The vast majority of my wardrobe is made up of items that simply go well together. I can grab almost any shirt and any pair of pants and they’ll simply work for a typical day. (That’s not to say I don’t have clothes for particularly nice occasions, of course, but we’re looking at typical days.)
This isn’t just luck or happenstance. It’s actually something I’ve planned out over time with every item I’ve purchased. It’s a big money saver and something of a time saver as well.
First of all, I’ll admit that I’m not strongly fashion-conscious. I’ve got a long history of being oblivious to clothes “matching” and “not matching,” something that I often seem to be unable to tell. Sarah has been a great help with this.
What I have learned over the years is that items that don’t match well eventually gravitate out of my regular clothes. I just don’t wear them. If I just don’t wear them, why buy them? That in itself is savings – I just don’t buy clothes that don’t match well with what I already own.
Instead, I focus strictly on well-matching clothes. My pants are generally jeans or dress pants in a few minor variations. My shirts are all cuts and patterns and colors that go well with both ordinary jeans and dress pants – which, incidentally, is an awful lot of things. I can get away with the vast majority of shirts I come across.
My nicer clothes are almost exclusively solid colors with an assortment of ties that go with any of them and a jacket that doesn’t clash with the vast majority of them (with some aid from Sarah in the selection, of course).
All of these decisions were made when buying the clothes, not later on when I was filtering them.
Why do this? Simply put, it saves me both money and time over and over again.
For starters, I don’t have to worry about having particular items washed very often. As long as I have a significant number of items clean, I’m fine. I don’t have to run a special load just to make sure this particular item is clean and ready to go. This lets me run my laundry a bit less frequently and allows me to use the most efficient settings when I wash clothes, saving me time and money.
At the same time, I can easily distribute the clothes so that they’re all worn roughly an equal amount. Since most everything goes with most everything else, I can simply keep my clothes rotated so I wear everything once (more or less) before I wear anything again. This more evenly distributes the wear and tear on my clothes, which saves me money by allowing me to gradually buy clothes as I find bargains rather than having to replenish a wardrobe because everything wears out at once. I never have to replace a large chunk of my wardrobe at once, just individual items, which makes it far easier to capitalize on one-off bargains here and there.
It also saves me time in the morning, because I know that pretty much any items of clothing I select will work well together. I don’t have to examine things carefully to determine if there’s a match or not, which means I get into other parts of my morning routine that much more quickly.
The thing is, you can more or less do this with any level of dress. If your work requires business casual (as my life did once upon a time), this works well. If your life draws you to very casual dress (as mine does now), this works well. You just need to select options that are appropriate based on your situation.
Fill your wardrobe with clothes that don’t clash and you’ll find yourself saving time and money.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.