Clothes Shopping 1, 2, 3: When a Bargain is Not a Bargain

Many women I know love to shop in groups, but not me. Shopping stresses me out as it is, without adding a bunch of people to the trip. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting together with girlfriends. Lunch out maybe, or a nice frothy cappuccino. Anyone free this week?

But finding well-fitting clothes is difficult for me. I sometimes wonder if my correct clothing size only lives in Never, Never Land. Italy has a lot to do with it, for sure. No petite or tall sizes here, and I definitely need the former. I have a small, short-waisted body with narrow shoulders. So finding clothes that both fit and look well can become an all-day affair. The only way I cope is to have Hubby drop me off alone for a few hours.

But I think I figured out 3 clothing errors that, in my quest to live simply, I was making. Perhaps you are too.

Number One: Spending too little.

I like saving money, and think it’s wise. But I’m gradually learning that sometimes thrift can become too thrifty.

I also like Italy’s famous outdoor markets. A stroll through town, a chance to meet friends, and perhaps have coffee together. Can’t beat that, right?

But most market stands don’t have fitting stalls. which usually means climbing up into their truck — freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer. And with inadequate mirrors, or none at all.

Sadly, our outdoor markets have also gone steadily downhill. Once upon a time, they carried good quality at great prices. But now it’s mostly made in China junk, all overpriced and badly sized. Sure they have prices lower than most shops. But real savings, I’ve learned, means getting your money’s worth. Stuff that doesn’t fit or falls apart after a few washings does not fit the bill. No matter how much I’ve saved.

The only way I was ever going to get decent clothing was to start shopping elsewhere. Now I mostly only buy socks, underwear, and nightgowns at market. Thankfully, we have two lingerie stands that still carry good, made in Italy quality at reasonable prices.

Number Two: Settling for less than best.

Again, market was a big culprit. Markets here seem to cater specifically to either very young women and girls, or elderly ones. What about those of us in-between? Slinky garments made for super-thin figures don’t work. And neither do matronly garments and sturdy oxfords.

I’m a big fan of aging gracefully. And part of that, for me, means dressing my age. Stylish, age-appropriate clothing helps me feel at ease and good about myself. And like the youngish grandmother of nine that I am. I would feel silly trying to dress like a teenager. Yet I don’t want to dress like an 80-year old when I’m only 58 either!

Number Three: Over-simplifying.

After really getting into simplifying over the last few years, I (sadly) realized that I had tried to go too simple with my wardrobe. Not that my basic values have changed. I still don’t want a closet stuffed full of clothes I’ll never wear. I find having few well-fitting, coordinated outfits to choose from much less stressful than sifting through a bunch of inappropriate stuff that I don’t really like or doesn’t fit. Or that is unsuitable for either my surroundings or climate.

Number Four: Unsuitable clothing.

That unsuitable aspect pinpointed another way I was making poor clothing choices. Our move south from northern Italy created part of this problem. After seeing that my collection of gorgeous winter sweaters had to go, I tried to make-do with long-sleeve t-shirts, and always felt too casual, under-dressed, and too cold! Settling for less than best, inappropriate clothing, just to save money meant, in the end, unsatisfying purchases. And I continued shopping, hoping to fill the void or remedy errors.

So over the last couple winters, I’ve purchased more suitable garments. Several good-quality cardigans and button-up shirts, and they’ve made all the difference. With their classic /not too classic look, I can dress them up or down. And with a long-sleeve t-shirt underneath, topped off with a cardigan, they make the perfect combo for our weird warm winter days that often start out cold.

I would boil my Clothes Shopping 1, 2, 3 lesson down to this: Frugality makes wise shopping sense. But thrift, which sometimes border on miserliness, does not.

As I recently read at How We Do Money, “Frugality should be about maximizing the happiness and use you gain from the things you do buy, not refusing to buy anything altogether,” (Why I Spent More on Clothes This Year Than…Ever). I would add that frugality should not be about patting ourselves on the back for spending so little if, in the end, we’ve made a poor purchase.

True frugality means wise purchases that lead to less shopping! And it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

[Images ©TheScorziellos-Sheila]

8 thoughts on “Clothes Shopping 1, 2, 3: When a Bargain is Not a Bargain

  1. i’m so guilty of this which is why i’ve accumulated so many pieces of clothing that i never wear. now, i tend to focus on buying quality pieces that are versatile enough to wear at home and while out. My wardrobe has really been scaled down and what I do have is worn on the regular. The items tend to cost me more because I prioritize quality over quantity.

    Great post Sheila!


    1. Thanks Jenny! That’s what I’m trying to do too. I’m learning that shopping re-education is hard. But as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Let’s just keep plugging away at it!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s absolutely a learning process. I catch myself trying to take the “easy” way out sometimes and just buy something because it’ll fill some immediate need. But, i’m becoming far better at reminding myself that clothing needs to fit well and be of the best possible quality – I wont bring it into my closet unless it somehow deserves to be there.


  2. When Walmart first opened in our city, I bought a red sweater. Loved how it looked and the fit was good. I washed it and it went all out of shape. I wore it around the house and it fell apart within a year.

    I compared that sweater with the ones I bought at Sears and The Bay. I have sweaters from both those stores that are 10 years old and still look terrific. I agree with you that trying to save too much money on clothes is not worth it. Great post.


    1. It’s so annoying when that happens! I always end up feeling cheated. But at least I learning how and where to shop for quality. Saving money is great, but it’s no savings if we’re not getting stuff that will last. Enjoy those old (but beautiful) sweaters, Belle!


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