Nice article. It occurs to me upon reading it, that I have wondered about this as well - but never being able to put it into words in such a precise manner.
I have trained with many people during the years who have been forced to stick to old garments simply because they couldn't afford buying a new hakama or gi. This is not so common anymore though. However too many tend to stick to their old belts far too long.
I think we should look our best while practicing our aikido - at least this is a convenient thought for me to justify that I have just ordered a new hakama even though I should have waited a few months
On a somewhat related note: It seems many dojo's - especially in America - tend to cover their gi's with embroidery, letters or patches from this or that association. In my point of view it confuses the eye and detracts from the overall impression. A small embroidery with name or style can be beautiful, but quite honestly all the patches and dojo names make people look like billboards. Any thoughts?