Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Clothing priorities

A couple weeks ago, I bought the most adorable royal blue fall jacket at Target. It was on sale and not terribly expensive, and I was pleased with my purchase. You can see why:

I love shopping for clothes at Target--they have such good deals and I always feel virtuous. And I love Isaac Mizrahi. And nothing makes me happier than one of those bright orange clearance stickers proclaiming that the very item I have just fallen in love with is now only $3.98--which is, as we all know, practically free.

What I'm saying is, there's a reason that Target is Swistle's boyfriend. And if they ever break up, I'll be next in line to take over.

I've bought more great clothes at Target than I can count, so I certainly won't list them all, but a few that stand out: a pale blue toggle button coat, a flannel winter dress, a fabulous gray sweater dress, and a fantastic purple party dress. Apparently I do especially well with winter clothes and dresses there.

But this lovely fall coat got me thinking: What clothes do I spend money on, and what do I only buy when it's cheap? Ignoring the fact that with the whole Weight Watchers thing, I currently try to buy only cheap clothes because they won't fit for long, here's the stuff that I'm willing to spend real money on:
  • Wedding dress (duh)
  • Coats (although, as mentioned, I don't HAVE to spend a lot on coats)
  • Jeans that fit really well
  • High-quality sweaters
  • Leather boots
And then there are some types of clothing that I just refuse to spend tons of money on:
  • Gym clothes (good running shoes excluded)
  • Pajamas
  • T-shirts
  • Casual dresses
  • Capris
What about you? Are there certain items that you feel are worth a high-end investment, and others that you refuse to buy if they aren't on the clearance rack? How do you decide what falls into which category?


  1. I love Target, but I'm pretty picky about the kinds of fabric I choose because a lot of clothes I've bought pill quickly. But I agree with you about what to spend money on. I spent a lot of money on quality coats and work wear like black dresses and they have lasted me YEARS. I also spend money on gym shoes because I like the way Nike Shox feel on my feet and knees as opposed to cheaper versions.

  2. I refuse to buy cheap sweaters. I used to be a big fan of Old Navy sweaters but the quality has really slipped and they quickly turn into ill-fitting sacks. Not that I like super tight clothes, but they need some shape, ya know?
    This kind of extends to cold-weather clothing in general. Since the items have the added purpose of keeping me warm, I tend to want better quality (AKA more expensive) fall/winter clothes.
    I REFUSE to spend alot of money on summer clothes. There is usually very little material anyway, and I buy cheap at Target and Bob's. Do you have a Bob's near you? That place seriously rocks.
    I like today's question!

  3. I get almost all of my clothes at Target because I go there almost every week (I get to a mall maybe 3 times a year). I almost always have a price in my head that I'm willing to spend, and unless something I really want will last me years, I won't go over that price point.

    Things I won't pay much for include tank tops, t-shirts, skirts, sandals and casual shoes.

    Things I'll shell out some dough for: work clothing, boots and coats (although my winter coat is a $40 red peacoat from Target that I LOVE). And now that I've lost 10 lbs. and none of my jeans really fit, I might spend more than $35 on a pair.

  4. My Mom taught me a great trick a few years back: If it's classic--splurge, if it's trendy--go cheap. She calls stores like Forever 21 & Old Navy "disposable clothes." Cheap but get you through that year's trend. Current example: I just bought yellow tights, a ruffled blouse, and a teal dress (no judging! 80's for Halloween!) for a total of $35 at F21.

    I will not spent too much $ on a party dress. I may wear it twice, so spending $100+ on them just kills me. I am super-lucky in that my friends and I have a dress-go-round so we've always got "new" party dresses!

    Also, I cannot buy cheap shoes. Just can't. I think my college years of blisters and sore ankles traumatized me. I admittedly have a thing for shoes (mea culpable...) but in the past few years I've really gone for quality and not quantity. This year, I sold my first-born child for a pair of black Calvin Klein pumps, but they are Period. I will wear them until there is no sole left, and then I will get them re-soled because they are just too classic to go out of style.

    I like this question--definitely made me stop and realize what I spend $ on!

  5. I LOVE Target.. and really who doesn't? Even for decorating- they have alot of "look for less" items. But the clothing is great too. It's great to have a place to look fashionable at a great price.
    The things I spend more money on... hmm... some work clothes I guess? I haven't really got anything more expensive since starting le new job. However, I've been looking. Nothing catches my eye though. Surprising I know! But I believe in buying higher end foundation pieces and supplementing less expensive touches. :)

  6. I never thought about this but good point!

    WILL SPEND: Jeans, running clothes and triathlon gear, work appropriate pants, running shoes, tank tops that fit well, dresses if I'm desperate only

    WILL NOT BUY UNLESS ON SALE: all other shoes, all other pants, dress shirts, sweaters, jewelery

    I think the logic is like "this sweater is not on sale. Sweaters are abundant enough that I can find one I like equally but for cheaper"

  7. I will not spend a lot of money on sandals (like flip flops and other casual sandals), t-shirts, workout clothes (why pay a lot for something you will just get sweaty?), underwear.

    I will spend money on nice boots in the winter (hello, MN winters!), a good pair of jeans (but then buy lots of cheap pairs too), and a really nice sweater or cute jacket.

  8. I agree generally with your categories, but when you throw the variables NEED and ASAP in there, things tend to get screwy. WHich is why I have often paid too much money for a wrap to go with my dress for that event that very night or the capris and t-shirts I suddenly needed for an ad hoc trip to Mexico.

    Here's a question: what categories do bras and underwear fall into?

  9. I love Target and Old Navy and DUH J. Crew. And I don't recall the last time I bought something that was NOT on sale. I buy all things at all price points. Generally, jeans, coats and shoes are my pricier purchase, but there are always exceptions.

  10. hmm... i don't really have any hard & fast rules. i'll buy just about ANYTHING cheap, if i like it at the time, and it's cute, but i'm fully aware of the "disposable" nature of anything i'm getting for $15. as i get older though, i've reeeeally started understanding why expensive clothes cost more. my most common shopping is done at ann taylor / banana / white house black market sales these days, because i want the quality but can't quiiiiite bring myself to pay full price for it.

  11. I'm pretty thrifty with my money as well and agree with what you wrote. I spend money on good shoes (Dansko, sneakers, anything I wear A LOT) because comfy feet is so important to me. Also, I try to get bras when on sale but having a good bra (and sports bra) is pretty important so I'll spend some $ there if warranted.

  12. I think about this frequently - because a good amount of my paycheck goes to clothing. I'm a very busty, 5'3", size 16 gal. Not everything fits well.

    i've splurged on things that will last:

    *work pants
    *shoes (mostly Steve Madden)
    *Little Black Dress
    *bras (gotta keep these gals up!)
    *jackets to wear with work pants
    *winter coat

    I should preface this by saying that I don't shop at Old Navy for ANYTHING other than pajamas. I've found their shirts/sweaters to stretch and bunch after one wearing - creating a horrible hobo shape. I don't need clothing that makes me look WORSE.

    I've never tried buying clothing at Target - as they appear to have very little to offer in my size. Maybe it's just our Target - but they seem to cater to teenagers.

    TJ Maxx is my place for good handbags sold cheap, and DSW is my place for good shoes sold cheap. Jewelry should be gifted ;)

  13. I will pay any amount of money just about for pants that fit well--jeans or dress pants.
    I have started spending more money on underwear, since I found that the cheap stuff was needing to be replaced fairly often. :)
    Workout clothes and casual I'll usually buy at Target or Sears!

  14. I'll spend more money on jeans that fit well, pants for work, and leather boots.

    But I love Target and all of the clearance sales. I buy cheap fitted solid color t-shirts, gym clothes, and usually anything that is a top. Sometimes I splurge on a nice sweater, but rarely.

  15. I will spend a lot on almost anything if I think it's worth it and will last a long time. T-shirts though, I won't pay much for them ;)

  16. What an adorable jacket!

    I love Target for myself, the kids, and decor.

    Kids clothes are great at Target.

    KOHLS is even better. They are pretty decent quality and usually are marked down a lot. KOHLS is also great for baby gifts. I don't know if there is something in the water but my friends have had about 5-6 babies so far this year. So buying baby gifts was fun at Kohls b/c they have such cute stuff, it's affordable and you can pick a variety of sizes.

    Occasionally I will splurge for myself at Macy's or JJill. But, that is once in a very long while and only when they are ON SALE.

    Shoes generally last longer if I invest a little more money into them. Real leather lasts longer, and yes after you have had blisters from crappy shoes--you don't mind giving a little more cash to keep them from falling apart.

  17. I refuse to buy cheap underwear and bras. I wear them every day, so they better damn well be comfortable!

  18. I splurge on shoes of all kinds - always - and as weird as this sounds I am addicted to only one brand of pajamas - The Cat's Pajamas(they fit perfectly) and they are very expensive.

  19. I'm a bargain shopper even when it comes to shoes. Not ALL shoes but day to day shoes I tend to not spend a lot on. I shop at vintage and thrift stores as well as places like Target or Old Navy. I love me a sale! Lately though, I've been spending more on household stuff like high thread count sheets, a new bed, a couch and pinching pennies when it comes to clothing. I think with my new job I will likely invest in some classic pieces that can get me through a couple seasons. I really want some knee high boots. Rawr!

  20. I buy so many clothes at Target! I love it, because it's sort of a secret club: the only people who know I'm wearing Target clothes are people who ALSO shop at Target! :-) Just a few weeks ago, I saw a girl at the theater wearing a cute dress that I own as well, and I said in my head, "Target dress!"

    That said, I will spend money on GOOD shoes that are comfortable and I know I will wear the heck out of. Fun or impractical shoes I will buy on occasion, but I won't pay more than $20 for them. And I'm with NPW on cheap bras--SOOO not worth it (not that the cheap ones are ever available in my size anyway).

  21. I won't be spending much on a wedding dress (this has been decided despite the fact that I'm nowhere near engaged or planning a wedding), and will instead splurge on a pair of super high-end silver sandals.

    Love Target for trendy things, but I invest in shoes (usually), coats, and anything unique enough to become a signature item (three formal dresses have fit into this category).

  22. I try to spend more money on things like Jeans and jackets, altho it forever seems like I'm buying jeans since they always wear out in the thighs! Damn you fat thighs! Anybody got a remedy for this?

    I refuse to spend a lot on t-shirts, I mean, they're freakin' t-shirts! Why should I spend $20 on a t-shirt? lol

  23. Oh my goodness, I love Target! I found a bikini there this summer and I NEVER find bikinis that fit right. Unfortunately, I don't live in a country that has Target. Poor me.
    I have to agree on all of your clothing items that you do/don't spend a lot of money on. I would pay just about anything for a great pair of jeans. I just wish I could find some...

  24. I like buying clothes at Target because I can totally pretend that the receipt says $28.72 because along with dish soap we also needed kitty litter and laundry detergent. Is that considered financial infidelity?

  25. What a great question. For the most part I only buy well made high heels. The cheap heals just hurt my feet. Not always, but sometimes.
    Everything else I don't really go out of my way to spend money on. One of the best fitting jeans I ever got were from JcPenney, they fit better than my $120 7 jeans. It's all about fit and how well an item is made. You can often tell a $7 shirt versus a $50 shirt but sometimes you can't. And in that case I'm all over the $7 shirt.

  26. i will spend a lot on running shoes and dresses. and makeup.

    but thats it.

    i love love LOVE sales.

  27. I am a Canadian longing for Target... *wistful sigh*
    I am willing to spend good money on boots.
    Not so much on tank tops... especially of the sparkley variety. Only $10 and under for those suckers.

  28. I am SUCH a Target and Payless and Old Navy type of girl.

  29. This may sound kind of appalling but, I can't think of anytihng I'm not willing to spend money on. I feel kind of, sort of, completely guilty about that after reading everyone's comments. The House of Lords recently was in a snit about the decreasing quality of clothing and the toll that disposable clothing takes on the environment. That sort of gave me a bit of smug superiority.

    I do draw the line occasionally. I saw an amazing Diane von Furstenberg sweater then saw one that was almost exactly the same at J. Crew that cost quite a bit less. I knew the quality would be comparable so I went for the J. Crew.

  30. I heart Target more than a person should possibly. Good shoes are a must.

  31. i probably (ok, definitely) spend way too much on clothes and accessories.

    items i will spend a significant amount on and pay full price for: jeans (because i have a terrible rear end and need perfect jeans to help), shoes, purses, dresses for work, bras, spanx, jewelry, outerwear

    items i am cheap about: underwear, tank tops, summer dresses, summer sandals, t-shirts, workout apparel, and trendy items in general.

  32. Here's how I figure it... Each wearing is one dollar's worth of value. I look at the price tag and calculate how many times I will wear that item, and if the ratio is right I'll purchase it.

    One time I fell in love with a pair of boots and about fainted when I saw the $180.00 price tag. I turned white, shuddered, and put the boot back on the shelf. Then I thought longingly of them for the next three weeks, even going so far as returning to the store twice more just to LOOK at them. Finally I decided to eat ramen noodles for a month so I could spend my food budget on the boots, and I've worn them in the winter time for the last TEN years!

    Now THAT is what I call a good return on an investment!

  33. I spend a lot on a winter coat, but I won't spend a lot on t-shirts. I spend medium on shoes: cheap ones wear out fast and make my feet hurt, but expensive ones can wear out and make my feet hurt, too, so I go for comfortable and good enough quality to stick around for awhile.

    I don't spend a lot on anything I'm not sure I'll love and get a lot of use out of---and since that's pretty much nothing (how would I be sure?), I don't spend much on much.

  34. Great post! In thinking about what I spend "real money" on, um....a lot. Nothing trendy or casual, but I invest in pieces I will wear forever. Great jeans, winter coat (hello, sub-zero temperatures), cashmere sweater, perfect black dress, fantastic non-trendy heels.

    Goodness, I sound like a magazine blurb! For once I'm starting to realize what they mean when they say "invest in basics"...although my investing is more like $100, not $10,000. :o)


  35. Well I'm a shoe addict, so obviously shoes... but only those that will see a lot of wear, i.e. boots, classic pumps, etc. Novelty-type shoes I try to keep on the cheaper side.

    I will also spend money on high-end cosmetics and skin care, because my skin benefits noticeably, and my face is totally worth it. Also, if I only buy foundation once every 4 or 5 months, then the cost is spread out and seems much more reasonable.

  36. Oh!! Really, you got beautiful blue jacket!!