Clothes shopping tips in a weak economy: Part 1

clothes shopping tips

Happy Thursday, ladies!  Today, I would like to ponder and process with you clothes shopping tips in a weak economy, part 1.

We all are well aware of inflationary times in most countries of the world…with some facing recession.

So, I have been pondering how to look at clothes shopping tips in a weak economy.  I am processing this right along with you.

Many of us are reading or have read Linda Grant’s book, The Thoughtful Dresser. 

clothes shopping tips

Since I was a kid, I have always marked up the books I read.  It is difficult for me to read almost anything without a pen in hand.

When I read this book over vacation, I was captured by her thoughts of clothes shopping tips during a recession.

She writes that due to advancing age and economic uncertainty, she has ceased shopping like a teenager and more to shopping like an adult who uses caution and advance thought.

Grant writes many words about this topic and I encourage you to read her thoughts on pages 64-65.

What captured me the most is when she said this,

“The last thing I want to feel is depressed, and depressed I would feel if I was wearing dreary, cheap clothes; if I had abandoned in a mood of austerity, the very notion of style.  So, shopping must happen less often, but with more thought, for in an economic downturn, you cannot afford to buy cheap, disposable clothes.”  And after telling the story of purchasing a fabulous coat, she writes, “In a recession, you cannot allow life to turn beige.”


clothes shopping tips

I have spent so much time lately processing clothes shopping tips learned this year as I spend time in retailers at all price points.

So, today, I would like to share with you the clothes shopping tips that help me, and I hope will help you.  Part 2 of this post runs tomorrow….as I said, there is much to ponder….

These clothes shopping tips in a weak economy have been developed with the intention to help you not waste money and make fewer clothes shopping mistakes.

My goal here is to encourage you to maintain a bright outlook and more confidence despite what is happening around you.

TIP #1

Before you set foot in any store, assess your wardrobe needs.

I entered 2023 with several wardrobe needs.  I faced a wedding as Mother-of-the-Groom accompanied by wedding happenings around the main event.

I was looking at two big trips this year with Mr. B, so I assessed those needs as well.

I also have been losing some weight…not vast amounts…but enough that I am looking at my wardrobe differently right now.

In January, I assessed the closet…what I own, what I love, what no longer works, and what I need.

I actually re-arranged the closet to allow for new styles…like dresses which were practically non-existent in the wardrobe.  That needed to be fixed.

Of course, any wardrobe assessment created a new assessment of what I want to tell the world about me with my clothing.

clothes shopping tips

TIP #2

Select five adjectives that you want to tell the world about you with your clothes.  Then ask yourself with every garment or outfit, does this say those five adjectives about me.

I know…most of you hear this from me over and over again…but I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand, “What do I want to say with what I wear?”

It will save you money and sharpen a wardrobe that is your own unique personal style. 

It will keep you from taking a garment out of your closet, that you rarely wear and wonder why you bought it in the first place.

You have to ask in the dressing room if the clothing speaks your five adjectives to you.   If not, leave it behind.

My adjectives are…Polished, approachable, joyful, current and creative.

clothes shopping tipsJust this week, I received an email from one of our wonderful readers and she shared this plaque that she took at a Native American Exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Art.

The plaque says….

Clothing as art and identity

The clothing you wear can say a lot about who you are. This statement is particularly true among the Native American nations of the Great Lakes region and the Plains to the west.

Clothing displays the skills of those who make it and the social identity of those who wear it.

The three groups of clothing in this gallery show the identity can take many forms:

*Personal identity: What does the clothing communicate about the individual?

*Community style: How can clothing identify someone as a member of a specific community group?

*Native American Identity: How did clothing play a role in asserting a broader “Native American” identity when missionaries, officials, and others pressured Native Americans to assimilate?

Throughout history and today, Native American women have made clothes with elaborate, colorful, designs to serve as expressions of cultural strength, community pride, and the persistence of traditional cultural values.

She sent this to me knowing that these are timeless messages I share with you often.

That clothing sends a message about us and is often influenced by our communities.

I love a historical perspective.

I am going to pause at this point today.  I will continue this conversation tomorrow.  Any thoughts today on clothes shopping tips in a weak economy?

Tomorrow I have so much to say about fashion retailing, so I hope you will return for Part 2 of this discussion.  Thanks for being here….


Pamela Lutrell

I appreciate your support of this blog by shopping with my SHOPPING LINKS, and if you don’t see the retailer you need for anything, just send me an email and I will see if I have a link or if there is a sale you are looking for!

Email is

Recent requests have been for SHEEC NO-SHOW FOOTWEAR and Bombas…and Tuckernuck …just click the name and you will be there.

I am here to assist you with any gift ideas as well, and hope you will consider shopping gifts with these links!  AND your home purchases!

I know many like to make Home Depot purchases online and then drive to the store to pick them up.  You can still use my HOME DEPOT link to do that.

A special thank you to everyone who does this to offer your support of the blog!!  It makes a difference and keeps me here.

clothes shopping tips


  1. I have stopped wasting money on fast fashion and trends, focusing on style. Fashion is fleeting, style is enduring. Regardless of the economy, I buy quality (looking over my considerations for stitching, fabric and details), buy less, use what I have. With a wardrobe of quality basics, I’m able to wear things for years that speak to my adjectives and add accessories to change things up. I feel very unsettled with too much in the closet. To me, that represents waste and chaos. Just me, I’m definitely a quality shopper and more of a minimalist!

  2. You are expressing part of my conversation for tomorrow, Karen! I know you shop with style in mind and have found success with my style adjective-theory. Tomorrow, I go deeper into what you are saying here.
    Thanks for getting the conversation started today.

  3. I’m a sucker for sales! Now that I’m retired and no longer have big events, like your son’s wedding, in my life, my shopping tends to be due to my seeing something I like and buying it. However, since I have too many clothes now, and truly need to clean out my three closets, I’m trying to avoid the available sales. My only current need is probably to find shoes that will help my plantar fasciitis from reoccurring. But…I do love the looking!! And from my IPad in my living room makes it so easy!

  4. Great topic today. I really like the very colorful dress at the top of the post. Where can I get it?

  5. I read an article about inflation in the 70s and someone did a study of food consumption, noting that waste rose when prices went up b/c people substituted things in their shopping “baskets” and tended to waste more of their substituted purchases. Maybe their children wouldn’t eat the different thing, they didn’t like the taste, didn’t know how to cook it correctly.
    I think that generalizes across many goods. When you substitute for what you really want you may not be happy with it, at which point the substitute good can not be useful and turn into a mistaken purchase. The chips I love went up a lot in price. Rather than switch to the kind I like less I’ve decided to not buy them at all, OK maybe now and then, but not every week.

    My strategy is to buy carefully and not buy things that are not exactly what I want. Like many other readers here I have a deep closet to work with. Few of my clothing purchases are emergencies. I have the time to shop and consider. That doesn’t mean I’d push “buy” on a dress that’s wonderful but way out of my budget, but I might keep shopping until I find something in my budget comfort zone that makes me happy.

  6. Hi Mary, that is a Trina Turk caftan and the photo is from a local boutique. I know most high end retailers carry this designer. I have seen her designs at Nordstrom and Dillards. I have those links at the top of my page under Shopping Links.

  7. I too am long retired, and usually have no big events to shop for. Going out to eat or to a family dinner mostly constitutes socializing, along with garden meetings. So I mainly shop my closet, where there are lovely blazers, pants, crops, jackets, cashmere sweaters, purses etc. Seasonally I replace things like black or white t shirts, underwear, pj’s and such, along with shoes. There are two very nice dresses for summer with tags still on that I bought last year on sale.. I will break them out this year. If I had a big big event, I’d consider renting a dress for sure. I won’t buy trendy stuff except in very small doses, and though I haven’t thought about adjectives , I’d say my look is classic, elegant, minimal. The only thing my wardrobe needs is a nice wide belt for some of my dresses and wide leg pants..
    I am truly content with not shopping more. I don’t need it, the earth doesn’t need it, my wardrobe isn’t boring. Quite the opposite, I find shopping tedious!

  8. Thanks for sharing, Susan! Hopefully the tips I offer these two days will help others like you who find it tedious!

  9. Great post! I recently read The Thoughtful Dresser and thoroughly enjoyed it. Looking forward to tomorrow’s Part2!

  10. Pam, your comments are interesting and reflect what I feel, too. I like looking at fashion and think about how I would style it. It’s a fun exercise. But I’ve gotten pretty good at not hitting BUY unless it is something that will last, endure and be a versatile part of my wardrobe. And…..I go to thrift stores to fill in the gaps and add some fun pieces. Looking forward to Part 2 of this article.

  11. Timely topic Pam! Since January I have put myself on a buying moratorium. This will be the first time in forever that I will not be carrying a balance on my Talbots card. As the coupons, sales and offers come in I am resisting shopping mainly because of finances but also because I am feeling clothes shopping was becoming terribly wasteful. We have a trip coming up in October and I need to concentrate on what I will be bringing plus I would like to buy a few leather items while in Italy. When I retired from my professional job almost 5 years ago and moved from NY to SoCal I had an identity crisis; I was more comfortable in tailored suits than shorts and tee shirts. Your blog and the style adjectives have really helped me with my wardrobe reconstruction. Once I was secure with my adjectives my confidence in transforming a super professional wardrobe into a more relaxed casual one became easier. Looking forward to more of this discussion!

  12. Thanks for sharing, Linda! I think many women can identify with what you are saying here.

  13. I love that exercise too! I just completed writing tomorrows post and will actually carry the discussion into Monday as well!

  14. Another one of my stratagies is to check out second hand items with a view to the quality items. I have found wonderful cashmere and high end items from time to time, but it takes some sleuthing. I have reread that book numerous times to refresh my memory.

  15. Thanks for sharing, Diane. This will be a part of Monday’s post. So much to cover! But I will do my best to get all my thoughts in.

  16. Interesting article/book excerpt, although I don’t think a fear of recession would change my shopping habits, nor would I run out and purchase a $4,000 winter coat!
    I’ve always loved the process of evaluating my closet and wardrobe needs at the start of each season (4 seasons here in Canada) and making a list of where the holes are with items that need to be replaced or added. I grew up with a very stylish mother who taught me what to look for in quality and only buy an item if it goes with at least 3 items in my closet. I tend to take good care of my clothes and they last for many years.
    I don’t buy clothes online as I like to feel the fabric, see the construction and the actual colour. I’ve only purchased clothes online twice, both from an American website, so I could not return, and neither item were as I expected. We also don’t have the selection you do in the U.S. and our prices are much higher, so I think generally we are more conservative in our shopping habits.
    The only time I struggled with my style was when I first retired and had not yet adjusted to a more casual lifestyle. I stull miss wearing pant suits and heels 🙂

  17. I, too, am one to mark up a book and my copy of The Thoughtful Dresser is certainly full. My fashion friend from junior high and I will give it a go this summer. When I turned to page 64, I was delighted to see that I had earmarked that passage and written Pamela L. next to it! So happy I knew what would resonate with you for discussion. It also coincides with the story Grant told on page 119 of her immigrant grandparents. It is so interesting about a cap vs a hat, beards vs mustache, (little details) but particularly how her grandparents decided their strategy of fitting in with their new surroundings would revolve around clothing choices.
    I recently watched a video where there was a quick discussion about how so many people would like to ‘start over’ with their wardrobes, but unless we are informed about ourselves and changing bodies, we might make the same mistakes. So many times I am drawn to an item I already own. I was really considering a lovely, slouchy peach cardigan at Talbots this week. Then I remembered I had purchased one from Chico’s during covid. I went home and pulled it out. Not the latest cut, but actually shorter in length and fitted shoulders that are hard to find now. It looks better on me. My tip is to really take stock of your closet, archive pieces (or donate) that aren’t going to be what you reach for this spring/summer, and see what you really need to fill a hole.
    Thank you, Pam, for this discussion. I will reread comments at the end of the day. Can’t wait for tomorrow. I wish that interested individuals could sit in a circle and discuss with open minds and a sense of humor!

  18. We would have so much fun and the best talks! Wish that could actually happen!

  19. I, too, am trying to become more thoughtful about spending. Learning to adjust to retirement has required a shift in my true needs that I floundered with for a while. One tool I’ve started this year is listing each item I purchase per month (with cost) to actually see that I AM still enjoying new pieces, but not just stuffing my closet with items I’ll never use. My mind kept telling me that I never get anything new, but the list says otherwise — Eyeopener for me. Love your blog and your wise messages 😊

  20. Pamela, have you given any consideration to a Zoom call where we could submit questions/comments prior to the call and you could share with us your thoughts?

  21. My problem is that I LOVE to shop. It’s really something I enjoy, so it’s very difficult for me to stop buying. I have way too many clothes! Someone I discover something I totally forgot I had. I really am going to try to stop shopping as much or at least stop buying. I can’t afford it anymore either. I’m sure others can relate to this. I love fashion!

  22. I love it too, Carol! It’s fun… the series of posts I am doing is to help us all become smart shoppers. Read what I am saying and ponder the advice. Use the guidelines to glean your wardrobe and then use them for any future shopping. Come back tomorrow for more!

  23. I went through the whole retirement adjustment process and, since mine took place during the worst of the pandemic, my needs shifted significantly — think sweatshirts, tees, joggers …. I’m thinking about dresses, but really only because you and other bloggers are all talking about them — a lot! But, unlike all of you, I have numerous pairs of shorts and wear them regularly. I’m finding my desires don’t really coincide with my needs. My few MOG dresses are a get-out-of-jail-free card – LOL. Looking forward to part 2.

  24. So much depth here, both in your post and the comments! The Thoughtful Dresser was a great read the first time around, and because you mentioned it recently, I’m now re-reading it. It’s funny how reading the same words in a new season of life (recently retired, providing care for my elderly mom) finds them resonating differently. Like several other readers, I miss dressing in suits, blazers and dresses for work. Those were easy, safe outfits but didn’t do much for creating my own unique style. Now I’m having to ask myself hard questions about how my life has changed, how I want to present myself at this age/life stage, and how I can incorporate some style elements I still love (tailored, classic, polished) into my current lifestyle, where comfort and easy-care fabrics suddenly matter. It helps that for the last three years I only bought clothing I felt like could transition to retirement, such as softer, knit blazers rather than structured, etc. Recession or not, I will continue to choose higher quality items that have staying power, as my taste tends to be fairly classic. I had planned to reduce my wardrobe expenditures in retirement, but in the past year I have realized I hardly had any suitable casual clothes that fit after a weight loss. Another major and somewhat unplanned expense was the recent replacement of my entire shoe wardrobe due to post-surgical foot issues, but at least my feet feel better. I really appreciated the details on your closet assessment process, and hope to find time to do this again soon. I’m in a private FB group with some like-minded women who discuss many of the same topics you do, and these are the standards some of us have adopted for our primary closets: My closet will include only items that I love, that fit today’s body, that I would rate a “9” or “10,” and that are “everyday elevated.” I will have fewer duplicates and I will wear the (heck) out of what remains! Ideally, having each item meet those criteria will help us avoid those “nothing to wear” moments when we stand in our closets surrounded by things we don’t or can’t wear. Hope that helps some other readers figure out their own metrics for a meaningful and productive assessment process. Can’t wait for the next installment in this mini-series, and for the comments, as well.

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