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Thursday, October 8, 2009

How Many? How Much? Request for Help.

Readers, I have long been aware of my clutter problem. I am also aware that my clutter problem is exacerbated by my zen hobby of frequenting thrift stores. For some karmic reason, this is the only area where I have good luck, nice clothing and desired books falling into my hands with scarcely any effort.

So what I want to know is: what is a normal amount of clothing to purchase in a year? Like everyone else, it seems, I aspire to a French woman's closet, with a few really nice items. I have a French size closet, in fact, since I live in an almost 100 year old house.

Unlike a lot of the frugality people, my issue is not HOW MUCH I spend, since I spend very little on clothing each year. The issue is HOW MANY things are in the normal range for yearly purchases.

The math is obvious: since the average price of an item is $3.00 at my preferred sources, if I buy even 4 items a month, by the end of the year, I will have spent only about $150.00, but accrued about 50 items.

Too many! So, like people who don't know what a normal amount of food is, I need to know what a normal yearly accumulation looks like.

Any help appreciated.

10 comments:

Northmoon said...

this is a great topic for me! I too shop at thrifts for certain items, and find i have accumulated clothing thatmight be considered excessive. i tend to be attracted to similar items, like i have six black sweaters! they may have minor style differences (v neck, ribbed etc.) but how many can i wear at once? just one!!

beyond frugality, i want to simplify my life, and wading through a drawer full of similar sweaters to find an item is crazy.

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...

I'd say a "normal" wardrobe varies because it depends on a lot of factors.

1. Lifestyle
2. Climate
3. Variety/Wants

If your lifestyle is that of a working mom who is also someone who visits clients on a regular basis, AND needs some nice things for dinners out with friends, and play dates, then you will need many different outfits & choices.

If you live in a place with 4 real seasons, you are looking at a minimum of 3 coats (light summer/spring coat, autumn for slightly colder but not freezing temps, and a winter coat). As well as different boots, with different sizes of heel, etc, again.. all dependent on your lifestyle.

If you blog at home and don't ever leave your house, you may not need much except for a couple of non-sweatpants items.

Lastly, variety. I have about 6 blazer jackets I can throw over any of my tops (tank tops, tube tops) and make them work appropriate. In different colours, shapes and sizes.

My rule of thumb is generally 3 outfits per season (full outfits that can also mix and match), and the extras of each season (the 3 coats I mentioned with the boots).

From there, after getting a capsule wardrobe you can build up and out by just re-using the same pants from winter in autumn and even spring, but paring it with a spring coat and spring boots for example.

Hope that helped!

Andree Cosby said...

I make myself give away something for everything I buy, and if things in the closet or drawers start looking crammed or if I've forgotten I own something, I get ruthless and give away anything I haven't worn in a year.

Shelley said...

I'm no good at this one -- I have far too many clothes, mostly acquired at thrift shops. I read somewhere that 6% of one's income is an appropriate amount to spend and if you really want to do the French woman thing, I suppose you would spend that amount each year on really good pieces that all coordinate with one another. I think this might be tough to do with thrift shop purchases, though I have found that sticking to a few colour groups (charcoal, chocolate, navy) helps. I shall read with interest the advice you get on this one. Good question!

Duchesse said...

Too much is when:
1. in a given season you don't wear the item more than twice. No matter how "good" the item is, get rid of it.

2. you really can't tell similar items apart, like Northmoon's black sweaters. A couple will do, three is plenty.

3. the item is being kept for a "someday" occasion, like if you are ever invited to heli-ski, or when you gain/lose weight.


4. item does not lift your heart. (I have a more jewelry than I "need", and it makes me happy.)

There is no right amount.

I think the dark side of thrifting is the "it's here, what a find, I have to buy this' mentality that so easily arises. Frugality does not confer simplicity, which some women who only buy full retail have achieved.

Funny about Money said...

FB's guidelines make great sense to me. Weigh all those factors together and that should help determine what's "reasonable" (sorta).

Because my job doesn't require me to dress up, I live in jeans. Costco's Gloria Vanderbilts currently fit me. When I see an unusual color (pink, yellow) or when a favorite pair is wearing out, I pick it up.

Similarly, I don't dry-clean clothes and eventually outgrew the craving to iron shirts, and so I buy most of my tops at Talbot's and waypoints, looking for knits that fit OK and can go in the wash.

There's a small chain around here called B'Gauze. I think it's local. They carry a lot of quasi-ethnic looking cottons that can be washed with no ironing but look a little dressier than jeans and tops. Some of them, in fact, can pass for fairly dressy. When they have sales, I spend a couple hundred bucks to pick up outfits that will last upwards of a year.

And then I buy more tailored clothes in the after-Christmas sales at Talbot's, which is the only mass-market retailer that sells pants that fit me. That seems to be changing, and I'm not nuts about some of their new look...especially since a lot of it doesn't fit well in the first place and then falls apart in short order.

All told, I'd say I buy three tailored sets of separates with maybe a blazer each year, and maybe four pairs of jeans, and an occasional knit top.

Duchesse said...

I'd like to suggest, if your Talbot's clothes fall apart, that you take them back to the store to request a refund. They are very service oriented.

Funny about Money said...

Glad to hear their excellent service hasn't gone away in the updating.

I expect I'll be learning to buy from thrift stores next year, since I won't have a couple hundred bucks to drop at Talbot's. One of the women in the choir showed up the other evening with this buttery, lush silk shirt: got it at Florence Crittendon's second-hand shop. LOL! It fit her, too.

My friend and I who make biannual shopping runs, invariably including Talbot's, have recently the clothes don't fit like they used to. I tried on two very handsome tailored cotton blouses that I coveted, but none of the sizes fit me. Since my friend evinces GDU stress by overexercising and undereating, it's apparently not because I've gotten fat--because she's quite slender and had the same experience.

She also said that two of the knit tops she bought there shrank. So far, none of mine have done that.

Duchesse said...

If you go to Talbot's web site, you will see they have some new pant fits, with descriptions of each (Signature, Heritage and Classic Side Zip.

I rely on them for the kind of basic pants I need for work, but find on the whole their other clothes not really "me".

Frugal Scholar said...

@All--Many thanks for the comments. In my absence, I see the party went on w/out me. Hope you had a good time. Will get back to these as soon as I can.