Dealing with a Tiny Clothing Budget

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

OMG I cannot wait for Friday so we can finally talk about the slit heard 'round the world from Angelina Jolie. Did you know her right leg now has it's own Twitter feed. I kid you not.

But today, can we talk budgets? I get approached by various companies hoping to do a review or giveaway or whatever, but a lot of times I turn them down because their product is out of what I would spend on something. I know my audience, and mostly, my audience is 20- and 30-something moms that have smallish clothing budgets. You're probably not going to drop $200 on a pair of lambskin gloves, am I right? Besides, it was a LAMB. Someone skinned a LAMB.

I feel your pain when it comes to budget. We all know by now that my husband and I were basically destitute when we first got married. He went to school and worked two jobs while I waited for my immigration papers to go through. It was a dark, dark period in my life, during which I did uncharacteristic things like scrapbooked and went for walks.


But hello, we're not millionaires. And when I spend too much on clothes, I definitely get a stern look from my hubs, but it doesn't last long because later he'll get hungry and literally doesn't know how to peel an orange without my help. So I try to keep the monthly total as low as possible to spare our marriage and save me from a fleeting stern look. If you're trying to do the same, shall we talk bargain hunting tips?

-Buy accessories. I think I say this a lot. A huge cocktail ring is seriously like, $4 at F21. It'll make all the difference in a plain outfit and it's totally worth the one dollar bills you have floating around the bottom of your diaper bag. Wanna know what I do? I empty out my pockets into my vanity when I'm getting ready for bed at night and then use all the ones that I've accumulated to buy pretty things. Of course, buying everything with ones kinda makes you look like a stripper, but at least a stripper with really good taste in cocktail rings.

-Hit the sales racks. Most stores start clearing out winter stuff for summer inventory by the end of January and February, which is ludicrous because there is definitely still snow on the ground where i live. I've scored tons of great deals on jackets, sweaters and boots by waiting for a bit to buy. No, seriously. Once my husband tried on a jacket he loved, but we couldn't justify the $100 price tag. Come March, it was $15 so I bought it and looked like a high roller. So check out the clearance section... just watch out for the freak sizes. WHO is a size 00. WHO!?

-Give yourself a budget. So I like to shop. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. But I don't always blow a huge amount of money on an entirely new wardrobe in one day. In fact, that's never happened -- you know that a lot of the stuff I have is literally years old. Instead, I usually see what I can score for under $30 or $40 and that way, I'm pushed to find better deals and I get in less trouble.

-Save up for big sales. I love the Memorial Day sale in Park City. But I don't want to give the hubs a heart attack, so I usually restrict my spending in May. That way, I do less of a walk of shame when heading back with my purchases because It's about what I would spend in a month anyway.

-Take inventory. Whenever I complain that I have nothing to wear, I need a complete reality check. We talked about wardrobes having good bones, right? Check out your closet and deal with the stuff you had. Not in an annoying "Frugalistashopyourclosetrecessionchic" way, because that makes me barf. But what about taking an afternoon when your kids are out of the house, blasting the Bon Jovi and going through your closet? Actually try stuff on and see how you can mix and match what you already have to come up with new combos. You can also get rid of old stuff. I'll take a bare closet filled with awesome staples over a packed closet filled with crap that doesn't fit any day.

Confession time: sometimes, when I get home from a shopping trip with like, a new scarf, I try stuff on in a weird, teen movie makeover montage way. Try it!

-Swap with friends. Every magazine ever is going on about clothing swaps with friends, but that's not what I mean. Mostly because I don't want to give away my clothes, ever. But I will literally let anyone borrow my clothes and shoes. Like, pretend you're invited to a work cocktail party with your husband. If you don't already have a cocktail dress in your closet, you probably don't want to spend major dough on something you'll wear once. Check with your same-sized friends to see if anyone else does. I'm always happy to lend out my duds to save a friend from budget blowout.

-Invest in the good stuff. Buying a $10 pair of jeans is great -- if you plan on wearing them once in a while. But if you're a die-hard jeans lover and wear them every day, it's best to spend more on a better pair than to buy five pairs of crap quality pants. I invest in daily-wear shoes, but I'll definitely bargain-hunt on a pair of crazy heels.

Is this doable? I feel like there's nothing earth-shattering here (except for the part where I divulged that I listen to Bon Jovi when nobody is home), but sometimes it's worth the reminder that a tiny budget doesn't mean you can go shopping in your South Park pajama pants, (seriously WHY) .

Although I will admit that I totally went to the store to buy toilet paper in my workout clothes today. It was gross and sweaty and I don't want to talk about it.


Natalie said...

all great advice! And friggin' hilarious! Hahah! Love me some stripper cocktail rings, too! ;)

Alicia said...

This is one of the most realistic, doable, relatable fashion posts I have ever read. I feel empowered. =D

Queen Mommy said...

I have had such great luck finding things at Goodwill...especially the one in my tiny home town (Hello, white down puffer jacket with vertical seams for $5). Also, there is a really great consignment shop close to where I live now that I check out if I'm looking for something specific. My husband bought an entirely new wardrobe there after losing 60 lbs several years ago.

Jae said...

I like consignments stores! I had issues with going thrift shopping at first and I feel like consignment was a good way to ease into it, you know.

Yay Alicia - get it girlll!

Natalie, stripper rings are the only rings for me.

ChiChi said...

Great advice! I totally agree about the closet "shopping"...or trying on, rather. If I seem to have a free afternoon where the kids are napping nicely I definitely go through my closet and try clothes on in a new way, or dig and find some old things I forgot I had. Ahhh....teen movie montage moments...that's the best way to describe it.

Wendy said...

Friday can't get here soon enough. I can't WAIT to hear what you have to say about Angelina!

Rudy said...

Oh wow those are very beautiful .Your excitement is clearly justified! I want to tell youtrue religion shorts is

my favorite and hope you can come in and see.

Jamie said...

Jae - I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago when looking for suggestions on what to wear for a family photo. I'm now a regular visitor - your advice is great AND you crack me up!!
Have to tell you that after reading a previous post about "mom hair" I had to say I was guilty of the messy bun more days than not. Thanks to you I tried out the sideways french braid and got a ton of compliments!!

Jae said...

Oh I LIVE in the sideways french braid. It's tooooo easy to not do on a daily basis and it's so cute I wanna die. lol Thanks for coming back for more, Jamie!

DawnB said...

Clearances are the BEST!!! I went to Kohl's (which is way pricy for me but when they get rid of stuff, it can be amazing!!) It happened to be a day they were giving an extra 40% off the "already low clearance prices". Plus, I had a $10 Kohl's cash certificate AND a coupon for an extra 20% off (if you'd spent $100. Re-fitting hubby for work clothes managed that just fine). Long story too long: $99 Lauren Conrad boots (OMG the Heels!!!!) for $0.00.

Sarees said...

I like consignments stores.I had issues with going thrift shopping at first and I feel like consignment was a good way to ease into it...

Shawna said...

Totally used this advice yesterday, and it was awesome. Found a brand new dress I wanted from New York & Co, with tags on, half off the thrift store's price for a total of $4.50. Score! Also got trouser jeans like you recommended, and man, my legs finally look long and no long crotch syndrome! Thanks!

My sister in law is a 00...sometimes wish I could slap her upside the head when she says she's fat...

Anonymous said...

I only know one person whos a size 00... and she's 11...


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