Why Thrift Shop? Because Clothing Is Not an Investment!

If you do a Google search for the term ‘invest in quality clothing,’ it will return over 9,000 articles encouraging you to spend more to ‘invest in quality clothing.’ Certainly, better quality clothing may look better and last longer. But should clothing at any price ever be considered an investment?

The Investopedia dictionary defines the word investment as “… an asset or item acquired with the goal of generating income or appreciation.” In other words, an investment is an asset you expect to increase in value over time. May I ask you, how many of the garments hanging in your closet now are appreciating in value?

The shrewd car buyer buys a used vehicle to avoid paying a high price for new car depreciation. Why not do the same thing with clothes?

The honest truth is that clothing is a terrible investment. It depreciates like a falling stone the moment it is purchased. That expensive suit you buy today at retail prices will be found at a thrift shop or on eBay a year from now at a fraction of the price. All clothing is consumable or nondurable goods, intended to be used up and then replaced. It may have intrinsic value as adornment, business wear or as a uniform. But it is not an investment!

Thrift Shop for Men's Clothing
A Corneliani wool sportscoat purchased second-hand for $11.00 on eBay.

Why Thrift Shopping Is Good Economics

This makes a great case for thrift shopping. The shrewd car buyer buys a used vehicle to avoid paying a high price for new car depreciation. Why not do the same thing with clothes? By thrift shopping, you avoid paying for the nearly 100% depreciation of new clothing while enjoying much of its lifespan and intrinsic value.

For example, the Italian double-breasted Corneliani wool sportscoat shown above sold at retail for nearly $1000.00 twenty years ago at Saks Fifth Avenue. It has all the hallmarks of excellent tailoring including fully-canvassed construction. The original owner may have donated it to a local thrift shop or charity, losing all of his original ‘investment.’ I purchased it for only $11.00 in mint used condition on eBay. Because of the high quality of this sportscoat, I can wear it for years and look good doing so!

Suits purchased at thrift shops
This gently-used suit was purchased for only $22.00 on eBay.

Have I convinced you of the virtues of thrift shopping? When some think of second-hand clothing, the image of worn, tattered, old-fashioned and musty garments comes to mind. Prepare to be amazed. Most clothing is donated due to boredom and the constant lure to have what is new. You can consistently find excellent quality second-hand men’s suits, sportcoats, and all the related goodies in like-new condition by thrift shopping.

thrift-shopping men's suits
A silk & cashmere sportscoat purchased second-hand on eBay for only S32.00.

I started thrift shopping for clothing over three-decades ago. In fact, I have not purchased a new suit, sportscoat or overcoat in that time. Why should I? By educating myself on clothing brands and developing basic thrift-shopping skills, I have consistently built a high-quality wardrobe while saving lots of money in the process. Many of my favorite items are featured on this website.  You can do the same while eliminating clothing as a major expenditure in your budget.

So, if there is one piece of investment advice I am qualified to offer, it is this: Try thrift-shopping because clothing is not an investment!