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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Clothing and style on a budget

It’s nice to be well dressed, but luckily, in college and university, the dress code is pretty casual.  This should mean being a little easier to stay on budget.  And of course, clothing is not JUST for staying covered and warm – a sense of fashion is fun too!  Here are a few ideas to limit your clothing budget.

New clothes can now count as a luxury – unless all your pants get ruined at once, or having black pants are a requirement at your new waiting job, new clothes are not essential.  Therefore, they are prime candidates to be received as gifts.  Why not ask for clothing as gift for birthdays and other occasions? And if your parents do not understand your style, suggest gift cards to the stores you like.

Before you decide that you need something new, ask yourself if you can wait a few months before getting new items; if you use this philosophy for 3-4 years, this may means hundreds of dollars saved.  And remember that once you start working, your wardrobe may need to change so stockpiling jeans and T-shirts may be useless. 

In our house, we use clothing to their last bones.  For example, the too-short leggings are used as long underwear; a very large souvenir T-shirt that doesn’t fit well becomes a great night shirt; a favorite but worn T-shirt becomes an undershirt, worn sweatpants become PJ pants, socks can be unmatched, and jeans and PJs are unisex.  As well, clothing is repaired before being replaced.  This means that we sew new buttons onto clothes, repair undone seams, and remake hems.  Also, pants ripped at the knee (if not fashionable!) become shorts, and long sleeve T-shirts with torn wrist become short-sleeve Ts. 

We also take good care of our clothing: we wash them in cold water and hang them to dry.  For anything that relies heavily on elastics for its use (bras, bathing suits, sports apparel etc.), high heat equals damage so an apartment size drying rack is a sound investment; they fold up nicely and can be stored behind a piece of furniture.  A rope or sewing elastic hung across your room close to the ceiling will work too (hanging bras behind your door is great because you can’t see them when you open your door!).  Finally, we treat stains as soon as they happen – my kids are used to taking off their shirt in the middle of a meal if they drop anything that may stain on it (they are 7 and 9 so it’s ok!) and shirt collars are sprayed with pre-treatment spray before they go into the washing machine.

In our house, we love hand-me downs – and they don’t always come from older people!  My friends and I used to have clothing swaps (yes, we were roughly the same size) and now my sister who is a clothing horse will give me the clothes she doesn’t wear anymore (and I send her the clothing my daughter has outgrown for her two little ones).  I also offer clothing on Freecycle, and I receive some too.

Overall, we do not use shopping as a hobby; clothes are useful but purchasing them is not an activity, but merely a task to be done when needed.  However, we all look stylish (even if I say so myself) and we keep up with the latest styles appropriate for our age(s).  The main purpose of clothing is to keep you covered, comfortable, and warm.

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