Friday, February 28, 2014

My Frugal Life - The clothing edition

So, we're two months into the year and the only item I've purchased for myself with respect to clothing and shoes is a pair of black, suede-like ankle boots.  The skinny heel barely squeaks into the appropriate category for the office, but it does.  I have trouble finding dress shoes that fit comfortably on my flat feet and look the way I want them to look.  I'm not into trendy shoes at all, especially for work.  My shoe size is a 5.5 - 6, which means my size is quite often sold out when I do find a pair that I like.

I'd been wearing a pair of black heeled boots at work that are at least 13 years old but because they weren't trendy when I purchased them, no one ever suspected that they were that old.  I also have two pairs of black shoes that are about the same age (10-13 years old) that also don't look old.  (One trick to stretch out the life of shoes is to not city commute in them.)  Unfortunately, the heels of my old boots began to fall apart and I had thought about getting them repaired but there were other areas of wear and tear that didn't make it worth it.  We aren't talking about anything over-expensive either.  They all came from the Nine West outlet store.  My new boots were purchased from DSW on sale for $48.

Something changed within me after I had the girls and I don't know if it was the simple act of becoming a mother or a change in my priorities or maybe a combination of many items.  For my entire adulthood, up until I became pregnant, I was the same weight.  My clothing size never changed so it was easy to accumulate a pretty decent wardrobe.  I was a bargain shopper back then, but I had the time.  So much dear old sweet time to shop and shop and shop.  If I went to the mall for an afternoon and only purchased one item, that was fine.  If that happened now, I'd feel as if I had wasted an afternoon.  Having triplets was difficult on so many different levels, one of them being that I had to start over almost completely with clothes.  I wore maternity clothes for months after the girls were born, mainly because I still looked pregnant and they felt comfortable.  I remember once that summer after their birth, Rich waited in the van with the babies while I ran into Walmart for diapers.  Another customer kept insisting that I go ahead of her in line because she thought I was pregnant.

I gained about 45-50 pounds during the triplet pregnancy and an extra 10 pounds decided to hang around for awhile afterwards.  (The cherry coke and brownies consumed at two in the morning to keep myself awake while feeding little ones most definitely didn't help.)  I eventually reached the point where wearing maternity clothes was annoying and the XXL concert tees weren't acceptable and rifling through the wardrobe of my previous body was frustrating so I had to start over, one purchase at a time.  It was slow.  I didn't have time to wander through malls or clothing stores, carrying armload after armload of clothes to the dressing room because every item now needs to be tried on.  I can't eyeball it to see if it will fit.

Slowly I began to build up a new wardrobe but I knew that I was in between sizes.  I remember looking at my thighs in the mirror on the back of the door to our bedroom.  They didn't look all that bad filled in but they weren't mine.  That's not what I looked like.  Sure enough, it took a few years but I was able to get back down to a weight about 5 pounds more than what I weighed before my pregnancy with Abbey.  I would periodically rifle through the bins of clothes I had stored in the basement searching for items that could potentially fit me, and some did.  Even though my weight was close to what it was before, my body is not the same shape.  My ribcage expanded and never shrunk back down.  And then there's the whole diastasis recti issue.

My closet now is a bit of a mess.  There are some too big items that need to be officially donated and others that I don't want to toss because I just don't have anything else to wear.  I would love a bunch of new clothes but I've become pretty frugal.  It almost seems like because I didn't have time to shop and had such difficulty in finding clothes that fit, I just learned to make do with what I had and now that I do have some more time (but not really), I don't think it's necessary.  Maybe because I went so long without.  I would rather save that money or use it elsewhere.

The other day I was wearing light brown wool dress trouser (don't really like the word but it's the best one to describe them) with a pink tweed dress jacket.  Both are nine years old.  The pants were from The Gap and the jacket was from Old Navy.  Old freaking Navy.  No one believes it when I tell them that.  People assume that money equals quality and if you want your clothing to last, you need to spend a ton of money on it.  Nope.  Just take care of it.  (Now, I know that there's a lot of crap out there that won't last but there's a lot that will.  And it's not crap.)

I went back to work when the girls were about 15 months old, which was a long "maternity leave" partly due to the fact that I needed to find a new job.  It was hard back then and it's hard now.  With age and as a mother, I've matured.  We bought our first house when I was 30 years old.  At the time, I was so young and we weren't thinking of it as our 'forever' home so the length of the mortgage wasn't given much thought.  We have no plans to move from our second, and current home, and I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to be 65 years old making monthly mortgage payments.  I want to retire at some point,  I want to pay for my kids to go to college.  I want to spend part of my golden years someplace warm, where my body won't ache from the ceaseless blasts of arctic cold.

I've come to rely on frugality here and there to help with our financial goals.  I could (and will) write more regarding other frugal aspects of our life.  There's always give and take though.  And my fabric hoarding problem...


Esther said...

I cannot imagine you being "over weight" at all! You are so skinny to look great.

I look forward to hearing more about your frugal ways. Great topic...Does clearance shopping for the year ahead for the twins count? That's what I do, very much like you used to for the girls.

And not eating out that much..and cutting way back on Starbucks...

:) Take care...Esther

Anonymous said...

Have you heard of I used to enjoy shopping for clothes for myself before I had my daughter, but now it just doesn't feel worth the time. I've tried Stitch Fix a few times and really enjoyed it. You fill out a fairly long profile on your likes and dislikes so the clothes you receive should be somewhat in your style.

Sarah said...

Hi Esther - I definitely wasn't overweight. Babies made up 15 of those 45-50 pounds - lol. The girls' clothes definitely play into this - I have a different post on that.

Anon - I have heard of StitchFix but it didn't seem like a service I would be interested in. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.

Teej said...

I am currently wearing shoes that are 15 years old. I think they still look great (doc marten mary janes). I haven't bought new clothes in over a year. Sometimes, when I am wearing 8 yo underwear with rips in them, I wonder if I have a problem. Thanks for making me feel slightly more normal!

kdliberty said...

All my jeans were bought of the clearance rack 5+ years ago. I do not have much to wear either. I think you would be a good nominee for the TLC show what not to wear. However, who has time for something like that...

Krissy said...

I don't have a need for many dress clothes (just for church and the occasional date night or funeral) but I have the hardest time finding in-between clothes. I don't want to live in workout gear, but at this stage of life I am often at the gym or cleaning or taking care of a sick child so my clothes tend to wear out quickly from all of the washing. But my oh my are the styles foreign to me...I like plain, simple tops which keep getting shorter and shorter in the front which is NOT a good look with my mom-pouch. My twins were born in May of '07 weighing 6.12 and 7.12 and their combined 14 1/2 pounds left me with a super saggy overhang below my belly button. Baby #3 was born 14 months ago (8.12) and my belly only got worse-the doctors are trying to get insurance approval for me to get a panniculectomy (considered non-cosmetic) and I dream of what it might be like to shop without this fold in the front! But hey, it is ultimately a small sacrifice to make to have these three amazing blessings in my home! But yes, I spend a lot of mental energy thinking about being thinner.

My current shopping list includes: new exercise shoes, new sports bras and regular bras (finished nursing the little guy about 6 weeks ago). One of the things I am looking forward to today is going bra shopping without any children! It's the simple things in life!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I am starting to transition back into the work force. (I'm working part-time as a "contractor" at my former employer, mostly from home, going into the office a couple of times a week for meetings.) With a few exceptions, I saved all my work clothes from before the girls were born. Most things still fit, but many styles have changed (for business casual stuff, anyway) in the past six years.

I found a fantastic sale at's a few weeks ago. I only had about an hour to spend...and I had one kiddo with me...but with the help of a sales person, I was able to find some great staples to freshen my closet.

Shoes are the next thing on my list. I put on a pair of heels a few weeks ago. I was fine at the office, but by the time I went to pick up the girls from preschool, I was DYING! ;) Every other day I've worn a pair of [classic] black boots. I need a little variety! :)

I so know what you mean about shopping once upon a time...versus now. I haven't "browsed" in years.