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Buying Clothes You Will Wear

I have purchased brand new Brighton and Vera Bradley handbags and high end fashionable clothing by Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, etc. at the Salvation Army. I have found that the key to getting a good clothing bargain whether at a thrift store or high-end store is to only buy if it is exactly what I like.



Raise your arms. Does the shirt rise up to your waist and stay there? Very unflattering and you are unlikely to want to spend the day pulling it back down. Put your arms straight out as though sleep-walking. Does the sleeve cut into the inside of your arm? Don't buy clothing that fights movement. You will need to raise your arms every time you take an item off a shelf.

Is the shirt likely to have a built-in wardrobe malfunction? Most ladies shirts are cut too low to wear to work unless you have a cami that matches. Do you have one? If not, is it still worth the price if you have to purchase one? Is the color and fit flattering? Will you look forward to wearing it? If not, don't bother. You will just end up stuffing it into a donation bag or leaving it at the back of your closet.


Avoid shirts with machine stitched illustrations, i.e,. kittens and birdhouses, unless you don't mind looking older.


Unless they are so comfortable that you could immediately put them on and wear them for the rest of the day, don't even think of buying them.

Slacks and skirts:

Only buy neutrals. They are usually the most flattering. If you will only have one top that matches the lime green pants, you will never be able to find that top when you need it. In addition, matchy-match outfits, i.e., Bonworth (my mom loves that store) are aging. Avoid elasticized waists in anything but casual gym clothes. There may be some exceptions in casual wear, but not many. Fitted just looks more together and professional.

Sit down. Does the back dip too low for decency? Don't rely on belts or long blouses to cover rear cleavage, this is just too risky, although belts will work for closing a gap in back. Stick with a style or two that are flattering for your figure type. Remember back pocket flaps add bulk. They only flatter the very slimmest of figures. Pencil skirts look good on most everyone, but contrary to the old fashion advice, A-line skirts do not. They spread out like full sail on the mother ship which is not exactly the most flattering silhouette.



I don't own any because I can't mix and match with them and most are too dressy for a more casual work environment. But if you need one, often the best buy is a simple style in solid black, gray, navy, or beige that can be accessorized for different looks and occasions. Dress styles go out of fashion very quickly, so trendy looks are not the best buy.


Purses are fun and I own more than I really need. I just can't pass up a beautiful Italian leather bag for under ten dollars. But, once again, neutrals are the best buy. I have a red purse that I feel guilty about because I just don't want to take the time to seek it out on the days I am wearing clothes it won't clash with.


If you are over 40, get the advice of a teen or 20-something. I wore large-frame 80's era glasses I thought were cute and my trademark look until my 9th grade students started torturing me with comments such as, "Why do you want to look old?" They were right. Updating your look makes you look and feel more youthful. There is a huge difference between maintaining a youthful appearance and dressing embarrassingly like a teenager. They know the difference and so can we.


By SusannL from St. Cloud, FL

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June 24, 20100 found this helpful

I am a large size person and for some reason manufacturers think we need a neckline that is larger and lower cut than the average person. When I buy something, I can usually get at least two more necks in the item. Actually the same goes for regular size clothing. I have an adult developmentally disabled daughter and we have an awful time finding ladies tee shirts that fit her properly. She isn't a large lady, but in order to find t-shirts that don't fit like they are spray painted on, we have to get a 2x-3x, and those sizes aren't cool looking. Then there is the matter of the neckline being too low cut, etc. We've getting her shirts in the men's department with her favorite football, baseball teams, country singers, nascar on them. It is really pathetic that a person can't find ladies clothing that works for people that don't want to dress like the average girl/young woman does these days. I just don't want my daughter dressing like she is inviting attention from males.

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June 25, 20100 found this helpful

Love, love, love SusannL's line " full sail on the mother ship", tears streaming down my aging, chubby cheeks, ROFL.
The only thing I disagree with here is consistently sticking to neutrals. For me, anyway, throwing on anything that's red compliments my skin tone and hair color, and lifts my mood.

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June 25, 20100 found this helpful

Thanks for these useful reminders.

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June 25, 20100 found this helpful

Will someone please tell me what "matchy-match" clothes are. I cannot picture this.
It's smart and thrifty to buy well made clothing for a basic wardrobe.
Do have some neutrals, but make sure the neutrals flatter your skin tones. If it's grey and cheap and gorgeous but makes you look ashen or washed out, don't buy it.


Throw in some colors that are beautiful on you.
Thrift stores and consignment shops are great places to find deals. Just check in regularly.
I found a chocolate suede, lined, zipper-front, straight skirt in perfect condition (don't think it had been worn) in a thrift shop for $4.00.
I did have to pay to have it cleaned and that wasn't cheap. Worth it though. I'm very careful with it and don't plan to need a cleaning for quite a while. Found a short, knit jacket in same shade at TJMaxx and I have a suitish look I love.

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June 25, 20100 found this helpful

The original tip and all the feedbacks are excellent. Thanks for so much uncommon sense advice! (Matchy-match is when the outfit is over-matched: all one color/print, shoes, purse, etal. Right? I tend to do this, so I remove one matching item and substitute a coordinated one. It's a step, anyway!) Cay from FL

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June 26, 20100 found this helpful

Oh, I mostly buy neutrals in pants and skirts. I love colorful tops, including red. I agree that all neutrals would be boring! My point is that if you own neutral bottoms, it is easy to match your tops to your pants and skirts. I remember when it was popular to have colors "done" to determine which color palette is most flattering. I am a winter, which means bold colors. My mom is a summer and looks best in softer colors. Seriously, the colors of your favorite blouses probably tell the story. If my face comes anywhere near pale peach fabric I appear to have a severe case of jaundice. On the other hand, fuchsia and apricot make me look better than I am!

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June 27, 20100 found this helpful

Excellent tip, well thought out. Although I rarely go out and own few dressy clothes, I do like to look presentable when I do. I like to be comfortable above all, so refuse anything that doesn't "breathe." In short, mostly natural fabric like cotton. I'll go for a blend for easy maintenance, but stay away from straight manufactured/man-made fabrics like polyester. (Gag! Shades of the 1970s!)
btw, my definition of "matchy matches" is any outfit that can't be worn separately, but must be worn together to look right.

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June 29, 20100 found this helpful

Some good advice, but sometimes as we get older, we just have to go for comfort. The majority of clothes out there are for the very young, too clingy and skimpy. What is a woman in her early 50's that has gained some weight suppose to wear to look fashionable and yet not look like a 20 year old?

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