January 8, 2013

The mystery of why 50-year-old men suddenly...

... stop buying new clothes.

61 comments:

ndspinelli said...

It's easy. We real men figure we're good till we die. Good shirts, pants, etc. last 25-30 years.

The Drill SGT said...

you only have so much closet space for old suits

The Drill SGT said...

three pairs of shoes is enough. 5 max

tennis/running
loafers
dress

hiking?
beach sandals?

SteveR said...

Mortality rates start going up as do conditions (retirement/disability) that lower the need to buy stuff.

I guess that's too simple

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shouting Thomas said...

The girlfriend does just about all the buying. She loves to shop.

Unless I go back to work, it's just sweats and underwear.

I do think it's only right and proper to buy new jockey shorts, t-shirts and sweat socks at Sam's Club every year.

The girlfriend gets me dooded up for my church gigs. Irons and everything. If it was up to me, nothing would be ironed.

Suits are just for weddings and funerals. A lot more funerals these days, especially for the church gig. Tips are pretty good!

Pogo said...

After 50, who are you trying to impress? Worse, who will be impressed?

And hat you have accumulated by then will mostly last you.

EMD said...

Steve R cracks the code!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

After awhile, you own pretty much most of what you need. And as the article noted, once you are in your 50's your body generally has settled into what it is going to be. Meaning the stuff you already own is going to fit for quite a while, so you can keep using it.

Speaking for myself, and as a woman who really doesn't care too much whether I have a lot of clothing or shoes, now that I'm retired, I find that I have all of the clothing I need or want. My "work" clothing and dress shoes are really just annoyingly taking up space in my closet. I have found a charity that provides clothing for impoverished women who are trying to enter or re-enter the workforce. So...I am giving them almost all of my 'professional' clothing and just keeping a couple of nice outfits.

Tibore said...

I thought the answer was just "senility". (*ducks*)


/turning senile in my 40s; hey! I'm ahead of the curve!

Surfed said...

Why buy clothes if all you're going to do is get naked? The kids are gone, I've got access to killer pharms (Levitra, et al) my girlfriend is hot and all of a sudden I'm reliving the 60's. Naked AND on drugs. I doesn't get much better.

the wolf said...

I have all the shorts I need, Ann. All I need is some warm weather.

Strelnikov said...

It's because we can see death from there.

Surfed said...

And might I ad reliving the 60's in my 60's. Sweet.

jimbino said...

I am 68.

I don't buy dress shirts, since I have some 30 from years past. I buy pants, shorts and T-shirts at Savers on Old-Folks' Day. I buy shoes once or twice a year at Payless for $30.

I buy underwear & socks online. I spend less than $100/year altogether on shoes and clothes.

I get my hair cut every 3 months on Old-Folks day at the local Cosmetology school for $5. I spend nothing on condoms or viagra.

But it costs me hundreds of dollars in time, gas and bait to catch and deliver to the local pound annually the 23 cats, dogs, possums, coons and skunks I trap.

I spend some $5000/year financing the mis-education of Other People's Pentelinhos.

Now booze is another story. Walmart makes life bearable by selling 6 bottles of wine, in a box, for $9.

Shouting Thomas said...

I like to buy computer stuff and musical electronic doodads.

But, as my income continues to decline, I might have to let that go, too.

Shouting Thomas said...

Gym membership is important. 10 bucks a month at Planet Fitness.

I can hang out there for two or three hours a day!

Astro said...

As a 50+ year old I can tell you exactly that there are 3 factors at work.
1. Mens styles don't change that much year to year, so once you've accumulated a large collection of clothes there's no need to continue accumulating.
2. Wear and tear on clothing decreases through a man's 40s. A guy isn't playing softball as much, or football, or engaging in other activities that cause clothing to wear out.
3. Clothing ads for guys beyond their 30s are almost non-existant. The maketing people write-off that population. 'Everyone knows' that most clothes shopping is done by females, especially females in that 15 to 35 age bracket. Commercial ads target the demographic group that spends the most money.

Astro said...

Corollary: By the time a guy reaches his 50s his daughters are in high school or college, and his money is going to them, for their education, clothing, etc.

Mitchell the Bat said...

People like me skew the statistics because at age 52 I've begun dressing as a woman.

rehajm said...

Advertisers know we're pretty much set in our purchasing ways by around age 50. We stop buying for body changes as suggested, and also for changes in fashion fads. We value 'sensible' (read: less expensive). Also, incomes flatten, then drop in retirement. So we economize...

Shoes? No more fashion, fewer or no sports or activities that require different footwear.

The patio furniture? Household formation. Widows making it to their 80's are active enough to justify moving to a smaller place and- they need patio furniture. The curves for regular furniture and paint and wallpaper are consistent..

McTriumph said...

Most men don't chase fashion after the age of 21, like most women do. Men for the most part buy traditional classic American styled clothing. Unless a guy's body completely changes beyond the alteration lady's capability things never ware out. How does one destroy a navy blazer or charcoal suit short of being a fall down drunk?

William R. Hamblen said...

Fifty is about the age you stop gaining weight.

Will Cate said...

Well I'm 52, and I have definitely have some vintage outwear clothing. But I absolutely cannot stand to have old, worn-out underwear and socks -- I change out the whole collection about once a year.

Chuck66 said...

Maybe related....I noticed this winter that a very large number of high school to late middled aged people all bought new winter jackets. The dark blue puffy (down fillled) jackets. I was wondering if everyones winter jackets all wore out at the same time. And they all chose the same design to replace them.

Perhaps there is some tie to people buying whatever everyone else is buying, until you reach a certain age and don't care to spend money on this years trend, when you know your old jacket will keep you just as warm.

EDH said...

I'm surprised Al Roker himself hasn't at least maintained the the male over 50 purchases of underwear.

Chuck66 said...

My sister likes to point out older people (say 65 and up) who don't have kids or don't have kids living near them. They tend to be the worst dressers. She says seniors need to have an offspring nearby to occasionally cule they wordrobe of the worst stuff, and get them some new clothes.

Jim said...

Part of it is new stuff is crap. I'm 55 and told my wife I wanted a sweat shirt exactly like my 20+ year old one that is really worn out. The search took quite a while but she ended up at Orvis. I'll be buying another one when I'm 75, God willing.

elkh1 said...

They have all the clothes they would need for the next 30 years, why bother?

jimbino said...

It is so liberating to arrive at the age where you stop chasing tail.

Levi Starks said...

That would explain why my portion of our closet is about 10% of my wife's
Or maybe the answer is that facing a decreasing amount of available space in the closet, what othere choice do they have?

Original Mike said...

This is a mystery? Really?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

There's a much more important message, of which the clothing thing is but a small reflection. Dent's great contribution to economics has been to tie spending curves to age to use as a predictive tool.

On aggregate, consumer spending peaks at about age 50 and (except for a few key things) begins to fall off rather rapidly thereafter. Lagging the birth curve by 50 years produces a peak aggregate spending curve for the entire economy.

Baby Boom births peaked in 1957 and '58. Consumer spending would be expected to peak in 2007 and '08.

The bad news is that the birth trough did not arrive until 1973 to '77, so consumer spending will generally continue weaker and falling until sometime around 2028.

Dent's approach suggests another 15 years of rolling recessions and weak growth, which politicians mostly can only make worse.

Bruce Hayden said...

I'm with the other posters here. I am a bit over 60 now, and noted recently that my dress is substantially the same as when I was in high school (college was different, since it was the late 1960s). Button down cotton shirts with Levis, and polo shirts in the summer. Now, I don't wear boots as often, after having had foot problems as a result some 20 years ago, so am now mostly wearing sneakers. Now do most of my clothes shopping at Sams Club, buying those types of clothes on final clearance when they go out of season (i.e. polo shirts in the late fall, and button down shirts coming into summer). Thus, I find myself buying decent quality shirts at under $10, and have enough shirts and jeans to last me into my 70s.

Office wear, esp. suits, sport coats, and ties, are also sufficient to last me indefinitely, though I will still buy navy sport coats if I get a steal on them. I have better than a dozen good quality wool suits, and well north of 100 silk ties. And, I continue to receive ties as presents - my father finally laid down the law on getting ties when he turned 90. Working in a law firm does that to you - makes you accumulate all those monkey outfits. Oh, and two tailored tuxes, despite not having worn one for a couple of years.

I think that there are a couple of factors. One, as mentioned above by many, you have all the clothes that you need, probably for the rest of your life. And, second, you quit caring as much. You don't have to dress as much to impress clients (white hair is more effective), and you mostly aren't trying to impress women. Hopefully though, I will never move to the one piece jump suits.

mikee said...

I am 53. I am underemployed. I am impoverished. I am fat.

But I have been younger, and employed, and wealthier and skinnier.

I see no need to festoon my present self with expensive rags when I am getting skinnier, when I am trying to get better employment, and when I don't have the money to do so.

Hope that helps.

dbp said...

I am 50 and have been running barefoot whenever I can lately, weather permitting. So that accounts for maybe one pair of shoes per year.

As for the rest, well clothes last a long time, so by 50 you own all you can store or will ever wear-out. I do buy socks and underwear regularly though.

Bob said...

By 50 your wife or girlfriend's cloths start to intrude into your closet. Space, or lack of. Just not worth the fight. When they buy you cloths its okay - cause they care!

Paul said...

When I was 20 I didn't care what people thought of me!

When I was 30 I didn't know what people thought of me.

When I was 40 I worried what people thought of me.

When I was 50 I finally figured out people actually never thought of me much!

Thus I don't need to buy all that many new cloths.

edutcher said...

At 50, I was still buying stuff that I thought the Blonde would like on me.

Now, it's economics.

Kit said...

My mid-50's husband works PT at REI. I think they pay him in jackets and gear.

cubanbob said...

Pogo said...
After 50, who are you trying to impress? Worse, who will be impressed?

And hat you have accumulated by then will mostly last you.

1/8/13 1:35 PM

Well said but for one thing. After 50 who really gives a crap?

bagoh20 said...

After 50, we just start looking good in anything, and so Speedos begin to dominate the the look we rock. We only do this due to popular demand. We're givers, and so we give em what they want.

Big Mike said...

Two thoughts. First, the biggest demographic bulge of the baby boom are people now in their 50s and 60s. Second, within the past ten years or so offices have seemed to become much more casual as regards male attire.

Fifteen years ago most men in IT above the programmer and team lead ranks had to have a jacket, shirt and tie, particularly if meeting vendors or outside customers. The shirt didn't have to be white and the tie didn't have to coordinate with he shirt or sportcoat, but one did have to wear the uniform.

These days techical people even at the apex of the technical ladder are dressed more casually (I don't have a tie on right now, for instance).

McTriumph said...

I guess it's cultural, I'm 60, I can't imagine going to the office without coat and tie during regular business hours. I don't attend church without a coat and tie unless traveling on vacation.

Michael said...

McTriumph: Ditto. I am in my middle sixties and wear a suit nearly every day. Get fresh shirts, ties, suits nearly every year.

Megaera said...

Like many couples here we both have dress clothes accumulated that we no longer regularly wear; the clothes we do buy match our activities and actual needs, not changes in fashion. FWIW, he's always been a bit more of a clothes horse than I, so he's the one whose acquisitions are encroaching on my side of the closet and taking up more drawer space...funny, that.

David said...

We'll buy as soon as we lose 10 pounds.

ricpic said...

Recently I bought a beeyooteefull genuwine Stetson fedora in the hope, ah hope, it would improve things. Damn that mirror!

Hunter said...

I'm only 32 and I can't tell you the last time I bought any new clothes.

Guess I will buy stuff when I have to, like when pant cuffs get all frayed and things shrink too much. But that's not even once a year.

Good thing for me I don't care about seasonal fashion and neither does my wife or anybody else I know (as far as I know, and if they do, stuff 'em)

Nomennovum said...

Viagra really eats into the clothing budget.

jp said...

maybe we inherit clothes about that time

jp said...

maybe we inherit clothes about that time

Nomennovum said...

"10 bucks a month at Planet Fitness." - ST

How do they do that??? NY Sports Club must be 5 oe 6 times that. How's the equipment?

bagoh20 said...

I guess it correlates closest with the size of the company and part of the country, but here in L.A. in the manufacturing business, meeting with representatives from all levels of a lot of different businesses, I'd say a jacket and tie shows up under 50% of the time. Even then, 80% of those ties are on the party doing the selling and not the buying. In my business, manufacturing, it's pretty rare except in sales where it is still about half.

It is probably cultural, but for a lot of us in industries that focus on physical products rather than software or services, a suit and tie in our business often suggests you don't know much about the real issues, and are just a salesman with a pitch and with no work experience in what we do, which is mostly get dirty. I know some vendors are aware of this, and dress down for some clients.

That reminds me of a show I saw last night about the Gold Rush in the 1840s-50s. Someone recounted a tale of some French coming to California to get rich raking gold. They brought wives and kids, rakes and baskets, and fine clothes, and furniture in expectation that they would picnic along the riverbanks and rake nuggets into baskets while enjoying cold drinks and o'dourves. Being French, they soon surrendered and went home.

ricpic said...

If France was my home I'd go back too. In a shot. How great it must be if your home is a country where not being a world beater doesn't make you a shit.

Phil 3:14 said...

Well, I'm bucking this trend.

ken in sc said...

When I was a kid, I wanted toys and fun things as gifts. Instead I got socks, pajamas, and underwear. Now that I am old, 65, I want socks, pajamas, and underwear. Instead I get toys like GPSs, Ipods, and satellite radios. When am I going to get the stuff I really want? When is it going to be my turn?

befinne said...

No mystery. You know how far you're going in the career and since most of us are staying where we are, hoping just to hang on, we stop wasting money on stuff other people see.

befinne said...

No mystery. You know how far you're going in the career and since most of us are staying where we are, hoping just to hang on, we stop wasting money on stuff other people see.

tiger said...

Pretty much this: "ndspinelli said...
It's easy. We real men figure we're good till we die. Good shirts, pants, etc. last 25-30 years.",

this: "The Drill SGT said...
you only have so much closet space for old suits",

and this: "The Drill SGT said...
three pairs of shoes is enough. 5 max

tennis/running
loafers
dress

hiking?
beach sandals?"

Guimo said...

Althouse should see my shorts!