Doesn’t it seem like everything happens to the budget at once? If it’s not a car insurance payment and a car repair bill, it’s death by a thousand nickle-ings and dime-ings. I am in such a budgeting conundrum when it comes to clothes. Slowly but surely, though, I plan to solve these issues without going into the hole and not sacrificing quality (I hope!).
First, I have tried to develop a good sense of what I actually wear by decluttering the closet regularly. Every single season I look at what I’m putting in the closet or what I’m trying to store away. If I haven’t worn it and likely won’t, it goes. Decluttering has the odd outcome of creating a list of things you actually need to buy. But it’s what you actually need, not just what looks good to you at the time. This is how I know that I need, among a few other things, a trench coat, boots, some new jeans and a pair of red cargo pants, lol. I don’t need new suits no matter how pretty they are. There isn’t anything wrong with the suits I have. But until I went through my closet thoroughly, I had no idea what I actually owned or how nice some of it really was.
After getting a real list of things I need, the next thing to do is figure out how much I can afford. The real answer is, not much. But I’ve also learned that if you’re not careful, paying $20 when you should’ve probably paid $100 only guarantees you’ll end up buying something that comes apart in the wash. It’s not a bargain if it falls apart, is sewn improperly, etc. Unless you simply cannot afford anything else, I’ve learned that it’s best to wait, save that money up for the one good thing, and then get it. OR, you can shop consignment! I had turned away from consignment for many years, the result of my mother having dragged us through so many “nearly new” stores it would make your head spin. The items were usually very out of date or very worn. I’ve realized later that this was probably because of what a depressed area we were in. Here, though, I’ve managed to find a lovely leather swing skirt jacket with a real fur collar for about $15. There is also a store that offers designer or upscale brand items for a great price. Jeans normally priced $100 – 150 are in the store for about $20. Still, it pays to carefully try things on and really study it. Sometimes people give what looks like a good item away because it fits funny. Been there, wasted money on that!
But by far the smartest thing I’ve done for the budget and my wardrobe this fall has been resoling two pairs of boots. In our throwaway society, I don’t think many people in my generation or certainly younger think to resole boots. But really, that’s usually where the most damage is done. I paid about $150 apiece for each pair of boots. To me, that’s a lot of money. Even with Black Friday “savings” on many shoes coming up, I stalked the stores for weeks and couldn’t find things that were comparable to what I already had. I really liked those boots! While whining about not being able to find comparable things, a friend suggested I get them resoled. But good luck, she said, in finding someone to do it. It is a dying trade, apparently, as people just chuck their shoes in favor of getting something new. And while I did find a few people had gone out of business, I found a shop right on main street that dealt in leather goods and were capable of resoling shoes. Resoling them cost about $30 – 40 per pair of boots. So between the two pairs, I paid less than I probably would’ve had to for one new pair, and I’ve breathed new life into them! They came back to me all shined up and I swear they looked like new. The soles are actually better, I think, than the original ones. I bought those boots at least three years ago, I’m thinking more like four or five years ago. These new soles have bought me at least another 2 years, I’m thinking!
What a great deal and a great way to support local artisans!