Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Philosphy Behind the Savvy Outfit of the Day

Have you ever thought about how much it costs to look and feel good? Think of your favorite outfit; the one you can't wait to wear, the one you feel good wearing. Now think about how much each individual piece cost: the top, the bottom, the shoes and the purse and add it all up. Now think of what you normally wear on a day-to-day basis and do the same thing. Was one outfit more expensive than the other? How do you feel about yourself in the "favorite outfit" versus your day-to-day wear?

That concept is what spurred the Savvy Outfit of the Day section. I am a stay-at-home (homeschooling) mother of two girls, 4 and 6 who lives in a southern Nashville, Tennessee suburb. I don't have daily out-of-the-house obligations that mean I have to dress up, though I occasionally have a meeting for the contract public relations work as well as studio sessions for voice over work I fit in where time permits. Thanks to Savvy Shopping, how I dress on those days is not that different from what I dress in to run to the grocery store.

How much time I spend on my Savvy Outfits of the Day
I can get dressed and out the door with make-up and clothing in about 15-20 minutes (well, maybe more like 25-30 since part of that time is spent corralling the Superstars as well). I need a half-hour if a shower is involved. I choose my clothes via the Oral-B Method. In other words, during the 2 minutes it takes for my sonic toothbrush to signal it's time to stop brushing I stand in front of my closet and figure out what I'm going to wear...unless it's been one of those PJ mornings where I won't be getting out till much later and I need to brush my teeth before then. (Can you say, "Coffee breath"?) All that to say, I don't spend a lot of time planning or picking out outfits or (heaven forbid) ironing them for that matter.

Brand Name/Designer Clothing, Shoes & Handbags
I like to wear certain brand name clothes because a) they fit my body shape better, b) they are well made, c) wash and wear well and/or d) it's so inexpensive that I'm willing to try a new look or follow a particular trend to "mix it up a little" . I shy away from dry-cleaning because of the cost involved, though I do have some dry-cleaning items in my closet. I do not wear certain brands to try and impress people, because truth is that you can only impress some of the people some of the time, but you can learn to dress to be happy with yourself all the time.

Off Brands
From time to time I also wear brands that I had never heard of before and some from places like Wal-Mart. Savvy Shopping is about finding what looks good on you, no matter who made it or where it came from. I don't have a high-profile job or associate with groups of people who know the latest season of style and clothing and judge your work or worth by what you are wearing. That said, I have attended $250 plate benefits, corporate meetings and award shows in thrift store finds. In the end Savvy Shopping is not about trying to impress anyone, it's about being wise with my money without sacrificing quality and fit. It's also very green.

Gently Pre-Owned
I don't have a problem with wearing someone else's cast-offs (underwear non-withstanding). To me it's like a new car (which I have never owned) in that it's a depreciating asset. I'd rather let the "first owner" take the initial financial hit. That said, I do buy things new, just not at full cost or at least I very rarely do. For the record, I have no problem with people that buy new and retail all the time. I just happen to be one of those people given 3 black sweaters in a price-tag-free test will invariably pick the most expensive one. I do have champagne tastes on a beer budget, that's where Savvy Shopping comes in.

The Average I Spend on Clothing (per piece price)

Clothing - shirts, sweaters, pant, jeans, skirts, etc.
Generally $10 or less, up to $20 if I really like. One of my favorite sweaters is a $130 Tahari that I bought on sale for $21...with a gift card...and I hesitated. Yes, I'm that cheap.

Generally $30 or less. In my closet I have a Burberry Cashmere-blend coat, a Kenneth Cole long black leather jacket, a DKNY trench coat and JCrew long wool coat. Each cost less than $25.

Generally $10 or less, up to $30 if I really like them. I do love shoes. Fat-day jeans or thin-day jeans, pregnant or recovering, shoes ALWAYS fit! I have Pradas, Ferragamos, several pairs of Coach, UGGs, Diesel, BCBG and more. They were all under $30.

The majority of my handbags were $10 or less. $50 and under for a handful of bags and I think just one that was around $100. Overall, I prefer leather bags because they last longer with minimal care - Coach, Scarlett Blake (by B. Makowsky), Kate Spade and Lucky Brand are some of my favorite finds due to the high quality of leather used in their making, which means they generally retail for anywhere between $100-$400 dollars - of course I don't spend that much! The most I've EVER spent on a purse was $180 on a Louis Vuitton Cerises Speedy. It's a limited edition that is now retired. The only way I justified my purchase is that I could sell it for AT LEAST 2x that amount. Last I checked on eBay they run from $400-$1000. It was truly a splurge item for me.

Approximate Retail Price and Savvy Savings Total
With each Savvy Outfit of the Day I list what I paid for the item, where I found them, the approximate cost at retail and the amount of savvy savings involved. For items that were purchased new at retail or new with tags at the thrift store I list the MSRP found on the tag. For items that are pre-owned with no tag I estimate using online pricing. If I am unsure of the exact style or season of an item I err to the side of UNDERestimating based on what is currently out there and the average cost of buying that item new at authorized retailers (versus consignment stores or eBay). For instance, I know that American Eagle cords can go for $60 but that the store runs fairly regular sales where you can get them for $30 and $40.

My Hope
I do realize that most people do not buy full retail price so they might be able to say they bought something on sale at the store for less than the ARP I have listed, and for that I salute them! I show each outfit and the prices in the hopes of showing people what you can get for your money on a regular basis without having to compromise on style or quality of clothing. I would estimate that about 80% of my wardrobe is thrifted. Does that number surprise you? I would have been before I started Shoppy Savvy.

As a result of our throw-away, gotta-have-it-now culture thrift stores and consignment stores like Plato's Closet are teaming with barely used items. I find new-with-tags clothing and shoes for me and my family ALL THE TIME. Remember those shoes you just had to have and realized after you wore them once that they were just way too small? Or how about the jeans that you swore you would fit into next year after the Boot Camp you were attending and it turns out they were too big? Those end up at the thrift store and Savvy Shoppers like me are eternally grateful to you!

Final Word
To quote my post on Savvy Thrift Store Shopping Tips (because I think it bears repeating): "In the end it's all just "stuff"...One woman's "so last season" is another woman's "OMG, look what I just found!" but the truth is that today's great discovery usually gives way to a newer and greater discovery in a relatively short amount of time, regardless of whether it came from a high-end department store or a thrift store. There are very few women I know that will regularly carry the same bag for 10 years, much less 1 or 2 - even the women who own Louis Vuitton's that WILL last long enough to pass them down to their daughters. Fashion changes, styles change and WE change.

That's what I love best about Savvy Shopping. I have the freedom to change my style whether it's because of preference OR weight and not feel guilty about it. We all already do it to varying degrees, whether we are trying to figure out what our style is or what our 'end weight' is going to be. That being the case, we might as well do it with a bit of savvy shopping. Don't wait until you reach your ideal weight or find "who" you are stylistically in order to buy clothes that look good on you NOW. It will eventually change anyway. Take a little time and little money and find some great clothes. You will be happier for it."

I mean, who doesn't love a bargain?

Shop Savvy Y'all!

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