Multiples that Make Sense

When does it make sense to invest in multiples of a clothing or fashion item, and when should you hold off?

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When you’re on a strict budget, the very idea of buying several versions of a single item seems laughable. You may imagine Kim Kardashian fondling her collection of Birkin bags and think that multiples are a luxury. And they absolutely are. You need more than one pair of panties and more than one pair of socks, but you needn’t purchase multiple identical pairs and you needn’t purchase them all at once, should finances prohibit.

However, some items can be so difficult to track down that buying them in multiples really does make sense. And might be worth fudging the budget for a month. In my opinion, the short list includes:


I’m relatively sure that few women can saunter into a lingerie department, pick up any old 34B, and walk out with a perfectly fitting bra. When you find that ideal brassiere – the one that fits, feels amazing, works under your clothes, and makes you feel sassy – it’s probably wise to nab more than one in a single shopping trip. Of course, if you’re a lingerie connoisseur, this may not appeal. But if you shed bitter tears every time you go in for a fitting, consider buying multiples when you DO stumble across a fabulous bra.


If you’re anything like me, you snag a pair of tights every time you THINK about nails or barbed wire or sandpaper. Especially patterned or sheer tights. If you splash out on a pair of neon green tights that have extremely limited use within your wardrobe, buying one is fine. But if you happen upon a fabulous-fitting but slightly delicate black patterned pair that will work with half your closet, or suddenly find that your burgundy pair is getting weekly wear, pony up for multiples. And stop thinking about barbed wire.

Layering tops

Depending on your climate, your layers may be long-sleeved, short-sleeved, sleeveless, or all of the above. But regardless, if you unearth a 3/4 tee that fits perfectly to your torso and plays well with your unique proportions, it might be worth your while to buy it in multiple colors. You could also consider purchasing and stashing extras in black, white, or your preferred neutrals … but only if your budget allows and only if you wear out your duds fairly quickly. Backup clothing in storage is great in theory, but often gets forgotten or supplanted by newer, better versions.

Perfect jeans

Another Holy Grail item, am I right? Fantastically flattering jeans get frequent, hard wear and can be extremely difficult to find. That combination of factors makes them ideal candidates for multiple purchasing. I prefer to do two pairs in the same size/fit but different washes, when possible.

Again, multiples aren’t for everyone. They take up space, create redundancy within closets, and require some budgetary leeway. But, in my experience, certain high-use, difficult to locate pieces may be worth the risk.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

Originally posted 2012-03-09 06:18:51.

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45 Responses to “Multiples that Make Sense”

  1. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    I do, I do! I buy multiple camisoles from GAP and Old Navy for layering, because even very pricy ones look worn after a dozen washes. I have not bought double jeans, but I like the idea, and will do so! KK was fondling her handbags?

  2. Roberta

    And may I say, eBay is Nirvana for bra shopping. Find the perfect bra in the store, then buy it on eBay for a third of the price in multiple colors. I used to only buy one or two bras a year and now I have a drawer full. THAT is a luxurous (and thrifty) feeling!

    • Sal

      Oooh, what a great tip! I’m a regular eBayer, but never thought to check for bras. Thanks, Roberta!

  3. tina

    This was spot on! I’ve always bought bras in multiples as a large chested gal my whole life (36c in 7th grade and now a 38f) its HARD finding good bras. I just ordered my first strapless in YEARS because they are so find and expensive and the rest of my bras are the exact same brand/style since I know they fit and can easily be ordered online. I replace my layering tanks in one swoop by buying about 4-5 colors and usually doubling up on white since they get worn out faster. I do the same with the jeans in same style different washes since they are as hard to find as a good bra! I’m occasionally guilty of buying tops in multiples too but not often.

  4. Emma Hill

    I find buying multiples essential, but tricky. I frequently don’t realise that something is getting a lot of wear until it’s too late to buy anymore as it’s out of stock. For instance I picked up a fitted, v-neck t-shirt in GAP in the last year US that works perfectly on me. I bought three but they’re now faded and need to be replaced, but I can’t get anymore as it’s now last year’s style. So instead I bought multiples of this year’s cut – but it’s not so great on me and I find myself reaching for the faded-but-fits-better version.

  5. Cynthia

    I definitely multi-buy bras, undies, and pants. It is so hard for me to find pants that fit and make me feel happy that when I find one pair I feel like I should hoard them in as many colors as I can get.

  6. Stephanie

    Bra’s and panties are the big ones for me. I currently love the spanxs bras and I’m a long time lover of Victoria’s Secret cotton panties. Oh and tank tops. Other then that I don’t do much in bulk. When my son was a baby I had a bunch of Old Navy Vneck tees in different colors and my mom teased me so much about that being all I ever wore that I haven’t bought them in bulk since.

  7. Anneesha

    It’s shoes for me – It usually takes me a couple of wearings/compliments to realize that I love something enough to have multiples, and then it’s often too late! I’m searching in particular for a rope thong chunky low-heel sandal by Etienne Aigner from a few years ago. Completely and mysteriously absent from everywhere, even Ebay?!

    • Lisa W.

      I have a pair of suede Naturalizer desert-type boots that I’ve worn for years and now the crepe heels of both boots have cracked through and through and I cannot find an even vaguely similar style ANYWHERE. Not even ebay. I guess I’m off-trend, yet I’ve always gotten compliments on them… so sad.

  8. Allie

    I’ve learned to not just buy multiples, but store one away unused. It’s fine and good to buy 2 of a Holy Grail item, but if I wear both they both get worn out at the same time. Now if I find a top or jeans that ROCK I wear one and store the other in a box in my closet to pull out when the first one starts to look worn.

    LOVE the eBay suggestion for bras! Thanks Roberta!

  9. D

    I rarely buy multiples though sometimes I wish that I did. The only things I’ve bought multiples of in the last few years are some camis and wool/silk blend socks from costco. I wear them all the time, so I guess it was a good choice!

  10. sue

    Hi Sal,
    Timely post!
    I just bought a second pair of Pilcro’s Stet jeans yesterday. In the same wash. I hang my jeans to dry (takes almost a full day) and this will allow me to always have a pair available. Now I don’t feel so weird.

  11. Anna-Lisa

    I always have to have multiples of basics like black tank tops, leggings, and tights, and also for some reason red tank tops have become a basic for me so I own like five of them and wear them all between laundry days. (Does this indicate I should do laundry more often? Yes, yes it does.)

  12. Mel@VasiliasVintage

    This is soo true! I use eBay all the time for multiples, particularly bras (I like Breezies!) and I check every day for new listings for my favorite jeans, which are dark-wash Ann Taylor wide leg trouser jeans – you can really find great deals on eBay if you’re willing to spend a little time doing searches.

    Another multiple I like to buy are vintage Enzo Angiolini loafers, in all kinds of crazy color combinations! They are made of a certain kind of soft leather that end up molding exactly to your feet (which is important to me, because I wear an unusual size, 6.5 wide) and I wear them so much that they end up completely destroyed after a few months!

    Another good multiple would be your perfect panty – don’t know about anyone else, but if I’m wearing the right underwear, I feel…happy! 🙂

  13. Angela

    I always do, pants t-shirts, camisoles, and I feel bad but pants are a hard fit so if they do, I always ask what other colours and buy my size if available. It may be a year or more until I find others

  14. Sheila (of Ephemera)

    Oh, definitely with you on the bras! I’m a difficult size to fit, and I found the perfect one last year (a Triumph one). I bought two in beige, one in cream – then spotted more of my size on deep discount on the sales racks recently so I snapped ’em up for less than $20 each (original price was over $60 each).

    I’ll wear them until they wear out!

    I do buy layering tees in multiples if they have good colours, and sometimes camisoles as well.

  15. LK

    bras are a necessary multiple. I’m a unique size (36A) which is only carried in a handful of stores. The only bra I like is Body by Victoria from Victorias Secret. Every year at the Winter semiannual sale I stock up. Nice part about the semiannual sale is I can get bras in colors instead of just nude. At most stores, 36A only comes in black, nude, and white.

  16. Diane

    My favorites are Gap Long & Lean jeans, when they’re on sale I get 2 pairs.

    There’s a tank top at Target I love – can’t remember the name, but its thicker fabric, straps that cover a bra and longer length. They wash really well too. I get multiples of those every season.

    I’m newly in love with Soma panties – when those are on sale, I stock up. They’re pretty AND comfy.

    I’m on the hunt for the perfect non-chaffing ballet flat – if I can find it, I would buy a few because I wear them all the time. Especially when I travel for work. I take only one pair of shoes. Sal, please help!

  17. Katharine

    Definitely bras, camisoles and underwear. I also buy multiples of jersey shirts, since I have very particular preferences in neckline and sleeve length (no V-necks; short sleeves that are NOT cap) and they’re hard enough to come by in the first place that I leap on any that I find.

    I also have multiples of one particular little H&M dress that came out last year — a nice skater-style thing with a fitted bodice and flared skirt, and multiples of a Le Chateau jersey tank dress and a long-sleeved jersey dress in different colours, and of the American Apparel A-line t-shirt dress — they’re all perfect base pieces in my world, and I wear the heck out of them. Leggings — if I find nice leggings, I buy a bunch of them.

    I don’t think I’d buy multiples of jeans, really. For one thing, I don’t wear jeans enough as a basic item.

    I don’t tend to stockpile anything, though. I’ve occasionally regretted that, when a favourite thing wears out and I can’t find anything comparable at all, but mostly I’ve found that seemingly slight differences like torso length in t-shirts and camis can actually make a huge difference to whether something looks “in” or “out”.

  18. Aziraphale

    Yep, I do this all the time with the items you listed, plus a few more. I always buy two bras of the same model at a time — one black and one nude — and I have three pairs of the same skinny jeans, in three different washes. Back when flared jeans were the “in” thing, I had two identical pairs, but hemmed for different heel heights. (You don’t have that issue with skinnies, since they bunch up around your ankle regardless of footwear choice).

  19. BrokeElizabeth

    I definitely agree with the tights! I’ve managed to keep my current black ones for over a year, which is a new record for me, but I love knowing that I have back ups just in case I need them.

  20. Daytime Night Owl

    I am definitely some who buys multiples when I find things that fit. Jeans and dress pants are hard. Even if they are expensive, I will surely buy multiples when I find something that fits. I definitely have a nice collection of tanks that I use for layering under everything.

    I have NEVER ever found the perfect bra. I’ve been measured at VS and I hate their bras and the size that they measured me for is too big. The cups are always too big. And there is always so much cup. When I’m, saying, intimate with my man, I don’t want him grabbing a handful of bra cup. I’m super tiny in the boobage. I really need a 34AA, but they always tell me 34A. I’m left with gaping cups and I find it quite annoying. Teen bras would be perfect, if only the straps were longer. As it is, I nearly have to expand the straps on women’s bras the entire way. At 33, I’m still hunting for that perfect bra and I find this immensely annoying in this day and age. On the other hand, I probably have to be willing to pay upwards of $40+ for a bra which seems silly to me.

    • TRS

      I too wear a 34A and have too much cup – or what I like to call the “underbite” (meaning my available breast tissue doesn’t meet the edge of the cup… and sometimes one’s blouse gets caught between the edge of the cup and the boob.) Underbite is the only thing worse than the bra “overbite” which is too much boob for the bra, resulting in ‘overflow’. Actually, I think the overbite is worse.

      anyway, back on topic… bra fitters have insisted that I wear a 32A instead… the cups actually fit – but then I’m faced with evidence of back fat… and as my BFF says, “Nothing says 40 like back fat.”

      Le sigh. (and I’m nowhere NEAR fat. I’m just 40. things get soft! Argh!) It’s a toss up.
      So I wear the great fitting cup/ back fat combo with loose blouses that won’t show the back fat… and the underbite bras with tops in which back fat would be mortifying.
      Oh yes, it’s a toss up!

  21. Marsha Calhoun

    Shoes. Finding a pair that fits that I like is like finding a hen’s tooth – so when I do, I immediately begin an internet search for duplicates (because the really goods ones are always expensive) and buy ’em up. I learned this from my aunt, a woman who took a triple-A width and whenever she found a shoe that fit her well, she bought all that the store had in stock.

  22. Sophie

    i really should take this advice when it comes to bras. i wear about seven of them and i have about 30? terrible!!
    (last posted on the mean reds)

  23. Rebecca (Bearca)

    I routinely buy multiples, but tend to do it most often with knits and layering items. I always buy multiples of tank tops (usually two white ones and one color) and I recently bought a knit maxi skirt from Old Navy in three colors! I generally do it when the items are inexpensive, though… I wouldn’t buy two pairs of a $100 pair of pants or anything.

  24. lisa

    I buy multiples of black, white and nude layering camis and opaque black tights. I also have two identical pairs of Gap 1969 Always Skinny jeans because I wear them so often. Wanting to wear an outfit and realizing that I don’t have a basic I need because it’s in the wash–that’s a dreadful feeling.

  25. Sarah

    We live in a pretty remote town so I always buy multiples of tees, tanks and jeans and hem the jeans to different lengths for different shoes. I am very petite so when I find things that work I stock up. I get all my jeans on eBay or plato’s closet. Designer jeans for a fraction of the cost.

  26. Olivia

    I buy multiples of bras and will stash one away for the future. I also buy multiples of t shirts in different colors since they are so easy to wear and can be paired with so many thing. Shoes, not exactly multiples as in the same style, but I do stick with certain brands.

  27. JAG

    I’ve always been big on multiples! The items you’ve listed are ones I’ve always focused on, too. I have a long, long history of finding a basic shirt I like and buying all of the colors (aside: I feel really bad for Stephanie above whose mother made fun of her… don’t be intimidated! You can come hang out with me – virtually my entire wardrobe is made up of multiple basics ;)) . Before I discovered the magic of thrifting/eBaying, this would cost a not insignificant amount of money. Thankfully I’ve learned how to make my wardrobe more affordable in the last couple of years. I thrift a lot of my basic tees (I still have to try every single one of them on – don’t skip this step!), and Target is *excellent* for basic tanks. I tend to find that thrift-store tanks are uncomfortably worn for my taste, although every now and then I’ll dig up a decent one.

    As for bras – they’ve always been a multiple-item purchase. The idea of finding a bra that fits well and NOT looking for all the other colors is so foreign to me. Both my grandmother and my mother always did the same; that’s how they taught me to bra-shop.

    I’ve noticed something that a couple other commenters hit upon – when you find a basic that fits like a dream, I recommend buying your multiples right then. Often the manufacturer (Hanes, for example) will change the shape/fabric content/elastic style, and your perfect basic will be not quite so perfect next season. That’s happened to me on several occasions, and it’s SO disappointing!

    Great post today! Thank you 🙂

  28. Stacy

    Bras, certainly. And as a knitter, right now I’m on a kick of making the same cardigan in multiple colors to go with different outfits.

  29. Trystan (the CorpGoth)

    Definitely multiples of basics — I’d die without a stockpile of my fave. black Calvin Klein tights, as other brands don’t fit as well or snag badly. Same with layering items. But I’ve also become a fan of buying multiples in different colors of a cardigan or pencil skirt that I like. Not exactly basics, but mix-&-matchables. Gives a lot of flexibility, plus if I love the style & can afford one more, why not? It pays off in the long run.

    • Thursday

      Yes, cardigans! And jumpers (sweaters) – I have so much trouble finding flattering ones that if I don’t buy multiples to begin with I regret it.

  30. Thursday

    For basics and layering pieces, definitely. Tights especially – it’s so hard to find warm, comfortable, hard-wearing ones in nice colours that I stock up on when I find them. For camisoles and long sleeved tops for layering, I’ll usually buy at least two colours. I don’t often buy multiple bras in exactly the same style, but when I find a brand that works I’ll buy multiple styles.

  31. Aris Merquoni

    I’d love to buy multiple bras, but my absolute fave bras cost more than $100 each, so they’re kind of a splurge item. And none of the cheaper ones I’ve found fit well enough or are comfortable enough to warrant buying more than one. Le sigh… at least the gal at the bra store was right and the nice ones are lasting forever!

  32. Kristen

    I’m on the fourth pair of the same dress jeans. Found the last set on ebay after I was sure they were all gone.

  33. coffeeaddict

    I like to buy multiple panties that match the bra, so that I can always wear a set.
    I also stock up on pajamas, whenever I find a design that fits I try to get several different colours of the same design.

  34. sigourney

    Lipstick! They keep forever since they contain no water and I dread the day my favourite colour is discontinued so I always keep a spare one in a cool dry place.

  35. ErinAvalin

    I buy camisoles/tanks/tees in duplicate, but don’t stash them, They all go into my wearing wardrobe, because I buy multiple colours/slightly different styles/sleeve lengths/necklines. Jeans, if I find a pair/shop where the jeans are perfect for me, I buy as many styles/shapes as will work, and again they go into my wearing wardrobe. I never stash clothes, because I can’t afford to stockpile, only to replace/supplement!
    Love your blog!

  36. Jenny

    I have a very strict budget and almost no closet space (old house), so buying multiples has to be restricted to something truly essential. If I buy multiples of a bra, it’ll be a bra that will last me the next three years. If I buy multiples of a great-fitting T-shirt, it’ll be in different colors that will go with everything in my closet and that will be worn several times a week. I own one pair of jeans, one pair of black pants. Multiples are tough. 🙂

  37. Cynthia

    My go-to jeans these days either come from Banana Republic or from the petite-exclusive Allison Izu. As a shorter woman, it’s very difficult for me to find good jeans that fit, after all. Bras aren’t easy either unless I spend over $50 on European or Asian brands as mainstream mall stores don’t carry 30B. Shoes are, however, by FAR the hardest. There are places where I don’t even bother asking/shopping at anymore because I know for a fact that they won’t have size 5, let alone a 4 1/2 (which I can be, sometimes).

  38. Secret Squirrel

    Gosh, all I seem to do is buy multiples! I have multiples of a navy/white stripe long sleeved top that I have been wearing constantly, with jeans, skirts, over vests and under cardigans. Definitely bras. I bought a second pair of Camper ankle boots recently, they are so comfortable and I wear them with most outfits, work and play. It didn’t work so well with jeans, I found a skinny pair I liked but the second pair must have been made after a change in factory or material as they were too stretchy. My thinking is, if you find something that fits really well and is still available, grab a second!

  39. Heather

    I have the same problem with Emma in by the time I realize I want a multiple of an item you can no longer get it.

    I’ve also had it backfire on me- I found the perfect jeans, bought 4 pairs (in 2 different washes) and stored 2 of the pairs. Then I gained weight and none of them fit anymore. Still haven’t found a similar style again, but I’m on the lookout.

    I don’t think there is such a thing as one perfect bra- you always need different styles for different tops, etc…(I have learned never go by Victoria’s Secret sizing, they will size you in what they carry, not your actual size! Google the Bra Matrix for a better fitting guide)

  40. Jill

    I’ve learned my lesson the hard way many times on this topic – at the time I can’t seem to justify the multiples, but then I find myself scrounging stores for a similar items every time I pass it for a few years, hoping to find my beloved item resurrected, as my particular piece has seen better days. Sometimes my problem is just not buying the item at all the first time. I really wish I hadn’t passed up the chambray shirt and white jeans I was checking out a bit earlier. . .

    I’m good at multiples for solid tees in a great cut, tights, undies, and camis, but should really consider it for my favourite shoes, jeans, and bras as well.