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A better way to shop for clothes

July 28, 2008

Inspired by Paranoid Asteroid’s post on building a work wardrobe for $500, I realized I really need a better plan for my clothes. Sure, I randomly stated that I was going to buy quality pieces from now on. But I didn’t pinpoint what I really needed. Or if I did, I promptly forgot.

I allocate $70 each month for clothes, which should be more than plenty. Over a year, that is quite a nice sum. I tend to buy tops and casual wear, because the fit is much easier to get right and it is what I like. Tops are the focus of my shopping. I have a chronic problem with jeans. In the store, they seem to fit well, and I purchase them. I take them home and wear them, and suddenly they are too big.You’d think after over 20 years of buying jeans I would learn!

Dress pants probably should play a more important role than I give them, and none of mine seem to have that ideal fit that they always talk about on What Not To Wear, not even the ones I had made just for me when I studied aboard in Hong Kong. I’m not going to go overboard on this, but I definitely should have another pair of pants that fit really nicely.

I’ve already spoke of my hatred of shoe shopping. Nothing I try on seems quite right. I don’t like to wear heels, but the cutest shoes often have towering heels. I usually end up buying some “these will do for now” boring shoes when my previous “these will do” pair falls to pieces (because if you don’t even love them, why buy quality?) Actually, I’m pretty proud of my shoe success this month. I found some brown dressy flats for $30, and today I see that they are selling for $60. I like them, they are comfortable, and they should last awhile, even with daily wear.

Still, instead of this helter skelter “Oooo, isn’t that cute!” sort of method, I need a plan. As with grocery shopping, and everything else, the key to success (for me) is making and following a plan. This is my prioritized list of things I need. And yes, I made it into a spreadsheet tab in my budget page, do not call me a dork!

Need for work

  • Brown shoes, flats/wedge (on sale, decent quality, $50 or less) paid $32 (great sale!!
  • Dress pants, at least 1 new pair, probably black pinstripe (on sale, $30)
  • 1 pair of well fitting work appropriate jeans
  • Black shoes (on sale, $50 or less)
  • One black cardigan (can live without until winter)

Non-work needs:

  • Strapless bra, high quality ($50, have $25 card to Nordstrom)
  • Dress for cousin’s wedding in October ($100, perhaps less since I’ll only wear it a couple times, but I want to look nice)
  • Visor/hat for hiking/camping Paid $20
  • Clothes to wear out (low quality–I don’t go out much and these tend to be trendy).

Non-work wants:

  • Nice summer sandals to wear for weekends ($30)
  • New running shoes (eventually this will be a need)
  • Another pair of summer shorts
  • Skirt for summer weekend wear that could also be worn to work, if I ever actually wanted to dress up for work (not likely).
  • Additional workout clothes

Do not currently need:

  • Brown work pants
  • Non work appropriate jeans or jeans that are too baggy (chronic problem)
  • Sweaters (except cardigan). I came from a snow state, and I have more warm sweaters than any Californian should.
  • Cami’s and tank tops. I have plenty.

For now, I’m going to chill out and not purchase anything for several weeks. I actually bought $25 worth of underwear this weekend, because I stayed at T’s and, um, neglected to pack underwear. I guess it is a fun update, but it definitely was not in the clothing plan.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2008 11:38 am

    The worst thing about a given clothing budget is that without allocating huge sums of money each month you do have to wait! Even $70, which does add up to quite a bit over the course of a year, is enough for maybe one pair of nice pants/jeans. And high-quality jeans can cost a lot! I always blow my budget on cheap stuff that I hate after it washes and shrinks in funny ways, but that I bought because I can get 4 $20 shirts instead of one $80 shirt. I never learn! At first I tried throwing money at the problem, but that didn’t work either. Now I’m just not allowed to go to Old Navy.

    Those shoes are adorable, by the way. Very nice choice!

  2. July 28, 2008 11:39 am

    P.S. Thanks for the link!

  3. July 28, 2008 11:51 am

    I know what you mean! H&M has surprised me with durability, but old navy and forever 21 have disappointed. I still don’t think I’d save up for an $80 shirt, but I might wait and wait for a shirt to go on sale and get one for $35, rather than two cheap instant gratification ones.

  4. July 28, 2008 12:35 pm

    Some great tips there. Thanks for this post

  5. July 29, 2008 7:07 am

    Tip: check the fabric label on your jeans. It’s most likely that you’re buying pairs with too much synthetic material (i.e. not cotton), which is added to jeans for stretch, and which quickly causes a loose fit (should tighten up after a wash, but then quickly get stretched out again). I don’t like jeans with anything more than 1% non-cotton material.

  6. July 29, 2008 12:54 pm

    Thanks EM! I will surely take that into consideration next time I buy jeans (which will still be at least a couple months).

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