Whoa! Don’t get too worked up. It’s been about 3 and a half months since I made the decision to not buy clothes for a year, and so far, it’s been really informative. I’ve run into a number of issues with my wardrobe since August. For one, it was summer, and I was fairly happy with my warm-weather wardrobe. However, when it came time to unpack the cold-weather clothing, I was a little surprised. None of my trouser fit me anymore. It’s so bad that the only non-jean pant I have is my Express cargo skinny pants (and my J. Crew Pixie wool pant, but that’s really a legging). I have a pair of brown trousers that I have to safety pin to wear, which I can’t do anymore because it makes me physically ill to have to do something so fashion-adverse, and I have a pair of black J. Crew cigarette pants that are also big, as well.
I don’t know how I got to this point. I badly need a tailor, to say the least. As well as that, I’ve been a huge fan of blazers, especially in the colder weather, and I hate the only black blazer I own (I own two total). All the fuzz and hair seems to find and occupy it, and there’s nothing worse than a faded black blazer. Yuck.
Needless to say, something snapped along the way, and I saw my wardrobe in a new light. I realized its potential, and I noticed its flaws. It might be that I never realized how bad it was because it was all I ever knew. Or maybe I never fully committed to it because the option to try newer, better things was there. I do have great pieces in my wardrobe, and I can put together a great looking outfit. However, there were (and still are) many things I would love to trade out for better things.
And that’s what I did! I genuinely don’t believe this is “cheating” because I see it as gifting myself with new clothes by getting rid of old ones. (Also, I checked my non-partisan ethic counsel, my good friend Ben, who approved this.) There’s a great second-hand shop here in Philly called Buffalo Exchange that will, you know, exchange your gently used clothing for cash or store credit. So last weekend I stuffed two paper grocery bags and biked over to BE. Out of those bags, they bought about 2/3 of the clothing and told me to bring some of the unwanted items back in the spring or summer when they needed warm-weather clothing. They offered me $30 in store credit or $15 in cash. Most people who were selling clothes at the same time took the cash, but I took the credit so I could use it for clothes.
My first experience shopping there was tough. I’m used to shopping in stores where I know my size and the styles I like. In J. Crew, I’m a 4 pant or a small shirt, and everything is displayed in a very attractive, easy way. At Buffalo Exchange, everything is either on a round clothing rack on the floor or straight racks along the walls. Nothing that’s on display can be found elsewhere; everything is one-of-a-kind. It’s arranged by clothing type and size, but it doesn’t help much. Thanks to vanity sizing, I may find pants that fit in any size between a 4 and an 8, sometimes even a size 10. And in jackets I was anywhere between a small and a large. I probably looked at every single thing they had on their racks, no matter what size it was, and I found nothing after at least 5 trips to the fitting rooms. It was exhausting.
I went back today with a plan. When I sold my clothing, they tagged it immediately and put it on the floor only a few minutes after that. I knew exactly what I wanted (blazer and trousers), so I focused mainly on those sections. I took as many items into the fitting room as I could, and I went back to the same racks at least once or twice to check for new things. It was still exhausting, but I found so many things that I actually had to decide (or rather, remind myself) what I truly needed.
I ended up going with a black pin-stripe blazer from Calvin Klein for $15.00 and a cotton-linen trouser from Express for $8.00. Here they are:
I love these pieces! I’m thrilled that I found these two items for $23. They both fit really well and will work great with the rest of my wardrobe. One of the most important things I thought about when shopping, and the number one reason an item would get a veto, was whether or not it would work with a lot of pieces I already have. I think people (myself included) sometimes make the mistake of buying an outfit when they should shop for two or three versatile pieces instead. Three things that make an outfit gives you one outfit, but three versatile pieces give you a dozen new, different outfits.
This post has gone on quite long, so I’ll wrap it up. I can think of at least 5 more items of clothing that BE would buy in a second and that I never wear. I think I’ll be going back there again, and now I’m confident that I’ll survive this year. A little perseverance will pay off.