7 Ways We Make Our Clothes Last Longer

I wonder how many people I just lost with that title, for the simple fact that many people don’t want their clothes to last. My friend said to me once, “I love shopping, and I get tired of my clothes. I don’t care if they wear out quickly.”

Then this blog post is not for you! Which is totally fine! Everybody has their own preferences when it comes to shopping and getting themselves dressed.

But I thought that for today, I’d share my way of thinking about long-term clothing choices and shopping….

7 Ways

My way of thinking goes something like this:

  • Our budget is tight, and I want to shop smart and well.
  • The more I shop, the more I want. If I shop well and get stuff that lasts, I go to the mall less often, and therefore I spend less.
  • When I find something I really love wearing, I’m sad when it doesn’t last long. I want to enjoy it for a long time, and get my money’s worth out of it.
  • Shopping well means that I love what’s in my closet. I’ve written before about how I don’t want a closet full of clothes that I don’t really love – tons to wear, but I don’t want to wear any of it.
  • There is so much excess in the world, and I love figuring out how to live with less.
  • Shopping is voting – when we buy a ton, we’re saying, “Please make more! There is a demand for it.” If our clothes last longer and we shop less, I’m saying, “We’re good! We have what we need.”:)

I’m a details person, and I actually analyze our clothing and shopping habits. Maybe that makes me weird, or maybe my observations will be helpful! Not sure, but here’s what I’m thinking about these days as I buy our family’s winter wardrobe:

1) I’m snobby about fabric.

I do not buy anything made out of polyester or fleece. (Unless it’s pajamas for the girls – then polyester is better than fabrics coated with chemicals to make them flame-resistant.)

The problem with polyester and fleece is that they pill like crazy. Even though I don’t dry any of our clothes in the dryer, it only takes about two months of wearing and washing polyester for it to get “pilly” looking and worn out.

This is a shirt that I wore for two months, and it already looks like I’ve had it for a few years. I was so disappointed, because I loved the shirt, but forgot to check the tag to see what kind of fabric it was made from. Lesson learned – check the label!


The same goes for sheets, by the way. Polyester sheets are better for not looking as creased as cotton, but it won’t take long for polyester sheets to feel rough because of all the pilling. I love smooth, soft sheets, no pills!!

2) I choose when to splurge.

I love finding good deals, but there are some items that are completely worth paying extra to get good quality, and get what you really want, need, and will use.

For example, shoes. Four years ago, I had to start wearing insoles, which meant going out and buying all new pairs of shoes that fit the new insoles. It was a bit financially painful, because shoes for insoles all cost around $150 each. I needed three pairs: sandals, runners, and dress shoes. I had never spent so much money on shoes in my life!!

But guess what? I haven’t bought shoes since, and I won’t need to for quite some time, because those expensive shoes are still in good shape.

Another item I’ll splurge on is a wardrobe staple – something I know I’ll use for a really long time. Two winters ago, I needed a black cardigan. I always need a black cardigan. I already know that I’ll use it a lot, and I found one that looked exactly how I wanted it to look, and it fit perfectly, but it was expensive. I bought it anyway, and two years later, it still looks brand new, I wear it all the time (summer and winter, because it has 3/4 length sleeves, and works with everything!), I love it as much as I did the day I bought it, and I’ll wear it for a few more years to come. I saved money by spending money. (Try convincing your spouse of that one!)

my girls

3) I’m particular about brands.

That also sounds snobby, but here’s what I’ve found: I used to buy cheap, non-brand clothing for our family in an effort to be frugal. It didn’t fit well, wear well, or look the way I wanted it to, but it was cheaper than buying it brand new.

Then I discovered second-hand clothing, and suddenly, our family’s wardrobe improved dramatically, because I started buying everything brand-name. The brand-name clothing lasted longer, so even though I bought it used, it still looked like new, and in many cases, I’ve been able to resell that clothing after our family is done using it, and make a lot of my money back. (But that’s with two little girls who aren’t hard on their clothes – I expect things will be completely different with a boy in the house!)

When I go second-hand clothing shopping, I force myself to be very picky. I only buy the brands I know are good, and I only buy stuff that I would buy if it were new. I have to love it, or it stays at the store. It isn’t actually saving money to buy cheap clothes I don’t really like, and won’t ever use.

4) I pay attention to what wears well.

For many years, we bought Ben T-shirts what would last for about a year, if we were lucky. Then they’d always start getting little holes in them, and it would be time for another whole new round of shirts. But what I noticed is that polo shirts last much, much longer – the thicker weave doesn’t wear out nearly as quickly. Neither do cotton button-up shirts, but I don’t choose to make time for ironing, so Ben has become a polo shirt kind of guy. He has them in many, many different colors, and maybe it’s not the most exciting wardrobe, but when he goes to work each day, as long as he’s clean, nice-smelling, and professional-looking, I don’t think anyone really cares if he’s wearing polo shirts every day of the week.;)

Ben and Kaylia

5) I know what we like, and wait for it to go on sale.

We buy the same kind of jeans every time, but we are very strategic about when we buy them! I get email notifications about sales at our favorite stores, and we plan ahead so that we can always get good jeans for cheap. Online shopping makes this super easy to do! (This is also how we keep Ben supplied with his collection of polo shirts!)

6) I own a clothes shaver.

Sweaters last forever if you own a clothes shaver. Whenever they start looking worn out and a bit shabby, you can just shave off all the pills, and sweaters look brand new again. When I was growing up, we used a clothes shaver all the time, so I thought everybody had one of these, but I’ve since found out that many people don’t have one, and get rid of perfectly good clothes, simply because they don’t know they can shave them!

*I’ve tried using my clothes shaver to save polyester clothing items, by the way, but sadly, it doesn’t work. The pills form far too quickly, and it would mean shaving the clothing item after every washing, which in my mind is a total waste of time. Sweaters only need to be shaved once or twice a year.

7) I don’t put our clothes in the dryer.

I hang everything to dry on racks, or on hangers that just go straight into our closets. Talk to me in a month, when there’s a newborn in the house, and this may have changed.;) But for now, we hardly use our dryer, which is great for the hydro bill, and great for our clothes, because there is a lot less wear and tear on them.


And there you have it – the complete list of Kendra’s anal clothing choices and shopping habits!;) Do you have any awesome tips to add to the list?


I’ve written about our clothing choices a few times before – you can check out those posts if you’re interested…

Why (and How!) I’m Choosing to Own Less Clothes

Tips For Purging

4 thoughts on “7 Ways We Make Our Clothes Last Longer

  1. These are some great tips! I’m one of those who loves to shop, so I often find excuses to buy new things “just because.” And sometimes that means that I buy things that I end up not really liking or wearing just because I’m too quick to purchase. Especially on a weekend like I have coming up (girl’s shopping weekend in Grand Forks), I will have to be especially careful to make sure it’s good quality and stuff I actually really, really love rather than just buying it because I’m on a shopping weekend so why not?

    Of course one of my other tips is to attend clothing exchanges – when you’re ready to part ways with clothes, they can still get more use on other people, while you make more use of THEIR items. Win-win! πŸ™‚

    • Oh, it’s my dream to get to one of your clothing exchanges!! It keeps not working out for me, and I’m thinking the one coming up won’t be great timing for me either, unfortunately. Next one!!! I am eager to experience the awesomeness of it all.:)

  2. I also love the clothing exchanges that Andrea mentioned in the comment above. I’ve been to a couple of these, and plan to be a regular attender! The great thing about these exchanges is also that all the extra clothing (which ends up being a fair amount of boxes) goes to a women’s shelter or someplace else where there are women in need of clothing. Nobody takes anything home that they don’t want, but the things that are leftover are still in great shape and in style! It’s pretty amazing. I have gotten a lot of great items from these exchanges, and been happy to get things out of my closet that I no longer wear or things that don’t fit well anymore. I also can be easily swayed to purchase things…especially when they are a good price or if I’m just feeling like my wardrobe is severely lacking. For years I have lived with 1 drawer and 2 small shelves of clothing with a smattering of nicer stuff for Sundays in my closet, since I was always in between pregnancies, or nursing, or just too tired to care what I was wearing. Now that I’m done having babies, I’m itching to have an actual wardrobe (with actual seasonal clothing). I’m having to be very careful as I do this! To not be excessive, and to also choose wisely…as in choose the clothing that I will actually wear…not just things that will collect dust in my closet. It’s hard! Very timely post for me! Thanks!

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