In Discussions, Discussions, Money, Shop Quality Series, Shopping, Style

Why buying cheap clothes doesn’t work

Believe me, I understand the plight of wanting to have great looking items for a low price but to find that sweet spot of a reasonably priced item (reasonable meaning under $50 at retail for a blouse or top), AND to have it be good quality is a hard thing to find.

If you think that “reasonably priced” is $5 for a blouse, unless you’re thrifting hard, all day, every day, this is not going to be a possibility.

There are some reasons why a $5 blouse at retail, just doesn’t fly:

IT SIMPLY DOESN’T FIT WELL

Unless you’re aiming for the loose shift or general baggy Olsen twin style, things just don’t fit well at lower price points or don’t fit quite right — then bust is too baggy or too tight, or the waist is set high or too low.

Or maybe the fit is not even an issue, it is more that it just doesn’t hang correctly on your shoulders, it is a little too short or too long… these are all little things that you may not think are a big deal until.. it IS a big deal and you’re constantly adjusting your outfit throughout the day.

Case in point: The bust on this thing was HUGE. I had to finally take a Petite and it fit perfectly but otherwise, I would have done a hard pass on this dress.

http://shopstyle.it/l/eJzK

I had a dress that just didn’t fit in the bust. I kept adjusting it, I had to pin it, and finally I just said: it gets donated, I simply cannot deal with it.

Do you want to have a whole wardrobe full of things that ALMOST fit?

THE PATTERN OR COLOUR IS OFF

It’s not quite the right shade of military green. Or yellow. Whatever it is it makes you loo blah, feel bleh and want to tear it off and wear something else.


I was looking at some really stunning red sundresses the other day and the colour was just.. off. It looked too chili red (amongst other things, the zipper was not well done, and so on).

Sometimes, the pattern just doesn’t match up, or it’s not the exact thickness it should be as a stripe.

Do you want to have to deal with always feeling like it isn’t quite what you wanted?

THE FABRIC IS JUST WRONG

When a fabric is “wrong”, it means it FEELS wrong.

Polyester comes in many forms, and I own a few 100% polyester items that I can’t even tell are polyester to be honest. They feel different, more luxe. Other fabrics that I have owned and regretted, FEEL like polyester, that cheap, slippery, flammable feel that doesn’t make you feel good and makes you sweat as well. Good fabrics feel and look good, and just because it says it’s cotton it doesn’t mean it is GOOD cotton.

This is a polyester-silk blend believe it or not!

https://www.shopstyle.com/collective/saverspender/42748027

Even when I wear my polyester skirt (the one that feels slippery), I have enjoyed the feel of it for that one time, but cannot fathom an entire wardrobe of slippery fabrics to make me sweat like crazy.

THE GARMENT GOES WEIRD AFTER ONE WEAR OR WASH

If I could return the items that went wrong after one wash. I washed a shirt once, and it immediately pilled. WTF.

I washed a pair of pants once, and it shrunk by 2 inches. These are all things that are signs of cheap / bad fabric, bad tailoring, and if you pay more, there is more time and care taken into making sure items are pre-shrunk and/or properly tailored to not shrivel into a dress fit for a toddler.

At the end of the day though, even if you pay more than $5 for a blouse, it doesn’t mean it’s made of good quality either!

What a waste. $5 per wash, and per cost-per-wear is VERY expensive. I have items that are in the pennies now, in terms of cost-per-wear.

…BUT DESIGNER DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN CHIC

This is the last and really important bit — just because it says [insert designer name here] it doesn’t mean it is chic. It could be just a terrible garment for you in spite of the label.

What I love the best, is taking high-end items (usually luxurious basics), and mixing them with cheaper mid-range (trendier) goods. Surprisingly, some of my favourite items are from these mainstream retailers, and when I mix them with my high-end items, it all just gels.

What’s the conclusion?

We’re screwed.

Just kidding. Sort of.

No really, what you need to do is curate a list of brands and labels FOR YOUR aesthetic, style and price range that you just go back to over and over again.

My favourite mainstream retailer? Banana Republic.

It’s no secret. I don’t love everything they do, but they hit on a lot of gems once in a while if you comb through their inventory on a regular basis (especially in the sale section), and I would say a good 20% of my wardrobe is filled with their items.

Then there are other brands, less well known that I wear, but sometimes only one item or two really works on me and the rest is too “boho” or “casual”.


It is hard, but once your wardrobe is set, you will never run out of ideas of what to wear (actually my problem is I have too many ideas and not enough outfit changes in a day).


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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4 Comments

  1. Mia

    I’ve found that Uniqlo clothing holds up well (good quality for the price, their cashmere is much softer and doesn’t pill/pull the way that J Crew’s cashmere does while costing less) and works on my body type (generally requires no tailoring).

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I will take another look!

      Reply
  2. Laura Dietrick

    Im a plus size woman. Its really hard to find quality clothes in general but Ive never had luck finding plus size quality clothes. All of my sweaters are mens. I get them at Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic. A lot of times for my tops I will go to Goodwill and shop. You can sometimes find higher quality barely worn clothes or sometimes still with tags for a lower price.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      If you are in the U.S. I am OBSESSED with Poshmark.

      Reply

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