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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Shopping on the Sly

“These days, you’ve gotta milk a dollar out of every dime.” ~Gayle Forman, Where She Went

So you mailed off your taxes by today, and have decided to revisit the whole sticking-to-a-wardrobe-budget-thing. But how do you maintain your hot, sizzling self and keep that budget squeaky clean? Simple. Open up where you’ll consider buying from. Does it have to be ‘new’? Is anyone really going to know if you don’t tell them? Buying from second hand sources opens up a lot more potential. 

1. Online. With the internet, shopping for second hand clothes can be much easier. If you know how things tend to fit you, and/or you’re familiar with how a brand tends to fit you, you’ll have a good chance of buying well online. Even better if the seller has a return policy that works for you.  eBay is the first thing that comes to mind; if you choose to go with eBay then be sure to check out the sellers rating- I personally won’t look at anyone with less than a 99% rating, unless there’s not much at stake. Also, again, I would make sure they’re good with returns before shopping. Be aware that you may have to search for a long time, especially if you’re looking for a really good price. 

2. Thrift/Consignment shops.  I live in Los Angeles, and we have many, many, MANY thrift and consignment shops. We also have a large population of wealthy people who regularly get rid of  their ’old’ clothes (which often means designer garments worn once….) Which is great for those of us happy to buy second hand. Remember in my last blog how I suggested that as proper fit is second in importance only to wearing the right colors, the cost of having garments altered to fit perfectly should be calculated into the purchase price? If you’re buying the perfect pair of slacks for a song, then spending $10 or $20 to have them altered to fit you as if they were made for you is well worth it. Different thrift shops have different strengths; some have great designer duds, others have more volume, or casual items, others get the cast-offs of the local studios. (Those are some of my favorite.) If you live in an area without much variety in terms of thrifting, then you might consider making regular trips to areas where they have good ones; that’s the key- you have to shop on a regular basis. I’ve found that I can go to a specific shop regularly for months, with very little to show for it, then one day I go and someone who’s my size has donated/is selling tons of stuff that works perfectly for me, and I buy it all for a song. 

Just remember that if you’re serious about saving money this is a logical place to consider budget cuts. No no one will know you got that beautifully cut (because you had them altered) pair of slacks in the gorgeous fabric for $10 at your local thrift store/consignment shop/eBay….so who cares? 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Squeezing Into My Tax Outfit, or Wardrobe Woes

"What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin." ~Mark Twain

This is the dreaded Tax Time, and for some of us it’s an ugly reminder that it’s as important to budget for wardrobe as everything else, or we can end up with an ugly financial image. There are three areas that I’m bringing up here while you’re thinking about the big picture, budget-wise; wardrobe maintenance, a good tailor, and quality over quantity. 

Some of your clothing budget needs to be set aside for maintenance of your existing wardrobe. Whatever your budget is, you’ll need to allocate the appropriate amount depending on how extensive your wardrobe is and how much seasonal change there is in your area; if you live in Hawaii where there’s very little seasonal change, you won’t be needing to have a down coat dry cleaned every spring. If you live in upstate NY, you’ll probably have 2 distinct wardrobes with cross-over pieces to carry you from cold to warm and vice versa. Which means it potentially gets more complicated and more expensive. You can buy things that don’t require dry cleaning, but you’ll still need to dry clean suits and some dressier items, and you’ll need to have shoes regularly resoled and cleaned. This extends the life of your clothing considerably while helping to ensure that you’ll always look sharp and well groomed. All of this might amount to a sizable chunk of your clothing budget.

You may be thinking you don’t need a tailor, but if you really want to look your best, you’re most likely better off finding a good one. Why? Because next to wearing your 3-5 very best colors, good fit is the best thing you can do for your image. Nothing ruins an otherwise great outfit faster than poor fit. If you have a hard time finding things that fit perfectly (hint: that’s most of us) then you need a good tailor. It’s like this- if you find a garment that you know has the perfect design lines for you, yet it doesn’t fit you exactly as you’d like, (again, this may be most of the time) you’ll want to consider the cost of having it altered as essentially part of the purchase price. This is so important I’d say have less clothing, but make sure it fits. Which brings me to my last aspect of this…

Lastly, quality. The ‘cost per wearing’ formula is an important tool for keeping your clothing budget under control. 

Total cost of the item/ estimated number of days you’ll wear it = the cost per wearing

‘So what?’ you ask. Ok, let’s talk about an evening top you’re considering. It costs $280, you might wear it 3x per year, and after 6 years you get sick of it, or it doesn’t fit and can’t be altered, etc- you wear them 3 times per year for 6 yrs…3x6=18, $280÷18=$15.55 per wearing. Now let’s consider a $280 pair of basic black slacks that you’ll wear an average of 1.5x per week, for 3 yrs before you wear them out or get tired of them. Let’s do the math on these:  you wear them 73 times per year, 3 years…78.x3=234, $280÷234=$1.20 per wearing. Clearly, you’re better off putting $ into things you’ll wear more. This is where quality comes into play. To me, $280 is a lot of money for slacks. If you can’t afford a $280 for a pair of basic black slacks then now’s the time to look into consignment shops and thrift shops, or if you know exactly what works on you, you can take a chance on eBay. Remember, you’ll be considering the cost of tailoring as well. Just make sure before you buy that you can have the alterations done, and how much it’ll cost.  If none of this works for you, you might want to look into having a tailor make garments for you from scratch. It’s free to ask about, right? 

After all things are considered, it might just be worth it to invest in fewer, better items.