This guy tracked every single piece of clothing worn for three years
January 22, 2021 1:01 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever wondered whether expensive clothes are worth their price? Or had that subtle feeling of guilt when buying something pricey, and then justifying it because you will wear it so many times, even if you have no clue if it’s actually true? If you thought yes, then this is for you. 4800 words from Olof Hoverfält at Reaktor.
posted by cgc373 (62 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
This guy admits he's got a real thing for fancy shirts (to the detriment of sweaters!) but the true standout figure is the enormous volume of undershirts he manages to burn through. I assume this guy is Swedish, which is weird because undershirts are one of the few things I still stock up on when I'm stateside. I have a hard time finding v-neck, cylinder-woven seamless undershirts here in Sweden. I guess this guy is buying them all up.
posted by St. Oops at 1:38 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


That's a satisfying piece of data analysis, thank you for posting.
posted by paduasoy at 2:15 AM on January 22


"an active shirt with about 28 wears is likely to be nearing the end of its lifecycle"

This number seems wildly wrong with my experience of clothes.
That said I don't have the data, but less than 30 wears per undershirt?
Is this plausible?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:34 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


"Maximize compatibility across categories. One way is to limit your wardrobe color palette...This also lessens the cognitive load of finding suitable combinations.”

Except when your wardrobe is >95% black, you start to have to combine different tones of black.
posted by signal at 3:58 AM on January 22 [20 favorites]


That said I don't have the data, but less than 30 wears per undershirt?
Is this plausible?
He noted that he washes each of his undershirts after every wear and his wash cycles are weekly. Depending on the quality of the undershirt, I could see some starting to fall apart after 30 washes, but that still seems high to me.

He might also be divesting them if they start to discolor. He admits to having a weakness for fancy shirts so I could see that translating to being fastidious for the day to day cleanliness of undershirts.

In general I do like how this frames the arguments for having a smaller, more curated closet. His average number of wears for many of his clothes seems rather low to me but I also realize he generally has 2 to five times as many clothes in each category as I do. So, of course, his clothes are going to see less average use. I'd be intrigued to come back to this in a couple of years to see what happens if he shrinks his closet.

I would also be curious to see how he incorporates the price of repairs into his data. Some of my favorite shoes and boots have gone through hundreds of wears and lasted me decades but have also gotten resoled every 3 to 4 years as my high arches are brutal to my outer heels - which will be a short term hit to CPW. It's gotten to a point where my annual shoe budget is largely dominated by resoling and I rarely buy new shoes. Which is fine. They're favorites for a reason and I am happy when a resoled set of shoes gain a new 3 to 4 years of wear.

On the other hand, I feel like when my jeans need a patch they're only going to last me about another year or two before they further degrade to being unwearable. It would be useful to have data to show if I wear an item enough to justify the cost of repair. Or justify the time to teach myself to sew beyond mending buttons.
posted by bl1nk at 4:56 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Except when your wardrobe is >95% black, you start to have to combine different tones of black

The way around this is to have a wardrobe which is entirely black and darkish shades of grey. Pretty much any shade of grey looks fine against black. So black jeans? Any of my grey tops. That grey wool skirt i like? Black tights and any of my black tops.

I know exactly what my most worn items are and its three nice thick cotton tshirts that I choose first to wear under jumpers for basically the entire cold season. And the cotton tights I wear under my trousers. And I have worn them *way more* than 28 times each I think.
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:58 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


Oh wait, I forgot the part earlier on where he shows the number of clothes in his current wardrobe and it's a number closer to mine. It's just his graphs over the three years shows a high number of clothes because he gets rid of stuff so frequently. So, yeah, he really does throw away undershirts within half a year because they're "worn out.".

It's not about shrinking the wardrobe, but actually choosing to stick with things you love.
posted by bl1nk at 5:03 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I have definitely burned through cheaper undershirts in that sort of timeframe when I was doing manual labour jobs, either through permanent sweat-stains in the armpits, or discolouration and holes in the armpits from stain remover. I don't know what this guy does, but if you sweat a good deal, many cheap fabrics will not like you much.
posted by Dysk at 5:09 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I thought this was fascinating and really appreciated seeing the visualizations.

I did a big closet purge about 5 years ago and decided to work on creating a capsule wardrobe (a limited number of items in a closely defined color palette). It's been really amazing how much easier it's made buying, keeping and wearing clothes. I have less clothing, so that immediately makes storing it easier and getting dressed in the morning is a breeze because there aren't that many options. All of the items can be interchanged...so again...much faster to pick top + bottom = outfit. The limited color palette eliminates most impulse purchases and makes items I do purchase a much easier decision...sweater, shirt, pants in some shade of blue, red, black and/or gray immediately get consideration...anything outside of those colors really doesn't. I made a few exceptions to this rule in the beginning but find myself doing it less as time goes on. I also take better care of my clothes now that I have less of them and I get rid of old well-worn clothing with far less guilt.
posted by victoriab at 5:26 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Sweaters are about the only thing I have ever spent large (for me) sums on, and it has worked out well. I focus on well-made classic pieces. I have 30+ year-old sweaters that I still wear regularly.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:27 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Fascinating article! I aspire one day to meticulously track something like this in my own life.
posted by ellerhodes at 5:30 AM on January 22


Oh man, Thorzdad, I would -love- to have a solid sweater collection, but two closet moth infestations have shattered me. After the last devastating purge, I spent three years rebuilding my wools via Target and Uniqlo and only now after acquiring a cedar chest am I learning to love again starting to stalk secondhand Donegal fishermans on EBay.
posted by bl1nk at 5:37 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


My entire existence is justified and it's a great day on MetaFilter.

One of mine is blazers. Despite all this performance optimization, I still buy too many. At the current rate, I have a 10-year supply. Sensible, no. Lovely, yes. And that’s fine

Honestly, that might not be too bad depending on the blazers. In certain cases you can easily get a decade of wear out of them, especially for menswear. In ten years they'll either be classics or out of style.

I also try not to beat myself up if something doesn't work out because you can really only know this with hindsight; as long as most of your stuff holds up it'll be fine.
posted by Hypatia at 5:42 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


55 underwear shirts?
posted by mhoye at 6:01 AM on January 22


"an active shirt with about 28 wears is likely to be nearing the end of its lifecycle"

One of the clothing retailers in my area advertises their higher quality ts as "50 wash shirts" so this tracks. I'm curious though if washing cold and hanging dry significantly extends the life of clothing.
posted by mikek at 6:02 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I'm curious though if washing cold and hanging dry significantly extends the life of clothing.

yes. I've been doing things that way for many years.
posted by james33 at 6:13 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Handwashing cold with the minimum necessary amount of soap and laying flat/hanging to dry really does make a huge difference.
posted by remembrancer at 6:29 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I'm curious though if washing cold and hanging dry significantly extends the life of clothing.
Yeah, I wash cold/hang dry, my clothes last approximately forever*, and I'd love to see this guy give it a try for a year or so to see what the data does.

*Forever meaning, as long as they fit with whatever is happening with my weight. Honestly, the intriguing thing to me about this article was the implication that this guy kept his weight/body composition stable for 3~ years? Sheeeeeeeeeeyet.

on preview: 100% agree with remembrancer, minimizing the amount of soap used is also good wardrobe husbandry.
posted by snerson at 6:33 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


This was so interesting to me, because I’ve informally thought about this for ages. As in, if I’ve regularly worn a particular item for quite awhile, I’ll think “Yep, my average cost of wearing on this is really low!” But I’ve never formally tracked it.

And yes, put me on team “wash in cold, line dry”. I’ve done this for years and it makes a huge difference, especially with denim.
posted by bookmammal at 6:35 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Cost Per Wear is a useful framework, and this is a really interesting post, thanks!
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:39 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I notice he doesn't mention fit for shoes. I suspect he's got standard feet. I have exactly one model of shoe that fits well-- the Keds Janey Grasshopper 8W, and I count my blessings that I found it.

Once (back when I had more choices of shoes that fit), I tried a pair of cross country shoes, just for walking. They wore out *fast*. Little did I know that cross country shoes are supposed to destroy themselves for the sake of the wearer. They weren't obviously better than other shoes in any way.

Very interesting article, and it's good so see someone keeping track.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:49 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Really interesting analysis; I'm eager to see his sustainability analysis.

I spend a lot of money on clothes, but I've never done this sort of deep dive on the efficiency of that purchasing. I think I've finally settled in to a pattern that pretty closely resembles what he's laid out in that article, and for me it comes down to the factors of fit, durability/repairability, and fair(er) labor practices.

For fit, a significant portion of the extra cost of, say, a custom shirt can be justified by looking at what it would cost a tailor to adjust something off the rack. Cheaper shoes don't come in wide sizes, but my feet do. I can get most of what I wear properly fit to my body, which has impacts on my own self esteem (I'll admit it, I'm vain).

Durability is what he focuses on in the article, but repairability is important to me as well. My shoes can be not only resoled but completely rebuilt if need be, suits and jackets can be infinitely disassembled and reassembled (a cheap suit's construction does not allow this), even things like well-made shirts and trousers are designed to be able to be let out and in if you change weight. So I'll spend more money for that ability, with the understanding that these pieces are going to last a long time. Other things - t-shirts, shorts, sneakers - I won't spend as much on because the ability to repair them isn't there.

And for labor, I've been really successful finding clothing that's made in the USA or Canada. I know this isn't a full guarantee that they're not being made in sweatshops, but there are protections and organized labor that hopefully do something (the suit I got married in has a tag with garment workers union sewn on to it). It's kind of neat knowing that, living in Boston, I can put an outfit together from what I have in my closet right now with the furthest point of manufacture being New York City (...if I go commando. Still haven't found somewhere in the States for undergarments).
posted by backseatpilot at 7:04 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


I heard part of a discussion yesterday with Adam Minter, his new book is Secondhand, about what happens to donated clothing and other consumer goods. I'm also on team Line Dry, especially anything with elastic. Would love to see more pictures of the author's sartorial splendor. My Cost Per Wear is very low, would be lower if I could stabilize my weight.
posted by theora55 at 7:08 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I do also think there is generally a correlation between price and durability, but this depends a lot on who is producing the clothing - there is a lot of so-called 'luxury' clothing out there produced in sweatshop conditions not too far from H&M, etc.

https://cleanclothes.org/fashions-problems

These issues should also be factored in, somewhere.
posted by remembrancer at 7:09 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Of course, this article also reminded me of something my wife worked on a little while ago. Part of her company works on fabric treatments, and as part of a wear testing program they were given a Chanel sweater to put through some real-world use. They were told that Chanel intended this sweater to be worn 9 times, with 3 dry cleanings. Retail price - over a thousand dollars.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:10 AM on January 22 [24 favorites]


In his first diagram, I see this: Underwear boxers- days used = 92%
I'm curious about the other 8%.
posted by MtDewd at 7:25 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Some days you wear the boxers. Other days, the boxers wear you.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:33 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


You can do this yourself with a wardrobe app like StyleBook.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:34 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I've got all sorts of clothes that are decades old, and they're washer'd/dryer'd at regular intervals. My theory is that since I can't stand wearing synthetic materials like polyester, rayon, etc., 90% of my clothing is cotton and the other 10% is silk or wool (both of which I do hand-wash). That said, I'm no fashion plate; so data point of one, yadda yadda...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:54 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


So interesting! I was just reflecting the other day that I'm pretty sure one of my t-shirts is under a cent per wear by now. I bought it direct from the garment factory for a couple bucks (I wish I remembered the exact amount, but I think we were paying in Philippine pesos - when I say factory direct I mean it!) and it's been in regular rotation for at least ten years, and while it's a little worn it still looks good. Specifically I thought "I wonder if everything from Loft wears this well or if I got extremely lucky."

I already do the limited color palette wardrobe. I do mostly blacks and browns, with some dark blues and greens in the mix too, plus vivid colored plaid button-up shirts to keep things somewhat interesting. The other day I bought three identical black turtlenecks on sale and didn't realize that was some Steve Jobs bullshit till after I placed the order.
posted by potrzebie at 9:01 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Find what you need AND love, then only buy that.

I don't want to dress in men's clothing but sometimes I am envious that it is less affected by fashion's whims. I'm sure if I was shopping for men's pants right now, I could find something straight-leg and comfortable to wear during work-from-home, but as I am a fat 52-year-old woman, I simply cannot find some okay pants I feel okay about wearing. All women's pants right now are cropped (it's winter!), ankle length (again, winter!), leggings, joggers (most unflattering cut of pant ever?), or skinny. Do you just want some cotton pants that cover your ankle? Ha ha ha ha fuck you no. You can only buy short pants that make you look like a hobbit.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 9:15 AM on January 22 [31 favorites]


On the opposite end of whatever spectrum this is, I sometimes have the guilty pleasure of informing someone that I probably have socks that are older than them...
posted by jim in austin at 9:29 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Find what you need AND love, then only buy that. Sounds easy. Yet building this discipline is hard. There is a difference between need and “need”, as there is a difference between love in the store, and love two weeks later.

I don't want to dress in men's clothing but sometimes I am envious that it is less affected by fashion's whims.


Yeah seconding this, I dont know how it is for people who wear womens' clothing in other countries, but anything having to do with men's clothing tends to blissfully ignore the fact that if you wear women's clothes you can't just "buy what you need and love" if that particular thing isn't available for purchase right now. Maybe with the decline of retail stores this will get better. But it always used to burn me up when guys would love to brag to me about how good they are at clothes shopping because they just walk in, find what they want and walk out. Well sure, we all would, but if there are no opaque shirts in the entire store, then a transparent shirt is what you get that day whether you like it or not. Then retailers start to think people really love transparent shirts. Then the cycle continues whether you want everyone to see your underwear or not.
posted by bleep at 9:39 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


I'm curious though if washing cold and hanging dry significantly extends the life of clothing.

Discovered this as a side effect of trying not to shrink all my damned clothing, and am really impressed by how well my tissue-thin t-shirt collection has held up. It doesn't really prevent significant fading, though--just helps keep the shape and prevents unraveling/holes.

If anyone knows how to keep every single t-shirt from developing a tiny little hole where it rubs against the button of a pair of jeans, tho, I'm all ears.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:45 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


"I wonder if everything from Loft wears this well or if I got extremely lucky."

For real, all of my Loft stuff goes out of style or falls out of favor long before it ever starts to show wear. They really do produce some long-wearing stuff.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:47 AM on January 22


The other day I bought three identical black turtlenecks on sale and didn't realize that was some Steve Jobs bullshit till after I placed the order.

ITYM Archer.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:49 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I wash cold/hang dry, my clothes last approximately forever*, and I'd love to see this guy give it a try for a year or so to see what the data does.

Again, assuming the guy is Swedish, hang-drying is kind of the default here for clothes anyway.
posted by St. Oops at 9:51 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Ooh syts's point about the cropped pants trend reminds me that I need to buy extra pants NOW. I have short legs and it's been a delight to not have to fold everything a zillion times or try to rehem them.

I was rather sniffy re: the 'summer house' wardrobe comment (how Gatsby-esque), but then remembered I have an 'in-laws house' wardrobe which includes my best winter parka, my best winter boots, and a zillion pairs of long underwear. (Why yes, we usually visit for the winter holidays). So the larger point stands even if my urban planning housing activist self is judgy at seasonal homes.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:08 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


One of my friends comes from a semi-fancy Italian family, with a touch of nobility, and he went to school in a boarding school in one of those small principalities between Italy and France with other fancy people.
He's not rich by any means, or a snob, he's very down to earth.
However, he has his shirts custom-made in Italy, where he hasn't lived for years.
They're plain white shirts with a small, barely visible monogram.
They fit and look great and last him literally for years.
posted by signal at 10:16 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


I’ve used the cost per use rule since I was a teenager for purses. I quickly realized that a $20 purse might not even last a year, but a $100 purse (these are decades-old numbers) might last several years. I’m not one of those women who changes purses, so I use whatever bag I’m carrying every day.
posted by dbmcd at 10:45 AM on January 22


They were told that Chanel intended this sweater to be worn 9 times, with 3 dry cleanings. Retail price - over a thousand dollars.

Yeah, I always feel like it's a myth that price of clothing has any correlation to its quality or durability. I switched to buying exclusively used clothes from thrift shops 4 years ago. Everything except my underwear/socks comes from ThredUp or a local consignment shop. So for the first time in my life I have been able to purchase luxury branded clothing.... and I've been uniformly disappointed in how badly they hold up to normal everyday use & regular washes compared to cheaptastic "fast fashion" clothing.

The item of clothing I was most excited to purchase "expensive" branded ones of was white shirts, because the cheap ones I used to buy (by cheap I mean $20 or less) get worn out or discolored super quick. Sadly, none of the supposedly better brands I tried held up any better. And even jeans ... My decade-old $14 pair of Walmart jeans are still alive and kicking and neutral enough (not stretchy, straight-leg, low waist) to have stayed in fashion for all these years, but the used Gucci jeans I bought a year ago (original price was supposedly $800 but I paid $30 at a thrift shop) gets alarmingly more worn out in every wash.

I think expensive clothing is simply a luxury good, not a quality good. It's meant to be worn by rich people to signal their wealth. End of story. Expensive is not better in any way. Obviously there's cheap clothes that do fall apart and expensive clothes that do hold up to everyday use. I'm just saying, price is not correlated with quality. The old adage "you get what you pay for" is plain FALSE when it comes to clothing.

(Now shoes, on the other hand....)
posted by MiraK at 10:51 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I always feel like it's a myth that price of clothing has any correlation to its quality or durability.

Oh, absolutely. A big, fat,myth.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:12 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


This is interesting, as it seems clothes are a huge cause of global warming and pollution.
I've always mostly worn high-end clothing. Mostly second-hand, but I have stuff I've bought or been given as new. Right now I'm wearing a sweater that is 22 years old I was given by an ex. Now, it's no longer fit for public use, but that is a recent development, just four years ago, I was complimented by a fashionista who recognized it and acknowledged that it was still cool.
However, it is absolutely possible to find good quality new clothes at a bargain price. It's mostly a question of knowing what to look for. This is why I don't do much online shopping. I need to look at the quality of the material, the seams and obviously the fit.
For the last five years, I've been wearing casual wear most of the time because I am rarely in situations where I need to look business-like (once a week rather than every day). While those clothes also last long, they do get a lot of time in the washer and in the dryer, and that does shorten their life-span. But I think the cost pr use is about the same as my nicer clothes.
posted by mumimor at 11:23 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Yeah I'm rather jealous of this too, as someone whose weight tends to fluctuate and who has also had two babies in the last two years. Pregnancy plus the postpartum period tends to do a number on your wardrobe. I'm actually really looking forward to the fact that within a year or so I can start "investing" in clothes again. In some ways the pandemic has been a good time to have a baby because at least I haven't had to invest in super professional clothes until I lose all the baby weight.
posted by peacheater at 11:27 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


We buy reasonable quality mid-market clothes and have expensive Miele laundry machines to keep them from being destroyed in the wash. If the gentle handling in the laundry cycles makes our clothes last e.g. twice as long, the laundry equipment will pay for itself in a shockingly short amount of time. I feel there's a Vimes' Boots corollary in here somewhere.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:48 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Omg peacheater yes it's miserable being a woman in reproductive years if you're someone who hates buying clothes. I ruined a bunch of my shirts wearing them so pregnant they stretched irreparably :( I'm still wearing them now because of covid but they fit funny (baggy at the waist) and I won't wear them back to the office.
posted by potrzebie at 12:52 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I got roughly 80 washes each out of my Uniqlo Supima cotton undershirts. They were getting a bit off-white, and some had stains that neither Shout gel, Dawn liquid, or oxygen bleach would get out. No holes, though. I don't get the 28 washes thing at all. I do have a front-loading, agitatorless washer and tend to wash on cold, but I assume that's also true of him as a European. Regular tumble dry on low. Supima is long-staple cotton and definitely lasts longer, that may be part of it. But also some people really like their whites, even underwear, to be bright white. Regular junky undershits (inadvertent typo, but I'm leaving it) that come in a 6-pack aren't any cheaper per wear, to be sure.
posted by wnissen at 2:28 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Regarding price to quality/durability, there's absolutely thresholds below which additional quality is simply not (economically) possible, but unfortunately it doesn't work the other way. All it takes is some good marketing to sell that $10 t-shirt for $40. While the better quality $20 t-shirts get lost in the noise. And unless you immerse yourself in the world of fabric and garment production, spotting the difference between them is next to impossible for the consumer.

That said, there's a lot more to quality than durability. A small designer working with a small textile mill to develop custom fabrics for a garment they're only going to sell 100 of? Yeah, you're going to pay for that. It probably won't last any longer than something off the shelf (sometimes quite the opposite!), but if you're interested in really nice fabrics, like the design, and have the means, why not?
posted by Jobst at 2:55 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Also: holy crap this guy owns a lot of jeans! Five blazers and (maybe) one pair of non-denim trousers? And the sheer amount of socks! Now I'm wondering what people would think is weird in my wardrobe.
posted by Jobst at 3:00 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


SOME high-end clothes (definitely far from all) are definitely better made. I have a 1991 Yohji Yamamoto blazer (bought second-hand) that's still in near-perfect shape now. I've had a variety of lesser blazers start to come apart in less than two or three years. Shoes are an even better case in point . For ages I went through about two pairs of Chuck Taylors per year, whereas I am still wearing a pair of 2015 Rick Owens sneakers (bought on sale, so not even that expensive) 3-4 times a week (even in the Canadian winter!), with little noticeable wearing-out.

There are also a lot of independent designers and artisans doing very high quality work out there, not always at an obscene price tag.
posted by remembrancer at 3:10 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


> Now I'm wondering what people would think is weird in my wardrobe.

I know what it is for mine: the six? seven? almost-identical pairs of soft pants. I got a serger at the beginning of quarantine and have been sewing my own soft pants, and once you find a pattern you like it's hard to stop.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:32 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


SOME high-end clothes (definitely far from all) are definitely better made. I have a 1991 Yohji Yamamoto blazer (bought second-hand) that's still in near-perfect shape now

And SOME cheaptastic clothes are also equally well-made: I still use a blazer that I bought from JC Penney in 2004 for my very first job interview, cost me $29. That's the problem! Saying "some high end clothes are definitely better made" is exactly like saying "some pink clothes are definitely better made". Price is meaningless ito quality.

It's a signifier of status and wealth, however, which is not unimportant. For better or for worse we live in a world where everything from our income to the quality of medical care we get in an ER depends heavily on whether we're wearing shitty, flimsy $900 Gucci jeans or durable, hard-wearing $14 Walmart jeans. Ever since I started thrift-buying expensive brands, even my baristas look at me differently.
posted by MiraK at 3:44 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


1. This feels like a lot of shoes to me. Many of the materials they're made of are not infinite in lifespan even if they aren't used, so you get much better cost per wear by actually wearing just a few pairs often.

2. Even more foreign to me: nine belts? Nine belts!

3. I strongly suspect that this is a person who does not subscribe to the "wear whatever's on top of the pile of clean laundry" method of dressing.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 5:11 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I have small children. My cost per wear ratio is significantly affected by feces.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:22 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


LOL, up until I was 40 I had a flannel that I'd worn since high school. The bit of oil-paint that *never* came off/out from an old college girlfriend was just a nice bit of memorable scarage. It finally got so threadbare that bits of the sleeves had just worn away to nothing. I still probably have it stuffed in a trashbag somewhere. Obviously I'm a bit of a bum when it comes to caring that much about clothes.

Edit: and Oh, it was so comfortable to wear. So broken in and soft.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:31 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


FWIW, he mentions in the article that he's Finnish.
posted by pleasant_confusion at 7:55 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


If anyone knows how to keep every single t-shirt from developing a tiny little hole where it rubs against the button of a pair of jeans, tho, I'm all ears. - posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese

Button bumpers. Examples: Shirt Guardian; Holé Button Covers; Wholly Covered Buttons (also on Etsy & Amazon).
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:13 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Apropos, that other hole in the bottom of your shirt is using it as padding to twist off those twist off bottle caps. It adds up the same way.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:42 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is that most rich people only wear their clothes a few times. So you can get great value for money at second-hand stores in wealthy areas. I knew a woman in a highly paid job who had tons of clothes she had never worn, they were in her wardrobe with the price-mark still on till she finally gave them to a charity.

When I was a teen and began my habit of wearing high-end second hand clothes, my grandmother had a friend in America who thought Europe was still devasted by the war and dirt poor, like when she had visited in the late 1940s. So she sent my gran all her used clothes, which my gran then brought down to the local thrift store, until I found out and took the whole parcel. Those outfits were amazing. I was even offered a lot of money + the person's jeans for one hand painted vintage skirt I wore at a bar. They don't make that quality of clothes in the US today. This was in the 70s, so the clothes were from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
posted by mumimor at 5:23 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


I got a lock down gig (hopefully my career can pick up in a few years) and part of the job requires deploying and collecting rechargeable scooters in a snowy Midwest city.

I'm finally wearing the "urban lumberjack" boots that were too ruggid for the office. I wear my ll bean duck boots most every day. I'm wearing a $80 pair of selvedge denim right now. And... This durable Americana workwear is *fantastic*for manual labor in cold environments. I'm getting such better use out of my clothes now than if I was in an office.

Thanks for posting this article.I was delighted by the graphs, and it gave me a lot to ponder.

There is one addition - which I'll try to work out later -that might be useful: precalculating, for different price points, how many times an item would need to be warn to give it a specific cpw, and translating that to "x number of days a month for x years"
posted by rebent at 11:18 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Thinking about this thread as I folded my laundry.
In particular, my T-shirts. I was trying to think back if I ever bought a T-shirt. I don't think I wore them a lot the last century, but I think I've worn one almost every day this century, and I can only remember buying one. I got a lot as gifts, and when my wife was doing craft shows, I got a lot of free ones there. But I'd guess I've worn many of them >200 times. Now, I'm not particular about my clothes, especially ones that aren't always visible, and maybe some of them my wife would have preferred I threw away long ago. So normal guy clothes behavior... But the idea of 25-28 uses and they're out is profoundly unsettling. I don't have to 'love' the clothes I retain, but I can't see throwing out something I can still use. I don't think I can give them to Goodwill, because I wear them until they're falling apart.
The only clothes I would consider worthwhile to give to Goodwill are my current best clothes.
I guess I'm not sure what my point is, but people are sure different.
(Not saying that's a bad thing)
posted by MtDewd at 4:55 PM on February 1


A lot of it depends on climate and routine though - an undershirt you're wearing under enough layers to deal with nordic cold on a bike commute to work are going to deal with a lot more sweat than one you throw on to sit down at your computer. I know a lot of my clothes that I had for years when I was unemployed/working from home have succumb in the space of months since starting a warehousing job across town.
posted by Dysk at 8:53 PM on February 1


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