The great clothes debate

During the last year (what with all the financial doom and gloom) there has been a lot of talk in the press and on the street about changing our approach to buying clothes. The argument seems to be in favour of buying fewer items but of higher quality that will last longer. Fundamentally I agree with this philosophy and have been trying to steer my thinking in this direction. Less, I would have to generally agree, is more.

I’ve poddled around on various websites and peeked in a few clothes shops, however, and I keep hitting a barrier. My trouble is, these ‘quality’ items seem to be a bit high maintenance. Hand washing, dry cleaning and so on. At heart I am a machine wash, fuss free kind of gal. I don’t want to freak out that I’ve spilt coffee on my perfect silk blouse that cost £90. And yes – to me £90 for a shirt is very fancy indeed. I am not remotely designer orientated. If I had £100 to spend on clothes and no more for a few months then I would actually much rather get 2 or 3 items than just one perfect thing. I know we ought to be throwing less stuff away, I know that any kind of manufacturing (clothes included) is damaging to the environment and so on. I know all of these things. And yet, I would rather have a couple of items that cost around £20-£40 that will update the basics in my wardrobe than one new top or pair of trousers that I would have to wear again and again and again until I am sick to death of it and be running back and forth to the dry cleaners.

What do you think? Have you discovered any clothes shopping wisdom through trial and error? Can you recommend any shops that sell good quality, ethically sourced items at a reasonable price?!

Categories: Budget beauty | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The great clothes debate

  1. Linda


    Lovely site, beautiful to look at, so well written. You never know the Kelly bag just may happen, as for bass guitar, wow – impressive…. Thank You for sharing, it all made me smile.
    Old-er Mom in Canada.
    “I’ll be beck”

  2. good quality, ethically sourced, reasonably priced are 3 descriptions not often found in the same sentence. The Natural Collection on line have clothes like that but are out of my price range – watch for the sale. Otherwise second hand items on Ebay or a friend of mine finds amazing bargains at sample sales (eg £100 skirt for a £10). I guess it relys on living in London, being a certain size and ethics probably don’t come into it with the designer stuff. So that’s probably not at all helpful really. Fairtrade wool and knitting needles perhaps ;o)

  3. hollyjune

    I agree that I would rather get more for my money and don’t think I’d ever spend as much as £100 on a single item apart from a coat or perhaps boots.

    I do think you can get “good quality” and “reasonably priced” items but the “ethically sourced” part can be hard to factor in. For me it’s very confusing. Many high street shops like Topshop, H&M and even Primark carry “fair trade cotton” or “ethically sourced” items but it’s not obvious what that actually means.

    Anyway, I think I’m going back on a ban. This shopping malarky is too much for me!

  4. I always think I’ll save and up buy some really nice clothes or shoes which will last me ages, but I find if I look after my cheaper clothes they will still do just a good job.

    Went to Primark to buy some of their jumpers as I find they always suit me better and if you buy the one’s with 10% cashmere in they are so soft and lovely and wash up really well.

    At the moment I just cant justify spending £200 on a pair of boots or £70 on trousers

  5. I’m all about the thrift store purchase at the moment – I’m lucky in that there are lots of cheapo vintage stores in London if you know where to look, but I’ve found a lot of stuff on Ebay too.

    For me it usually ticks the £ box and it’s enough to satisfy my ethical box too – no extra resources were used in making it. I normally find vintage clothes last longer, as they’re well made. On top of that I’ve found that they add a little uniqueness to my outfits! 🙂

    I hear People Tree are v good for ethically produced clothes. It is a weeny bit pricier than high street and I can’t vouch for the quality myself. My other half adores Howies. Their clothes are more casual. Again they have a very impressive ethical company charter, but the prices are a little higher. Their stuff lasts a long time though, and is machine washable.


  6. I am prefering to avoid primark these days. and any other cheaper end of the spectrum stuff. It just doesn’t last at all. It looks generally shoddy pretty quickly and then, what can you do with it, no one else will want it. I haven’t bought many clothes at all since i started being frugal. Actually I have been selling a lot of the very expensive stuff I bought when I had too much money sloshing around. well actually it wasnt too much money, I was just sloshing it around anyway! I certainly am not going anywhere near dry clean only. But I did just spend £70 on a sweater. in the sale too. I hope that it lasts me ages. it looks really really lovely and beats a crappy one to the high hills I think. Having said that I got just as lovely a jumper for £1 at a boot sale. a proper wool mariniere from france. Very coco avant chanel! I cant quite bring myself to spend £300 on a cashmere from Brora. But a friend of mine did, ten years ago, and it looks as if it is brand new now. And it still makes her feel a million dollars. I think I am going land on the side of fewer things, that may cost more, but that I cherish more and make me feel good too. Ideally I would have a really minimal wardrobe of classic things and – I do actually wear the same things every day anyway. no one notices. Maybe with the odd second hand accessory or three….. I think it is good to know what expensive stuff does last, and look better, because then you can pick it up second hand or even choose wisely from new. Cos some stuff is just a load of over priced crap anyway

  7. apieceofwood

    I use a wide range! But eBay is a firm fave! I like some of the supermarket ranges sometimes. Have been known to frequent Primark.. but will splash out sometimes if it’s a special occasion or I really like a piece…

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