Shoes I bought at Goodwill for $5
As an adult, I was never a big shopper. I would look for excuses to bow out on invitations to shopping marathons with friends. I couldn't really see what all the fuss was about. Why would anyone like spending the entire day trying on clothes in very unflattering lighting? Where's the fun in that?
Trying on clothes always depressed me. I never seemed to look good in any of the current trends. And when I did give in and shop, I had difficulty picking flattering styles. I just didn't have that eye for fashion so many other people seemed to naturally have, and I was never adventurous enough to try new things, so all my clothes tended to look the same.
Also, as a college, and later grad, student, I never had an overabundance of money to spend on clothes. It didn't help once I had graduated, since I became a teacher. I had to be frugal and save my pennies, so shopping at the fancy malls of Chicago's suburbs was never on my list of fun weekend pastimes.
Once I had children, it got even worse. I wasn't working anymore, so what was the point in buying new clothes? Spending money on my appearance typically left me feeling guilty, especially once I was no longer bringing in a paycheck.
As a result, I spent the better part of my 30s feeling dumpy, ugly, unfashionable, and fat. I dreaded being invited out, because I literally had nothing decent to wear. And definitely nothing I felt good in.
Last October, I started a new job, and I had very few clothes suitable for the office. I made do for a few months with some hand-me-downs from my sister and a couple holdovers from my days as a teacher, but eventually, I had to break down and buy some new clothes. I had a gift card from Kohl's so I bought a couple blouses and a pair of slacks. Even with the gift card and discount, my credit card took a hit. I loved the pieces I had purchased and decided that those would have to do, since I couldn't very well spend all my salary on clothes.
The thing is, wearing those couple outfits made me feel good. I liked how I looked in them. I actually got compliments on my clothes, for the first time in a very long while. I got a taste of what it was like to look nice and I wanted more. Still, I worried about the money.
Then, on a visit home, my sister took me to her local Goodwill store. Beth, who is much more daring and fashionable than I, heaped clothes in my shopping cart, ordering me to try them on. When I balked at a more adventurous outfit (like the blue poncho or the flower-printed capris) she urged me to give it a chance. "Try something new, Patty!" she would say. "You'll look great. Trust me!"
Surprisingly, I had the time of my life! All of a sudden, I had a legitimate excuse to drop some change on my wardrobe; I had a job and I couldn't very well show up in my flannel pants everyday, like I did as a stay-at-home mom. On top of that, the clothes at Goodwill were a fraction of the original price, which made it all the more fun. And having my own personal stylist in the form of my sister only made it better.
Outfit I bought from a couple different thrift stores for a total of less than $10
It turns out, she was right. I did look great, and I felt incredible.
I spent over $100 that day and came home with a new wardrobe: new shoes, Anne Taylor capris, blouses from the Gap, jeans, a new dress, and many, many more items. Every single thing I bought looked great on me. I couldn't believe it. I had never had that many items of clothing that I loved.
That shopping trip completely changed my attitude about clothes and shopping. Now, I love shopping at my local thrift stores and finding cute clothes for work. I thrill when I find an adorable pair of shoes for $5 or a whimsical top from Old Navy for $3. But, most of all, I love that I look more put together; I feel more confident and pretty. At these prices, I can afford to buy some cute pieces without compromising the kids'college funds. It's a bonus that I am doing the environment a favor by recycling other people's castoffs.
I still feel guilty about spending money on myself, even at these amazingly discounted prices, but I'm working on that. I tell myself that I am worth it. I deserve to feel good about how I look, no matter what I weigh.
I love this top. Bought at Goodwill for $3.50
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