Friday, February 6, 2015

Frugal Tip: If You Like It, It's In Fashion

Somebody shared a bumper-sticker-type motto on Tsu: "I don't want to brag, but I can still wear the earrings I wore in high school."

Ha. I didn't wear earrings, and still don't, but I can still wear the...shirts, skirts, and sweaters I wore in high school. (I can't wear the same jeans because I wore them out before 1990.)

Who says clothes need to be "this year's look"? Don't people who believe that ever notice that there are only so many realistic looks for clothes? Basically, in the modern world, we have a limited set of looks that keep being recycled from year to year. What young people actually wear are jeans (cycling from snug to baggy, straight cut to shaped legs) and T-shirts (cycling from snug to baggy) plus sweaters (no noticeable fashion cycle for those). What adults actually wear are suits (limited cycle of different details like cuffs and lapels) and dresses (cycling between shapes that fit and flatter the normal female body shape, and shapes that don't do that so well). Then there's a bizarre punk look featuring lots of oddly assorted pieces, piercings, obviously dyed hair, miniskirts, hooker heels, and other things that real people don't actually wear, and this is what Madison Avenue keeps trotting out as "fashion." It's sort of pathetic. If "fashion" is ever going to get back to having anything to do with what real people wear, the "fashion" designers are going to have to settle for designing clothes that people can wear in situations other than posing for "fashion" photos.

Most of the clothes I wear are basic, not "this year's look," but I own a few things that were "fashions" of the year before someone handed them down to me, and now look like this year's "fashion" version of something a reasonable person might wear--the shirt with a 1979 design on it, the combination of colors that was "this year's look" in 1965...

At the back of my closet I recently met a shirt I wore mostly on special occasions in high school and college. I did not think "Oh poor little me, haaaving to wear a shirt I acquired secondhand in 1978." I actually caught myself thinking "Hello, old friend! Nice to see you again," and remembering some of the good times at which I'd worn that shirt.

One day last fall I broke out a sweater that had originally been part of a dressy knitted suit I wore in 1981. The colors and pattern were back in "fashion." I don't know what happened to the skirt--I never really liked it--but wore the sweater with jeans and a T-shirt. It got lots of compliments.

I realized that I actually prefer wearing clothes that hold memories to wearing brand-new clothes. Of course, not all memories are good...I remember donating some things to charity, the day after an especially unpleasant event, because I never wanted to see what I'd been wearing on that occasion again. But the clothes I wore on happier occasions have something going for them that new clothes don't have.

And, since most of them were nice, sensible, comfortable, practical clothes that didn't really scream "this year" or "that year," they actually look quite a lot like the new clothes I'd be likely to buy if I had to buy new clothes.

So why not keep wearing what I least until a real change does have to be recognized: the leather boots that started out roomy and gradually became snug have now become child-sized, the black jeans are now definitely gray jeans, the cotton dress frays away from the new thread when I try to mend it...

If you make frugal decisions about eating, and frugal decisions about driving, you can afford to be frugal about clothes too. Then, when "this year's look" becomes "so last year," you can put it in the attic and wait for it to be "this year's look" all over again.