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Life of Colleen: Wardrobe: Price v. cost

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Wardrobe: Price v. cost
posted by Colleen Shirazi on Monday, September 29, 2008 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)


I went shopping the other day, because I needed a camisole. I maintain camisoles are fundamental to a good wardrobe, and are generally underrated. It's not easy finding good camisoles, either, though it's way too easy finding mediocre ones.

Got the camisole pictured above, in an ivory color. While I was at it, I tried on some odd sale items which came to hand. I'm a firm believer in trying things on whenever possible (was very slow to start buying clothes online).

It occurred to me anew just how much clothing there is out there. Much of it is thanks to China, which I don't mean as a put-down. Every country that starts out as a junk-meister ends up producing better stuff later on: Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Brazil, Taiwan and so forth. China is already producing nicer clothes. And they're adding their own touch, in the silk blends being made.

It's...a glut. And so, when I tried on two really nice sweaters, which so worked on me, and were but $25 apiece...I turned them both down. I have sweaters. I don't need sweaters. What I need are shoes (one or two pairs), boots (one pair), and a fall/winter skirt. And a camisole, which I bought.

The prices are painfully low right now, and the supply is bounteous, by anyone's measure, some of the stores were packed...that's the best time to shop, when it's something you need, and simultaneously the best time to say no. Because there are better items out there, perhaps with a higher price tag, but definitely better. You could end up with tons and tons of so-so clothes, otherwise.

My guide is as follows:
  1. The cost per wear should be factored into the cost of the item. Where are you going to wear it? How often? What does it go with? In short--what are you going to do with it?

  2. The cost of cleaning should be factored into the cost of the item. Must you dryclean it? Must you hand-wash it? Your time has a monetary value too. If it can be machine-washed, that's easily worth $40-$50, conservatively. If it can be tumble-dried, so much the better (I prefer line-drying myself, but we get a rainy season). Ironing is a factor. I try to keep a balance between clothes which need ironing and those which don't.

  3. If it's a cheap piece of crap that falls apart before the earth can make it around the sun, the cost of replacing it is a factor: gas, time, wear and tear on your car, et cetera.

  4. If it's trendy, don't buy it. I mean styles do change...say, there are lots of 3/4-sleeved shirts and sweaters on the market now. I happen to like them, since they're great for bracelets, and there is a cheapskate factor of stretching the seasonal can don them when long sleeves would be too hot, or short sleeves too cold...but if you hate them, don't buy them. If you're one of those people who won't wear them when the "fashion" changes, don't buy many. I could give a hang, myself, so I'm planning to buy some for bracelet days.

  5. And, finally, don't give yourself a headache over it. Sometimes, something will fly in the face of all rules, yet will be perfect for you. So buy it, and enjoy it without qualm.


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