Monday, July 20, 2009

Simply Dressing For Less

What does your closet look like? Do you have enough shirts, tanks and pants to cloth a small village? How would you describe your wardrobe – trendy, classic, relaxed, or maybe an odds and end smorgasbord of all of the above, bursting at the seams?

Personally I would say I have a relaxed wardrobe – basic jeans, sweaters, shirts and tanks fill my closet and drawers, along with really casual wear of elastic band pants, fuzzy socks and older shirts and tanks that I use for house work.

I recently read that North American women have more clothes than almost any other place in the world; children are born with wardrobes that are already bursting out of their dressers. We want to look good right? We also want our children to look nice, but does each person in our house need as many clothes as we have?

Part of simplifying our lives is simplifying our wardrobes and our view on shopping. This has become even more important in my family as my children have become teenagers and fashion and name brands have all of a sudden become important to them and requests for clothes has become frequent and has turned from a need to a want.

Here are some hints that I am putting into practice to simplify our shopping:

1. Go shopping twice a year – spring and fall

This is an important habit that I have just started this past year. This causes us to have to do a bit more planning and makes you evaluate what you really need and evaluate every purchase more. We now take inventory about what we have for each person before our shopping trip and then make a determination about what is needed (not wanted) and then we write a list for each person.

My children get a certain amount of money to spend on building their wardrobe for the season, if they want higher priced name brand items than they can do with less or save up money prior to the shopping trip.

Then benefits of shopping only twice are huge, not only are we saving time over the course of a busy year, but less time in malls means less requests for clothes. As some of you may know, teenagers and clothes equals headache!! The boys are manageable, but my daughter wants all the new and trendy clothes and LOTS of them. Her constant requests can break even the most strong-willed person. Her power of persuasion and sheer determination when her mind is set is something to be admired, but if I allow it to become a battle of wills between her and I, I am afraid I am on the loosing end too many times. When I look into those beautiful big blue eyes I can cave if I don’t have a clear plan in place!

2. Shop wisely

Multi-seasonal - Buy clothes that are good for layering and are good in various seasons.

Multi-functional - Look for items that can be dressed up or down and can be paired with a variety of items, not just one.

High quality - For many things it is better to have 2 or 3 high quality items than 10 – 15 poor quality.

Classic over trendy - Every now and then it is fun to buy trendy item, but overall our wardrobes should be made up of pieces that are not going to go out of style.

Machine washable - Check the label before you buy – buying clothes that are difficult to care for is going to add to the time you spend cleaning.

Comfortable - Have you ever had a pair of jeans that every time you bend over you are showing half a moon? Buying clothes that don’t fit properly or are uncomfortable is a waste of money.

3. Buy fewer accessories

Some people really have a love to accessorize; they have belts, shoes, jewelry, purses, handbags for every occasion (and then some), but if you are trying to simplify your life and your wardrobe then you must also simplify your accessories.

Buy neutral hand bags/purses – that can be dressed up or down, have useful compartments to help keep you organized, and have good straps. Make sure they are comfortable to wear before you buy.

4. Do not be afraid to buy used

I have found many good deals at garage sales and thrift stores. Sometimes this means buying something for the next season (like a winter coat in summer), but if you have a place to store the item you may be able to save yourself lots of money.

5. Do not be afraid to bend the rules

So you happen to walking through a mall and you see a really good sale on items you know you actually need. Shopping twice a year does not mean passing up on all the good sales! This is not a set in stone rule, it is a guideline to help you plan your time and to move away from shopping so frequently. It is important to know when stores typically have sales to get rid of the past season and try and plan your shopping trips around those sales, but if you see a good sale in between than go for it! Just do not buy for the sake of buying, if shirts are on sale, but you already have 10, do you really need more?

6. Set a good example and teach good habits

If you children are young, remember, that if you child has 15 pairs of pants at 5 (even if every one was donated and cost you nothing), they will become accustom to that and still want 15 pairs at 13 years old. Help your children have a reasonable wardrobe, that is not excessive and bursting out of their closet and dresser, have your child help you go through what they have and determine what is really needed. Have them help you pack away clothes that your family wants to save (for a younger brother or sister), give away or sell.

Children are going to be influenced by their peers and by media, but by setting a good example and teaching good shopping habits is setting the stage for them to be able make wise choices.

For more frugal tips check out Tightwad Tuesday and Tightwad Tuesday with Canada Girl.



  1. Excellent post. You are so right about boys. I've never really had a problem with mine either.

    Have you heard of Sear's Kid Advantage program? I don't want to take up your comment space. But it's great.

    You buy your kid's clothes there and if they rip or tear before your kid's outgrow that size, Sears will replace the clothes for free.

    I always bought their jeans one size up, and have them use a belt and roll the pants (but they were little then). Then the jeans last forever as they will replace them over and over.

    I have a pair of jeans that my 16 year old tore that I am going to take back to Sears and they will give me a free pair in exchange. Just bring your receipt, just in case. The program is free, by the way!

  2. I bought at Sears for years for that program! For the boys it was great as they ruined their clothes ALOT!

    All my boys where adult sizes now and my daughter rarely finds anything she likes there, but the program is sure great!

  3. This is very good and wise advice. I don't get to shop much b/c living out of town in a one car family. But it can be very do'able. Thanks for the post. I really loved reading it !

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