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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Not breaking the bank with my wardrobe this summer

Ah . . . change of seasons, time to take stock in my summer wardrobe. Time to go out and splurge on a brand new wardrobe for the new season. Yikes! Not going to happen, here.

A week ago, I took my daughters to St. Vincent de Paul's, for their Sunday 99 cents/ all clothing. (Yes! They started that back up!) I was looking through the jackets for something lightweight for summer, and I stumbled across this one.

When I saw it on the rack, I thought it might be too small, but I tried it on anyways. And it fit, and was flattering. And it was 99 cents! Does fashion get any better than that?!

It's become my favorite, go-to jacket of this summer. I wear it with casual, distressed-by-life jeans (why pay extra money to have a pair of jeans "distressed"?) or a skort, as well as more polished-looking dark denim or black jeans. I grab it when I'm going out to the store, or when I visit a friend. I wore it to church the other morning.

On Sunday, I got a compliment on the jacket. I looked down at the rest of what I was wearing, and I chuckled to myself over the rest of my outfit:

jacket . . . 99 cents, thrift store
sleeveless, black cotton sweater . . . 99 cents, thrift store (this past March, before my trip to SF)
black jeans . . . on sale, with $10 off coupon at Penneys, 4 years ago, I believe I paid $14 OOP for them (I take good care of jeans, and hang them up, in between wearings)
sandals . . . on sale, with $10 off coupon at Kohl's, about 2 years ago (I think they were $14, on sale, minus coupon, bringing them down to $4 something plus tax)
handbag . . .Target in 2006. It's my only purse, used every day, and still looks good

I thought to myself, you know, it really doesn't have to break the bank to look put-together. I don't need a $200 Dooney & Burke handbag, or to spend $100 on clothing, or have expensive shoes, to pull an outfit together.

I'm willing to spend more money on jeans than tops, as a good-fitting pair of jeans makes a difference in how I look and feel in my clothes. But my idea of "spending more" on jeans just means I'll spend $14, instead of 99 cents. LOL!

I've found, with tops, there's such an abundance of good-quality, excellent-condition tops on the second-hand market, that buying tops, brand new is a waste of money that can be spent in other areas.

In contrast, with jeans, it's hard to find a classic style jeans, that are super comfortable, and in good condition, at a thrift store. At my mature age, with mature taste and style combined with the desire to wear comfy clothing, when mature women find good-looking jeans, that are comfortable to wear and are flattering, they hang on to those jeans like a life-preserver in the white-water rapids of a rushing river. Those classic, yet comfortable jeans, with the minimizing panels/fabrics designed to slenderize us, just don't make it to the second-hand market very often. So my thoughts on jeans, my plan is to use a coupon, combined with a sale, and find a pair that fits and flatters.

Casual jackets can be another good find at a thrift store. My daughters have found several casual jackets that they've worn and loved to death, and I've found this khaki zip-up. So, thrifted casual jackets can save a bundle on the clothing budget.

As for handbags, I'm surprisingly satisfied with just a plain and inexpensive one from Target. It does the job. I used to think I "needed" a fancy-schmancy handbag. Now, I think I'm ultimately satisfied with a handbag that lasts for many years, so that I don't have to think about buying another one for a long while.

And the sandals. I almost feel like shoes are a controversial subject on frugal blogs. Some folks really want a certain type of shoe, or certain level of quality, while others can wear less expensive brands of shoes and be satisfied. For me, with sandals that I will likely wear for 2 to 4 hours at a stretch, I go for inexpensive, but comfortable. So these sandals, at $4 have worked well for me. I've worn them every Sunday for the past 2 summers, and an occasional day, mid-week.

So, this year's big splurge on a new wardrobe, for a new season -- 99 cents.

I love that St. Vincent de Paul's has restarted its 99-cents-all-clothing-on-Sundays deal, again. My daughters and I have decided that we'll check back there twice a month, this summer, for items on our wish-list.

What have been some of your favorite clothing finds at thrift shops or garage sales?


  1. That is a lovely layout you have there, Lili!

    I dislike shopping for clothes. I have worn the same clothes for a long time dated to 2003 when I started back to fulltime work. I still wear many of those items today except for a few that have really worn out like a khaki pants and a black pants where the bottom was wearing out and the back thighs wore out. One day I thought I felt a cool breeze and thankfully I was at home and my parents were visiting and Mom commented on the big tear in the back of my pants. A week later the same thing but on the second pair! I had to replace those but the waistband on the new pair are stretchy and I have found I don't like stretchy pants. Now I have to wear a belt. I also don't like stretchy jeans but that is what sells these days, I guess.

    My MIL gives me tops all the time. She volunteers at a resale shop and finds nice things for us to try on and then gets them for me and the rest of the family.

    Shoes are difficult for me since I have plantar fascitis shoes have to be comfortable on my heel. I also use inserts to help with the fascitis.

    As for purses, I need one that is big enough to hold a personal sized calendar for work (no gadgets for me!), my wallet, a cell phone (preferably in a side pocket), keys (also in a side pocket or they get lost), pens, and a few other things. I like a bit more quality but also something that lasts almost forever. I don't switch purses out so something that will last a long time is best for me, preferable leather.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I dislike shopping for pants, in particular. As a result, I really stick to the basics in pants, khaki, black, and jeans. So, I understand your disliking clothing shopping, altogether.

      How very nice that your MIL can find things for you where she works. That must take some of the "pain" of shopping away for you.

      Oh too funny about your pants -- and a really good thing you were at home!!!

      Have a great day, Alice!

  2. Love those prices! I tend to wear clothes out; work clothes become at home clothes and luckily, my previous work enviroment allowed for more casual items. That said, my "uniform" tended to be black dress pants, top, coordinating sweater/jacket and a variety of accessories. I will soon be hunting down a new job in earnest, hoping that I can continue to wear my aforementioned uniform. I currently have a Summer wardrobe of 5 pairs of pull on capris from Kohl's. Also bought on sale plus discount, plus rebate. Easy to dress/undress with my OT issues, easy to launder, no ironing needed. Works for me. I have beige, navy, black, silver grey-yup, boring here but it works for me. I have foot issues due to arthritis and my shoes have slowly been donated to charity, I simply can no longer wear them comfortably. Eventually, I suspect surgery will be in order. I have the same issues in my feet as I have had in my hands. Purses: I have a few, but tend to just use my crossbody, black leather one year round.

    1. Hi Carol,
      I wear a lot of neutrals, too. Black or khaki pants, and jeans are my usual bottoms. It is just simpler to have such basic colors for one half of every outfit. Then, just about all of my tops go with every bottom piece. I don't think your color palette for your clothing is boring at all. You can add color with accessories.

      I understand needing specific shoes. My everyday shoes for around the house are my old running/walking shoes. With an on-again, off-again problem on one foot, I go to great lengths to find a good fit on those. I hope that surgery for your feet can improve your comfort.

      Have a great day, Carol!

  3. Nice jacket, Lili. One of my best finds at the Goodwill Outlet was a pair of black jeans that I took a chance on with the fit since I couldn't try them on. They are Levi Denzien, dark black, and a nice lighter weight stretch twill. They probably cost around $1.50. I have worn them for a couple of years now and need to say goodbye to them, but I just can't! They are so comfortable and I was able to keep them dark black through careful washings. Another favorite is a Talbots lavender cotton knit cardigan that also came from the GW outlet several years ago for probably around a dollar. It had a small stain on it that I was able to remove. It is of the nicest quality, never pilling, and still looks way better than sweaters I have bought at regular retail stores, paying so much more for. Up until about five years ago, I would buy some clothes at J Jill and Coldwater Creek on sale and with coupons making the prices seem reasonable for new clothing. Over time I found that I actually liked many of the things I found while thrifting a lot better, or they held up better than the things I paid much more for. I will buy new shoes and sometimes coats new still, but for the most part I am committed to getting the rest of my wardrobe secondhand. I find I need very little these days, as taking care of things makes them last a long time.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Your story of the Talbots cardigan with small stain reminds me of a time we bought something second hand with an easily-removable stain. When my son was younger, we found a pair of Levis at Value Village, in his size and perfect condition, except a small red ink stain. I bought them, and used a bit of rubbing alcohol to take the stain out in 10 seconds, and they looked brand new. Love when that happens!

      Have a great day, Mary!

  4. I think your summer sandals is perfect to wear with jeans, just the right amount of covering up the toes.

    You are right, a good wardrobe doesn't have to break the budget (if only I was as wise as you are.) My problem is I have bought too many clothes in the past 10 years that were from Sears and Target clothes clearances, and I even bought lots from Burkes and Bealls Outlet in the mainland when we traveled. I have never taken a good inventory of the clothes I have hanging or in storage bins. I usually just wear the same clothes because it is the easiest to do. Here, we don't have seasons so our wardrobe can go stale, wearing the same items throughout the year. I have always dismissed the clothing at thrift stores because I thought new clothes on clearance can be bought cheaper than thrift prices (no 99c here), but as a result I now have clothing that I was not particularly fond of, that are also now (actually always was) out of fashion. I guess my clothes situation is a mess. But your post today has put some fire under sorting and seeing what I can do.

    Have a nice day!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      You're creative, so I have no doubt that you can find ways to use all of the clothing that you have stock-piled! A lot of things that are out of style, can be refashioned, too, as you did with a shirt this past winter. And styles cycle 'round. So, I wouldn't worry about how fashionable a particular piece is.

      Is there really no seasonality to the climate, there? While not nearly as temperate, I grew up in So. Calif. But my mom had spent her childhood in Utah, New England, and the Bay area of Calif. (Her idea of autumn didn't match up with Calif's autumn.) At back to school time, I remember wearing wool jumpers, "because it was fall". It was so incredibly hot out, most years, in early fall. And there I was all dressed like it was chilly out, in my wool jumper and turtleneck top. But also, I can remember it getting chilly enough in December and January to need coats.

      Have a great day, YHF!

    2. Some winters are barely sweater weather. I never owned a jacket before until I started traveling. I will really miss the cold winter this year:(

      I think you are right about styles and colors recycling, except not in sync unfortunately. I am determined to "cool it" on buying more clothes, and force myself to wear what I have for awhile. I love the challenge of making do.

      I didn't have time this past weekend to make the origami stars, but I think it will be perfect for our fall/winter activity when we watch the grandkids during their fall break. I have visions of stars hanging throughout the house, and will keep them up as our Christmas decoration. In the meantime, I can collect more sturdy magazine covers!!

      This weekend, I finished making more stuffed toy cat clothes, and my grandson loved it. I taught the older grandkids how to crochet simple chains so they were amazed that crocheting was able to make something more, and I think they have a new appreciation for the craft. It is often relegated as a lowly needlecraft I feel, but many textile artists say they got their start watching their grandmothers crochet or sew. After telling my husband this, he said if our grandkids become crochet (textile) artists you know where they got it from. I think it is an honor to be a textile artist, but I guess the world doesn't see art as an important endeavor unless you are iconic and famous. My mother never did and forced me to quit band to take typing, didn't allow me to take summer courses at the art academy (I begged) because she thought sewing was more practical to learn that summer. But when I started college, she didn't balk at my taking several art studio classes. I think she thought her duty as a parent was over and if I so insist to learn art then so be it. But today, in retirement, I don't have to put a value to my time, and can make useless things like cat clothes, of course j/k, it was so worthwhile for my grandson' s happiness.


  5. Thrifting! One of my favorite subjects! Where to start? Columbia Fleece jackets for both my husband & son--$2 each. My husband has lost weight & he needed an entirely new summer wardrobe. I've gotten everything from church shirts, to shorts, swim trunks, exercise wear--all @ thrift stores & yard sales. I've gotten a couple of really nice pairs of high end jeans (Tommy Hilfiger & DNKY) at thrift stores for myself. My son & husband both needed outdoor/hiking type clothes for a canoe trip they did last week--found everything they needed @ yard sales (including a 25 cent pair of pants for my husband). Again, some really nice brands on those, like REI. My eldest daughter was lamenting her wardrobe. She needed more professional things to wear to work. I urged her to go to Value Village's pre-4th of July half off sale. She said she never finds anything there, but she went anyway. Came home with a huge bag of clothes. She wore one of the tops she bought & a black linen skirt I had picked up at a yard sale for 25 cents to work today. She looked great. No one ever would have guessed her outfit was only $3. I buy shoes for myself & kids at yard sales & thrift stores. Most of the shoes I buy can be put in my front loader washing machine, so I have no problem with buying previously worn shoes. I know some people don't like that, but I learned a long time ago to get over my squimishness because the budget wouldn't allow spending upwards of $20 on little kid shoes. When I go into a real store (Kohl's, Macy's), which is only about once a year, I nearly faint when I see the prices. The thing that's nice about thrift store clothes, is that the garment has already been washed, so you know what how it's going to wear. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Oh, I understand that, about sticker shock. I could easily spend the entire clothing budget for a year for the whole family, on one outfit, full-price at Nordstrom's.

      And you're right, you can see how well something will wash, when it's already been worn and washed several times. I like that. It's so disappointing when you buy something new, wash it the first time, and it never looks the same again, or you discover that it needs heavy ironing with each wearing.

      Have a great day, Melissa!

  6. I suspect that the quality of clothing you find in thrift stores varies with where the thrift store is. I don't find much for myself at them but we live in a mostly working-class area--if I found a store in a higher-end location, the offerings at the thrift store would probably be better. I have better luck with sales/coupons and I know where all the clearance racks are hidden.

    I like your new jacket! So versatile and I bet it's perfect for your climate.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I think that's true, in general. Or what I've found, you can find more designer clothing in the wealthier neighborhood thrift stores. (Designer may not mean better quality.) And maybe less worn-out items in those wealthier neighborhoods. But as for garage sales, you can get better deals in a working class or middle class neighborhood. I've found with garage sales in wealthier neighborhoods, some folks over-value their used stuff.

      But, like you, I also do well with coupons combined with clearance/sales. That's how I've bought all my pants for the last decade, and a few nice tops, as well as all office shirts that I've bought for my husband and son. And places like Marshall's and Ross can also be great for finding good prices on clothing, again, especially when things are marked down.

      Have a great day, Kris!

  7. I think Kris is entirely right. While you can occasionally find some good quality stuff at any thrift store, you certainly find it more often in one in a better neighborhood.

    If I find something I like and fits well and is comfortable, I'm willing to pay extra for that. Like some of the others, I have problems with my feet and have a hard time finding comfortable shoes even when I'm willing to pay a lot of money. Also, I have a long torso and shirts are usually too short on me. So when I found long tail knit ones at Diluth Trading, I was happy to pay more.

    Anyway, it sounds like fun shopping with your daughters at the 99 cent sale.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      There is really something to be said for buying a quality-made item. Those pieces will look good, longer, than a cheaply-made garment. And if the style is classic, then you can keep wearing it until it just falls apart. I have a pair of wool trousers, handed down to me from my MIL. I think she bought them in the 80s. I still wear them, now 30 years later.

      My daughters really love SVdP, on 99cents Sundays. It's a lot of fun. And especially at their stage in life, needing to put aside most of what they earn each summer, for tuition, 99 cents is about as much as they can afford for a piece of clothing.

      Have a great day, live and learn!

  8. Hi there -

    I'm a subscriber but have never commented before. I enjoy your blog as I am cheap too! :-) However, I've just about given up on buying thrift store clothes. They just never seem to fit quite right, even when altered. I do buy scarves and necklaces at thrift stores, however. Once I found a vintage Hermes scarf! Woot!

    I live in the SE, and it's interesting to see the regionals differences in your life compared to mine. Not using AC in the summer? We'd die of heat stroke (but save lots of money)! I like seeing all of your foods with rhubarbs - you just don't see a lot of those down here, if at all.

    And where do you find all of your coupons for Kohl's?

    Thanks and keep blogging! I sure enjoy your posts!


    1. Hi Stacey,
      The regional differences are interesting, aren't they? If you ever feel bad about having to use AC for several months each summer, you can console yourself knowing that you never have to turn on the furnace in August! (Yep, had to have the furnace on a couple of years ago, in August!)

      So rhubarb is not as big a garden veggie, there? I never would have known that.

      I have no idea how I got onto Kohl's mailing list. The coupons just started coming in the mail, several years back.

      Do you have JCPenneys nearby? I also receive Penney's $10 off coupons from time to time. In addition to the mailed out coupons, Penney's website frequently has the $10 off a $25 purchase coupon, available to use online or print and use in store. There's one right now on their site, for $10 off of $25, good through July 10. I do best with Penney's coupons, if I print them out and go into the store, then check the clearance spots. But I've also used their ship to store option along with a coupon, when what I want isn't in stock in the store (free shipping to the store, for me to pick up).

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Stacey.
      Have a great weekend!


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