Becoming a Clothing “Hoarder” in Tough Times

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

 As I entered my 50s and as the economy began to tank (perfect timing!), I became aware of one scary new reality: my days in the paid workforce were probably numbered. All around me, people my age were being forced out of their jobs, which were being turned into poorly-paying part-time gigs or outsourced to lower-wage countries. And, thanks to age discrimination, many of these same people, even the best-educated ones, had a hard time finding a new job, especially one that paid as well as their old one. All too often, these discouraged workers found themselves giving up their quest for employment and retiring early.

And when these middle-aged people—too young to draw a pension—become unemployed long-term and their benefits run out, they lose access to a steady income. That means, of course, that their ability to spend money is limited, and they need to “make do” with that they already have.

Sure enough, my own job gradually become more precarious, thanks to a company reorganization and, a few years later, the sale of the division I worked for. Faced with this difficult new reality, I began planning for the day when I, too, would need to “make do”. In other words, I limited my clothing purchases to items that I could wear not only right away, but long into my retirement years. I began to hoard clothing!

Now that I’m retired, I’m glad I made the choice to become a hoarder. There’s very little that I need to buy—basically, only replacement pieces—and my wardrobe will look good and serve me well for years to come. Most importantly, I don’t have the stress of needing to buy new clothing on a limited budget.

If you’re over 50 and would like to try my rather unorthodox strategy, here are some suggestions:

  • Choose one theme for your wardrobe. This could be either an established style (romantic, classic, sporty, etc.) or an original style devised by you. In my case, I have combined tailored 1940’s to 1960’s pieces (and recreations of them) with preppy modern classics to create my own “preppy vintage” style.
  • Choose a style that never or rarely dates; that way, you’ll never again need to replace an entire wardrobe.
  • Look for versatile clothing that can be combined with a lot of other pieces and worn almost anywhere, such as a simple dress in a good wool, a fitted shirt in a cotton sateen, a cashmere twinset in a brilliant colour. But also look for interesting “statement pieces”, such as a pencil skirt in leather or a silk blouse in a rich print.
  • Stick with one silhouette (e.g., fitted all over, fitted and flared, etc.) and choose one or two styles for each type of clothing within that silhouette. For example, fitted hip-length jackets, collared shirts and pullovers, slim pants.
  • Stick with classic pieces unless the trendy item you’ve fallen in love with fits into your style and can become a long-term (5-10 year) part of your wardrobe. In my case, I purchased a couple of trendy items—a jumpsuit and culottes—in the knowledge that they would fit perfectly into my retro-themed wardrobe.
  • Narrow your palette to three to six fashion colors (plus neutrals) per season.
  • Narrow your shopping to a few brands that offer similar clothing.
  • Choose clothing in natural fabrics, such as wool, cotton, silk, and linen. Clothing in synthetic fabrics wears out quickly and is uncomfortable to wear.
  • Only buy quality clothing, even if you have to buy some or all of it on sale.
  • But don’t bother with clothing sales unless you know exactly what you want before the sale begins. Too often, women end up buying marked-down clothing that they never wear only because of the reduced price. If possible, try on the clothing in the store before it goes on sale just to make sure that you really want it. Then keep your eye peeled for sales (either by checking the store’s website or by getting on its mailing list) and grab the item once it’s marked down.
  • Buy less clothing and try to make every purchase count.
  • Obey the 5-10 year rule: never buy a piece of clothing at any price unless you can see yourself wearing it for 5-10 years.
  • Once you’ve established your wardrobe, only purchase replacement pieces.
  • Make sure all of your clothing fits perfectly; if it doesn’t, take it to a tailor.

Do you have any ideas for building a “retirement wardrobe”? Feel free to post your comments.


Kathleen Jones’ first novel, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in the spring of 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪ 


Photo credit: Enchantée Closet via photopin (license)


Author: kath1960

A lover of words who writes from the heart. Welcome to my site! I’m a refugee from the corporate world, a lover of books, dogs, and 1940’s/1950’s vintage clothing (not necessarily in that order!), a wife and a mom . . . and, oh yeah, a novelist! My first novel, a lighthearted romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published by Moonshine Cove in April 2018.

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