Friday, March 4, 2011

Clearing Things Up

I would like to start of by saying that I am not ashamed or embarrassed by liking nicer things.  I maintain that I still spend no more than the average person (and probably less) total.  And that my items will last longer, saving me more in the long run.  It used to be that people bought items to last decades.  But the clothing industry no longer thinks that way.  And because of my morals, I've really begun to evaluate where my clothing is coming from.  I'm having a hard time buying items that are made in China.  I am sure some companies pay well and such, but that's hard information to come by.  I cannot justify buying items that were possibly made by children or families who are paid a pittance, anywhere really, but particularly from countries where my children may be.

As for the pair of JBrand jeans I already have....they were bought at a thrift store for $4.  They suit my body, and after trying on other pairs today I have to say I just like how they fit me, and how great the material feels.  It's thicker, feels more sturdy.  I would rather own 2 pairs of something like a straight leg or bootcut from them than 6 pairs from a less expensive place.  I will still buy denim from Gap/Banana Republic for every day, but I like to have a pair or two of nicer jeans, in classic styles and colors that I can wear for years and years.  I used to love Old Navy, but they wear out too quickly.

Those expensive shoes will be re-soled to within a half inch of their life (I've been looking only at leather soled shoes which can be repaired).  The trench will be looked over frequently, washed on delicate, the buttons kept nice and sewn on well.  The cashmere sweaters will be handwashed with a special detergent and hopefully last at least 20 years.  And there will be fewer items.  I have every intention of taking care of my things so they last a minimum of a quarter of a century.  And as my style is basically classic, they don't really go out of style.  Sure I'll occasionally buy trendy pieces that fit within my style....but they'll probably be from some place like Gap.

I will be purchasing clothing from a thrift store/consignment store when I find items that meet my quality requirements and my planned purchasing database empty slots (things I plan to purchase rather than on a whim).  And of course sales are a girl's best friend!  Rebekah thinks the same way and discusses this in her posts.  I now am the very proud owner of a gorgeous Hermes scarf....which I bought from a friend.....for over half off.  

The children thing is something I've had to consider when making my list.  I think my "mama" uniform will probably be a fitted black tee, a cashmere or cotton cardigan (dependent on the season), dark wash jeans and either flats or wedges with some statement piece jewelry.  Still my style, but a more workable one.  It actually sounds like my outfit from today: dark bootcut jeans, black flats, one of G's black Calvin Klein tees (they are nice and thick and were purchased at TJMaxx), with a statement necklace.  I've taught in both pre-school and kindergarten classes and know that I have to be practical.  But I am unwilling to lose myself simply because kids are messy.

I think what I failed to mention in the last post is that sales, ebay, and consignment stores will be my best friends.  For pieces that are pricier and seasonal (such as the handbag I am lusting after), I'll save and splurge.  But for most of my handbags, they're a classic style.  My Gerard Darel was was bought gently used (I think the woman carried it a few times before deciding it wasn't for her) from a woman in Portugal for less than $200 (they're normally $400-$500 dependent on the style, zippers or not zippers).  While that may still seem like a crazy price to some, it's still in the same condition it was when I bought it, I've carried it nearly every day for over 2 years, and it's been literally around the world (I took it on the Mediterranean cruise, so it's been more places than G!).  I'm not as gentle as I would like to be with it, it gets overstuffed, heavy things placed in it, dropped on the floor, smacked into things.  But it was made very well (it's a classic French bag), and it has held up far better than I expected.  And finally, some of the items on the list I plan to save for 10-20 years for, and may change my mind by then!  (such as the lovely Birkin bag.)

So, in conclusion, I am who I am.  I meant by my questions at the end of the last post in reference for whatever you consider a splurge.  For me, it's several thousand dollars, and takes years of savings.  For others, I completely understand their priorities are different and it may be something from Ann Taylor.  I just wanted to pass on Rebekah's idea that it's better to have a list of items and buy from that over time than to simply "go shopping."  I bought a pair of d'orsay heels by Via Spiga today on clearance at Nordstrom.  The lace covered shoe was one I have been looking for, so it qualified for my list.  It's the perfect ladylike shoe for wearing to formal things with G where I need to look like myself, but a bit more demure.  And while there I tried on several pairs of shoes.  The black flats in the last post almost got bought, but honestly as much as I wanted to like them, I didn't love them and so I said, "No."  It was a big moment for me, and exactly what this planned database is all about.  I don't have room for 5 pairs of mediocre black flats....I'm searching for an amazing pair to last. 


  1. I truly do appreciate the time you take to explain your thought process in these posts. It really does help me with my own ideas and emerging list. I finally know what you are talking about with the Gerard Darel bag. I just acquired my first, a gently used one from a friend and it's fantastic. I like that I don't have to be gentle with it and it still looks great.

  2. I love your post. I wish I had been as saavy as you at your age, but one is never too old to learn. I enjoy reading your blog, and I like your new profile picture.

  3. Hi Kalee, I just want to say that I'm really enjoying these posts of yours about buying the best, etc., both here and on French Chic. Right now we are getting ready to move back to North America - you'll remember what that's like! - so I'm doing a lot of de-cluttering. I'm really inspired by your lists and starting to think of how I would like to fill my wardrobe out. I googled the Aegean necklace - at the first site the price was around $70; I was quite confused. Then I looked at the Tiffany site and saw the price of the real thing - wow! Still, it is gorgeous and could be worn forever as a signature piece.
    Hope your days without G. are going well.

  4. Great thoughts, Kalee.

    When you think about the environmental waste, the questionable working conditions, and the human rights violations in many of the countries in which cheap goods are made, why would anyone be PROUD to spend as little as possible on new things?

    That doesn't mean we go to the other extreme and purchase Gucci jeans sewn in Italy for $800 to wear around the house, but we should at least consider what we are supporting with our buying power.

    That's why I love consignment and thrift stores for hunting grounds. And if you can stumble upon vintage - hurrah! You can immediately identify the good craftsmanship of things built to last decades versus the cheap manufacturing of today's items - even luxury designer.

    I decided I was too old for cheap things - no matter how much they cost - and I won't apologize for paying someone a fair wage to make an article that took them years of apprenticeship to learn the craft and time to source quality inputs.