3 Criteria I Apply (In Order) When I Buy Clothing

It is often said of college students that when it comes to spending your time in college, you have options: sleep, socialize, or study — pick two. When it comes to computer software, you also have choices: good, fast, cheap — pick two. I would say when it comes to buying clothing, you have options: good looking, comfortable, and cheap — pick two.

I used to feel that clothing was one of those things that really didn’t matter too much. I thought that brand name clothes, or expensive suits were just a thing rich people did to show off to other rich people how much richer they were than other rich people. I wasn’t about that life. So when it came to clothing, I didn’t see the point in buying fancy clothes (or anything else) at the mall. Shopping at the mall was a complete waste of time. Consequently I bought most of my clothes from thrift stores and Walmart.

For whatever reason, I never really saw a problem with what I wore in high school. Many of my peers suffered from severe senioritits as sophomores, and came to school consistently in sweats and a hoodie. So I thought I was doing pretty well with my jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirt.

Aside: There was one semester my junior year where I realized I had so many t-shirts from clubs in high school that I wanted to see if I could go the whole semester only wearing t-shirts I got from my high school. I did.

Anyway, after high school came college, and I noticed that there were essentially two groups of people at college: those who took college seriously, and those who did not. There wasn’t a perfect correlation, but I noticed that based on the way I dressed, I resembled the group of students who did not take college seriously. It wasn’t blatant, but I didn’t dress the way my friends who were eagerly pursuing their professional and academic dreams were dressing.

It all came to a head when I became an RA my sophomore year of college and got to know an amazing individual by the name of Ashok. Throughout the year of working with him, I learned just how important the choices we make about dress alter our lives. It’s more than just a fashion statement–it’s a courtesy, a sign of respect towards those that we work with. You find yourself treating others with more respect, others treat you with more respect, and probably most importantly, you treat yourself with more respect.

I’m not saying suits and ties every day, but I am saying that if I never graduated from my t-shirt and tennis shoes stage, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. I would never take myself seriously enough to feel that what I had to say really mattered.

Anyway, enough biography, and the checklist.

I used to feel that the most important thing when it came to clothes is that I wasn’t spending a lot of money. Then, if I found something that looked like a bargain, I would check to see if it looked nice. And then I would buy it.

This is an awful way of doing it.

Here’s why: I quickly accumulated tons of cheap clothing, that kind of looked good on me, but not really. But half of it really wasn’t that comfortable so I never wore it. I found myself mostly wearing clothes that I received here and there on holidays from friends and relatives that was actually comfortable. I quickly realized that if something is not comfortable, humans do not like to wear it.

Therefore, spending $100 on ten cheap, uncomfortable shirts that you never wear is infinitely worse than spending $100 on one expensive, super comfy shirt that you will want to wear all the time.

Additionally, comfortability is more important than good-looking or even good-fitting. Why? Because if a sweater looks good but is uncomfortable, you just won’t enjoy wearing it and it will be a waste of your time and closet space.

Armed with this mindset, I have in the last year or so flipped the checklist upside down:

  1. Is it comfortable
  2. Is it good-looking
  3. Is it affordable

Now my closet is gradually becoming a collection of comfortable apparel that I am excited to wear, and most of it even looks good on me.

You can probably see how this spills over to other parts of my life as well.

A bank with no maintenance fee, decent bonuses, but awful customer service will definitely put you in a fowl mood when it comes time to plan a vacation, get a loan, do taxes, etc… It would be better on your happiness (and on the happiness of those around you) to find a bank with a maintenance fee but also features awesome customer service.

If you have a cheap phone that looks nice, but has an awful user interface, you’ll be cursing overtime you get it, and will likely want to replace it every time you use your phone (I’ve known people who actually abuse phones they hate, usually causing them to have to replace them). If you instead select a phone with a user interface you love, you’ll take excellent care of the phone, and will be likely not even to realize you’ve had the phone for 2 years (or however long you’ve had it) when it’s time to replace it. (Phones have been on my mind for the last two weeks,  you can read more in my article on the 12 days of Cell-Free-mas)

As a final perk, this method, when it comes to stuff, helps promote minimalism, which I am more and more interested in as time goes by. It’s a lot easier to live with fewer, but nicer things, than it is to live with lots of junky cheap things, but I’ll write more on that later.

In closing, I hope that this article helps you avoid decision paralysis next time you go shopping, and helps you cull out your wardrobe if you’re currently in the business of culling your wardrobe.

I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

The 12 days of Cell-free-mas

No cell phone is perfect, but when my Samsung phone stopped charging because the charging port got messed up, I was a bit disappointed. My phone was already showing the signs of it’s nearing demise, and I was hoping it would last until April when I could get a cheap(er) upgrade to a new phone.

I tried using different chargers with my phone, but one by one my phone destroyed the chargers so that they wouldn’t power any other devices. My mom experienced a similar problem in the fall, and her solution was to charge cell phone batteries, carry around a few spares wherever she went, and constantly replace the batteries when her phone ran low on juice. But that didn’t sound appealing to me, so I tried an alternative.

Not using my phone.

People wonder what it was like before people had cell phones. Since February 1, I have had a pleasant rewind into what my life was like when I was 16. Boy what a difference it made.

My normal self-check routine is to pat down my pockets and feel for three things: phone, wallet, keys. I often even say it out loud before leaving my room, car, workplace, friend’s house, etc… The list will change depending on where I am (passport gets added to the self-check list at airports, and so on). These last dozen days I’ve been readjusting to a self-check routine that consists of two-items, and it feels quite a bit more freeing.

I struggle to disengage from my day. From when I wake up until I go to bed, I’m constantly wanting to check emails, send messages to people, or even read different articles around the web. I recognize that the time I spend waiting here and there represents about 2% of my day, but I still feel horridly unproductive if I’m not doing anything during that time.

I am coming to realize that we as humans were not created to be constantly plugged in. Even though there are some environments that make us feel like we need to be constantly on call 24/7, this lifestyle is taxing, and never allows us to feel that we can truly unwind. In between classes, or during breaks, I am finding myself re-learning how to sit in a seat and just be content to wait without having to have a screen in front of me that is fooling me into feeling productive. It’s during these times that I feel like I can reflect on how my day is going, and re-align myself to those things that are important, like character development I talk with Jesus about every morning in my devotions.

I still make phone calls, but they are through my laptop or on a friends’ phone. My day becomes a bit more structured because if I tell people that I’m going to be there at a certain time, I can’t let them know last minute that I won’t be there. I have to be more responsible and even (heaven forbid) arrive places early, but nobody has told me that they mind much.

I could say a lot more, but I think you get the picture. I will likely upgrade to that new phone in April, but hopefully I can create positive habits of unplugging in the next few months that will persist even when I have the temptation of staying tuned in 24/7.