Cheap clothes aren’t always a value
We’ve both been complaining for months about needing new work clothes. My pants are about 5 years old, and many of my dress shirts are just too baggy. Stacie needs more skirts and light sweaters. This weekend we decided to go shopping at the Leesburg Corner Outlets, which is about 45 minutes away (in Virginia) from our Rockville, MD home.
Normally we just drop by the local malls, or Kohl’s, for cheap clothes, but I’ve learned that cheap clothes just don’t last long, and don’t usually fit well. When I say cheap, I mean $15-20 dress shirts (not on sale), and $30 dress pants (also not on sale). Also, we can NEVER find professional clothes for Stacie in her size. She’s a tiny girl, and can never find anything even in the petite sections of stores like JCPenney. She’s had to resort to shopping in the teen section, and has even bought 2 kid’s bathing suits (which surprisingly fit well). However, the teen sections don’t carry very professional clothing.
We’ve toyed with the idea of switching to places like Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Ann Taylor for her clothes, but just can’t fathom spending $80-120 for clothes. That’s where the outlets come into play.
We’ve gone to the Leesburg outlets a number of times in the past, but we’ve always pinned ourselves to strict budgets. We’ve always balked when we saw the price tags, even when the clothes fit great. Most of the times, we never even tried on the clothes! But this weekend was different. I was tired of skimping on clothes, only to need new pants in another year or two because the last pair fell apart or stretched out. I don’t have this problem with the expensive pants I bought in college for about $80. They have held up for 8 years now with no signs of wear and tear.
So this weekend, I gave ourselves a $500 budget. That sounds like a giant amount for a single day of clothes shopping, and it really is for us. Looking through Quicken, we’ve spent about $800 on clothing each year for the last 4.5 years. That doesn’t count Christmas gifts or other gifts (like Stacie’s $200+ Coach handbag I got for her birthday this year); just plain old trips to the store for shopping. Both Stacie and I hate shopping, so we avoid these trips like the plague until our clothes are so worn out that we just have to go shopping for replacements.
Generally, when we find something that fits Stacie well, which is rare, we get it (as long as it’s on sale). For example, while on a paid conference trip to San Francisco last November, I brought Stacie along (at our own cost). We stopped in a Benetton near Fisherman’s Wharf, and they had some pant sales. Stacie tried on 3 pairs that fit amazingly. We walked out with all 3 pairs for $100. Each pair was originally $80 each.
This weekend was mostly to shop for me. As I mentioned, I need dress pants and shirts. We ended up getting the following:
- Geoffrey Beene: 1 dress shirt, 1 dress pant for $67.18
- Van Heusen: 2 dress shirts for $32.53 (ok, all done with shirts)
- Factory Brand Shoes: 1 pair black dress shoes, 1 pair black walking shoes for $112.32. I wasn’t as pleased with the prices, but my shoes are falling apart. I walk to and from the metro on most days, so I need new walking shoes. Also, I need something less conspicuous while wearing dress pants. My light gray New Balance shoes don’t match so well.
- Bass Outlet: 1 sweater for $19.94. It’s a really cute blue sweater in a style that Stacie hasn’t had before.
- Calvin Klein: 1 sweater for $26.24. I hate shopping at brand name stores like CK, Abercrombie & Fitch and Polo, but the sweater fits Stacie really well, and was really discounted.
- Ann Taylor Outlet: 2 skirts for $62.98. I think Ann Taylor has become my new favorite store for “Stacie clothes”. They have her sizes and nice styles. I won’t shop at the regular store because the prices on these clothes are insane.
Total Cost: about $320. Well under our $500 limit.
As for our old clothes, we’ll be pulling them from the shelves, drawers and closets, take pictures and itemize them for donation to Goodwill. I want to cover my butt for taxes, which is why I’m cataloging each donation (in batches, not one-by-one). I’m excited as I have about 6 pairs of old shoes to donate, including 2 pairs of 6-year-old Kenneth Coles that have just run their course. I would hold a yard sale, but for the time involved, and the stories I’ve read about others’ experiences, I’ll just donate it all and save the hassle.
What are your shopping stories? Any stores you absolutely MUST frequent? How do your cheap clothes hold up against more expensive counterparts?