Keeping Stock
May 18, 2015 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Often when I find an item of clothing that I like, by the time I wear it out and want to replace it the company has stopped selling it. I've adapted by going back and buying additional pieces but this is a hassle and I can't always afford to buy five pairs of jeans at once. I'd rather just patronize stores/brands that are known for longevity. Can folks suggest places to shop?

Ideally these will be places where you can get the same item of clothing year after year, decade after decade, so stories like, "I've gotten my favorite pair of jeans from X for the last ten years" would be very reassuring. Please tell me companies like this exist!

Some potentially relevant details, though don't let them limit your suggestions:

- I'm an average-sized woman. I can't imagine how much more frustrating this phenomenon is for people who already have trouble finding things in their size.

- I prefer to minimize my spending on clothing, and am hoping that the suggestions won't all be high end.

- I'm looking for basic wardrobe stuff: jeans and other kinds of casual pants (such as cords), shirts and blouses, cardigans. No particular style. I used to want to express myself through clothing but I'm getting sick of beauty culture and just want to minimize the amount of time I spend thinking about it.
posted by galaxy rise to Shopping (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I am right there with you in terms of pursuing this goal. However, the painful lesson I have learned is that clothing retailers are driven by forces of madness and shareholder greed, so they change up sizing and fits and stylists and production houses every ~6-8 months.

The Gap, J. Crew, Loft -- all of them are on a rollercoaster of quality and style.

You might try Eddie Bauer -- they were my go-to for a very long time until they, too, went down the crapper. I think they've been bought out by some investment firm or other, so maybe they have stabilized fits.

The only other place I could suggest would be L.L. Bean -- while I cannot speak to the long-term dependability of their sizes and fits, I can say that they've had the same styles of clothing every season for at least the last 10 years.

posted by gsh at 11:34 AM on May 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

There seem to be fewer and fewer companies who actually carry the same styles across multiple seasons, let alone across multiple years. Your best bet is reliable outdoor/work clothing standbys like Lands' End and Duluth Trading Company, but even they sometimes suddenly discontinue that one thing everyone loved and re-bought for years and years.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:35 AM on May 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

I essentially wear a uniform of favorite clothing pieces and I buy multiples. I haven't found a line that keeps the same fabrics and cuts over many seasons. Yes, there are lines that call garments by the same names, but fabrics often change and that is enough of a difference to change how things wear and fit. I've had some luck with certain discount clothing lines like Old Navy's staying somewhat similar, but fabric does become an issue over time. I think it's mostly a function of how modern supply chains work, especially in the age of fast fashion. Similar ends up being good enough.

My only successful alternative to buying multiples has been to track down replacements via ebay, but that's hardly convenient or a sure thing as I end up having to do a lot of searching and waiting for items to be listed. Even companies known for a "classic" products that have been around for decades will change materials and construction.

As much as I have tried to find work-arounds to buying multiples as soon as I figure out something fits and wears well, I haven't found one that's better than investing in multiples.
posted by quince at 11:37 AM on May 18, 2015

My suggestion for jeans would be to find a brand that specialises with denim. They'll probably be affected by trends to an extent, but not quite to the same extent that, say, chain stores are. I went to H&M the other day and it was almost impossible to find a pair of jeans that wasn't full of intentional holes and rips! Meanwhile, I'm wearing a pair of black Lee jeans that are almost identical to the first pair of black jeans, also by Lee, that I bought in roughly 2004.

If you're not into Lee brand jeans, then I'd suggest looking into Levis or Wrangler. I think all the big brands make sure that they have at least one of each different style (eg. straight, skinny, bootcut) available.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 11:39 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

specialises in denim*
posted by kinddieserzeit at 11:50 AM on May 18, 2015

For jeans, I agree, I would try to find a special jeans retailer. Some of my friends like Levis. I buy jeans on ASOS because I've had good luck there for some reason.

For other things, I'd try Old Navy. They have a lot of choices, a lot of basics, but everything is usually cut in a relatively on trend style, so there's a minimum of thought involved (as opposed to oh, here is a basic t-shirt, does it make me look dowdy, hm, etc). For instance, if I'm looking for a sundress, I know they'll have a basic sundress in about 3-10 colors and prints, in a modest wearable length, made of natural fabrics, and cut in a non-dowdy style. If you're suspicious of Old Navy, they recently hired a team to revamp their clothing lines and they have been on the rise in the last few years. Everything is very affordable, goes on sale a lot, and you frequently get rewards for shopping there. (Old Navy bucks, or whatever they're called). I bought my entire summer wardrobe there this year and I'm where you're at-- used to be into fashion, nowadays am just looking to clothe myself with a minimum of stress.
posted by easter queen at 12:00 PM on May 18, 2015

Seconding LL Bean. While not perfectly consistent, overall they're the best I've found for reliability of sizes and styles.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:46 PM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've gotten my favorite pair of jeans from X for the last ten years

Eddie Bauer, for me, but it's more like five years. Before that it was Boden, but they don't fit me well any more (I think they changed a little and I changed a little).
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:49 PM on May 18, 2015

I've found Uniqlo to be pretty consistent regarding sizing and availability of items if you stick to basics like jeans and cardigans. But even with them, it's always a good idea to check actual garment measurements rather than numerical size, if ordering items years apart.
posted by needled at 1:31 PM on May 18, 2015

The price point may be higher than fits your parameters, but I've found Patagonia to be reliably high-quality throughout the years. Although items come and go, then tend to have certain core pieces that are generally available (although slight style/fit tweaks can happen over time). Styles and colors are often simple and classic to the point that I've had no trouble mixing and matching pieces that I've bought over multiple years. If you do decide to try some Patagonia clothes, I recommend going to a store and sizing yourself in whatever items look interesting, and then signing up for email web specials alerts, so you can pounce when clothes go on deep discount at the end of the season, and then you can stock up.
posted by the thought-fox at 4:12 PM on May 18, 2015

Banana Republic jeans are consistent and very good quality. They have other basics that seem to persist too.
posted by w0mbat at 6:31 PM on May 18, 2015

Focus on the fit model. Every clothing designer uses a particular fit model usually when they're designing their clothes which is basically a set of unique measurements for what "their" model customer looks like, shoulders, hips, waist etc. That's why a size 8 which has the same general 28" waist as another shop's size 8 can fit totally differently on you because their fit model sits the waist at a 2.5" rise from your natural waist while the other shop sits it at a 2.75" rise or something. The underlying fit model rarely changes season to season, so if the clothes fit well to your body shape from one brand, the next season's clothes are also much more likely to fit the same shape. If you find a shop with a complimentary fit model and good quality fabrics, you'll end up finding 40-50% of the clothes are great, vs struggling to find anything that fits well. I can walk into a Uniqlo and find 20% of the clothes will fit just fine, but at a Cotton On, 50% of the clothes fit fine, because the fit model is closer to my body type, so I would rather shop at a Cotton On.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:40 PM on May 18, 2015

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