this post was submitted on 08 Apr 2024
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Buy it for Life

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[–] 146 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago) (6 children)

“The average American buys more than one new piece of clothing per week. If that matches your shopping habits, in a span of five years you have purchased more than 320 pieces of clothing.”

Who the fuck is buying multiple pieces of clothing every week? I don’t know anyone that does that. I feel like buys-ridiculous-amounts-of-clothing George is an outlier and shouldn’t be counted.

[–] 50 points 3 months ago (1 children)

Do individual socks count? If so, buying a 10 pack of socks and a 6 pack of undies gets you through half a year by this metric.

[–] 19 points 3 months ago (1 children)

Man, I don't even do that every year. Maybe every 3-5 years. I do not buy clothes very often at all.

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[–] 20 points 3 months ago (1 children)

This article is so entitled

[–] 35 points 3 months ago (2 children)

It really is the entitled version of the boots theory. I wear my clothes literally hundreds of times before they get worn out and this article is suggesting that 10 wears of "cheap" ($50) clothes and it's trash time. This article is way out if touch to the average non-fashion obsessed buyer imo.

[–] 10 points 3 months ago (2 children)

I may be a snob because the socks go in the bin, when the holes grow too big.

[–] 7 points 3 months ago (3 children)

"too" big, sure, but not when they first appear

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[–] 6 points 3 months ago (1 children)

Yeah, just google how to darn them. Socks are super easy to fix

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[–] 2 points 3 months ago

They're talking about the average US American, not the BIFL crowd. We're a special group, and they're trying to nudge more people our direction

[–] 16 points 3 months ago (5 children)

Judging by the amount of clothes at second hand stores in the US, its mostly middle class women

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[–] 8 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

Well, if you average it, maybe. I tend to get clothes en masse -- I don't get one pair of socks. They do say "average".

[–] 7 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

Back of the envelope, to keepy work uniform crispy, every six months or so I need to obtain:

  • two work shirts

  • two undershirts

  • two pairs pants

  • a five-pack of boxers

  • a pair of shoes

That's twelve, times two to get the yearly average. I also get a six-pack of socks every other year or so, call that twenty-seven per year, plus one or two purchased for me as gifts (gloves, sweatshirts, hats, ties), call it thirty.

There's fifty-four weeks in a year. Either the author is out-of-touch or I'm already following their advice, IDK. I just found brands that are comfortable and wear them until they're discontinued. Personally, I wish I was buying clothes less often; I hate that I go through work shirts and pants so fast, in particular.

Edit: bad arithmetic originally. Revised estimate is more in line with author's projection but still significantly lower.

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[–] 21 points 3 months ago (4 children)

Here's the thing about "signaling to the industry with your money": They will take it and not give you shit.

Pay 30$ or $300 for a drill it's still made in China from plastic and planned obsolescence.

Underwear is no different.

[–] activistPnk 9 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

Voting with your money works. But only when there are good options to vote for.

There are a couple BifL sock makers, but no BifL underwear makers. That’s the problem. If someone made loose-fitting stretchy aramid boxers with a drawstring that lasts 1+ lifetimes, people would pay $100/ea for them.

[–] 8 points 3 months ago

Pay cheap and you get cheap. Pay more and sometimes you get fat better quality. Unfortunately, you can also get cheap with a larger mark-up.

[–] 7 points 3 months ago (1 children)

I dunno, Makita and some Milwaukee tools are absolutely worth the money, especially if you're willing to buy into their battery ecosystem.

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[–] 6 points 3 months ago

You've never bought a $30 drill, have you?

I use my Makita drill a significant amount. Right now I'm using it instead of a hand crank on my case trimmer (for reloading ammunition; I'm a moderate volume shooter). I've had it for nearly a decade. Yeah, I've replaced the batteries twice, and now have the higher capacity ones. But the drill is still holding up. The Festool Rotex disc sander I've got is easily the best sander that I've used.

[–] 18 points 3 months ago (3 children)

I like this idea of thinking about purchases in terms of per-use cost - this means you should spend more on mattresses and bed linen, underwear, office chairs and computer peripherals, etc.

I'm also a fan of working out how much a price-tag is in terms of how long you need to work to get the equivalent cash. Would I be willing to work for an extra two hours to get this thing?

[–] 9 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago) (1 children)

The official term for this is COPS (cost per service) and it helps you greatly in making smart economic decisions. I calculated this for many household products about a decade ago and came to the conclusion that for many products it's barely worth worrying about the cost while for others there's hidden cost that should really warrant closer inspection. For instance dish soap has such low COPS that it almost doesn't matter which brand you buy. Electric gadgets like fridges, washing machines or printers definitely warrant deliberation though because in the long run energy, refill, maintenance and repair costs will approach if not outstrip the initial purchase cost.

And yeah, spending a big chunk on a good bed or chair hurts initially but you will spend literally thousands of hours in them. Something like a greeting card or fireworks on the other hand are cheaper in the moment but only yield limited utility in comparison.

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[–] 3 points 3 months ago

Sure just don't allow it to justify over spending.

The idea that one "should spend more" is not the correct way to think of what is actually an ROI decision, return on investment.

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[–] activistPnk 16 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago) (7 children)

Patagonia boxers are made using recycled plastics and they also accept worn out boxers for recycling. Patagonia is the only boxers I have found that are very loose fitting (baggy in fact), silky feeling, yet stretchy, yet moisture-wicking all at once. Nothing like this seems to exist in Europe.

So here’s a debate: synthetic vs cotton

Synthetic boxers can be recycled and can be made from recycled plastics. But every time synthetic clothes get washed they shed microplastics which most sewage treatment centers cannot filter out. You would have to buy a special filter to attach to your washing machine. Researchers in Ghent discovered that the bacteria that loves perspiration also loves synthetic clothes but not cotton. This is why synthetic clothes get stinky fast and thus need more frequent washing than natural fibers.

Cotton production consumes absurd amounts of water (2700 liters of water to produce 1 t-shirt). And when you wash it, hang drying takes /days/ (whereas microfibers hang dry in a couple hours). So people use energy wasting tumble dryers when cleaning cotton. But cotton has the advantage of being biodegradable. You can simply compost/landfill finished cotton as long as it doesn’t have harmful dyes that leech out. There is also a cotton t-shirt that is claimed to wearable 7 times before each wash. IIRC it’s blended with silver for anti-microbial effects.

The environmental debate can go either way depending on which problem you want to focus on, but cotton is clearly lousy performing underwear considering how it retains water and gets soggy. The only natural fiber that performs well for underwear is wool (ideally Marino from what I’ve read). But the prices on that are extortionate. €60+ for one pair of wool boxers, and they’re tight fitting.

Anyway, the OP’s thesis is lost. There is no BifL boxers AFAIK.

There are BifL socks though, called “Darn Tough” which have a lifetime warranty. They have 1 competitor but I forgot the brand. Both use marino wool.


Patagonia plans to open a store in Amsterdam.

[–] 9 points 3 months ago (1 children)

The answer is nearly always Natural Fibres for two reasons:

  • environmental - synthetic products do not degrade. Why wear something that literally microplastics everywhere you go and then gets thrown in a landfill at end of its use.
  • comfort - breathability is the key criteria for clothing. Polyester and synthetic fabrics are nearly all terrible at this compared to natural fibres.

Merino wool is one of the best products, especially for warmth. You don't have to pay Ice Breaker money, although it is becoming harder to find at affordable prices.

Linen is also a great fabric for warmer climates. Couldn't imagine a polyester t-shirt, let alone underwear, if I lived somewhere hot.

[–] activistPnk 4 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

breathability is the key criteria for clothing. Polyester and synthetic fabrics are nearly all terrible at this compared to natural fibres.

Natural fibers cannot be grouped together in this way because there is a huge variation.

This is where cotton fails and synthetic microfibers come out ahead. Cotton retains water, swells when wet, and suffocates as water tension spans the threads that are thickened by the swelling. Synthetic microfibers wick moisture away, and do not swell when wet, which gives excellent breathability. Cotton is fine as long as you don’t sweat. Or exceptionally, if it’s extremely hot in some windy situations the water retention can be a plus. I used to don cotton and hose myself down before getting on a motorcycle on a hot dry day. The evaporative cooling effect worked wonders with the high relative wind. But outside of that niche, such as sports, microfibers are king which is why sporting goods shops fetch high prices for high tech synthetics. As someone who sweats profusely more than normal, cotton is a non-starter in warm climates. Evaporation from soggy cotton simply cannot keep up with the rate that I add sweat. So a cotton t-shirt gets soaked in sweat and remains wet the whole workout session, and for days thereafter.

I used to wear tighty whities which made my gear sweat. Switched to Pategonia boxers and wow what a difference in breathability.

Wool and synthetics are similar w.r.t. comfort hence the term “smart wool”. But indeed natural wool is pricey and non-vegan.

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[–] 13 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago) (1 children)

I wear clothes that are more than a decade old (aside from newer clothing that was a gift), I don't even buy clothes anymore. If something is torn or doesn't fit right, I sew it myself (although I'm not good at it), in fact sewing the waistband on underwear seems to be what I've had most luck with.

Then again I also almost never go out and have nothing resembling a social life so it doesn't really matter for me anyway, so I get most people probably would not want to do anything like this.

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[–] 13 points 3 months ago (2 children)

I have underwear that’s lasted over ten years.

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[–] 13 points 3 months ago (3 children)

But I don't wear underpants... 😰

[–] 11 points 3 months ago (1 children)
[–] 14 points 3 months ago

I’m out there Jerry, and I’m lllllllllovin’ every minute of it!

[–] 7 points 3 months ago

big Underwear is trying to get you to change your ways. Don't listen to them!

[–] 4 points 3 months ago (1 children)

Must have smelly outer pants then

[–] 3 points 3 months ago (3 children)

It hasn't been an issue thus far, but even if it were I'd say slightly smelly trousers are a small price to pay for sweet ball swinging freedom 🇺🇲🦅🎉⚾⚾🎉🦅🇺🇲

[–] 5 points 3 months ago (1 children)
[–] 3 points 3 months ago

I agree underpants are grossly overrated

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[–] toothpicks 13 points 3 months ago (2 children)

Not sure if I trust a lot of companies that make more expensive underwear to actually make something that lasts longer. I could put the research in to find something. But the markup between the cheapest things and the "quality" underwear always seems a bit much for me

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[–] 12 points 3 months ago (5 children)

Soo.. What underwear are actually worth buying then? It doesn't seem like there are too many recommendations.

[–] 5 points 3 months ago

In a similar thread years ago there was a recommendation for Exofficio brand which I bought a few of to try out and have since replaced all of my underwear with. Their boxer briefs are fantastic.

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[–] 12 points 3 months ago

Price is unfortunately not a reliable proxy for quality. That's kind of why communities like BuyItForLife exist.

Granted, the marketers are catching up to this and as such they are losing their usefulness, but yeah.

[–] 11 points 3 months ago (1 children)

Broadly speaking, consumers should educate themselves about apparel, and then choose to buy apparel that's better made and will last longer. It's not just underwear. Jeans are a favorite example of mine. Most jeans right now are in the 9-10oz range, and have 1-4% spandex woven in so they stretch. 50 years ago, most jeans would have been in the 12-14oz range, no spandex. The would shrink in the wash, so you had to be careful, but would also slowly break in and mold to fit you. Jeans with spandex are more comfortable right off the bat, and can be made comfortable even if they're fairly tight, but as they wear, they're going to start sagging. And since they're a lighter weight material, they aren't going to last as long. The changes are, in large part, driven by the need to ensure that your jeans fit a wider range of body shapes; your fit doesn't need to be as specific when you use elastic. (That starts wading into the deep end of fitting apparel, but the short version is: patterns can be pretty easily graded to fit people that aren't overweight, but once you get past a certain amount of body fat, distribution and shapes start varying widely enough that you simply can't make anything that's close to universal without making it fit like a poncho.)

There was even a brief period of time where Invista had a partnership with a mill that was making denim, and they were doing 60/40, or 50/50 cotton/nylon denims, and they had fantastic wear capabilities. I haven't been able to find anything about that particular material in about 15 years, sadly. (Cotton/Kevlar blends are possible to find; those are used for motorcycle jeans. They're also $60/yard for 30" wide fabric, which is insane.)

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[–] toothpicks 7 points 3 months ago

I buy nowhere near one piece of clothing per week

[–] 4 points 3 months ago (2 children)

Who throws clothes in the trash? I almost never do that.

If it's OK and just doesn't fit I donate it. Some of them get cut up to be dust cloths. And when my underwear is literally falling apart I might throw it away. Maybe.

[–] activistPnk 4 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

HUGE amounts of clothes are being trashed, many of them new; never worn. I wish I kept the link around. There were several articles in the past few years showing massive piles of clothes along the coastline of some poverty-stricken countries, with all the dyes leeching into the ocean. Fast fashion is the culprit.

Probably what disgusts me the most are political campaign t-shirts. Surely it’s the worst instance of obsolescence by design in clothing. Andrew Yang claimed to be an environmentalist yet his campaign t-shirts were made of non-sustainable cotton. Attempts to spotlight that were censored by Reddit.

If it’s OK and just doesn’t fit I donate it.

All the charities collecting clothes in my area are fussy. They want no flaws, and they want clothes to be cleaned. Apparently there is no infrastructure for repairing them or even simply washing them. Neighbors don’t bother.. they just stuff a trash bag with clothes and put it out with other trash. Sometimes someone notices that and tears open the bag and rifles through it for stuff. I’ve moved into places where the previous tenant just left clothes and blankets behind. I dumped them in the clothing donation bins anyway, without washing. But it’s dicey.. I could just be adding to their burden and have no idea if the clothes and blankets get used.

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[–] 3 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago) (2 children)

I've had the same underwear for about 10 years. The elastic eventually wears out and you have to sew them to become "fitted"

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