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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Frugal Friday--Clothes Purchases

Clothing expenses can be a large portion of your budget if you aren't careful about how and where you are spending your dollars.  So I thought this might be a great time to talk through some of the ways that I purchase/acquire clothes.

For some of you there will be no WAY you can bring yourself to these early ideas and that's perfectly ok.  Everyone has their comfort zone.  But maybe you've never given it much thought or you have never wanted to give it much thought, but your bank balance may be nudging you to give it another thought.

Once you have those clothes in your closet the cost of them doesn't really matter, unless of course you want to be sure you keep beating yourself up for spending too much, congratulate yourself on a bargain of great proportion, or somewhere in between.  The store already has the money so in a sense all clothes now have an equal chance at taking up some of the valuable rod space in your closet.

Things in your closet should be things you love, that make you feel great.  If you spent too much on it, I'll say this as lovingly as possible,....get over it.  The money is gone unless you are within the stores return window/policy.  Don't cry over spilled milk.  Excuse me while I climb off my soap box.

So idea #1 is host a clothing exchange.  Find some friends who are about your same size (tops are much more forgiving, but pants can work too) and invite them to bring over items from their closet that they no longer want.  If you bring a sack full, then take home another sack full of new to you treasures.  Anything that doesn't get chosen is taken right away to be donated at your favorite charity so it doesn't cause clutter in anyone's home.

This is an example of something I received in a one-sided exchange recently.


#2 on the list is the thrift store.  Depending on the store, you may have to sift through a lot of junk in order to find the one or two gems.  If you don't feel like you have enough time for this, or you don't like spending your time sorting through all of these things, then keep looking for other stores. You might stumble on the greatest store ever.

Like the one where I bought this sweater.
It has white crewel yarn work on the front and one sleeve.  I paid $3 for it.  I found a church thrift store near my office that the ladies of the church use to support their mission trips.  The church is in an affluent area and the name brands are on many of the clothes in the small building.  They keep it well organized, sized, color arranged and every shirt is $1, pants and sweaters are $3 each.  Their hours are minimal though, T-Th 10-2 and the first Saturday 10-2.

Some thrift stores are beginning to price things so high that they are approaching retail.  I got to the point that I was tired of sorting through at one store that it was no longer worth it.

If you find a good store that has a good selection each time you go and at prices you are interested in paying, then it's worth stopping in regularly to see what you can find.  Clearly this is a little more than free.  

Idea #3 is similar to the one before with shopping at a consignment store.  You're likely to find name brands for far less than retail.  Depending on what you are looking for, you may or may not find it, but frankly going into Dillard's can put you in the same position despite three floors of choices.  The condition is likely very good, since they are screened prior to being accepted by the store owner for consignment.

Fourth on the list is what my friend L and I have come to call the give-away or almost free sale at the larger department stores; Macy's and Dillard's.  At the end of season sales both of us have picked up really cute items at single dollar prices.  This top was $6.


It even has a little bling on it.  Yes, you have to wait, but when they are regularly $45, $6 seems worth it.

Then there is the full on retail purchase.  I tend to purchase pants for work this way.  I have a favorite brand that never seems to go on sale, but I don't have to think about whether or not they will fit, they will.  Or perhaps a top will speak to you as you casually wander by it in Target.

and then it jumps into your cart and because it is olive green and you love that color, you let it stay in the cart and you take it home and you love it every time you wear it.

Finally, somewhere in here is the home-sewn outfit.  My mom will tell you that decent fabric is nearly impossible to come by these days and that you have to buy fabric online, but then you can't feel it which is half the fun of sewing.  She makes 99.9% of all her clothes (outer garments that is), and has since she was 17 or so.  I think she has only purchased store-bought clothes twice in my life time. Once was a pair of hip-hugger jeans (the first time a la 1974) and the second was a Star Wars t-shirt (again the first time 1977-ish).

Fabric can come from your 'stash' because if you find a nice piece of fabric you buy it and add it to your collection.  Or you buy something on-line to make a particular outfit, but the price of fabric can quickly approach the cost of a retail garment and then there's the time commitment to make it.  

Those of you who were thinking this post wasn't for you because you didn't want to wear other people's stuff; well see you were wrong. :)  

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