Monday, October 05, 2009

I want to spend someone else's money for a while...

I spent about two hours on Friday shopping for clothes. Mainly for myself. In the mall. And I've decided two things:

1) I want more money to spend on clothes. Trying to keep total purchases down to, say, well under $100 doesn't go too anymore far when you're in the mall (not that it ever did). As usual, when I have little or no money allocated to spend on clothing, I find bucketloads of things that I'd like.
2) I want a lifestyle that allows me to wear more of those cute clothes that I didn't buy.

No, the self-imposed $100 limit wasn't my only issue with clothes shopping. It never is. I have a love/hate relationship with clothes.

Growing up, as the second kid in a larger family, I didn't get as many new clothes. Until I grew taller (and larger in general) than my older sister, I received many of her hand-me-downs. And by the time that happened, I started being able to earn my own money (through babysitting, and later, a fast-food job), and ended up funding most of my own wardrobe. Alas, I was always the responsible kid, and saved a lot of my money for college expenses instead of blowing it all on the latest fads.

In college I had zero money for clothes. I'm not talking zero money for new clubbing clothes or for designer clothes, I mean zero money for something-relatively-clean-to-wear-to-class. The staples of my wardrobe were free t-shirts, clearance rack flannel shirts, and about 2 pairs of jeans a year. I hated going to any event that called for "dressing nice" because I never had "nice". I barely had "presentable". Yes, in the mid-90's, grunge was in, but I was quite a bit more grungy than was probably fashionable.

At the same time, I have always loved fashion magazines, and fabrics, and learned to sew and do a bit of pattern drafting with the idea of dressing better. It never worked that well because "better" involved better fabrics than I could afford on my shoestring budget, and the freedom to make mistakes. In college, I had no money to waste on "wadders", and these days I have no time.

Anywho, you get the idea. Poor me, yada yada. These day, I have more of a clothing budget, when I choose to spend it on myself. I just have mommy guilt that drives me to buy the kiddos more stuff than I buy myself.

Which brings me back to Friday. I'm still down that 10 pounds that I worked off this summer, and in mostly single-digit sizes for the first time since I can remember (I think I passed right through them in the free-t-shirt days). My closet is full of tops that are a bit too baggy and pants that will fall off of my hips without a belt. The 60-pound rollercoaster ride of pregnancies and breastfeeding didn't help much either (actually from now to my heaviest is closer to 70 pounds).

And suddenly, I can put on an expensive (to me) outfit and like how I look in it. But then I read the care labels and tags, and feel like I have to put things back on the rack for practicality. "Eveningwear" in my lifestyle is sweats or jeans (when your kids use your shoulder as a Kleenex, you don't wear dry-clean-only clothing). And I could dress up a tad more at work. Suits would be out of place as are many skirts and dresses, but I could definitely trend away from jeans more.

But, I have to allow myself to spend more money on clothes. That's a toughie for someone who's a cheapskate, who doesn't believe in credit card debt, and who has way more things on her wish list than just clothes (like kitchen appliances...). Too bad fairy godmothers are hard to come by these day :)


Bethany said...

I don't know if you guys have Second Time Around out there or not, but it's kind of a blessing for me. Sure, it's used clothes, but really high quality and in good shape. You can usually get more bang for your buck and I usually feel better about spending on something I consider a "bargain" than on something shiny, new, and, okay not too expensive, but relatively expensive.

Also, I got into the habit of making a list of things I want to buy and budgeting how much I was willing to spend on each item. I would then look at the total, gasp, and then try to hone back my expenses.

Last fall I ended up buying three jackets, two dress shirts, two long sleeved, plain, fitted t-shirts, one sweater, and one pair of pants this way (I initially wanted more pants but realized I could make due with the ones I had).

Three jackets might seem like a bit much but my goal was to dress up just a little bit more while going out in Boston (everyone dresses to the nines here) and jackets were the easiest way to go.

I bought a tight fitting denim jacket to spruce up my jeans, a black jacket to wear with skirts, jeans, or dress pants, and a velvet jacket to dress up dress pants or skirts. They've made a huge difference in my wardrobe.

Total spent: $500

That's a lot, but it was basically a whole new wardrobe.

Kristi said...

There are a couple of resale shops. The last one I went into, after Char was born and I was in desperate need of non-maternity clothes around a size 14, seemed to cater mainly to the teenage crowd in size ranges (all odd numbers) and styles. I remember buying like the only two pairs of jeans in my size at the time in the place.

Mostly I shop at Old Navy and Target, with occasional forays into the Gap (more often the outlet that's nearby). Not that my shopping last week was too much fancier--the few things I bought came from New York & Co and JCPenney, but I did quite a bit of browsing through other shops...