Author Topic: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing  (Read 13651 times)

Cinder

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eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« on: April 04, 2013, 08:48:24 AM »
Just found http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/14/eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing/



I know this is a very old post, but I'm new to the blog.

Right now my wife just finished her Masters in Elementary Ed with Teaching certificate.  She is 100% Indian, was adopted to the US as an infant. She is around 85 lbs, very short and petite.  (as an Aside, I know that MMM jokes about Mrs. MM being half Indian, and they have to keep the house temps higher... I should discuss this more in a separate thread..)

We've been really good about spending for a while, but our combined clothing spending has been about $85 a month for the past 6 months! I am a pretty average sized male, so I can find plenty of clothes for really cheap at our local Plato's Closet, but not so much for her.  On the positive side, we have found a tailor in the area, and they modified the waist on a pair of dress pants on her for the unbelievable low cost of $10. 

Our problem is twofold...

1)  It is very hard to find things that fit her, so typically when we do, they are more expensive.  Or really cheap (kids clothing) which wears out to fast. 

2) She wants to 'look professional' so she can land a good teaching job. 

She doesn't take rejection well (Already has one rejection letter from a school she didn't really want to teach at, but it still bummed her out).  Most of the teaching jobs here are very closed, The school district is aligned with the university (she had to leave the area for 3 months right after our wedding to do her student teaching, which also meant leaving her job for that time).  Lots of her clothes she has had for a long time, and are starting to wear out. 

We recently got into a bit of an argument about a pair of boots she wanted to get.. She was being pretty complainypants about it, trying to appeal to my emotional side, saying that the shoes she has that look nice she could slip and fall if the parking lot was icy, and I said to just wear your grippy snow boots and change when you get into work.. She said that the aides (what she currently does) don't even have anyplace to put coats/purses/etc, they just sit on the floor, and every time she leaves the room she worries about someone stealing something of hers from her purse..

I tend to feel 'suck it up and deal with it' or 'don't take anything valuable with you', but that usually doesn't help my position on the matter... 

How does a mustacheian go about finding professional looking clothes for someone who can't find clothes that fits her for a job she is trying to get?

NumberCruncher

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013, 09:07:06 AM »
Yeah, it's really hard to find clothes that fit when you're not really a "standard size."

http://www.eshakti.com/  is a site that sells women's clothes - dresses, skirts, tops - for $7.50 they'll make any of the items custom to your measurements.

they're kinda expensive because they don't have the economies of scale that a large distributor does, but you can get clothes on clearance and use the coupons they send out pretty frequently if you're on their list. ($25 off your first purchase if you're a new customer is on their site, in addition to the first custom sizing free).

anastrophe

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2013, 09:22:13 AM »
Regarding #2, this has been discussed on the forum before, but don't underestimate the possibility that this is a very real and pressing concern. Professional women are judged very harshly based on their appearance in certain fields, and the impression you make on the higher-ups can obviously affect your chances of rising. Visibly worn-out clothing will not help a woman (or really anyone) who wants to advance professionally. Depending on the culture of her workplace, keeping her snowboots in a pile in the corner might not look so classy either.

Can either of you sew? Are you willing to learn? Being able to do your own alterations is really valuable. Other than that, I think most non-standard-sized people hire tailors. It's a frustrating situation.


Cinder

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 10:20:52 AM »
I've sewed sails before, but haven't done any clothing repair.  Her mother can sew, and used to do the hems for her.  She got us a sewing machine for Christmas.  DW just doesn't have confidence in it, so I always suggest for us to get something that almost fits second hand (we got some pants/jeans for $2 at plato's about a month ago).. She has a pile of things to work on, just hasn't gotten to it. 

I think if she could find someone to teach her, it would really help her confidence level... She is usually pretty complainypants about things, and I always try to keep my optimism gun full force with her... It's a work in progress.

shusherstache

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2013, 10:32:57 AM »
Does your wife know of any upscale brands that fit her consistently well?  eBay has been a great source for me, and non-traditional sizes likely have less of a market and could be cheaper. Brands like J Crew, etc. have kids lines and may be sturdier.

I'd also recommend considering dresses, tights and boots/shoes - they can be dressed up or down and are forgiving on size if you are non-standard.  Shift dresses are made in many sizes and a belt (fabric belts, not notched ones) can help create definition without depending on a specific size.  I live in these dresses http://www.gigisgoneshopping.com/2009/05/merona-dresses-2.html at work.  Examples of kids shift dresses: http://www.ebay.com/sch/Kids-Clothing-Shoes-Accs-/171146/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=shift+dress

Zaga

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 10:44:05 AM »
Well if she bought a pair of pants for $2, and she tries her best to hem them and messes up, she really hasn't lost much.  On the other hand she has gained practice sewing!

I'm pretty small and I get a lot of my clothes at thrift stores and take them in and up to fit me, so I understans what your wife is dealing with.  She just needs to practice sewing.  I made several pairs of pants too short inadvertantly while learning, but they were all thrift pants so it wasn't devastating, just a learning experience.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 11:58:37 AM »
I would second the recommendation for your wife to find a brand that does fit her - Ann Taylor makes a petite line that might work - she would be a size 00 probably. Then look for that brand on clearance or lightly used on ebay, etc.

Cinder

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2013, 12:24:03 PM »
00's are still loose on her! The closest she finds that fits her are 00 short, and most placed don't really make 00 short anymore..

She also runs into the issue that sizes have gotten bigger...  She buys the exact type of underwear from Victoria's Secret and they are huge now...

EMP

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2013, 12:30:47 PM »
I've sewed sails before, but haven't done any clothing repair.  Her mother can sew, and used to do the hems for her.  She got us a sewing machine for Christmas.  DW just doesn't have confidence in it, so I always suggest for us to get something that almost fits second hand (we got some pants/jeans for $2 at plato's about a month ago).. She has a pile of things to work on, just hasn't gotten to it. 

I think if she could find someone to teach her, it would really help her confidence level... She is usually pretty complainypants about things, and I always try to keep my optimism gun full force with her... It's a work in progress.

Perhaps you need to learn to use the sewing maching.  There was an awesome thread a while back about someone that started with bringing in his shirts and ended up making himself some very nice slacks. 

It's a good skill for anyone, and if you're more motivated than she...

Dee18

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2013, 01:07:35 PM »
Go where there are lots of other small people.  My daughter is just a tad bigger than your wife.  Was she shocked in China when she had to buy size medium clothes!  China may be a bit far, but if you are anywhere near a Chinatown, there will undoubtedly be stores selling small, modern clothing.  I also second the idea of shopping in children's/juniors clothes, including at places like TJ Maxx, Banana Republic Outlet, and the Gap (and Gap outlet, which has 70% off sales regularly).  All of these stores stock adult like clothes in children's sizes.  For example, Uggs boots for girls are exactly the same as for adults, but half the price (and seem more likely to be on sale, as well).  I would also say it sounds like your wife does need some new clothes.  She is at a major transition and feeling confident is important.  Perhaps you could agree that she should get a certain wardrobe:  such as three quality pairs of pants, a skirt, and two dresses (or what ever combination she wants), a blazer, and a sweater.  Agree that this is a one time cost.  If there isn't money in the budget for that, she could take a part time job (tutoring? working part time at Anthropoligie or  Kohls or any clothing store she likes so she could get an employee discount?) My secretary works two shifts a week at Kohl's because she has a family of five to clothe and she gets fabulous discounts.  After getting the wardrobe basics, your wife could probably find inexpensive tops to go with with them at Target or TJ Maxx.  I am quite skilled at sewing, as I made many of my clothes as a teen, but I can find clothes on sale for way less than it would cost for the material to make them. 

Cinder

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2013, 04:33:04 PM »
If there isn't money in the budget for that, she could take a part time job (tutoring? working part time at Anthropoligie or  Kohls or any clothing store she likes so she could get an employee discount?)

She actually had applied for a job at Kohls.  I think she had to restrictive of a schedule, since she wanted to leave the daytime open for potential substitute.  She had put from 4~close, and no weekends.. 


Lots of great advice guys!

kkbmustang

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2013, 10:23:27 PM »
I have a very nice high end consignment store near my house that stocks all manner of designer labels for rock bottom prices, some pieces still with the tags on them. If she knows inseam length and waist measurements, you could email me, I can go to the shop, see what I can find, snap a picture, make an over the phone decision and then mail it up to you and you can send me the cash via paypal. Willing to do that, if you'd like. For example, I got a pair of Ralph Lauren slacks with the $400 price tag on them for $40. Not kidding you.

martynthewolf

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2013, 01:37:06 AM »
My girlfriend has the same problem. She's slim and rather tall (6ft) with quite long legs and pretty much every womens shop over here does not stock her trouser size, so she ends up with either a big waist and extra long legs or a fitted waist and short trousers. It can be a bit of a nightmare but we've managed to find a couple places that stock just the right sizes but they're few and far between.

olivia

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2013, 08:58:04 PM »
This is pretty much the perfect site for your wife: http://www.extrapetite.com 

The woman who runs it buys clothing, often at thrift stores, and alters them herself.  (She posts tutorials, too!)  She also buys and reviews new items from different places' petite departments. 

Your wife may just need to "invest" in some well made basics, like petite Banana Republic black pants. You can get away with wearing the same pair of black pants multiple times in a week (I speak from experience!), so she would really only need 2-3 pairs to alternate.  Sign up for the Banana Republic and Gap email lists-they constantly email out 30% off and 40% off coupon codes.  They also hand out coupons in store that are called "bounce back" coupons that make you come back at a later date and get 40% off one item.  She can buy what she wants in her size and then come back and return it and buy it again with 40% off.  I did this several times to end up with 2 full suits at a good price.   

Looking extremely young can be a serious detriment to women during their job search.  I have a friend who is about your wife's size and looks super young, and she had a difficult time landing a teaching job.  It worked out in the end but I think her appearance really played a part in it, because she had a fantastic reputation as a student teacher and went to a top notch masters program for teaching. 

I think your wife really needs to buy some nice staple pieces, particularly a suit.  Kids clothing is not going to cut it.  She may also want to go to a department store make up counter or a Sephora and ask for a makeover to get a more "professional" or mature look.  Same for her hair-a more "done" hair style with layers will help her appear more polished.

Mr. Minsc

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2013, 06:55:51 AM »
I managed to identify with something in this article, not the clothes thing.

Quote
Now, you might be thinking if you have enough money, why is that a problem area?  Well, its because we had a Goal.  We wanted to be financially secure before having a child, to the point of BOTH of us being able to stop working to raise our child.  This goal was very important to us, and this obsession with buying clothing was getting in the way of it.

We all have things which get in the way of our goals, hers was clothes.  I'd call mine computer use, it's a long running habit which I've known for a long time I should change.  The thought of that absence does bring in a certain uneasiness.

LJfunstuff

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2013, 10:18:25 AM »
Hi Cinder,
Another thing you're wife could try is to dress "European style", meaning keeping and taking care of, good quality staple pieces that are always stylish and good looking. Then spending only a little on the trendy fashions that quickly go out of style (cheaper tops, accessories, etc.). She might be interested in this site: http://www.fashionforrealwomen.com/

As for getting those high quality clothes in the first place - if there is a fashion school in your area, you can hire a recent graduate to custom sew the clothes at a lower price than that of an established tailor. As well, tailored clothes should have wider seam allowances to allow for alterations in the future. Try to find one who has done a lot of sewing in general, not just taken the course. Or look for a tailor in an ethnic community eg. Indian or Chinese.

In so many classrooms you can't tell the teacher from the students. It may seem old-fashioned but it's very important to distinguish oneself as the authority figure.

Good luck!

Osprey

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2013, 02:10:40 AM »
Hi Cinder

There's some very good advice here. I'd like to add that I've had a similar experience. I'm tiny + asian + round faced and I was recently on the job market. My recruitment agency told me that I needed to do something about it. (Seriously. What was I supposed to do, have leg lengthening surgey and dye my hair grey?) Your partner is probably feeling a huge amount of pressure and having good quality shoes/clothing will go a very long way in helping her look and feel professional.

**ETA: I did a bunch of binge-shopping due to the stress of interviews and having "nothing to wear" - be on the look out for this and keep the tags on until the last possible moment!

Here are some things that I hope will help:

1. I learned to sew from my mother and I do my own alterations, which saves tons of $. I have to shorten/take in absolutely everything but this means I can get reasonably-priced items and nip them down to fit perfectly. It's great that you have a machine and it seems like your MIL would be happy to teach you! Maybe if your partner is wary of sewing you can take the lead in this.

2. Look up the concepts of a capsule wardrobe, "french" wardrobe style, how to discern quality in clothing, and uniform dressing. She may find that she only needs to (find, buy and alter) three pairs of good quality pants and one jacket for an entire season. It's perfectly ok to wear the same thing to work every day.

3. Taking grooming up a notch has a high payoff. For an unestablished young woman in the workplace, wearing makeup and doing something deliberate with your hair every day is pretty much a necessity (in my opinion). Makeup and hair is not that expensive - my supposedly superfluous beauty products cost a whole lot less than my partner's online gaming habit or our mutual addiction to coffe. There are plenty of youtube tutorials on how to achieve "no makeup makeup" looks that are perfect for the workplace.

Things are as expensive as you allow them to be. I would say you guys are going to have to put some money into levelling up her "look" initially but after that it will be cheap and easy to maintain.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 02:23:53 AM by Osprey »

Cinder

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2013, 08:33:16 PM »
We are heading to the Philly Area next weekend, and we were wondering if any of you knew of any good thrift shops in/around the area that we could check out, in hopes of finding something that mostly fits my lovely, petite wife?

greenmimama

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2013, 05:54:56 PM »
Try http://www.shopkobieta.com The owners name is Nicki and every piece is hand made, paying hardly anymore than you would at the store. You put your exact measurements in and she makes the pieces to fit you.

I have a few pieces of her and I like them.

CommonCents

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2013, 07:34:07 PM »
Agree it sounds like she does need some new clothes for work.  A few key pieces (e.g. black slacks) will really help.  Set a target for items you want to get then look to acquire quality pieces that will last.  Don't buy more thrif shop items that require fixing until you've gotten on top of the ones you have.

That said, I don't see why she can't swap out shoes at work.  I don't know anyone who *doesn't* do that here in New England, particularly my cobblestone-heel-eating city.  It makes your shoes last longer too.  I wear a new pair in the office and when it gets more worn, switch it to a pair I'll wear outdoors if I need to run out mid-day for a meeting.  After that, it's tossed.  While her purse may be stolen, I can't imagine that would happen to her shoes and she should just ask someone where to store them, particularly in the winter when wearing boots.

Re tailoring, the trick is to buy clothes that fit in the seat, and hem as needed - waaaay easier than trying to take in pants.  Pants are often long anyways in order to fit most people (you can always hem up).  I second the notion that perhaps you ought to learn to sew - ask your MIL, I bet she'd be delighted to teach you and pass on those skills.  I take most of my pants to my mom, but she gave me her old 1969? sewing machine and I've done some things on it recently, like the tops of two lap quilts (finished off on her machine with a quilting foot, then gave away as wedding gifts).  Every so often I come in with a request to sew something and she has me
Such a useful life skill - she's made costumes for us, my wedding day veil, her wedding dress (offered for me, but I declined), quilted pieces for table tops at my wedding, curtains, a number of skirts/dresses, etc.  Fewer tops. 

If you find a store that fits, be loyal - stalk it regularly for sales, coupons if lucky.

JSmith

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2014, 04:14:59 AM »
Its indeed a concern nowadays that employers tend to judge employees by appearance to decide whether chances be offered or not, especially for women who would be applying for jobs that involves face-to-face communication with other humans. Therefore, an appropriate dress is very important, except for good makeup.

Your post reminds me of my job-seeking experience, I also attached great importantce to my look then since I am a short girl, too. My aunt recommended a great site named Azazie.com, which provides Custom Tailored service. I browsed the large collection and find one I liked, offered my own measurements, when the dress came, it fits me just like a glove!

MinnesotaMustachian

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Re: eliminate-your-dependence-on-foreign-and-domestic-clothing
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2014, 02:45:54 PM »
You might be interested in the blog http://refashionista.net/.  She is also a tiny lady, maybe a size 1, and her entire blog is about taking clothes she finds at the thrift store and remaking them into clothes that fit her perfectly.  She does not tout herself as a professional seamstress by any means, and she makes it seem very do-able.  Some of what she makes is not my style but nonetheless I've been inspired to try my own hand at refashioning.