26 Days to Simplicity: Quality (Clothing and Capsule Wardrobes)


One reason why we find ourselves back at the store again, even after we’ve simplified our wardrobes, is that our clothes are so cheaply made, they hardly last through the season, much less a year.  When I think back to buying even a basic t-shirt at Kohl’s ten years ago, I recall how much better the quality was compared to what I find in the store today.

The high cost of cheap, overseas clothes manufacturing is appalling in itself, when we consider the working conditions and low wages paid to sweatshop employees. Then, as consumers, it is frustrating to purchase clothing that is so poorly made, even when it is dirt cheap. I can’t find a sweater that doesn’t pill up instantly; a t-shirt that isn’t so threadbare upon purchase, it’s practically see-through; or a pair of athletic pants for my boys that lasts more more than a week without getting a hole in the knee.

Even name brands have skimped on quality but not the price. This throw-away society of ours is wasteful and shameful in its mass production of consumable but not recyclable textiles. What happens to all the clothes we buy for a pittance that aren’t even good enough for Goodwill after we’ve finished with them at the end of the season?

To answer this question and to find some reputable alternatives, I highly recommend that you read the excellent (although long) article from NPR: What Happens When Fashion Becomes Fast, Disposable and Cheap?

Believe me, I know how hard it is to fork over a hefty sum of money for just one quality pair of shoes or item of clothing, but by buying items from companies who care about quality, people, and the environment, you can leave a much smaller footprint on the Earth.  With Earth Day just around the corner, I hope you will be mindful of your future clothing purchases, and consider the real cost of purchasing throwaway, fast fashion clothing.  Instead, purchase a few, necessary, well-made, pieces that work interchangeably (otherwise known as a capsule wardrobe) and take up much less closet space in your home. They will last much longer and make getting dressed much simpler.

For more information on downsizing your closet, developing a capsule wardrobe, and discerning quality items from cheap ones, here are some great resource articles to check out:

Be More With Less- Project 333

Living Well Spending Less- 40 Hanger Challenge

Life Hacker- Cheap Clothes Are Too Expensive: Buy Quality Instead

The Every Girl- How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe

The Minimalist Mom (great for moms still in the throes of childbearing)-Capsule Wardrobe

Marie Kondo-The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

AOL Lifestyle- How to Find High Quality Clothing (great article about what to look for when shopping)

You can also check out my Fashion File board on Pinterest, which has some of my favorite capsule wardrobes.

Finally, don’t forget to frequent thrift stores for those diamonds in the rough.  I have found everything from well-made Gap t-shirts to high-end jeans for a fraction of the price of buying them new.

What will you do to simplify your wardrobe in an economically and environmentally sustaining way?

(Don’t forget to subscribe or comment on my post 26 Days to Simplicity: More for your chance to win Joshua Becker’s newest book, The More of Less and receive free access to his 12-week, online course, Uncluttered. The giveaway ends this Friday, 4/22.)



6 thoughts on “26 Days to Simplicity: Quality (Clothing and Capsule Wardrobes)

  1. There’s also a great documentary on Netflix right now called The True Cost about why cheap clothes are so bad for the world. But to your point, there are a lot of expensive clothes that are still cheaply made. You’re just paying for a name. It can be difficult to find the balance between price and quality.

  2. Great article – lots of good information. You’re totally right that even clothing from “cheaper” brands were nicer a decade ago. I by most of my clothing (and all of my daughter’s clothing) secondhand and I’m always surprised to see an older GAP shirt or something that is clearly very well made. Glad I found your blog and am now following you!

  3. Great post! I love how ‘in’ capsule wardrobes are now. I remember as a kid, my mom would hang the clothes I had already worn for that week up in the laundry room and I wasn’t allowed to wear them again until the next week, even if they were clean. 🙂 Funny how times change and now with capsules, you are expected to re wear certain pieces. Plus I love spending more on clothing knowing that I actually love the piece and that it won’t go out of style. Now I buy one or two pieces every few months (if that) instead of one or two pieces every month knowing my clothing won’t quickly fall apart or lose style status (at least in my mind). Are you currently using a capsule wardrobe?

    1. As much as I love the idea, I have yet to establish a capsule wardrobe for myself. I have very few clothes, but they don’t necessarily coordinate, so I still face the struggle of figuring out what to wear many days.

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