Is that meant to be a compliment?

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.


14 thoughts on “Is that meant to be a compliment?”

  1. This is a great post!! I have had clothes for years also and they are the ones that get the most compliments. Quality over quantity. Except with yarn 😉

    1. Exactly! If you get a few good quality, timeless pieces, you can use less expensive things to jazz up the ensemble, but the bones stay strong through the years.

  2. I’m 100% in agreement! I will proudly tell people how old my coat is, or a sweater I’m wearing. I hate to shop for clothes so, when I do, I try to make it last!

    1. Me too! And some years I hate all the colors that are on the racks. Other years, I love them, and am more likely to buy. But I try to always buy things I love that will last, and aren’t so trendy that they look dated in a few years.

  3. I think You should take it as a compliment. You obviously have a great style to be able mix old and new clothes together.
    Like you, my favorite winter coat is about 30 years old.
    You’re right on about making clothes last with care and repair. I agree, quality classics is the way to go. 🙂

  4. Every year my Favourite Aunt gives me a beautiful classy garment for my birthday (in Feb) that she has bought in a post-Christmas sale. These are fine garments that I wouldn’t own otherwise and they last forever while being quite timeless.

  5. Love this post. How true about quality over quantity. Classics are always in. My clothes too are vintage me. I think I’d have taken what she said as a compliment. The young have so much to learn in this throw away society.

        1. I know. Then we all move to Mars, right? Or some fabulously earth-like planet that is as yet undiscovered, so we can do it all over again? Or, we could just start buying things that last!

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