Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cool Wave

Lord, I wish we were having a cool wave.

Since when does a heat wave "break" when it's forecasted to be 88 degrees. When did 88 become "cool"?

But I digress.

I've been thinking a lot about the cool wave that's hit the nation.

Cool to be cheap. Or frugal. Or thrifty. Or tight. Or resourceful.

Whatever--pick your adjective.

My silly guilty pleasure is listening to Brenda Dayne's Cast On podcast on my commute to work (oh yes, a 7 mile commute takes me 30 minutes, god bless New Jersey). I say guilty pleasure because sometimes I feel she takes knitting way too seriously. I find myself stepping back a bit sometimes from what she's saying and rolling my eyes.

But whatever, it's her show and she does it for free and in the technical aspect of the show she doesn't suck at it. The podcast is very well crafted. And she has some nice nuggets of info in there sometimes.

Anyway on Monday, I was listening to her last episode of her latest series which featured an essay she wrote about UK wartime rationing and clothing allowances.

She pondered aloud how she would have gotten by with the yearly allotment of clothing given to individuals during WW2 and came to the conclusion she wouldn't have been able to make it.

Next on Tuesday, I was taking a lunch nap in my car (it was too hot to walk around the office 'hood) and caught the beginning of a radio show where they interviewed a guy about his new book that details how the recession might have an upside. I want to say he spoke about clothing in the first few minutes--but I was groggy and had to get back to work. I've downloaded the episode to listen to later.

Finally today I was reading about Wardrobe Refashion's latest round of signups for a pledge not to buy new clothes for X months (you pick the duration). I've heard of and breezed by this blog before and seen their past challenges, but it was the timing of reading about this that hit me.

All three of these clothing-recycling-frugally-recessionista themed things popping up in three days.


I got to thinking about the last time I purchased new clothing for myself.

Technically it was last year and it was maternity. But I can tell you right now, if I hadn't borrowed 99% of my Chunky-wear, I wouldn't have bought any maternity clothes.

If you exclude that purchase, then the last thing I bought was almost two years ago. It was a pair of $9 clearance sweaters bought with a Macy's giftcard.

You might remember my failed attempt to make one of them kinda cute.


But instead made it look kinda barfy.

Honestly, a lot of my clothing is either handmade by my mother (I've been rocking a set of skirts and blouses she made me back in 2000/2001 this week--they're perfect for the ungodly weather), or bought off the sale rack and/or from discount stores(think Burlington Dog Hair Factory).

Surprisingly, they've all held up pretty well.

In fact the oldest thing I have in my closet now, if you don't count the babydoll dress I bought when I was 19 and cut off 6" of and hemmed to make a transitional-maternity top when I was pregnant (I loved that dress and I used to look so damn good in it--before I had kids! I couldn't bear to part with it!), is a deep green velvet knit top I bought at the now defunct Jay Jacobs for $14 back around 1997. I still wear it every now and then. The velvet has worn kind of thin in places.

I remember agonizing over buying it because $14 seemed like so much to spend on just one item of clothing. Especially for a top I didn't really need I just loved the color and texture so much. Even today, $14 is way too much for a splurge.

This cool wave of frugality has me wondering--what's the oldest item of clothing you own? Do you still wear it?

Oh and for the record--I could have totally rocked a WW2 clothing allowance.



Blogger Laura said...

Hmmm...My oldest clothing item is a dark red cotton spring hooded jacket from the J.C. Penney catalog, with a dark red and white gingham lining - a full patterned lining, even the sleeves and the hood.

I love that coat! I still wear it a lot. I got it the year I met my husband, so it's 17 years old (the only clothing item from my pre-kids days that still fits me), and even though it's been washed a million times, is still in great shape, other than being a little faded.

It was pretty pricey back in 1992 - I think I paid $40 or $50 dollars for it, but as many times as I've worn it, I figure I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of it. Unfortunately over the past decade, the quality of J.C. Penney's clothes has definitely gone downhill, so I can't imagine buying anything from them today and having it last 17 years.

10:48 PM  
Blogger DPUTiger said...

Off the top of my head, the oldest thing that I still wear regularly is probably a blue and white cotton fair isle sweater I bought in Dec. 1996 at a basketball tournament in Myrtle Beach. I have a few t-shirts older than that, but they are in a pile waiting to become a quilt (someday. I hate making t-shirt quilts. Ugh)

I hate clothes shopping, but am perfectly willing to shop the adidas outlet with some regularity. I get stuck with work clothes, though. When I have to re-join the traditional work force (no telecommuting, no athletics), I'm gonna need a whole new wardrobe. Yuck.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Rebel said...

Bezzie... I keeps on tellin' you! WRITE A BOOK! I'm so serious, everyone goes around and around with the trendy "green" thing and the trendy "recession chic" thing, but you're an expert, and you're an expert at doing it in a humorous way. Ok ok... I'll stop now.

The oldest thing in my closet is not very old at all, I did buy pretty much a whole new wardrobe for Thailand. My business casual cordoroy slacks and sweater vests were just NOT going to work here.

11:28 PM  
Blogger SiressYorkie said...

Having lived in England for a while, I can attest that the rationing mentality is still very prevalent, even when supplies are good. The whole "mend and make do" thing is very much there with the older generation in all things, not just clothing. Very sobering.

With my clothes...everything is at least 10 years old. Right now, though, I'm having to buy maternity stuff which I really, really resent, although a lady at hubby's work just handed me a huge bag of stuff for winter...completely impractical right now when the days are round 85F.

1:51 AM  
Blogger BammerKT said...

I totally agree! That clothing allowance was super generous! I would have spent the whole thing on underwear since it's the only thing I ever spend real money on EVER.

The oldest item I can think of in my wardrobe is a sleeveless, mock turtleneck, black, ribbed top. I got it for Christmas in 8th grade, so that was over 20 years ago. It still looks pretty good (slightly less black than it used to be), but otherwise it still looks good and doesn't look like it came from the 80s :|

7:20 AM  
Blogger Coco, not as in Chanel :) said...

I have clothes that are well over 23 years old that I made and still wear. Shirts and skirts. I have a t-shirt from high school - Go Denton Broncos!!! - that I still wear, so hell that is over 26 years old.

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hummmmmmmm.....I am not sure how old some of my clothes are....Most of them I make myself out of fabric that I got while I work that one place. I bought fabric to last me till I go to the grave!!! The stash IS going down! I have a set of overalls for Moochie going right now.

My ??? is this how many people do I put out of work/job by not buying? I don't know how some of these Mom and Pop shops make it.

Love, Mom

8:18 AM  
Blogger Shrinky Inky said...

you absolutely would have been a perfect WWII rationista ;)

does it count if most of the clothes I buy are vintage or I make them from vintage patterns? I admit I am not particularly frugal when it comes to clothes, but I do try to buy affordable classics that I plan to wear for the next 20 years (I had to buy a full new wardrobe after my gastric bypass - but before that I wore clothes to death because i hated shopping for them).

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Karen said...

I have, shoved somewhere in a box, my "tie" from my catholic school uniform. So, 1st grade, in 1979/80? The other article of clothing that I have that I wear to the gym on occasion is, and don't you dare laugh at me, is a concert t-shirt purchased when I was 15. Warrant's Cherry Pie tour. Ahhhhh.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Tactless Wonder said...

Hmmm, I'm guessing robes count? Because I wear it every morning as I'm reading blogs and slowly waking up. I sewed it up from a half-completed brown bamboo patterned mumu that a nun was parting with.

Yeah, the tie now fits just below my boobs and it's just barely below the knee-length, but I'm not planning on getting rid of it anytime soon. (Oh, so that would make years old...eep.)

9:46 AM  
Blogger oneofestelles said...

One of my favorite t-shirts is from 1995. My robe is from 1990/1991, but I hardly ever wear it.

I also have two sweaters that my grandmother made me high school that I still squeeze into. That makes them just over 20 years old.

My problem is that I'm starting to lose track of how old some pieces are since I've kept them so long.

My mom can probably beat me. She and I have talked about how you take care of your clothes to make them last. Not using a clothes dryer makes a big difference (and saves money).

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Cristi-Lael said...

Unfortunately, I'm in he same situation as you. One income, two kids, no spare change...I think the oldest item of clothing I have is a simple dress my aunt made for me back in the late 90's. It's beautiful and I would love to wear it, but, after having 2 kids, I'm a bit bigger than I was. I still keep it hoping that I'll fit into it one day.
I'm a shoe keeper too. When I was 19, I'm 32 now, I bought a pair of 10 hole green Doc Martins. I'd wanted a pair since I started high school, but they were too expensive. Well, at 19, I had a job and no bills, so money was a bit more free. I took the opportunity to get those boots, wore them religously for years, and I still have them. I haven't worn them in a long while, and they're pretty beat up, but I can't bear to part with them. I keep hoping that the fashion trends will bring them back. Things might be going that way with the skinny jeans look. Docs just don't work with flared jeans...

1:33 PM  
Blogger Linnea said...

The oldest item of clothing I own (that didn't belong to someone else beforehand - I have a few pieces of my mom's stuff and lots of new/old thrift pieces) is a Dale's of Norway sweater that my mom bought for my in 1994. I still wear it. Rather, I wore it, frequently, when we didn't live in a place that's hotter than hell. And, I think that my favorite pair of jeans dates from some time pre-Navy (that's sometime in the 90s). I'd brag that they still fit me, but they stretch. Hah.

Hey, off-topic, but thanks a lot for your recent job advice and encouragement. I appreciate it.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

Good question. One of my favourite sweaters is one I bought the first year we moved to Colorado, and that was 1998. Just a green V-neck acrylic hunter green tunic sweater. On my currently smaller size it is quite roomy, but I was even able to wear it when pregnant. I also have some sundresses my MIL made me from around that time as well - but since I am not really a dress-wearing kind of girl, they mostly languish in my closet.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Crafty Christina said...

My oldest and most favorite item is an old black cardgian. I've had that cardigan since before I was pregnant with Pi. I have pictures in it while pregnant, as a new mom, and recently. I wear it to work nearly every week and its more gray than black and has mismatched buttons. But I love it!

6:35 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

My oldest item is a heavy wool sweater I ordered from J Crew my freshman year of college. So...1995...14 years. I actually have a bunch of random things from around 1994-1995. T-shirts and such.
When I lost a bunch of weight, I tossed it in the wash to shrink it. Still fits. :)

1:05 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Heh, the oldest clothing I own is a pair of leather pants from 1984-ish. I don't still wear em cause I can't fit into em! Might be fun one day to diet myself down and try though...NOT!

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I have coats and sweaters from 20 years ago, they don't get much wear here!!
I'm not buying clothing right now simply because I have another 10 pounds to drop and there's no reason to get anything. I will say I am sick to death of what I've been wearing this summer! Summer stuff here is not stuff you save for another year- I buy cheap and toss it after the season (March to October) because it's gross by then.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

I would have lots of really old stuff if I could still fit into it. I wear and repair until it can't be done. Otherwise, rummaging through my memory, I have a pair of 18 year old sandals and my car is 16. I also have a library school sweatshirt with a picture of a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk on it. I have a scarf that I crocheted in 1976 and the needles with which I knit the matching gloves, but not the gloves. We old people have lots of old crap. Swoof!

10:29 PM  
Blogger weezalana said...

I still own a couple of sweatshirts from my high school days, but they're in a trunk in the garage. And I'm not telling how long ago that was, but it was...a long time ago.

5:50 PM  
Blogger carina said...


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10:59 PM  

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