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Why and How You Should Be Stockpiling Clothes

In any kind of SHTF situation, clothes are important. You may only need a few sets of clothing just to survive. However, in an economic downturn or inflation economy, you might want to think about clothing in a different way. 

Stocking up on clothing will be important, especially if you are unsure if money will be tight or will need to be allocated to a different category in your budget. If you build up enough inventory for clothing, you may not need to worry about your wardrobe for 2-3 years. Even if you are inclined to purchase clothing in that time period, you would have the freedom to do so at your discretion.

What will you need to stockpile:

  • Shirts: short sleeve shirts and long sleeve shirts
  • Undershirts: tank tops or undershirts (good for layering)
  • Sweatshirts and Sweaters
  • Flannel/Button-down Shirts
  • Shorts/Skirts
  • Jeans/Pants
  • Underwear
  • Bras/Camisoles 
  • Socks
  • Shoes/Boots

Cold climate gear:

  • Coats/Jackets
  • Thermal Undergarments
  • Wool Socks
  • Hats/Gloves/Scarves/Balaclavas
  • Snow Pants/Overalls

Only you can really know what the right amount of clothes to have on hand. I aim for at least two weeks of clothes that I can wear in that season without doing any laundry in normal times. However, for tough times, you may want to stockpile more than that. You may want to look at having a month's worth of clothes on hand. That's not saying you will go a month without doing laundry, but you will be well prepared and not have to spend money on clothes.

I layer a lot in the winter so many of those clothes will be worn more than once before I wash them. I wear jeans all year round (due to my job) and, unless I get filthy, those jeans will be worn 3-4 times before I throw them in the hamper. Except for underwear and socks, most of your clothes can be worn a few times before washing. With that, you may be able to get away with less clothing that you need to purchase. However, having some more clothing stored as back-ups or replacements is also a good idea.

Now, if you get really dirty every day or sweat a lot, your clothing needs may change. You may need several more shirts and pants/shorts to get through that time. Being able to do laundry in a washing machine is a relatively modern marvel so you can do laundry more often. However, you may need to wear even those clothes again if water becomes an issue or you are not stocked up on laundry detergent/soap to wash your clothes. If you get dirty a lot, a good pair of coveralls or a large apron will help protect your clothes and is well worth the investment. 

Another key to stockpiling clothes is to get clothes you will actually wear. I like to keep my wardrobe pretty basic. I'm definitely a tee-shirt/jeans type and my wardrobe is geared towards that. I don't have to worry about matching or coordinating outfits. My clothes are appropriate for work, working outside, and working inside. I rarely have to think about changing clothes when I get home. While that might not work for everyone, keeping a simple wardrobe will help you stockpile faster and easier. You will not want to worry about what is fashionable or trendy in these situations. 

Even when you are stockpiling clothes, make sure to keep some clothes back as "grubbies." If you are used to getting dirty, you probably already have a pile of old clothes for this purpose. However, if you are not used to getting dirty, you need to keep some clothes on hand that you don't care what happens to them. When times get hard, you will find yourself doing more of your own work, and having some old clothes to wear will keep the other clothes from being stained. 

If you live in an area where you experience four seasons, you need to think about what you need all year round. You may need to look at more versatile clothing that can be layered. If you live in a warm-weather climate, you still need to think about colder weather and be prepared. The weather patterns change and you could experience cold weather when you are not used to it. 

You can stockpile clothing on a budget. You can find quality clothes and shoes for very little money if you know where to look in this day and age. Buying quality clothes will help you stock up smartly. If you buy a bunch of cheaply made tee shirts, don't be surprised when they become rags sooner than later. If you spend a little more on a quality tee shirt, it will outlast six cheaply made ones. 

You can find clothing cheaply and still find quality clothing. You may choose to spend more money on jeans and shoes that last. You may choose to buy brand new on sale because you know you will get your money's worth in doing so. The point is to stockpile what you need on your budget. However, if you are looking for ways to stock up cheaply, these are ways that I do so:

  • Garage sales
  • Thrift stores
  • Free piles
  • Store clearance racks
  • From family and friends
  • Online sites like eBay and Thred-Up

Another component to stocking up on clothes is having the tools and goods to mend clothes to keep them usable and stay in good shape. Having a good sewing and mending kit with extra zippers, buttons, snaps, interfacing, patches, and velcro can make a world of difference in making your clothes last longer. Having a good sewing kit will also come in handy if you need to resize or repurpose your clothing. If you don't have the skills to do this work, learning them would be well worth the effort. Otherwise, knowing someone who does mending as well as altering clothes will also be beneficial. 

To get the best bang for your buck, you should try to make your clothes last longer. In addition to wearing them more than once before washing them, you should try to dry them naturally. Clothes dryers are actually hard on clothes and will cause the fibers to break down quicker. Line drying or rack drying clothes will help them last longer and keep the color looking better for longer. Protecting your clothes will also help last longer. 

Kids are constantly changing and growing. You already know that the next growth spurt could be tomorrow or in a year if you have kids. There is no predicting when they need clothes again. When my kids were young, I usually kept the next size or two on hand for my oldest daughter and kept her outgrown clothes for the younger two daughters. I also kept the next size or so for my son as well as kept any suitable clothes from the girls for him. The same went for shoes. 

I had a system for their clothing needs that still works. In the summer, I would make a list of clothes they would need and the sizes I was looking for at the time. Then I would go to garage sales, shop end-of-season sales, thrift stores, and more to find what we needed. Grandparents were also a huge blessing at this time because they would purchase an outfit or two for birthdays and holidays. One grandma would also like to take them back to school shopping and get them a couple outfits and shoes if they needed them. 

In these times, you do not want to wait until your kids outgrow their clothes before buying more clothes. Buying the next size (or two) in their clothes is not a lot of trouble but might take some storage room. If you are unsure what season they will need the clothes in, buy all seasons in one size. The worst that could happen is that you don't need some of the clothes and can pass them onto someone who does need them.

If the economy goes sideways, this is one area you can control and be prepared for ahead of the event. It's an area that can be overlooked because most people think they have plenty of clothes. Most people do have plenty, but we are very accustomed to purchasing whatever we want when we want it. You may not have the money for it in the future or you may not be able to purchase that item at all. Thinking ahead just a little bit can save you some time and grief in the future.

Thanks for reading,

(Notice: I am an affiliate for Amazon LLC. It doesn't cost you anything, but it certainly helps to bring a little extra income into my home. Thanks in advance for any links you use!)


  1. I've done that, so I'm as ready as possible for supply chain disruption and inflation.
    Another thing that you might want to try is to get a good pattern set and make your own clothes, if you enjoy sewing. My grandmother was an excellent seamstress and made a lot of clothes for me when I was little. Fabric can be expensive, but if you shop sales and use coupons, you can get some good deals. You can also up cycle old clothes.
    My sewing skills are minimal, but I'm willing to give it a shot. If nothing else, you will learn how to improve your skills.


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