I’m Spent: Something Old

by Rachel on November 4, 2011

As I got dressed this morning, I thought…Haven’t I seen this outfit somewhere before? Like…four years ago?

The picture on the left is me at a party my senior year of college; I’m wearing a black V-neck sweater (with a black tank top under it to make up for the fact that it was too low-cut, even for a sorostitute), black leggings, brown boots, and a leopard-print belt from Express. This morning I put on black skinny pants, a black V-neck sweater, brown boots, and the same belt, and I realized…Wow. Some things never change.

I’ve said before that when it comes to personal style, I’m about quality over quantity. I noticed pretty quickly when interning and later working at ELLE Magazine that while fashion people do wear crazy expensive things, they wear the same few things all the time. And it’s really not a big deal; they are like cartoon characters in that their clothes and even accessories don’t seem to change much. I’ve been applying that approach to my style ever since. I don’t wear particularly expensive things, but most of the things I buy, I buy to wear for a while.

Now, I do buy new clothes when I absolutely have to — unfortunately, most of the clothes I buy aren’t such high-quality that they’ll last forever — but when I do buy new clothes, it’s pretty much a new version of the same thing. Case in point…

(Apparently, I have a thing for gold vests.)

The V-neck sweater I’m wearing in both pictures from 2011 is also new…but it was $13 (American Apparel via thrift store). I buy a few new items every season, but I buy everything with the intention that it will last me for at least two seasons (two summers, two winters, etc.). I might buy one new dress and wear it to every wedding I go to in a summer (or alternate it with the dress I bought the year before).

To be able to get so much wear out of my clothes, I buy the nicest quality I can afford — even if it means not buying very much — and avoid Forever 21. (I’m pretty sure tampons are made of higher-quality fabric than Forever 21’s clothes and you can wear them for about as long.) I also take a lot better care of my clothes now than I did when I was younger. I actually read  the washing instructions and don’t toss everything in the dryer. As a result, I don’t spend very much money on clothes.

Sometimes I feel self-conscious that I’m wearing the same clothes in most of the pictures of myself I share (my pictures from Chicago feature the same yellow plaid shirt that I was wearing last Halloween) because I assume people think it’s weird or assume that I have no clothes/personal style. While I don’t have more clothes than I need, I do feel like I have a sense of style. And I like my stuff so much now that I don’t really want to go buy more (nor can I really afford to buy a new dress every weekend).

I’m a big fan of figuring out what works and buying what you love…and then wearing the shit out of it.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lia November 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

I can really relate to this post. I just a big closet clean-out to pare down my wardrobe (donated some and gave the rest to my little sister), and am now only buying things that I really love and will wear the crap out of, for years to come. I had been pining after a this sweater from J. Crew – was actually obsessing over it – but I had never bought a sweater for that price. Well, finally, I decided to go for it (thanks to their 25% off promo the other week), and I’ve been wearing it at least once a week, and it makes me really happy every time I put it on. Quality over quantity!


2 Caitlin November 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

I buy plenty of F21 stuff. I know the quality sucks but if I where it a few times and then it dies, it’s worth it to me. That being said, I love to buy nicer things that I know I’ll wear the shit out of for forever. My favorite clothes are the ones I take out of my closet and say, shit I bought this in high school, and it’s still in good condition and classic enough to wear today. Or, still comfy enough, in the case of the sweatpants I’m wearing at this moment that I bought 6 years ago.


3 looloolooweez November 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I love the fashion philosophy of maintaining just a few basic, really well-made pieces while indulging in cheap trendy stuff a couple of times a year. You’re so right — personal style isn’t about how stuffed your closet is, it’s about developing a wardrobe that you’re happy with and wearing the shit out of it!


4 Stephanie November 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for sharing. I feel the same self-consciousness, and it’s good to know that I’m not alone in this. I live in Northern California, and although it doesn’t have as much of a materialistic vibe as Southern California, I still feel the pressure to have a huge wardrobe. I’d much rather have one really nice blouse from Macy’s than ten flimsy shirts from F21. Sorry I’m not sorry.


5 Deva @ Deva by Definition November 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I’m the same way – I have a handful of pieces that I wear over and over again. I wear something until it’s falling apart and then replace it. Some of the clothes I have now are what I was wearing in college, and some of those pieces are just now in need of replacement. I have told The Boy numerous times that I would much rather spend money on stuff for running, vacations, movies, etc, than to buy a new wardrobe every season. I add a few things here and there, but otherwise? I don’t spend all that much on my clothes.


6 Emma November 4, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Forever 21 also makes their clothes in sweatshops in LA with immigrant workers- American Apparel too!


7 Katie @ livehalffull November 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm

I agree! I feel like my Mom always going for “classic over trendy,”and but it works! I wear the same clothes all the time. I just recently moved in with my fiance and downsized my wardrobe because I realized I was only wearing about 30% of it. Now its easy! I wear the same accessories too pretty much to a T every day. But its all quality and I spent a lot because I consider them investments. Gone are the “I need a new Forever 21 outfit for every party,” hello adulthood!


8 Rachel November 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm

“Gone are the “I need a new Forever 21 outfit for every party,” hello adulthood!”



9 Marla @ Your Full Plate November 5, 2011 at 7:38 am

Yup x2!

Thanks for writing this, Rachel! For me, a really great thing about relying on a few well made pieces is that I don’t have to do a massive closet cleanout every season. When I’d buy a new F21 or H&M outfit for every event, those pressure-bought outfits were either a) a pilly mess by season’s end, because they were made out of crap material or b) not in fashion at all by a season or two later. It was way harder to stay organized with all those barely worn outfits taking up room, you know?


10 [SMASH] November 5, 2011 at 9:09 am

[To start with a sidenote: Your hair in the 2011 photo with the gold vest… AMAZING.]

My style is to buy quite a few medium-quality pieces that can be used over and over again for different layering. I think that’s the easiest way to change up my look is to layer things different.


11 Cynthia (It All Changes) November 5, 2011 at 10:17 am

I love classic clothes and styles I’ll wear over and over and over.

If I need a random outfit I probably won’t wear again I’ll hit up Forever 21 but otherwise I only buy jewelry there (since I can’t wear it for work in uniform).


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