So, last year I spent $1516 on clothing despite budgeting $900. I decided not to set an unrealistic goal this year. I spend $1467, basically the same again. To my shame, I bought a lot of new clothing, which depletes resources and is bad for the environment. In my defense, I need clothing for 4 extreme seasons and I need different items for personal and professional use.
The obvious solution would be to shop thrift and vintage, but I fare poorly with used clothing. I tend to buy things that are outside my comfort zone because they are retro-chic and then I have regrets. I don’t find charity shops are good for the kind of basics I wear to work, maybe because everyone is like me and they wear those kinds of clothes right out.
My thrifted clothes this year were a pair of Fila workout shorts, a zip-up summer top (suitable for work wear), and a heavy-weight sweater with no tags that looks hand-knit.
Because my everyday look is predictable, I stock up on simple pieces and wear them often. About 20% of my budget went to replacement items. Another 10% went to small stuff: underwear, socks, tights, belts, scarves, and repairs (boot soles, tailoring).
This year’s replacement items were black jeans, black leggings, two long-sleeve T-shirts, a Fall jacket, yet another pair of workout sneakers, and moccasins used as slippers.
My new Fall jacket from The Gap is more casual than my old one (which no longer fit) but I spend more time in informal mode. I can layer with a summer jacket in early Fall or move up to a winter one in late Fall if I need to. Once upon a time, I swore I would never wear leggings, but I gave in. My original pair became too faded to wear to work. The new ones are too long and won’t stay tucked in my boots even with proper boot socks (they keep scrunching up and looking baggy, which just won’t do) so I’m hoping they’ll function better when I hem them. It’s enough to make me wish stirrup pants would come back 🙂 My old black jeans were super-low-rise so not suitable for work. I love the fit on my new ones, but they have a chemical smell that has not washed away since I bought them months ago. I read up on it and I am appalled by the chemicals used in new clothing – it is likely nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which, fortunately, are being phased out by a lot of brands. My old workout sneakers wore out prematurely because I bought a “cushy” athleisure brand instead of training shoes, so they weren’t built for anything rigorous. The new ones are embarrassingly plain, like walking shoes. I didn’t think I would care, but I do, since colourful ones are the norm now! They will do. I picked them out because of a deep discount, helping to make up for last year’s purchasing mistake. As for the two T-shirts, they are one of my wardrobe staples. When they are too tatty for work, I sometimes wear one as an under-layer at home. I replace a couple of them every year when they are literally worn out.
I do think about how to make my everyday clothes last longer. I mostly avoid over-washing and drying which causes excess wear and tear. I try to buy quality, and choose brands that I know from experience won’t fade or lose their shape. And as you can tell from my style choices, I buy very little that is trendy, so I feel OK wearing things for several years.
On to the new stuff. I bought a pair of Dr. Martens Chelsea boots which I love. They were comfortable enough to wear all day from Day 1, and I think they will last. I bought a pair of Guess dark wash jeans for work (link shows slightly distressed version). They have more stretch in them than they need, so they get looser during the day. I tend to wash them often to tighten them up, which means the dark wash won’t last. Otherwise they are good! I also bought my first pair of nylon tech pants (similar brand). You know, the kind of pants that tourists wear because they are light, packable, washable and fast-drying! I didn’t get cargo-style or zip-off ones, so they are pretty versatile and I really like them. One could wear a layer under them for winter but because of the light-weight fabric I am saving them for warm weather only.
I bought 4 new jackets: 2 for utility and 2 for fashion. The “fashion” jackets were the TopShop bomber (colour: navy) and an indoor work jacket from Banana Republic with a diagonal zip. The practical ones were a nylon “windbreaker” summer jacket by US Polo Association and an unusual SunIce layering jacket I found at Costco. It is a black zip-up, close-fitting jacket that has a knit layer on the outside and a fleece layer on the inside. It’s ideal for pairing with my new down vest (colour: raspberry) and it stood me in good stead this Fall. I looked high and low to find an unpopular fleece vest this Fall. They used to be ubiquitous but must have been banished by everyone because I couldn’t even find one in thrift shops. A few traditional companies like LL Bean and Columbia still sell them. As you can tell, I’ve been absorbed with layering this year!
For tops, I bought 4 short-sleeved summer tops, one white golf shirt which I never wore (too uniform-like) and 3 girly tops (shown here) which were quite a change for me as I usually wear single-colour T-shirts. I needed a bit of a colour and style boost so these were good. This month I decided I needed a classic black pullover sweater for all occasions. I easily found one, a 100% cotton rib knit mock neck (similar to this link). Not chunky or boxy or cropped! In the same store, I spotted a black pintucked Henley top and decided I had to have it, too. Whenever I buy two items to serve the same purpose, I tend to regret it. I didn’t need two black tops. It was a passing whim. But they are different styles and weights and I think they will be useful so I kept both.
I picked up two basic cardigans and two hoodies this year. Most of the cardigans I wear to work are bright colours, so I went with neutrals this time, a navy Shaker-knit boyfriend-style one from Banana Republic and a taupe no-button cardi from Sears Tradition. I like it because the colour is so non-committal, I can wear it with grey, beige or brown! The hoodies are very different, one with a PacMan print for weekend use – it makes me smile – and a fuchsia-colour athletic one.
I topped off everything else with some workout wear, a Nike tankini (in orange/blue print instead of black/white) which is great for “real” swimming and has a good fit for a long-waisted person; a layering tank for the gym because we are all modest there; a T-shirt in a wicking fabric; and a pair of wide-leg workout/leisure pants that are half-way between yoga pants and sweats. I also bought a black tote bag (which I found out later is probably a copy of a Tough Jeanworks bag) which I am loving. I now have a black tote bag and a brown one, so they will match any outfit and I never need to take plastic shopping bags.
Besides my layering theme, I did buy items from a few brands that are primarily sold to “mature” women, such as Traditions and Karen Scott. Add the fleece vest, the tourist pants and the one-colour sneakers and I feel older all of a sudden 🙂
Whew! You will think I did nothing but shop for clothes all year. I always say I will do better and I won’t need anything for a while, but who am I kidding? Let’s see how I get through the winter!
I would love to hear what you did to refresh your wardrobe, replace some basics, or get by without.
—not a sponsored post, no free or discounted products received and no affiliate links—