Stockpiling: When running out is not an option

Do you have a piece of clothing, accessory or cosmetic that you stockpile because What if they stop making it? 

The New York Times recently ran a piece by John Ortved on guys' squirrelling away of identical items, e.g., boxers, the perfect gray sweatshirt, beloved sneakers. Steve Jobs' sister, Mona Simpson, said in her eulogy, "In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church."

Some men profiled stockpile because they hate to shop, but most are like designer Billy Reid, who said, "My reasons usually have to do with availability, especially if I know it won't be produced further..."  

Ortved says, "Women see shopping as an opportunity, a social or even therapeutic activity", but I have stockpiled, too. 

Stockpiling is the well-behaved cousin of hoarding; the purpose isn't possession for possession's sake; you actually use the product.

Nor is it merely stocking up because there's a sale, like you might with toilet paper. You will buy the item at full price (but are happy about finding it discounted). You just need it. There is no magic number for quantity, but you will know it by your drawer corners.

Over the years, I'll admit to stockpiling:

- Lancome Brun Sepia lipstick (When it was discontinued, I bought a dozen tubes on eBay; I'm over it now.)
- A specific Olga bra
- Black trouser jeans (Black washes out from one day to the next.)
- Lindt fleur de sel cocolate bars, hard to find, at least that's my story.

Will they ever come back?
Often, the item is already discontinued when the stockpiling begins: Iris has a long row of shoes by now-defunct designer whom she does not want mentioned. Le Duc hoards bottles of Eau Cendrée cologne, Jacquie rations her bundle of Wolford diamond-patterned tights, last issued circa 1992. 

And dadgummit, wish I'd stockpiled a few bottles of L'Artisan Parfumeur's L'Eau du Navagateur.

But stockpiling ties up cash, and will that loved item still be essential years from now? When I moved, I unearthed a trove of '80s shoulderpad camis. Remember those? You can still buy them, but evidently I thought they might vanish, leaving me devastated and slope-shouldered.

 Anything you'll admit to stockpiling?


Pamela said…
Currently hoarding a Givenchy perfume that is no longer sold in's my signature scent.
Thank God for on line shopping...
Anonymous said…
I have stockpiled white tee shirts, Gap, Petit Bateau.
Have never been sorry that I have bright, white, extra tees in my cupboard.
Got a good laugh remembering the shoulder pad camisoles, and yes, at the time, I thought I'd wear them forever!
Susan B said…
Oh yes, I stockpile. And it usually is because of fear that something may not be available in the future. My most frequently stockpiled items are seasonal lipstick colors that I love. I learned this the hard way after having found *my* lipstick (Estee Lauder, Cinnamon) which I didn't realize would be discontinued after a season. But I have learned to ask the Sales associate if a color is seasonal or in the permanent collection. If it's permanent, I limit myself to one. And I bought and stashed an extra bottle of the original Chanel No.19 when I heard they were "updating" the formula. Glad I did! What I wish I'd stockpiled: those Talbot's boatneck tees from a few years back in neutral colors. The quality has gone so far downhill since.
Blue Jeans Girl said…
Lindt Fleur de Sel -- I buy a few bars whenever I see it because it sells out quickly everywhere.

Schramsberg Cremant Champagne, I have to have a bottle in the fridge just in case.

Boleslawiec pottery in certain patterns when I find it on sale, but I think this is more hoarding than stockpiling.
Susan said…
I would consider stockpiling long sleeved Eileen Fisher viscose jersey knit shirts (tees) if they were not so expensive. I wear them in a size medium, instead of my usual size large and I want to wear them every single day as they are wonderful. But at a bit over $150, they are not really an item to stockpile.

By the way, I went into the EF shop yesterday and didn't see any spring items I couldn't live without.
Anonymous said…
I tend to stockpile t-shirts (long, short sleeve, tanks) whenever I see them in my favorite colors, because otherwise, I'll wear the same ones for too long and they start to look ragged.

I wish I had stockpiled my favorite black v-neck Merino wool sweater from Ann Taylor. It's been discontinued. (I hate it when they discontinue such a basic item!) That sweater went with everything. Alas, the moths got to it. So I am now without one of my wardrobe staples.
Anonymous said…
No nothing, I love minimalism and order and do the buy one thing, use it up, then buy another routine.

Aside from lightbulbs!
No stockpiling here as our bungalow is far too small!
I like Kathy's white Tee shirt idea though as whites never stay that way for long.
LPC said…
Not a stockpiler, due I imagine to congenital and occasionally misguided optimism. My mom is the same way, I can't help myself:).
P said…
This reminds me of one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, the one where Elaine stockpiles discontinued contraceptive entire closet full. And then she determines that none of the men are "sponge worthy" still makes me laugh!
CompassRose said…
I stockpiled Aosept peroxide contact lens solution, when there was a rumour last year that it was going to be discontinued (and replaced with their other peroxide contact lens solution which is almost the same but has a "buffer" in it that I react to). I'm allergic to every other solution I've ever tried, and the Aosept has nothing in it but peroxide, which neutralises to saline.

They appear to have changed their mind, for now. I'm still going through the boxful of solutions I stockpiled by going to every Shoppers in town and buying them out that day.

But I'd totally do that again. The idea of giving up my contact lenses, now, after 25 years, is hideous!
Duchesse said…
Pamela: This made me smile; some stockpilers are discreet about a specific product- for a reason.

kathy peck: Used to do that but fund they yellowed in the drawer, over the years :). Guess the trick is to only pile up enough for a season or two.

pseu: Read on Basenotes that Chanel started reformulating No. 19 in late 2005 but some say they have continued to tinker with their frags. The oakmoss ban is a big reason (that and margins.) Those boatneck tees *were* great. Moved to LL Bean pima tees, v. happy with them.

Blue Jeans Girl: I like your choices and view champagne as a fridge staple.

Susan: That's a good point; stockpiling is costly so I tended to do it for less pricey things. EF is still a brand I like better on others (and am influenced by Le Duc who really dislikes it.)

Ms M. Moths! Battled for years, most recently successfully (knock on wood). When you depend on a basic, so disappointing to have it discontinued.

Tabitha: Would those be incandescents?

hostess: I do, though, observe you showing us a rather constant stream of thrifted or otherwise found delightful objects, so, you're making space somewhere!

LPC: Thanks to our well-supplied North American marketplace, one can always find something similar somewhere- but the pessimist wants that extra security.

P: Too funny! Reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon in which one woman says to another, "He's interesting, but he's not Brazilian wax interesting."

CompassRose: That's a compelling reason for stockpiling and they still might do it, so why not?
sisty said…
Off-topic, but I never knew there were camisoles with shoulder pads? I have half a mind to order one -- my bra straps are constantly sliding down my sloping shoulders! Do the pads help with this? Are you still wearing them?

Like Kathy, I stockpile white tees, 4-5 at a time. I wish I had stockpiled some of my pants, though, in retrospect, since well-fitting pants are so hard to find.
sisty said…
Oh, and like Pseu, I am hoarding a couple of bottles of vintage Chanel No. 19 parfum, and I'm so glad I did.
Kai Jones said…
I used to stockpile things like bras that actually fit and flattered me, and my favorite jeans. But I decided all that baggage was stunting my growth, using up energy and storage space, and preventing me from finding new things to enjoy, so I stopped. There is no *thing* so precious that it deserves that much of me, and I'd rather have my resources (of time, attention, money, creativity) available.
No room to really stockpile, though I do buy multiples - which do get worn. Bras are a biggie - in many ways... I agree with Kai in principle, but the time, energy, discouragement and humiliation that goes into the process of buying a bra that actually fits, does not hurt, does its job but doesn't look ghastly is also an energy sink.

I bought two identical black v-neck merino pullovers at The Bay in the Boxing Day sales and will gladly buy two more if they go on sale half-price again. But I like uniform.

I wonder what became of Steve Jobs' black cotton turtles? Were they auctioned off for charity, or just given to family, friends and colleagues?
Anonymous said…
I once had a boyfriend who stockpiled a dozen pairs of his favorite tennis shoes, only to discover soon after that his feet had grown a size bigger! My mother has always bought multiples (usually a half-dozen) of anything that works for her--white Catalina shorts in the '50s, easy knit shift dresses now--and I admire her planning. But I couldn't bring myself to buy in quantity. I'm afraid I've never grown out of the penny-candy-store phase; I want one of those, and one of those, and... Lately, though, I've started buying favorites in pairs. Some of the pairs are easily-worn-out items like flattering cotton tees: just as one gets ratty-looking, I pull out the "new" one. My other pair-buying strategy has to do with a tendency, in middle age, for my weight to fluctuate by 5 pounds or so, leading to frustrating moments when what I want to wear just doesn't fit comfortably. I started buying favorite pants in two sizes at once, and the strategy has worked very well. Maybe I do have some of my mother's instincts after all.

Duchesse said…
sisty: The pads are to create a shoulderpad (instead of the pad being sewn to the dress or jacket) or to add extra padding if you wanted big honkin' shoulders, as we did in the '80s. You wear the cami over the bra, so bra straps would still slide. (To stop straps from sliding you would need those little strap holders sewn inside your top at the shoulder, like dresses used to have and formal gowns still do.)

Haven't worn them since '84 or so but have definite shoulders and that super-padded look has passed or if in again, I missed the memo.

Oh that No. 19, you two are lucky! Making do with the new juice.

Kai Jones: Actually, stockpiling a few select things frees me from running back again and again, and since I'm am at the high end of the standard size range, seeing things like "my" jeans out of stock. I also like paying half price. And I agree it can get out of hand quite insidiously. As for the chocolate, I have no excuse.
Duchesse said…
laatta: That's why I stockpile my basic bra; I can enjoy a lingerie boutique when the mood strikes, reassured b/c don't *have* to find something. Don't know what happened to black turtles but you can bet no tech CEO is going to attempt one in public for awhile, at least with jeans.

C.: Oh, stockpiling lite! I've bought twos, as well, but true stockpiling is rare given our smaller apartment. Re your mother, we had a friend who wore navy knit shifts and when my mother suggested she try another dress, she said, "But I have six of them!"
materfamilias said…
I've stockpiled lipsticks in the past. Favourite jeans, v-neck fine wool pullovers if I find a fit a like. I WISH I'd stockpiled Nina Ricci's Fleur de Fleurs which I picked up a few times in France (it was only ever available there, apparently) but found out this past visit that it had been discontinued. The perfect light summer floral, just slightly powdery. I sniff at the three drops left in an old bottle and mourn, just a little. . .
Anonymous said…
Thank you for discussing stockpiling. It explains why I found over a dozen brand-new, identical bras hidden away while clearing mum's house after she died. She either forgot them - or her shape changed. Those bras went to the Sally Ann where I hope women were delighted to find them.
Re sliding bra straps: wearing bras with elastic straps which attach at an angle (closer to centre back) helps. Shoulder exercises also help; my six years of Curves workouts has made my shoulders less sloping.
I wish I had stockpiled The Body Shop's Sage & Comfrey open pore cream (miracle blemish cure) before it was discontinued.
Duchesse said…
materfamilias: In a quick search, i was able to find a number of listings on eBay and Amazon for your fragrance, so if you want to replace that might be a way.

Anonymous @12:15: There is something about bras; this is not the first story like this I've heard! Can see how that bra style (or racerback) would help sliding. For me, yoga keeps shoulders stronger. And any cosmetic that is one's "miracle cure" is a good candidate for the stockpile, provided it doesn't spoil.
Northmoon said…
I have an inadvertent stockpile of body lotion - about five large bottles. My mother and sister-in-law must think it's important so they give me a bottle every Christmas. I now have enough to last until I'm 80!
Susan Tiner said…
Part of the reason I delayed embarking on a style quest is that I can't bear having stuff around. Stuff tends to depress me. Having a few very nice things seems to be a happy compromise.
Duchesse said…
Northmoon: If unwanted, could you donate and pare back to say, enough for next year? Women's shelters are usually happy to receive unopened body care supplies.

Susan Tiner: Ah, but the stockpiler is in loooove; she has found the perfect (fill in the blank). Otherwise it's just hoarding, which would certainly depress me.
Mardel said…
I went through a period where I stockpiled white and black tees particularly when the trend was for short tees and they were all too short for me to wear without baring a little skin. But I'm over that. I used to stockpile yarn and fabric too, and although I don't do it any more, I have no regrets about what I have saved.

Now I tend to stockpile my favorite bra and I keep several pairs of my favorite tights on hand, whereas I could probably manage with one spare pare and order more when I opened it. Since neither item is carried at local department stores, I manage to rationalize the excess away.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: Black or white tees seem a popular stockpile item! And if something isn't easy to get locally, I'd say that's a good reason. Am about to stockpile a favourite bath soap not sold in Montreal.
Anonymous said…
Chanel Aqualumiere lipstick -
Duchesse said…
That's great lipstick, one of the few I've found that does not melt (in the tube) in hot climates.
Susan Tiner said…
Oh yes, I've been in love a few times, especially with shoes, when I find stylish shoes that fit my odd 8.5 C/D size. I tend to buy at least one back up pair in that case, own several duplicates for that reason.
Anonymous said…
Just re-read your balance post, and totally agree that it's the most neglected area of fitness, but one that is essential for aging well. Worth re-posting or having a direct link into another post.

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