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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Splurges of Summer 2009: Clothing

First, a keep-out warning to men and those of you under around 40. At best you will not be interested and at worst you will be scornful.

It is hard for me to spend more than a pittance on clothing. That is because the Thrift Store Gods have blessed me. But only for clothing, not for neat costume jewelry or furniture. So I am the one with the Chanel loafers, the cashmere sweaters (top-quality only for me, not the thin ones so prevalent today), the St. John and Carlisle jackets. All in like-new condition. Oh, and the Michael Kors handbag I picked up. In the Iliad, there are a few characters who, like the gods, just "have it": Helen of Troy and Paris have beauty; Achilles has prowess in battle. You can't be mad at them; they just "have it." I don't have the beauty or the prowess, but I do have the touch for apparel. Don't be mad at me. Hence, my difficulty in spending more than a few dollars on anything.

Those of you who are reading, women, especially over 50, have no doubt learned that it becomes harder to buy clothing for one reason (body part?) or another. For me, it is my waist, which is out of proportion to the rest of my body, which remains a size 8.

So my summer splurge of 2009 is two pairs of Eileen Fisher stretch viscose crepe pants! These were bought from Garnet Hill, on sale, at less than 1/2 of the ridiculous retail price. Eileen: viscose is rayon, a synthetic, plus you were quoted in the Wall Street Journal admitting that your prices had gotten out of hand during the recent boom days. But I had bought a pair in wool-blend at a Wellesley consignment store ($6.00 rack) and the elastic waist was pure bliss. The wool turned out to be surprisingly useful for chilly nights at Tanglewood's outdoor concerts. With the exception of a wool coat and a pair of Uggs (also half-price), these pants are the most expensive clothing I have ever bought.

I am trying to be more French in my shopping, although any French person would laugh at my struggle here.

My final confession: I was so freaked out at succumbing to Eileen Fisher, the brand for the middle-aged woman who has given up (there's even an article called "Do not go gentle into that Eileen Fisher"), that I read the comments on Eileen offered by fellow bloggers Duchesse and DejaPseu. I promise you ladies, the pants are not boxy or baggy. Tell me it's OK.


Duchesse said...

Sure it's OK, Frugal! Enjoy your pants.

The ads make her clothes look effortlessly elegant but in reality, an entire EF ensemble reads sexless and washed out on me. And pants always too short.

There are genius EF pieces; mixing them in works well for many women.

You are the luckiest, most adept thrifter ever, it is true!

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

Duly warned, I skipped the rest of the post and jumped right to the comments :)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--I agree with you about the tops. Basically I just spent a bunch of money for an elastic waistband.

@Cubicle--I was thinking specifically of you! Thanks for heeding my warning.

materfamilias said...

Pseu has some very practical, attractive Eileen Fisher tops that she says are an important mainstay in her travel wardrobe -- she was wearing one when we met in Vanc'r a month or so ago. I think any of the pieces could make a good a base, to be accessorized for more style and personality,

Funny about Money said...

{sigh} Makes me feel dowdy and stupid: Eileen Fisher is my favorite line of clothes, when I can afford something more than Costco specials. Most of her stuff fits, doesn't HURT (!), and looks to my naive eye more or less acceptable.

Jeez. No wonder those women in Saks treat me like pore white trash: apparently my taste in clothing signals my tacky origins once again. ;-)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Mater--I'm going to check those silk tops out when I see them in person. Right now, it's the bottoms I need.

@Funny!!! Don't feel bad. Eileen (who is a big seller) has become convenient shorthand for the middle-aged female body. Some of the on-line vitriol is amazing. One 30something declares that if you just exercise a little, your stomach will never get mushy. So you will never need that stretchy waistband.

But the EF line can be too big and boxy.
I checked with my infallible daughter.