon, I got my show costs down to $60 a pair. I’ve been buying the same pair of Asics now for 6 years.

Not only does this approach save you money, but it saves you the most valuable resource of all: time.

Uniform Underwear

There is absolutely no point in having underwear or socks that don’t all match. No discussion.

If you’re thinking of buying underwear or socks that don’t match your other socks, stop what you’re doing immediately.

I order the exact same brand and make of socks for running; the same brand and make of socks for business attire; the same brand and make of underwear for general use. No exceptions. They’re all the same colors, they can be easily replaced or matched with each other over time, and best of all I save a huge amount of time when getting dressed or buying new clothes because I have little to no choice in what comes next.

Full Credit: This hack I learned from my father.

Go Middle of The Road for Important Clothes

When it comes to higher end items like jackets, I recommend going middle of the road with your purchases and spending a little bit more money. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a jacket that isn’t warm enough on a cold day.

For my approach here, for instance with my fall leather jacket, I re-used my shopping around on Amazon approach to cut costs. I bought 4 leather jackets, tried them all on, and returned the ones which didn’t fit, have a nice look, and didn’t seem warm enough. This landed me the right jacket at the right price that worked for my needs.

I’ve done the same thing with my wool coat that I wear for work. Here too, I saved a good bit of money.

Maintain Your Clothes

I can’t skip past this section in this post. It’s impossible to ignore the importance of maintaining your clothes to save money on them and making them last.

This isn’t always cost free, but you need to consider what it will cost you to replace your jackets, shirts, sweaters, etc. which is way more than simply repairing or maintaining them.

The first big recommendation here comes from my wife who uses this device on a regular basis for me – a sweater shaver. It cleans off the old lint and tufts of fabric from wool and cotton sweaters and jackets really quickly and can help return them to a much better state over time. Given it’s affordable cost, it keeps you looking fresh as well as extending the life of your clothes in a professional work environment.

The second approach I recommend is finding a tailor who will repair your jackets, coats, and more expensive items. I recommend outsourcing your fixes to others unless you really have a good set of skills to be able to fix your clothes. I tried fixing a pair of gloves once and it took up my entire weekend when I could have had someone who knows what they’re doing fix them in a few hours or less.

I want to harp on this part because repairing expensive jackets can extend their lives for many seasons. For instance I’ve had my wool jacket mended for pocket holes, rebuttoned, and had the interior replaced all for under $50 at my local tailor and it has probably saved me having to buy a new jacket for another 4 years.

The same approach can be taken for show repair. I always get my nice work shoes re-soled for what comes out to be $9 a fix. You can do this with a lot of things so if you have some items you love and don’t want to get rid of because they’re a little beaten up, go and find your local tailor or show repair person to get some idea of how much it will cost to have these things fixed by you.