“Where did you get that shirt? I love it!” A friend asks one day as I am finishing getting ready for the day.
I sheepishly grin and say, “Well, I got this from the free box…”
Another friend looks at me later when I have donned my long winter trench coat, and she says, “That is the cutest thing! What brand is it? Where did you get it?!”
I sheepishly grin again, and say, “Well, it’s H&M, but I got it at Goodwill–half price.”
I used to feel a little bit shy about the fact that I went shopping at Goodwill and at thrift stores. But college isn’t cheap and I needed ways to buy clothing without breaking the bank. Additionally, when I started attending LCU, I lacked a lot of business dress clothing. So I had to come up with a solution.
When I look at my closet, it is about half filled with clothing that I either got for free or very inexpensively. I’m not so ashamed about shopping anymore when I have money to spend on other things rather than clothes, like, say, movie tickets or good coffee. Paired with gaining experience shopping on a dime and the fact that I was raised by a thrifty shopper (my mother), I’ve been able to develop a few guidelines and skills in finding clothing that is inexpensive or worth the cost. Below are a few guidelines that I have found to work for me:
No impulse buys. Before I go buy something, I honestly plan and critically ask, “Do I really need this?” If the answer is yes, great! If I hesitate or find myself justifying the buy, I hold off a little longer before buying it.
Think before you buy. When I go shopping, it is often because I have thought about it for a few weeks and know that I am going to buy something I need.
Check thrift stores. Before buying new, see if there is something used that you can buy. Goodwill offers many name brands for very inexpensive prices. (Think $3.50 for an Eddie Bauer shirt in good condition). If you take the time to look, you can find quite a few treasures in the thrift stores.
Buy quality instead of quantity. I usually buy things that I know that I will wear many different ways instead of just one outfit in mind. Also, if you buy pieces that only work a few ways, you end up spending more money than if you planned ahead and bought clothes that work with many other pieces.
Try not to buy full price. My mom trained me well. When walking into any store, she would walk immediately to the clearance rack and shop there. I do the same thing now! Often, at the end of a season, stores will offer great sales on things that are heading out of season. If you know that your size will not change much from year to year, then buying summer clothes at the beginning of fall and winter clothes at the beginning of summer and vice versa, you can save a lot of money. Sometimes even half of what you would have originally paid.
Buy things that last. This is one of my favorite guidelines and goes along with the fourth bullet. I would add, however, that there are some brands that are worth spending extra money on because they do last longer. Brands like this are brands similar to Eddie Bauer, Express, Ann Taylor, GAP, etc. Generally, they do last longer and are worth spending a little more on because you are buying quality. In fact, if I have not spent money on clothing in a while, I might even pay full price for these things because they will last.
Often, there seems to be an attitude that there is not much at thrift stores that is quality. Not true: I have bought mostly name brands from thrift stores at a fraction of the cost of what they would be normally. In fact, I just took a trip to Goodwill in preparation for this post and took photos of several versatile, business dress pieces in the span of just an hour. Below you will find the pieces, but there are many more of which I did not take pictures.
There is no shame in saving as much money as you can or being frugal. There is no shame in spending money on pieces that last. They key is building your wardrobe in a way that fits your budget.
This is the fourth in a series of posts by senior Business Administration major Madalyn Bozdech. In addition to dressing well for Business Dress Wednesday, she likes to hike and camp and shop at thrift stores.