Replacing Well-Worn Favorites

by Dianne
(Dallas, TX)

For almost 10 years, I have been retired from teaching. The clothing that I wore then is getting worn out. Since I have a more limited budget now, I do not know what to replace first. Does anyone know?

Hi Dianne -- This is a real dilemma. Fixed incomes and increasing prices can make it challenging to replace anything.

I think it will be a balance between replacing what you really need right away -- such as coat for cold weather -- and what is on sale. I hope you will check out some of the smart shopping tips -- and don't get thrown off by the first page's theme about finding designer clothing, because readers have provided much, much information than that.

I'm putting your request at the top of this week's newsletter. I bet there is more than one way to look at this situation, and I am counting on readers to share a few of their ideas.

Good luck for finding exactly what you need at exactly the right prices (including free) with ease.

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Sep 29, 2015
Thanks for sharing!!!
by: Anna

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Feb 22, 2013
White Blouses
by: Anonymous

You might try soaking your dingy and yellowing blouses in oxygen bleach (according to directions on the container) and then wash them in cold water.

If they are cotton, they may whiten up.

Washing in hot water with chlorine bleach sometimes makes the cotton yellow.

Then you'll at least feel presentable wearing them as at-home clothes.

Thanks for the tip. They are not dingy or yellow; they have yellowed necklines from oil deposits. They also are more than 10 years old.

Feb 22, 2013
Replacing the Basics
by: Anonymous

You don't say what kinds of activities you do now or what climate you're in. I would say, however, that you should replace first what you tend to wear the most, keeping in mind what is most versatile for you.

My suggestion for clothes you should have that are in good condition:

-- A pair or two of pants, one slightly dressy, that fit well, in neutrals that work for you.

-- At least one white button-front shirt

-- A couple of nice white tee-shirts or knit tops; these don't have to be expensive, just make sure they fit well.

-- Cardigan in a luscious color or print that you love.

-- Basic neutral shoes in classic style (ballerina, pump, etc.)

-- Blazer or jacket that works with everything

-- Well fitting coat or raincoat with zip-out liner.

These should keep you looking spiffy when you have to go out. When you're at home, you can wear older stuff. Bras are expensive, but should be replaced when worn to keep you looking your best.

Feb 22, 2013
Replacing and Need
by: Etty

One thing I've noticed in culling out my wardrobe post-retirement is that some things that are worn out don't actually need to be replaced.

I don't wear dress pumps every day, so when I noticed the ones I had looked worn and out of fashion, I tossed them and didn't bother to buy new ones. If the occasion comes up where I need them, I will a new pair, but so far, it hasn't. :)

I do need a good pair of walking shoes for running errands and for travel, so I put my money into buying high-quality Keen shoes.

I also like having a pair of black dress pants in the closet, but again, I have to weigh the need for new ones vs. what I actually use every day. After some searching, I found these versatile pants at a travel wear website that I can use for dressier occasions and for packing when I hit the road. They wear and feel great, and they don't look all wrinkled at the end of a long day.

Shopping at tag sales, overstock and outlet stores has also helped a bit, but I find checking for quality is the best way to stretch your clothing budget. Spending $15 for a top at a big-box retailer may feel like you're saving money, but not when it shrinks after three washings or starts to show signs of wear after one season.

So true, Etty. Buying quality clothing can really pay off in the long run.

Feb 22, 2013
Wish List
by: Mel

I like the comment above. Another thing to consider...make a wish list to give to your family. They're always looking for good gift ideas, things that you want and will actually use.

Feb 22, 2013
When NOT What
by: Anonymous

If it were me, I would make an actual list of what I need. With that list, you can replace items as you find them on sale, in thrift stores, in a friend's closet ... anywhere.

That said, basics are the best place to start. You can always pick up that oh-so-cute top or scarf if the price is right, but your basics should get filled in first. My basics are jeans, blazers, a perfect spring all-weather jacket, 2-3 pair of flats, and a navy pencil skirt.

You can see I like casual. Hope this helps.

I agree that a list is the key, one that is tucked in a purse and carried everywhere. One never knows when that perfect basic piece will turn up a bargain price.

When I go shopping for something I need, it often seems that there is none to be found. I once went looking for a navy blazer. That seems like an old standard that is always available somewhere, right? It turned out that season, navy was not an on-trend color. The ones I could find in thrift stores were worn out or the wrong size.

That's why we need a list. It is easy to be seduced by the stylish colorful top that we will never wear, when sitting next to it on the sale rack is the unassuming marked-down white blouse that will go everywhere.

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