I walked in to work today at the same time as a young woman with whom I work. She said “I wish I had the money you do for clothes.”
I was somewhat taken aback. What to respond? “Thank you” seemed a bit odd. Or how about “I wish that, too”?
Finally I said “What do you mean?” and she replied “You always dress so nicely and have so many new clothes.”
At that point, I just said thank you. But it made me laugh. Yes, I have on a new skirt, and yes, this summer I have bought some new clothes (2 skirts, 2 shirts and a pair of slacks). But I bet I spend less on clothes in any given month than she does. I can’t remember the last time I bought a batch of new clothes, and certainly not the last time it wasn’t with money that was a gift for that purpose. I make a point to buy quality and on sale. The shoes I am wearing are at least 8 years old, and they are a newer pair from my closet. The new skirt cost $15 dollars on a sale rack, and I expect it to last many years, after which I will use it for a pattern to make more.
The shirt I am wearing is a hand-me down from my mother. I have had it at least 4 years, and who knows how long she had it before that.
All are simple, all are good quality, and fairly plain. I have clothes in my closet that I wear on a regular basis which are at least 20 years old.
How do you impress on a young person that having some good quality classic staples in her closet will save her so much money over time? That it is worth the effort to build a wardrobe in her own style that will suit her for many years to come?
Or that mending is a fabulous thing? Each winter I carefully take out my long wool coat, make sure the buttons are on, check the lining, and wear it. Each winter I get compliments on my wonderful coat.
This coat is at LEAST 30 years old. The lining has been replaced once, and could use it again. But the coat, which was expensive when I bought it, is still warm and pretty and I expect I will have it forever. I don’t need a new coat each year or two, and it keeps me warm. That is also looks good is a definite plus.
So yes, occasionally I spend money on clothes (I spend LOTS more on yarn than I do on clothes), but not as often as you might think, nor as much as you might think. I just choose carefully, and try to get things that can be flexible. If my socks rock and my sweaters are fabulous, you might not notice that the skirt is worn once a week, and has been for more years than I can count.
So the right response might be “I wish you had MORE money than I do to spend on clothes.” That wish may already have been granted, unbeknownst to my young friend.
Spend it wisely.