I don’t get regular clothes shopping and a challenge update

The kind you do when you already have a closet full of clothes still with tags that have never been worn.

The kind where you complain about how your huge walk-in closet is stuffed and you have to declutter and you can never find anything to wear.

The kind where you set yourself a challenge to spend *only* $100/month plus the several hundred you have on gift-cards plus whatever you get from doing consignment for the stuff you declutter so you can make room for new clothes.

Granted, I, like Cloud, hate spending time clothes shopping.  It’s not even that I’m pudgy or anything or that I can’t afford it.  I just don’t want to spend the time.  But even if I had a ton of time, my closet has enough stuff right now, I have plenty of variety, and nothing looks too shabby.

When I do go clothes shopping it’s because I need specific items.  A pair of black pants.  Some new suits.  Colorful shirts.  Anything I buy I have to be able to see in a completed outfit.  When it’s just me, these outfits tend to be very simple (skirt or pants + top), but shopping buddies will often put together something complete and I just have to memorize it.  (I always get compliments when I wear a shopping buddy chosen outfit.)

So I go shopping once every few years, generally at the January or late Spring/early Summer changing of the season sales.  I go with a shopping buddy who loves shopping (and has a closet full of clothes, many still with tags).  I stick to Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, and Brooks Brothers.  Though in my youth before I had a real job, I was more of a J.Crew, Gap, Banana Republic, and Marshall’s kind of shopper.   (I still wear my Paul Harris Designs suits– wish they were still around.)  And lots of online comic t-shirts, not to mention this guy.

It’s not that shoppers necessarily want more diversity in their clothing.  I actually wear more variety than my shopping buddy.  She has favorites that she wears once every week or two, whereas everything in my closet gets worn or it gets put in the goodwill closet.  (With the exception of a small number of “fat” clothes and an even smaller number of “skinny” clothes because occasionally I do hit size 12 or size 6, but not for long enough to replace the wardrobe.)  I only buy things that I like enough to wear regularly and make me look great.  Since I’m so busy with mental load, I set up my closet so I can just pull the next “teaching” outfit or the next business casual outfit.  (This semester my teaching days are such that each suit will get worn twice.)  Only my weekends take any planning and that’s just figuring out the temperature and which top to wear with my (anthropologie) jeans or (ann taylor) shorts.

It might be something about keeping up with fashion, which is something I don’t tend to understand.  I tend to buy what looks good on me whether or not it’s “in” and never go so deep into fashion that it looks off years later.  I tend towards classic styles.  My friends don’t go crazy with fads either, but they do tend to be aware of the seasonal colors and styles and so on.

It could be something about the shopping itself.  My current shopping buddy loves getting a “great deal” and clothes shops at least once a month.  She’s also single and goes shopping with a lot of other single friends and they give each other hundred dollar gift cards to clothing stores at Christmas and birthdays.  So she gets endorphin rushes and it’s one of the ways that she socializes and networks.

Or maybe clothes are just Gazingus pins for some people.

And now,  a challenge update:

A nasty GI thing kept us out of the grocery store last weekend, and DH made up for it with a mid-week shopping trip on Wed: $60
He went again on Saturday: $120
DH and DC1 had pizza for dinner as a treat because DH had to host a review session right after picking DC1 up from school: $11
DH bought gas: $33
And went to the dentist: $34
Utilities: $35

DH also hit Starbucks but that’s out of his allowance.  We got a little income too– a cash settlement from a class-action suit against Honda and an honorarium for an NSF panel (but not counting that either).

Why do you think some folks spend so much time and money clothes shopping?  If you do, why do you?

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31 Responses to “I don’t get regular clothes shopping and a challenge update”

  1. Perpetua Says:

    I wish I could spend time and money clothes shopping. If I could, I would. I have a lot of things in my closet, but it’s taken me forever to get over the grad student habit of buying cheapish clothes because they are on sale, and being reluctant to pay more than $30 for anything. Now I have a different approach, and I want a wardrobe full of fewer, but more expensive pieces (I want to look like a grown up professional and not a just-out-of-grad-school-refugee), and I’ve decided I won’t buy anything unless I really love it, no matter what the cost – this approach requires more time than my usual rush in and grab some stuff that kinda works. But since it also costs more, I haven’t been doing this at all in the past year. We’re in austerity mode, saving for a house (and I’m on half time pay right now).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Hm, that’s an interesting idea… if you buy a lot of stuff that isn’t perfect you have a hard time finding stuff and feel like you don’t have enough to wear because really you don’t. So you buy more and the cycle perpetuates. Sort of like junk food addiction.

      Yes, I totally recommend only buying things you know you’re going to wear, that fit and look good, and that you can visualize an outfit in. You don’t actually need to buy at separate times to do this, however. One dedicated day at an outlet mall will take care of it. That also has the benefit that the stuff you’re buying has color schemes that fit together because they’re from the same season. If you go when seasons change you can end up getting amazing deals (like $4 cardigans at Ann Taylor).

      • jlp Says:

        Wow, yes. That top paragraph is exactly right, for me. I have a closet overfull of cheap clothes that I don’t like. But I wear them, because I like going clothes shopping even less, since I so rarely find anything I like. Which, of course, perpetuates the cycle.

        I have shopped in full days in the past, but still leave without clothes because (I guess) I have a hard-to-fit body. (Or perhaps I’m too picky?) Or at least, that was the case prior to my giving birth to our first son — since then I haven’t had/made time to clothes shop, so maybe I would find that my now-bulging midriff makes it easier to find pants that fit. I can always dream, right?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It might be worth looking into tailoring. Or a personal shopper who can give you basic tips about what to look for for your body type and coloring and which stores to aim for.

        For me, I’m an average height (well, technically I’m short, but an average sort of short) and an average size and I know which parts of my body to hide and which to accentuate and what kinds of clothing will do that for me. I try to shop when skirts are flaring out rather than pencil, and when the color scheme fits people who are “Springs” and I refuse to try on any more Ann Taylor pants. (For in Ann Taylor pants lies depression and madness. Unless one has a “boyish” figure which I decidedly do not.)

  2. plantingourpennies Says:

    I think for a lot of people it’s a social activity. I know that’s how most of my shopping gets done. Luckily most of the people I actually enjoy shopping with live a thousand miles away, so it’s not a social activity that’s overdone.
    As I age, I also shop a lot less because I already *have* clothes. When I’m out at Ann Taylor and see a short-sleeve black sweater top with a little decoration at the neck, I stop before trying it on because I already have one. Yes, maybe the sleeves are half an inch longer and the decoration is a bow instead of a flower, but really… it’s the same top. So why bother even if it is 50% off?

  3. bogart Says:

    Clothes shopping: yuck. Not only do I find it a tedious chore, but my clearly implausible expectation that women’s clothing (mostly pants/skirts, also jackets) should have functional pockets eliminates most stuff before I would even try it on. I am going to need to shop for some pants/skirts for summer wear this year (I think: note to self, scrounge through closet and see if usable pieces re-appear) and am *already* dreading it. Though (otherwise) looking forward to spring!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My skirt today (which I think I got at Marshalls a good 10 years ago, but it is still in good shape) does have copious pockets. :) All my Brooks Brothers pants also have real pockets.

  4. NoTrustFund Says:

    Some people find it fun- kind of how some people like cooking and some hate it. I used to shop with friends a lot as a social thing when I was single. Now I do most of my shopping online, but I could sure use a shopping buddy!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      What makes it fun? I can tell you why cooking is fun– the joy of creation, the feeling of accomplishment, the ability to eat what you’ve done, and the praise one gets from ones loved ones.

      • Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

        Some people approach shopping from the hunter-gatherer perspective. You stalk the bargain that looks great on you, you find it, kill it, and drag it home to great acclaim (from, perhaps, friends or colleagues).
        I don’t particularly like shopping, but I’ve quite enjoyed Stitch Fix since they just send me stuff that’s more intriguing than what I’d pick out.

  5. Michelle Says:

    I spend too much on clothes. I am doing better with this, but I am one of those people with a VERY packed closet and for some reason I feel like I never have any clothes.

  6. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I’m thinking back to when I could do regular clothes shopping and liked it. Here is what stands out to me:
    I didn’t have to try things on often. I was skinny and pretty standard top to bottom. If I was a size 4, I could buy a pair of size 4 bottoms and a size Small top and I knew it would fit right. When I was smaller than that, it was a size 2, or even 0, and an XS. This made it a quick experience and also a pretty brainless one. I also tend to turn debuting a new outfit into a thing. I won’t “waste” the first time I wear something. I save it until I am ready to do it “justice”. So that means I will wear it on a day I have time to do my hair and makeup, even if only very simply. I will also usually accessorize it properly. I never do this stuff so I always get compliments on a new outfit and I’m sure I’ve created the association new outfit = compliments where it should be complete look = compliments. I got a glimpse of that when I was doing the De-Frumpiness Project and couldn’t buy new clothes but was still getting compliments because I was being thoughtful of my appearance. For a while, when I was with my Ex, a particular circle of friends, and my old boss, I was made conscious of brand names for the first time in my life. So that also came to play with the “great deal” syndrome– finding Name Brand dress at Last Call Neiman Marcus for $40 when it’s usually $400 for instance.
    These days, clothes shopping is not fun. It has become a stressful chore. I was just saying the other day I need to revamp my look. I’m bored of my clothes and never really did a good job of getting a good array of tops which is really important in a good wardrobe. You can wear the same pants 5 days a week if you have the right top and accessories. I’ve never been good at completing the look. I’ve never been good at layering. And it’s not a problem when you can buy new stuff whenever but when you can’t, it’s a challenge. My boyfriend is the best shopping buddy. He is excellent at putting outfits together and always looks better than I do. But we don’t have time to do shopping together anymore :/

  7. Leigh Says:

    My main deterrent from spending money on clothes is that I hate shopping. At my size, it used to be pretty much impossible to find clothes that fit well. It’s gotten far easier lately, so it’s easy to walk out of a store with too many things and now with online shopping…

    I’m getting better at not doing online shopping and I simply don’t go near the stores. Those are my two ways of dispelling the shopping spending.

    I think that they spend time shopping as a social thing? Not sure. Sometimes, I get bored of my wardrobe. I don’t wear sweaters for that much of the year, so I really wear short sleeved and 3/4 length shirts most of the year. I also never really wear shorts except on vacation, though I do sometimes wear skirts. I try to mix up which cardigan I wear with which shirt, which can help a bit.

    Also…Loft has so many sales…it’s so hard to not buy when it’s cute!! Argh. I love that they have a petites section, but now that means I need to stay away from them….

  8. becca Says:

    Everything about clothing depresses me. How I look in off the rack stuff (combined with body image issues), what choices I have available to communicate what type of person I am (department stores = teenybopperwhore OR grandma, with little in between), the social costs of fashion consumption, the fact I can’t afford anything. I hate it all, though I think the emotion is 90%+ owing to the body image stuff.
    I don’t hate people who like clothing, or anything. It’s not inherently shallow. An old high school friend of mine is doing a Master’s degree in historical costuming, and there is a surprising amount of intellectual heft to analyzing period clothing. But it’s really sometimes a huge issue in relating to people (ok, relating to women, mostly. And the ex-boyfriend who was into Hello Kitty, but he was, empirically, impossible to relate to for many reasons…).

    Despite all that, I do love fabric. I miss sewing (though I was never good enough at it that I could get things to look good on me, which might have been an incentive to keep up with it). I get almost as much pure sensory pleasure from good silks and cashmere as I do from good chocolate. It’s just that my joy is not novelty-driven or vanity-driven, and buying clothes twigs my anti-consumption feelings in a way food doesn’t. Which is not necessarily rational, I suppose. But there it is.

  9. Linda Says:

    I feel like I could have written this! (Although, my “fat” clothes and “skinny” clothes sizes are different.) I actually have too much clothing that I don’t wear. Not because I shop a lot (I buy clothes maybe once or twice a year) but because of size changes (depending on how much exercise I’m cramming in) and the fact that I hate getting rid of clothes that still seem wearable.

    For example, I have a *lot* of black layering shirts because each one is styled differently: short sleeve, long sleeve, no sleeve, v-neck, rounded neck, hip-length, waist length, etc. If I’m wearing pants that sit at my true waist (of which I still own a few pairs because they are classic colors and cuts), then tops don’t need to be as long as if the pants have a lower rise. Most of my newer pants have a lower rise and I actually like it better. I’m thinking that it may be worth tracking down a good tailor to adjust the suit pants I have that are a higher rise.

    Why do people clothes shop a lot? I think it’s because they are bored and it’s a social activity. Also, they are likely culturally conditioned to see shopping as a positive activity. I was trying to find a link to a blog entry I recall reading about this cultural conditioning. The author was commenting on the book Overdressed and also made this awesome observation about mall culture and how it plays into the themes in the book. Sadly, I cannot find the link now. :-(

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      rise of pants is another good reason to do shopping all in one fell swoop… it is irritating when the sweater you bought during a high-rise pants season doesn’t cover up your low-rise pants!

  10. chacha1 Says:

    I used to shop for entertainment. But once I got over that, decluttering the closet was the EASIEST thing for me. I think I spent less than $500 on clothes last year, and that included some new shoes. Mostly now I just replace tired underwear, socks, and bras!

    My job doesn’t require suits (or dresses). So I have a couple of businesslike skirts and jackets, but otherwise my work uniform is Lucy Everyday pants (in four colors) and Express Essential shirts (in … 10 colors). In my climate-controlled office I can wear a short-sleeved shirt only with a light sweater over it, so I have a few variations on that theme. Five pairs of work-appropriate shoes that I wear regularly, and three pairs of work-appropriate heels that I wear rarely. For casual Fridays, it’s a pair of black hiking pants from Lucy, most people wear jeans but I don’t like ‘em.

    My entire work wardrobe fits in less than half of my reach-in closet. The rest is devoted to dancewear, basically. :-) Leisure wear (i.e. lounging around the house stuff) is in a small Chinese cabinet under my hanging shirts.

    I’ve been a size 8 since college, and some of my clothes are that old. It’s not that I don’t care about clothes or enjoy shopping for them, it’s just a very low priority.

  11. oilandgarlic Says:

    It’s definitely a social activity for many people, and I think some people are shopping addicts. It boggles my mind when I see friends/family with a stuffed closet yet nothing to wear. I do think that can easily happen, however, if you are not really mindful about shopping. Until I was in my mid-30s, I really shopped mindlessly. Example:I had a pretty J.Crew skirt that sat in my closet for 3 years before I finally found a matching top. Reading fashion magazines definitely make you think you need to shop all the time. And clothes just get worn out and need to be replaced sometimes..

  12. Flavia Says:

    I don’t go clothes shopping a lot — maybe two or three times a year? — nor do I usually buy a lot of things when I do; like some others here, I prefer to buy pieces that will last and that fit with my usual “look.” However, shopping is an activity that I really do enjoy when I do it.

    For me, it’s intellectual and creative: it’s interesting to see what’s “in,” and to file that information away or to match it up with what I’ve seen people wearing — and to assess whether I actually like or dislike that look, and why. It’s also fun to try to figure out what my wardrobe needs, where a given piece might fit into it, and how to get it at the best price. I’m also perfectly happy just shopping as information-gathering, and making a purchase later (sometimes on-line). I think of it as information-gathering and puzzle-solving, and I enjoy both of those things.

  13. First Gen American Says:

    Garbage in = garbage out.

    I have made an effort to shop more so that I buy good fitting quality stuff vs just something quickly out of desperation.

    Also, with women’s clothing what you are looking for isn’t always available when you need it. It’s kind of a crap shoot so now I try to browse. I actually did go shopping in 2 stores today and walked out empty handed because the shoes weren’t comfortable enough and I thought I’d regret the purchase later.

  14. Revanche Says:

    Hate shopping but I shop online semi-regularly (browse 6x/year, buy 2-3x/year) because I am still weeding out terrible purchases from years agone. Or not terrible but picked badly: without an outfit in mind, was a “good enough fit” (not at all a fit), that was totally plain so it wouldn’t clash with other things. Turns out that “not clashing” =/= “matches well”. Hard lessons to learn. I can’t believe I’m this old and still don’t know how to shop really effectively.

    But if I have a specific target, that tends to make life easier… except when standby stores change their sizing, then I have to calculate whether it’s worth the tailor’s bill. Learning to get things tailored has actually forced me to learn to buy for quality 97% of the time instead of just 10% – who wants to waste at least 1/3 again the cost of the item if it’s only going to fall apart?

  15. QueSera Says:

    I hate clothes shopping (shopping in general really) so much that when I found out BR work clothes fit I just started returning there. I never made it to Anne Taylor or Nordstrom (though in interview season a couple years ago I did go and everything fit me wrong…at least the button up shirts and pants that is). Once I stop getting spit up on I need to find casual clothes. I’ve neglected all forms of clothes shopping for about ten years and everything is falling apart. I can’t wait to get back to shopping only when I need a certain item! I have no tops in general. I need cardigans and anything that’s not a wool sweater pretty much for work and not a t-shirt for home. I hate top shopping so much I’ve started looking for dresses! Just easier. Yuck, more shopping to go.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      You sound like you’re shaped like I am– I have some BR clothing too that fits beautifully (from the same conference trip where I bought a bunch of Brooks Brothers), but I don’t have easy access to BR, or I would have more.

      Ann Taylor pants are made for people without curves. I think Nordstrom is overpriced.

      Try the Loft outlet if there’s one near you and go straight back to the clearance. You can get a whole closet full of tops for very little money in one stop.

      • QueSera Says:

        There is a Loft nearby I’ll try it out and try to be more adventurous in what I try on. I usually avoid any frill which leaves precious little to try.

  16. rented life Says:

    Clothes shopping it hit or miss as far as finding something. I always do NY and Co for pants because their petite actually is the right length. I know we’re supposed to get clothes tailored but if I have to get it tailored I’ll never wear it, it’s that simple. I also get coupons from them often so that helps. I do enjoy looking at trends (and making fun of some of them), the new colors that come out, etc. But I don’t shop every season, only when I either have allowance that would allow it (that’s usually spent on fun tops, etc. not necessities), or if I need something. My black pants were worn thin, so I just bought a new pair. I’ve never had a clothing budget, clothing is something you either need to buy (holes in socks, etc) or if there’s actually money to spare. I’ve never understood having a clothing budget or spending loads of cash on clothes you’ll never wear. Most of what I can’t wear now is because of weight gain. (The rest is because we didn’t get a cold winter so I didn’t wear my usual heavy sweaters.) And mom, my main shopping buddy, would always say “if you don’t love it…” which is what I repeat when I’m alone. Love = wear a lot. Slight hesitation usually means you won’t.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My pair of black pants that I got to replace the pair that is wearing out has been sitting unhemmed in my closet for more than 2 years. Embarrassing. I need to do that. Maybe over Spring Break.

  17. Z Says:

    For 2013 I decided to shop like a man. Found a pair of pants I liked and it was on sale so I bought 3. Now I wear those and some kind of stylish winter boots and some kind of top. Every day. And it is not even boring, it is relaxing.

  18. Carnival of Personal Finance #401: March madness | NZ Muse Says:

    [...] Madness: compulsive clothes shopping. What’s up with that? Nicole from Nicole and Maggie: Grumpy Rumblings  doesn’t get regular clothes shopping [...]


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