He pulled the jeans from the rack and waved me over. "Look!" he said, holding out the tag with an outrageous $175 original price. Boys size 7. "Can you imagine spending that on kids jeans?"
I would NEVER pay $175 for jeans for myself, let alone a Liam who busts through knees and thinks grass is his own personal landing strip for slide tackles and a good butt scootch.
Do you know how many meals I could make for my family with $175???
Me neither, but it's an awful lot!
I suffer from a great aversion to full-priced clothing. I just can't justify it. It doesn't matter how much I like something/want something/need something - if it costs more than I make an hour I have a really hard time forking over the cash.
It's just unnecessary.
It's not that I don't think we're worth the cost of great clothing - it's that I know if I'm just patient enough and not quite so picky, I can find something acceptable for a whole lot less if I'm willing to spend the time sniffing through crowded thrift store racks. (And I mean sniffing literally - take a whiff before you buy, people! Gain doesn't cure everything!)
PLUS, there's a strange satisfaction knowing that you're paying WAY LESS than the sucker who had those clothes before you.
I understand that clothing, for many people, is a status symbol. It's why we have terms like 'power suit'. You know what my power suit is? A pair of $7 jeans and a $6 blouse! BAM!
I am not a style trend-setter. I don't give a hoot about what's in and what's out and what Blake Lively wore at the New Orleans H&M store opening last week. I (try to) care about fit, quality, price, and whether or not I feel pretty in it and, as far as I'm concerned, that's what matters. Labels mean nothing to me. If I like it, I like it and you can bet I don't care if it came from Walmart or if Marc Jacobs carved his name in it with his own hand.
I had originally intended to find comparable prices to stand beside my example purchases in order to prove that I am saving a buttload of money but it turns out that finding prices on things that are no longer 'current' is next to impossible (at least in the time frame I'm allowing for this post). Just trust me...I saved BIG!
In case you're feeling inspired to venture into the exciting world of thrift stores and great bargains, I've compiled a small list of tips to help you on your way.
1. Take your time. You can't do this while you're rushed. There are literally thousands of individual items to wade through. (And don't assume you can trust size labels either - these are things that have been worn and washed and their reality could be far removed from the number on the tag.) Look through things item by item, pull things off the rack, touch everything.
2. Set boundaries. Belts: good. Underwear: bad.
3. Dress for the change room. Wear something that will make trying on clothes faster and easier. I like to wear a tight fitting undershirt/camisole and slip-on shoes. Don't wear a dress - if you're in the market for a new blouse and you have to model it for your waiting-with-the-cart husband, things can get a little awkward when you come out of the dressing room wearing nothing but a polka-dot top and pantyhose!
4. Inspect every item closely. Look for rips, tears, missing buttons, stains, pulled threads, split seams...then put that thing to your nose and sniff it good - if it doesn't conjure up images of a high school locker room or that guy who pees in the bus stop then you shouldn't have a problem that a warm wash cycle can't fix. And, for goodness sake, read the care label! Dry clean only? Not for this girl, thank you very much!
5. Learn your way around a needle and a thread. Sometimes you find the perfect thing BUT it has a little blemish. Is it fixable? Is it something you'll actually take care of or will it sit in the 'FIX IT' pile like your husband's jeans and your daughters Easter dress? If you still want it, show what needs fixing to the cashier or manager and they'll often knock a few dollars off the price.
6. One item in, one item out. I'm awful at this but I still think it's a great piece of advice: for every new (to you) thing you bring home, choose something you already have and don't use/love anymore that you can donate back. Some places even offer coupons for a percentage off if you bring in a donation - research the thrift stores in your area and find out who best takes care of their generous customers.
That's it, my short and sweet advice. May your finds be gorgeous and your wallet eternally gracious!