In order to build a great wardrobe we need to know how to become smarter, more disciplined shoppers. Here are three rules of thumb that will give us the biggest bang for our buck and make us look good at the same time. For starters we need to buy the best quality clothes we can afford, but what does “quality” mean?
Clothes are like men: If you’re looking for “Mr. Right Now,” by definition, he won’t be around next year. The same goes for clothes.
THINK QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Buy clothes that will look good and keep their shape for years to come; the stitching will hold up, and the fabric doesn’t outline every lump and bump on our body.
I’m reminded of what my friend, Mark, said about a good-sized woman, wearing a thin, ankle-length white sweater: “From behind it makes her look like a dented refrigerator.” While it wasn’t the kindest thing he could have said, he was right. If she’d bought a sweater in a heavier weight fabric—and in a darker color—she would have looked 1,000 percent better, plus she’d have gotten more wears for her money.
Generally speaking natural fibers like cotton, linen, wool and silk are better looking garments than manmade “poly” fibers. They drape, hang and hold up better. That said, some natural fibers blended with spandex look great as well.
If it’s not good quality, don’t buy it, even if it “seems” like a bargain.
I waisted $11 on a t-shirt that was literally Mr. Right Now. By the end of the first wearing, the black dye had come off on my face, neck and chest, and I could see light through the fabric where the black had been. I knew better, but I was trying to be more frugal. On the flip side… We all know not every designer label can justify its outta’ sight price tag.
Somewhere between cheap and ka-ching, ka-ching are good quality clothes.
I love this quality sweater from Nordstrom’s! I’ve included it below.
DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF?
If it doesn’t look good on you and make you feel great about yourself, don’t buy it. Whether it’s a blouse, pants or something you’d wear to the gym, only buy things that are flattering on you. If you’re not sure… Don’t buy it. Like buying cheap clothes, you’ll be throwing your money away because clothes you don’t love… You won’t wear.
BE A REPEAT CUSTOMER
We all want more brands that look great on women over 50. That doesn’t mean we might not find something that looks fabulous on us at Forever 21, but… probably not.
I’m a firm believer we teach people how to treat us, and clothings brands aren’t any different.
If we want better quality clothes that look great on us then we need to support brands we’ve bought clothes from—in the past—that made us look great and were worth the money. Chances are those brands are still making the kind of clothes we like. Most of my clothes are from the same handful of brands, because I know their clothes look good on me. The real issue for me is whether I can afford them, but…
I’d rather have fewer clothes of higher quality.
Here are some quality brands that aren’t the cheapest, but they’re not ka-ching, ka-ching clothes either: Anthropologie carries lots of different brands at varying price points; JCrew, Gap (Sharon Stone has worn their clothes to the Oscars twice), Loft and Nordstrom’s always have a wide variety of quality clothes.
I’ve put together some sweaters so you can compare quality and prices.
Oh, how I wish I could wear wool. That navy JCrew sweater with stars is just wonderful. And love the Mr. Right vs Mr. Right Now comparison. Perfect. Could not agree more re: spending a bit more to get something classic that I will actually wear for more than one season.
Hi Laurel, I was hoping someone would like my Mr. Right Now analogy! I love that stars sweater so much! Depending on the blend, I find some “merino” wools to be scratchy, but for me, cashmere is not. Cashmere is one of those things where you get what you pay for. Cheap cashmere pills instantly and looks bad after a few wearings, but really nice cashmere lasts a lifetime. You just have to store it in a plastic bag to keep the moths away. xoxox, Brenda
Oh, my, now I’m seeing stars… I love that sweater! You’re so right about quality vs. quantity. Living this small, I have weeded out all of my impulse/bargain clothes and wear the same well-constructed and flattering items constantly. Excellent reminder, and advice for future shopping forays!
Hi Donna, Isn’t that a great sweater? It has style!! I can imagine it with jeans, a white shirt tucked underneath, collar out and cuffs turned back… or not… or dressier with dark tailored pants and some gold earrings. I had a tiny closet when I lived at the Little House for 10 years, so I know what you mean. Living small helps us make better choices about the things we surround ourselves with and the clothes we wear. xoxox, Brenda
Donna and Brenda, you are both SO right about how living small makes you rethink your priorities, and that surrounding ourselves with less BUT better makes sense! (And “cents”!) I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by the late interior designer, Andreé Putman:”I love America, and I love American women. But there is one thing that deeply shocks me – American closets. I cannot believe one can dress well when you have so much.” Truth!
I’m a fat woman. I’m working on losing weight, but it’s a slow, painful process. Last year I decided to stop waiting until I lost weight to buy nice clothes. Eileen Fisher is one of the few companies I’ve found that make attractive, stylish clothes in plus sizes. Almost everything is made of cotton, linen wool or silk. Most of the blouses, tunics and sweaters are long enough to cover my butt (one of my least attractive features). The individual pieces are generally simple and straightforward with no unnecessary embellishment. I’m the kind of woman who likes to accessorize with jewelry and scarves, so simple and straightforward suits me perfectly. Each season, they introduce several new colours that are meant to be worn together. I invested in four pairs of pants, two silk shells, three wool pull-over sweaters, one long cardigan and two jackets, all in the new colours they introduced. They can be combined endlessly to create about three dozen looks.I haven’t worn everything yet, but I have had nothing but rave reviews for the ones I have worn.
Hi Squeak!! Always love seeing you here!! Thanks for sharing. I’m excited to hear this, and BRAVA on your smart choices to lose weight and buy nice clothes! Self-care is so important and it starts with self-esteem and feeling better about ourselves no matter how old we are or how much we weigh. You should take ME shopping! Eileen Fisher makes great quality clothes so I know you got timeless pieces you can wear again and again, regardless of whether you lose more weight. If you do, you can always have them altered. There should be a tailor in your neighborhood, ask Eileen Fisher, even a good dry cleaners may have alterations. I’m excited for you to wear and enjoy them, and since you know how to accessorize, you can changeup your outfits each season! BTW… Hardly anyone has a great butt, even if they’re on the thin side. Even if they do, I’m tired of seeing women in vacuum-packed, leggings with their butt showing. In your new Eileen Fischer pieces you will always be better dressed than 98% of most women. Smart, smart, smart!!! You’ve made my day, Squeak!! Sending much love and blessings to you, Brenda
Thank you, Brenda – you’re always so kind! Much love and blessings to you, too!
Thank you, Squeak. It’s easy to be kind to someone who’s nice. xoxox, B
Yes, buy good quality and keep it for ever. We are consuming too much and ruining the earth and the sea. When you buy something think will I wear it at least thirty times? If not, don’t buy. Think sustainability.
Caroline… That’s the word, sustainability. Brilliant!! Only quality lets us do that. Thanks so much for your awesome contribution!! Brenda
Love your clever play on Mr. Right vs Mr. RightNOW! I have three rules: I have to love it; it has to fit w/ my closet and my body; and price is less important than value. Nowadays, if I find something that fits all three criteria, which is rarer and rarer, I try to buy it in a couple different versions.
Mithra, Your rules are my rules as well. Beautifully stated. I ordered a pair of shoes online. When they arrive, if they fit my skinny feet, I will probably order them in another color. Narrow shoes are so difficult to find. I’d be crazy not to. Thank you! xoxox, Brenda