Cheap Cheap

I am the product of my parents, who are SUPER money savvy. Growing up, our house had one 25″ TV, and we thought anything bigger was just plainly excessive. I learned early on that Sears was THE place to shop for clothes, and only if Mom had coupons to lump with sales. Luckily for Mom, I hated still hate clothes shopping. I was cheap/easy to shop for…I just told her to choose whatever in a cart and we’d go on our way.

When I got older, I became the person who would water down my shampoo until the suds no longer existed. I never even thought to visit a make-up counter, because, well, Cover Girl was just as good for $5 (that has changed ever so slightly in recent years…just slightly). When it came to clothes, t-shirts and cheap jeans were the way to go. I trekked across campus in my Old Navy flip flops regularly.

I had a hard transition into the workplace. I would give serious side eye to pants that were over $30, and shirts? Why are they more than $10?!? I remember getting my first paycheck, which was leaps and bounds more than my college paycheck. I sucked it up and bought 3 pairs of work pants, and 5 shirts. It was a little over $300, and I almost choked. $300 for 8 pieces of clothes? What is going on?

I’m not what you would consider poor, but I am crazy crazy cheap when it comes to things like clothes and accessories. I can tell you I still own and wear blouses that I had for college banquets. In fact, I still own stuff from when I used to work at Lane Bryant, about 5 years ago. This is me and the LSU chancellor in my fantastic leadership days…gah I hate being at the bottom of the totem pole now!

See that shirt? I’m wearing that very shirt right now. It’s missing the top button now, and  I’m  just too lazy to care, so I wear a camisole underneath it. I can’t believe I’m admitting the extreme of my cheapness right now. That shirt was like, $30, but I needed a collared blouse for banquets and had no time to wait for sales.

I cringe at the thought of designer stuff. The thought of $80+ jeans, $300 purses, and $400 heels really frustrates me. I can’t get into it. Mainly, who the heck is staring at my shirt tags to see what I wear? I can get the good stuff at JCPenney’s for a FRACTION of the cost of something from say, the Ralph Lauren line at Dillard’s.

I can understand the women who think that it gives them a confidence boost, but honestly, I’m the klutz who spills salsa on my shirt at lunch. My Tide-To-Go stick gets more usage than my office pencil most days, so why spend excessive amounts of money on clothes that COULD get ruined and no one else knows about but me?

This weekend, I cringed when I handed over my debit card to pay for two pairs of jeans and a bra at Lane Bryant for $60. I needed jeans…my old ones wore down into making holes in the legs, but gah, I was really hurting at the thought of trying to keep up with my Drab to Fab promise this year. I’m sure this new wardrobe thing will be harder than I thought.

I’m sure I have some readers who greatly disagree with me, and that’s fine. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on why the label matters to you, though.

Also, any tips on how to get me to stop cringing at the thought of spending money on new clothes? :) It’s pretty bad..


  1. I think it’s all about balance. I wore thrift store clothes exclusively until I got my own job at 16. I pick certain things to spend money on: jeans and mascara. Also, you can get high-end items for cheap… thrift stores, consignment, eBay, all great resources to get a good bang for your buck.

    What tipped me over was the fact that I could spend $100 on cheap clothes that I don’t really like all that much, or $100 on a few pieces that are exceptional and will last much, much longer. For instance, I buy 7forAllMankind jeans at $175 a pop. They last me 6-9 months before they start to fall apart, and my booty looks great in them. Alternatively, I could buy two pair of Gap jeans for that amount of money, they’d last about the same length of time, and they give me saggy butt.

    It’s really not about the label at all. Many high-end clothes are better designed and better made. Often, you might find that you spent close to the same amount of money on clothes that only last one season, as opposed to a statement piece you can wear for many years. My clothes rule is that I only buy pieces that I love. When I used to be a clothes cheapo, I spent the same amount of money I spend now, but I didn’t really like my clothes and they’d only last a few seasons.

    • I guess that makes sense to me. I think my main issue is, at my size, I don’t find anything that I absolutely LOVE (except that wedding dress I wore b/c it seriously slimmed me down). So, I just go for clothes if it fits and looks decent (like not clinging to my belly, for instance.)

  2. You have to think more about quality. Sure, I love buying shoes at payless for $10 a pop, but they fall apart (or smell really bad) in just a month or so. When I’ve spend (GASP) $50 on a pair of shoes, I’ve noticed they last much longer!
    That $30 blouse you got at Lane Bryant has lasted you a long time – much more than the $10 shirt from Old Navy or Kmart, I bet.
    I shop at Dillards and Macys – but only on the clearence racks. I’ve found some very nice “name brand” stuff for pretty cheap and they are pieces that will last me a long time.

    • I totally understand. It’s hard for me to see clothes as an investment in the long run when I’m losing weight/between sizes right now too. Very good point….I hope I think this way at my goal weight.

  3. As Penny said, the expensive jeans are an investment if 1) they’ll last and 2) you’ll wear them, a LOT. I’m way more interested in spending $100 on jeans, than I am on a dress or something I will only get a few wears out of. And for me, I pick and choose. I don’t necessarily CARE about brand names, but I do know what brands tend to look better on me, and what brands tend to last longer. Also, when I spend more on something (as Penny also mentioned), I try to make sure it is something that goes with many other things in my wardrobe and will last me for seasons to come. If it’s an impractical, trendy style I seek, I look for a cheaper or thrifted alternative.

    I am still wearing Ralph Lauren and Eddie Bauer sweaters my mom bought me in high school, for example, whereas stuff I bought at Vanity or Forever21 in college has long since either fallen apart or gone out of style.

    Purses and shoes? Eh. I like them so I tend to make more concessions for them. Anything designer though, I have bought at far less than retail on eBay or at a discount outlet like TJMaxx. And like the clothes, if it is expensive, I buy it in a classic/timeless style and color – nothing bright or too fad-dy/trendy to last.

    P.S. I still wear covergirl and *gasp* Wet & Wild makeup.

  4. I agree with Penny that higher-end items are often worth the extra money because they are made better (materials, construction, etc)…the clothes fit so much better and I love how it looks so I wear the clothes a lot…so it’s worth it to me. I’ve tried buying less expensive shirts/sweaters/pants and they usually look really bad after a few washes…so I end up only getting to wear them a few times and that seems like a waste to me.

    I also think I just don’t have to patience to shop a lot so I don’t want to search through racks and racks of less expensive items to find the one or two things that are a good value and will stand the test of time. I’d rather go into a store with mid to higher end items and pick clothes that I love and will wear a lot…and there are always sale items (I don’t tend to pick trendy clothes so I don’t care if a sweater is last season if I think I can wear it for years).

  5. swetmiller says:

    I am the same way- I HATE to spend money on clothes… I would much rather put that same money into savings or a vacation! As a result- I just never buy clothes and look frumpy. Almost everytime my mom comes to visit, she will bring a shirt or two for me and that is how I get the bulk of my clothes. I literally wear my clothes until they have holes and then i will get a replacement.

    When I finish losing weight though, I plan on doing a big shopping trip (partially with gift cards that I’ve saved up!)- it is going to be my big reward and I am really looking forward to having nice looking clothes.

  6. With regards to your question: “any tips on how to get me to stop cringing at the thought of spending money on new clothes?” – I guess I would suggest keeping up your healthy living plan with diet and exercise. As you become happier with your body, you’ll probably enjoy trying on clothing and buying new clothes more than you do now. I would also echo the sentiment of quality over quantity. I rarely buy new clothes, but when I do, I usually pay a lot. I only own two pairs of jeans – but they were both $$$ and have remained in style and fashionable for years. Since you are in between sizes and are continuing to lose weight, it sounds logical to not invest in clothes right now as they will be ill-fitting very quickly with the progress you’ve been making on weight loss.

    Regarding your weightloss journey – making new habits is very hard. Your progress is applaudable. Way to go!

  7. Just another one chiming in here that usually higher priced stuff is of better quality. I understand what you mean about the being in between sizes, I’m the same way right now. For the moment I buy cheap stuff because it is going to need to be replaced shortly but when I get to my goal weight (in September!) I will be investing in some quality pieces. Buy your classic pieces somewhere nice, get something that will last a long time. Leave the trendier/fun stuff to a less expensive store. My first investment when I start teaching? A fabulous pair of black heels that will hopefully last forever! I’m hoping that my incentive to keep the weight off will be that I spent a fortune on new clothes and can’t afford for them not to fit lol GL hun!

  8. I don’t think it should matter the price – if it fits and makes you feel good, then go for it! I think people purchase a more expensive shirt or purse or whatever because it will last longer. You spend less money in the long run and have a better quality item.

    Right now, I feel like I can’t do that given our situation but I’m hoping in the future I’ll be able to shop at my favorite stores like Ann Taylor Loft and be able to get something that just screams my name and fits me like a glove. That’s what you can get with higher quality/priced merchandise.

  9. For me it’s not the label per se, it’s the cut, quality and style, and designer pieces just fit me better. And more than that? They make me FEEL beautiful. And that’s the most important thing. 😉

    The trick is to invest in a few gorgeous, well-made wardrobe staples – e.g. a great blazer, a fabulous crisp white shirt, amazing jeans, beautiful yet comfortable shoes, etc. – and then mix those with trendier (cheaper) items.
    The bonus? Your higher-end pieces will last for years and years so you really will get your dollar’s value.

    It’s harder to plunk down a chunk of change for designer clothes when you’re in between sizes or losing weight, but when you hit that target you’re working so hard for, reward yourself with something really fabulous! You deserve it, baby.


  1. […] I feel like I don’t really NEED them and the money could be better spent. I wrote about my issue with clothing purchases before, so you can understand where I’m coming from […]

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