Dear Home-Ec 101,
I have a problem. I need to clothe myself, and all the clothes I have had since high school and that were bought when I started college are starting to fall to pieces from overuse with dreary regularity. I’m down to one pair of jeans, one pair of yoga pants, and a skirt when it comes to covering my bottom half without holes. The sole is pulling away from my shoes, and I have one mediocre-fitting bra and one moderately well-fitting bra with seams that make it inadvisable to wear with the knit shirts that I have to cover my upper half.
I find it very difficult to fit even one piece of clothing into our budget, because everything I need to buy can’t be had at cheap mainstream prices. I have to buy plus-size clothing, which is something I can theoretically change, but it isn’t melting away, per se. I break out in a rash anytime I wear polyester and exert myself at all. I am also extremely busty, an H or I cup for my band size, and currently breastfeeding! I have feet that are not only WW/EE, but they are thick at the ball of my foot, causing all but a few low-cut or low-lacing shoes to fit badly. I have sandals, ankle boots, and dress shoes–one pair each, and one or the other of the first two is constantly falling apart from the season’s wear. (I would think the $60-$80 I am forced to spend to cover my feet would ensure a long-lasting shoe, but no such luck.) I’m even expensive to adorn! I can only wear hypoallergenic jewelry, and am allergic to many scents in perfumes, cleansers, and hair products.
I guess what I’m trying to ask is this: What strategy can those who are forced to buy the more expensive options use to cut costs so they don’t have to run around in clothes better sent to the rag bin? Assume that items that can be mended or glued have been repaired when possible. I do check at thrift stores, but because the sizes required are unusual, the pickings are slim.
You may find this hard to believe, but I can relate, if you’re not within the “normal” range, clothes can be very hard to find. I’m far too tall for petite clothing and rack clothing for tall women is usually sized for a larger frame. At least short people have the option of hemming.
My personal solution is to KEEP checking the thrift stores, every single time I’m nearby. Yes, it’s a pain. Yes, I hate shopping. But occasionally I score exactly what I need and those small scores eventually add up. Just recently I scored the best fitting jeans I’ve ever had for $6.
E-bay and Garage sales also come to mind, but neither are a perfect solution.
Since I also have a hard time with this exact problem, I thought this would be a great Ask the Audience question. I know many Home-Ec 101 readers have also faced this problem and have found ways to cope.
So, Home-Eccers, how do you find odd-sized clothing on a tight budget?