I am not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. My ideal outfit is sweatpants, a very loose t-shirt and maybe socks and a sweatshirt depending on the time of year. I went through a period of time in my early 20s during which this was pretty much all I wore…even when I went out. You can imagine how I drove the opposite sex wild with my feminine wiles.
Eventually I ditched the warm-up pants and sweatshirts but I still don’t usually stay on top of the latest fashion trends, nor do I have the time, talent, or funds to keep a fantastic wardrobe. These days I’m pretty happy if I can find a pair of jeans that fit me, didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and don’t stretch out after being worn for 5 minutes. I’m amazed at how difficult it is to find a pair that meet these criteria.
I’ve had my stints in Goodwills and Arcs and while they aren’t so bad on certain days of the week and every once in a blue moon I was able to find something I actually liked, for the most part I found them to be a huge waste of time, a commodity that I have very little of these days. So I resigned myself to sale and clearance racks of “nicer” stores (hello XXXXXXL polka dot shirt!), or really cheap clothes put together in sweatshops that last about as long as it takes me to remove the tags, and I’d get myself new clothes maybe once every six months or so.
A few weeks back, we were planning on going somewhere one Saturday afternoon when I discovered that the only pair of pants I own were in the washer. Usually this isn’t a problem as I plan ahead, but that went out the window as I scrounged around for something – anything – that I could wear in their stead. Skirt? No, no top to go with it. Shorts? Yikes, no. Anything else? Pajama bottoms? Maybe a brown paper bag?
So we stayed home. We stayed home because I only had one pair of pants and they were in the washer. E was pretty irritated and told me that I needed to go get some clothes. I retorted by asking what husband gets mad at his wife because she spends too little on clothing? I just can’t justify spending $80+ on a pair of jeans when I don’t actually leave the house all that often. I thought it was pretty good that I had been able to go as long as I had on my one trusty pair of jeans.
But I did decide to check out a local used clothing store last weekend after a friend mentioned that she had sold some clothes there. I actually really hate clothing stores. I hate shopping for clothes. I hate feeling frumpy around the usually much better dressed and make-uped salespeople (make-up is a whole other post entirely – ugh). Clothing stores are part of the “female realm” that will probably always be an enigma to me (I was raised by a bachelor – can you tell?) So I expected this to be maybe a watered-down version of that.
Folks, I have found a new obsession. The sales ladies were kind. The clothes were laid out in such a way that even a clothing store ignoramus such as myself could find her way around easily. Best of all, everything was CHEAP! I left that day with a pair of $90 jeans for $14, two shirts for $12 each, and a wool sweater for $14. And because I was on a roll, I went back on Wednesday to see if I could sell a few things to them, and left with a pair of corduroy pants (I’ve tripled my pant collection just in the last week!), a Prana (one of my very favorite brands) jacket for $14, and a shirt for $12.
Things I love about this system:
- CHEAP clothes that would otherwise cost me a small fortune!
- For being used, I think they’re in fantastic shape. I think I was expecting a lot more stains or tears or God knows what before I stepped in the store, but I’ve seen none of that so far.
- They’re not fair trade, but I’m at least not supporting sweatshop practices by giving my money directly to the companies making the clothing.
- I think it’s more environmentally friendly as these clothes won’t end up in a landfill somewhere….at least not while I own them.
- CHEAP clothes!
- It gives me incentive to clean out my closet, maintain a smaller wardrobe (so have a few things that I actually wear rather than a lot of things that I never should’ve purchased in the first place), and take much better care of the clothes I have. That last little bit is embarrassing for me to admit….I’m pretty awful about just throwing my clothes on the floor at the end of the day but now I’m trying to be better as they do have pretty strict standards for what they buy.
- I think it allows me to be a little more experimental. So, here’s a great example: I’ve never bought myself a scarf that wasn’t meant to keep snow off my neck. Even with all the rage of summer scarves and different ways to wear scarves and blah blah blah, I’ve never bought one because I figured it would be a waste of money as I couldn’t figure out how to drape the thing around my neck without looking like a piece of fabric was trying to swallow my head. But now I plan on buying a scarf there as soon as I find one that I like so I can figure out how to wear it. And then, of course, they’ll be out of fashion but at least I tried!
- They also have purses and bags. I have really ugly awful bags. It would be nice to have a nice bag.
- CHEAP clothes!
So I told E that I plan on going there once a month, sell when I can, and see what new things they have. If I get three things for under $50 every month for my wardrobe, I’ll be sitting much better than I ever have before in that department, and that sounds pretty good to me.