I have a lot of opinions. Pertinent to this blog, and this post in particular, I have a lot of opinions about clothes, the buying thereof, and budgets. I’ve been trying to condense my thoughts into a manageable post size, and finally decided that they’re best encapsulated by a bastardized, fashion version of the Project Management Triangle. To wit:
When it comes to a shopping budget, you have 3 constraints to consider: quantity, quality, and newness. To stick to a modest budget, you get to pick two of the three. Any two. But not all three. You can buy lots of new things, but they will have to be of the “fast fashion” variety. Or you can buy only a few, new things of good quality. Or you can buy lots of quality things that aren’t brand new. Your choice entirely, of course.
Let’s break it down some more. If your budget is, say, $150, you can:
A) Buy 10 new items for $15 apiece;
B) Buy 1 new item for $150; or
C) Buy 5 secondhand items for $30 apiece (each of which might have originally retailed for upwards of $100).
(This is obviously dumbed down to third grader level, but you get my point. I’ve hopefully made it without screwing up the math. #thirdgraderscanprobablykickmybuttatmath)
If you’re even a casual reader of this blog, you will know I’m a big fan of the third approach. That doesn’t mean it’s the best one. It’s the best one for me, c’est tout. It comes down to priorities … and shopping personalities. I like nice things. (Obviously, this is an incredibly subjective statement, so feel free to substitute “expensive” for “nice”. It’s not 100% equivalent, because I like plenty of cheap fashion, but it will suffice.) And I like a LOT of nice things. I like variety. I have the attention span of a gnat. Need I go on? On the other hand, I really don’t care if my clothes come straight from the hands of retail fairies – or from the consignment or thrift store down the road – as long as they’re in excellent condition. Buying the majority of my clothes secondhand means that I maximize the two values that matter most to me: quality and quantity.
Those are not necessarily the values that matter most to you. You might value minimalism, or environmental conservation, or being a trendsetter, or impulse shopping, or bargain hunting … or whatever floats your boat. Just remember the Triangle, and pick the two criteria that best align with those values.
And keep in mind that you have some flexibility.
Well, yes. No one says that you must always only buy piles of cheap stuff. Or only super duper expensive pieces. I sometimes buy $2 t-shirts at Old Navy or $10 shorts on super clearance at J. Crew, and I sometimes spend upwards of $200 on other things.* But it’s always a trade-off, because remember – you can’t satisfy all 3 constraints in the Style Management Triangle at the same time unless money is no object. In which case, let me know where I can send you my fall shopping wish list.
* Bags. Always the bags.