My typical daily uniform isn’t a flashy suit or designer-label clothing. Sorry, no polyester leisure suit either. Once I achieved financial independence, clothing just didn’t matter anymore. Arguably, it didn’t matter before either! What does matter now are thing like comfort, durability, and value. I emphasize value, because sometimes buying better quality stuff is totally worth it.
The Millionaire Wardrobe
First off, let me start by sharing my regular daily ‘uniform’.
Fancy wardrobe isn’t it? Yes, that’s what I’m wearing today. If you see me at the Home Depot today, that’s what I’ll be wearing. My T-shirts are mostly from thrift stores. The Jeans? Yes, I really wear torn jeans like that. Most pairs I own are ripped like that. I haven’t purchased jeans in years, and it’s starting to show. The socks are from Costco, and (like most socks) they wear out easily. Typically I buy a Costco sock-set about once a year to replace the socks with large holes. If I didn’t perform this annual sock purchase, eventually I’d have no socks left. Mrs. Tako secretly throws away the socks with holes, when I’m not looking.
In the winter, I’ll add long underwear or some form of second layer to keep myself warm, but that’s it. That’s my usual wardrobe. That’s what a guy worth a couple million dollars wears. It varies very little from day to day. I don’t usually buy name branded goods, because it’s all just cotton anyway.
Cotton is one of the least durable fabrics, yet nearly all clothing is made from cotton (or some form of cotton blend). As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of cotton – but it is cheap, comfortable, and a fairly renewable resource.
The main (big) problems I have with cotton: It rots, and it’s a terrible insulator. I live in a cold damp climate, and insulation is important. Cotton does a pretty poor job of insulating.
As far as the ‘rotting’ goes…given enough time, all cotton will eventually fall apart, so I skip the branded cotton clothes. Why pay more than necessary for something that’s just going to rot away?
Function Over Form
We’ve talked about planned-obsolescence before on this blog, and clothes typically fall into this category. Why wouldn’t clothing companies design clothes to hold together ‘just long enough’? Afterall, they want to maximize profit, and maximize turnover.
Ever look at one of those fashion magazines in the grocery store when you’re waiting in line? Every season there’s new looks and new fashions to wear…and money to waste. The clothing industry wants you to keep spending, year after year.
Now, imagine for a moment that fashion didn’t matter. Clothing shopping would become like shopping for tools. You’d ask questions like, “How long is this model going to last? What’s the warranty like on this shirt? Does this fabric meet my technical requirements for waterproofing, breathability, and durability?”.
Those kinds of questions would suddenly matter. Clothing manufacturers would respond with better quality clothing, and improved fabrics that last longer.
Thankfully, once you reach financial independence, fashion does cease to matter. You don’t need to go to work anymore, and you don’t need impress anybody.
Consumer clothing is targeted at consumers. Clothing life-spans are short, and costs are low. Industrial clothing works differently. Industrial clothing is typically targeted at companies that need uniforms, medical scrubs, and other work clothing. Long-lasting durability is key here, not fashion. Industrial clothing typically incorporates more polyester (for more durability), and thicker fabrics. It also costs more. Company accountants scrutinize the books down to the penny, so you can bet they want uniforms that give the maximum life per dollar spent.
The only problem – industrial clothing manufacturers don’t usually sell at retail.
After a little internet research, I was able to find a couple. Red Kap and Dickies Occupational Workwear are manufacturers of industrial clothing that do sell to the public (via Amazon). They have the typical uniform-type shirts and pants, but also have fun things like lab coats and speed suits for sale.
At $14+ for a t-shirt I haven’t been tempted to buy industrial clothing (yet). Shopping at a thrift store, I can pick up a t-shirt for $2 or $3. To put this another way, I can purchase 4 to 7 times as many shirts for the same amount. The thrift store wins.
Performance of industrial clothing would have to be significantly better for the financial trade-off to beat the thrift store.
Since I haven’t yet found a durable-enough solution to replace jeans, I’m actually quite curious about industrial pants. Any readers have experience with this kind of clothing? I’ve read that a standard industrial shirt has a 300 wash cycle life, but I’m skeptical.
Anyone want to go try some industrial clothing and report back the results?
When I was still working, I’d buy a pair of tennis shoes and wear them to the ground. Literally, the ground would start showing through in about 1 year. Being the frugal guy that I am, I’d repair them using Shoe Goo. For a while this works…but eventually the water starts leaking in again. Tennis shoes just aren’t durable enough for what I do with them.
Then, one day I found the most amazing pair of shoes I’d ever worn…
It all started on a trip to a family member’s farm. On this particular trip, I had forgotten to bring my boots along…woops! We were going outside to do farm-stuff, and I politely asked if I could borrow some boots. What they loaned me was the most amazing shoe ever…
They’re called Mucksters and sold by the Muck Boot Company. The best way to describe these shoes is a cross between a work-boot, a rubber boot, and a slip-on shoe combined. I’ve owned a pair for about 3 years now. They still look like new. Yes, I’ve really owned them for 3 years.
What makes Mucksters so amazing you ask? These shoes are amazingly tough. They’re made for work, and made to be durable. The outer shell is a thick rubber cocoon for your foot. This makes them super-tough and waterproof.
Not only are they durable, but they’re amazingly comfortable for something so tough!
I’ve worn work boots before, and they’re uncomfortable. They’re also hard to take on and off, and don’t keep my feet nearly as dry.
Mucksters solve both these problems – they are lined on the inside with a flexible neoprene, that keeps feet comfortable and dry. Because of the neoprene, they slip on and off easily…way better than a work boot.
Normally, when I work outside in the winter, my feet get pretty cold. Not wearing these shoes! Mucksters are by far the warmest slip-on shoe I’ve ever worn. For those of you who live in cold or sometimes-cold climates, this is an awesome feature. No more cold feet!
Don’t believe me? Go look at the reviews on Amazon. There are hundreds of 5-star reviews for every Muckster model. Some Muckster owners claim lifetimes of 6+ years for a single pair!
Honestly, even if you can get 3+ years out of them (like me), they’re an amazing value. Sure, I still own a pair of tennis-shoes, but I’m a die-hard Muckster fan now.
They may not be terribly attractive, but I wear them everywhere. I wear them to the grocery store, to the library, Home Depot, anywhere you can think of.
Yes, they’re kind of ugly. When it lasts this long, I kind of like ugly.