Friday, March 20, 2015
Let’s say you need to buy some clothes. Spending little is the goal here, although making sure the clothes is useful is also very important. Spending a few tens of dollars extra is worth it if it means having a warm winter jacket that will be comfortable for you during the coldest months.
First, before you run to the mall, ask yourself if you can buy the item in reasonable shape at a second-hand store. There are many used clothing stores in most towns and cities; between the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Value Village and a few more upscale stores, you should have plenty to choose from. If you are hesitating about buying something someone has worn before, remember that clothing in a ‘regular’ store has probably been tried on (so worn for a few minutes) by a few people too! My friends and I used to visit Goodwill stores in different towns we’d visit; it was always a challenge to make a big ‘find’: a vintage dress, an amazing deal on a winter jacket, a silk T-shirt that feels like a dream.
Here is a clothing philosophy: only buy clothing that is easy to care for; no dry-cleaning, no hand washing (except for pantyhose – see below), no ironing (I hate ironing). As well, spend more for items you will wear a lot, less for items that will only last a season because of the style, or because it’s for a special event. A cheaper formal dress makes sense since it only needs to last one evening; a sweatshirt may be worn 3-4 times/week, so buy one that washes well or it will not last more than a few months. This works as well for shoes: splurge on good quality running shoes if you run, but not on a dressy pair of pumps for one night.
When buying expensive items, we buy neutral color and cut: jeans, dressed pants, dressed shirts, jackets and coats will ‘last longer’ if classic cuts are purchased because they will survive trends, but also we won’t get tired of them as easily. I recently bought a down jacket for the cold and although the light blues seem attractive, I choose a navy one because it will not show stains as easily and I can match it with a multitude of different scarves and hats. As well, when buying a more expensive item that is not immediately needed (if your boots are not leaking water), look for sales and plan for annual sales: most items are severely discounted at the end of the season – bathing suits are cheap to buy when autumn clothing comes out; winter coats after Christmas.
Panty-hose are very fragile so they don’t last very long. I found that buying larger sizes means I need to stretch them less, and therefore they don’t rip as fast. I’m a size small, but buy size large for panty-hose. The same can be done with thick tights; although just one size larger is enough (otherwise they look too large): buy medium if you would wear small. I found out the hard way that ‘non-run’ panty-hose are just that: they won’t run if there is a rip, but you can still rip them if you have nails and are careless when putting them on! Of course once you have panty-hose, washing them by hand is more gentle on them, as well as putting lotion on your hands before putting the hose on (dry hands can be rough on fragile thread). And if all these ideas didn’t work well and you have a few pairs of ripped ones, they work wonders under a pair of pants for extra warmth in winter (and nobody seems them!). If this seems like a lot of work, you can simply save dresses for weather when you can go barefoot!
Finally, remember that being a poor starting student is temporary, and so is the casual clothing style. Enjoy both!