The 2012 Clothing Experiment

My (blurry) face: not representative of the joy I actually felt when I saw this dress on me. Apologies for the crappy dressing room shot!

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I wouldn’t buy any new clothes (with a few exceptions). Instead, I would thrift clothes, buy vintage clothes from re-sellers, and/or attempt to sew my own. The exceptions are underwear (duh), Converse (double duh), and leggings. Because it’s kind of impossible to find good used leggings.

My main motivation was to save money—so I could spend it on important things like my hair. You might laugh at that, but the one time I colored my own hair was so unsatisfactory that I basically just cried for 3 solid weeks until I could have my stylist fix it. Anyway!

The other reasons were:

1) I realized every year I end up with a closet full of clothes in which I only really wear half of it. Since most of my clothing is cheap (designer prices have never made sense to me, and let’s face it—designers generally don’t make anything over size 10), I would end up buying 3x what I need; the same dress, tank top, tee, and skirt in 5 colors. And then only wear 1 of each.

2) Pajamas are my crack. I seriously buy new pajamas about every 2 months. And since I went on a GIGANTIC pj buying spree before my surgery, I don’t need any new ones for about 5 more years.

3) I figured it made environmentally friendly sense. I’m no eco-crusader, but outside of my clothing, which I still (mostly) buy from morally irresponsible companies like Old Navy, Gap, Victoria’s Secret, and H&M, I try my best to purchase from local retailers. So, why not make a move to make sure at least 90% of my clothing is bought locally too?

It was easy to stick to this at the beginning of the year, because I really didn’t feel like shopping. But it’s become more difficult now that I’m regularly out and about. It’s also a challenge. You have to be VERY PATIENT when thrifting—a trait which I am honestly so so so so terrible at.

Other issues: my still-healing (yes, even at 6 months) areas are tender enough that I can’t yet wear jeans. Tights are a challenge too. So I’m restricted to skirts, dresses, and leggings. Well, and sweats—but I’m not the kind of girl who goes out in sweats because I’m just. Not. Even yoga pants are out, as I can only wear them for a limited amount of time before the pressure is too much. Guess where all the rad thrift store skirts and dresses go, guys? VERY PATIENT Etsy and vintage sellers who get there before me, that’s who. That said, I’ve still scored some pretty amazing finds.

I ran into trouble though, last week when I hit the Capitol Hill Garage Sale and ended up at Pretty Parlor. “Pretty Parlor is safe! It has a lot of vintage stuff!” or so I thought. Until I saw the dress.

The dress has black and white stripes on top and a plain black skirt. It was cotton, and looked comfy. But best of all, it was a size XL—so I grabbed it and brought it with me into the dressing room even though it clearly wasn’t vintage.

And then I tried it on. Girls—you know that moment? When you try on something and it fits perfectly and it’s oh-so-pretty and you imagine yourself at all sorts of things, wearing it, and picking out what shoes you have that match it, and jewelry, and…well. Yeah. It was PERFECT. I mean, I couldn’t have made a more perfect dress. And it was $48. Which is kind of a steal for the PERFECT dress.

SO I started rationalizing how I could get away with it. “It’s a small designer, I’m sure!”, as I glanced at the label and knew it wasn’t vintage, or handmade. (I looked it up later, and yup. They are a company that uses factories abroad to make their clothes).  But still. I just. HAD TO BUY IT. I did. And it was totally worth it because later, not 1, but 2 ladies that I look to as style icons told me I looked amazing. OMG. I am so vain. Sometimes, I really am.

Anyway! I’m still proud I at least bought it from a local store. So there’s that. But the problem is, this purchase has now opened the damn floodgates. I find myself heading over to Threadless and coveting one of their new dresses, and gazing at all the photos Velouria keeps putting on their Facebook page, and wondering what’ll happen when I need a new swimsuit for the CA trip I’m taking this year? Basically, I’m becoming an expert at rationalizing ways in which I could make more “new” clothing purchases.

It’s bad, you guys. But I mean, this is a rule I imposed upon myself. So who cares if I break it, right? Only I care.

One thing this has taught me is that I previously spent an awful lot of money on clothing I didn’t really need. It’s June 15, and I’ve bought 1 dress, 4 pairs of leggings and 1 pair of Wonder Woman Converse new; 2 skirts, 4 tee shirts, and a pair of ballet flats that I thrifted; and a handful of awesome stuff I got at a clothing swap. I’m estimating all that cost around $225. By this time last year, I’m sure I had brought home 4-6 bags of new stuff from downtown shopping sprees that totaled that much per bag. Seriously. This imposed rule is doing wonders for my (slowly shrinking) hospital-earned credit card debt.

So while I am going to continue to be thrifty and try to stick to smaller local shops, I’m also not going to beat myself up if I try on something new and I want to buy it—remembering that I’d rather have 1 special thing than 10 tank tops in a rainbow of colors.


2 responses to “The 2012 Clothing Experiment

  • sugarcombsalon

    I think you made the right choice. Under $50 or the perfect dress that you look amazing in? That is CHEAP! And as any woman knows, the perfect clothing item does not come along every day unless you are built like a hanger. I’ve managed to avoid shopping this year, but mostly because I don’t want to spend a million dollars on maternity wear. But since I took my clothing hiatus for me, I have spent an awful lot on new cute baby stuff.

    • Amie

      Ha! Yes, I’m sure you’re clothing budget has all gone to baby things, lady. I am not surprised — and I would be the same way, I’m sure. I find it hard enough to not buy a bunch of clothing for my friends’ babies! ❤

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