For my book The Cheapskate Next Door, I surveyed hundreds of proud “cheapskates” about – among other things – the oldest piece of clothing they own and at least occasionally still wear. The answer, on average, was one or more apparel items dating back roughly to the time when Jimmy Carter was President (1977-1981).
That was far from the winning response though: One of my fellow cheapskates from Pennsylvania took the prize, because he still owns and quite often wears two Woolrich jackets which were purchased by his father during the FDR administration. Wasn’t it President Franklin D. Roosevelt who famously said, “We have nothing to fear but fashion itself?” The fact is, there are a lot of easy ways to make your clothing last just about forever.
Only about 5 percent of old clothes are thrown away in the U.S. is discarded because it’s truly “worn out,” in the sense that it’s threadbare, has holes in it, or is horribly stained. The rest is simply thrown away because it’s out of fashion, or we’ve out grown it, or we just don’t like it any more. That’s a real waste of money and the earth’s resources. At the very least, donate unwanted clothing to a thrift store or other charities so that someone who needs it can make good use of it.
In this week’s Savings Challenge (April 16-April 22), were challenging you to show off your oldest duds. Tell us the story – and, better yet, show us a picture – of old clothes you own and still at least occasionally wear. The winner won’t necessarily be determined just by the age of the garment (although that will be given serious consideration), but also the story behind your prized piece of aged apparel, like where and when you got it, how much you paid for it, what it means to you, and why you’ve hung onto it for so long.
Join the AARP Savings Challenge on AARP.org through April 29. Learn how to get started saving, join the Savings Challenge group, and track your savings (and enter the contest) via the savings tracker. Your savings tips could win you a prize. Read our contest rules.
Photo by dooq via Flckr Creative Commons