Finese In Buying Clothes
( Originally Published 1924 )
FOR MOST women, buying is a fascinating game; but of course, the real sport of the game is not spending money but in getting real value in one's purchases. The woman who dresses in perfect taste often spends far less money than the one who has an indefinite understanding of what she needs and wants.
Before any one ventures forth on a shopping expedition, she should have a definite idea of what she is going to buy. The value of systematic planning can not be overestimated. Plan for at least one year, and, if possible, estimate the amount of money available for clothing. A careful scrutiny of many budgets gives fifteen per cent. as a fair estimate to spend for clothing, with twenty per cent. as a maxi-mum allowance ; but circumstances, of course, may alter cases. The wise woman first takes stock of the clothes she has on hand. One successful business woman says she begins a season with an absolutely new wardrobe. She doesn't have as much variety in her toilettes as she would have by retaining her last season's apparel, but she doesn't depend on variety. She says that with this plan she always looks fresh for her work. If one's thrift could not countenance such a plan it might be well at least to take time to separate the clothing into groups of "Needs remodeling," "Needs repairing," "To be discarded ;" and then prepare to fill in with new clothes whatever gaps there may be in the season's wardrobe.
THE VALUE OF A BUDGET
Knowing what you want and how much you can afford to spend, lends efficiency to shopping. Put down in black and white the amount to be spent for clothes. Then apportion your money so that every need is considered, and you will not be tempted to indulge in such an exquisite hat that a cheap suit and inferior shoes are necessary to balance ac-counts.
Start out with a firm determination to be as well dressed as possible for all occasions, but do not try to accomplish it all at once. Buying poor materials, or poor styles, is what keeps one poor; but at the same time buying the best of things which do not appropriately combine, will spoil one's looks, waste one's allowance, and eventually leave one with "nothing to wear" quite as much as shopping with a lean purse.
A few good things, wisely selected with a view to their suitability for one's own personality—not Martha's or Mary's—are more satisfactory and a better investment than an elaborate assortment chosen at random and made to "do" for any and all occasions without giving the impression of being intended for any.
There is no better provision for an economical and correct wardrobe than making a clothes budget. Income and living conditions, of course, control the amount of the clothes allowance, and, therefore, a budget plan at best can only be suggestive.
For women who go to business or school, the street clothes which answer for their daily duties take more of the allowance than do the street clothes of the home woman who wears such clothes mostly when she goes shopping, which is not a daily duty. And those women who are interested in philanthropic work and other activities and spend most of their days away from home, also demand a larger allowance for street clothes.
The one who, through systematic accounting, knows where her money goes will realize the importance of foregoing little inconsequential trifles in order to acquire good necessities. Two women may go into a store with the same amount of money to spend. After purchasing, one will appear correctly clad and harmonious in every detail for the various activities of her life. The other will have a lot of foolish things, one of which, perhaps, will be an elaborate evening gown—when what she really needed was a good looking street dress.