Frugal Pinup – An ongoing discussion on looking great affordably

My whole life I’ve been utterly broke. First, it was when I was a child and had no choice. Then, it was when I was a teen, and I had little earning power as an unskilled worker. Now, I’ve just been in the habit of being broke for so long that I assume that I’m still broke, and deserve to be. That last bit just isn’t helping.

I’ve always been frugal, because of the brokeness. However, quality items are worth every penny, and I’ve known to grab quality where I can.

We’re plenty broke right now, but that’s going away. I’ve been a jeans and cheap shirt girl forever. I think that’s time to change.

I used a budgeting calculator recently, and it asked what kind of ¬†clothing purchases I made. The quiz asked me to say if I am a designer-only purchaser who had to stay on-trend, an on-trend woman who buys more classics in less prestigious brands with one or two nice designer pieces a year, or someone who doesn’t follow trends, shops sales, and rarely buys designer anything. I qualified as the last option, and the budgeting tool said that I needed to allot $2500-$3000/year on clothing.




Yeah, I don’t often spend $250 per year, let alone $2500.

So, I decided to tally my purchases this year and came up with approximately $210 for the year to that point. And I started the year pregnant. And $110 of that was work shoes. And $40 of that was one bra. That leaves $60 for tops, undies, jeans, skirts, socks, dresses, and anything else. For the year. The year I’d had a baby, and should therefore have excessive change in size. It became obvious to me that I am not keeping up with clothing well.

I dug into a few drawers and cataloged my wardrobe. My favorite skirt is seven+ years old, and originally cost about $15. Two pencil skirts on hand are four+ years old. I found a vest that actually fit my shape for about $20 three years ago. There’s a great black button-up that I bought for some function that required it, with rhinestone buttons and it doesn’t actually button over my boobs – I have to wear a tank under it – and that is at least five years old. I found a bunch of shirts that don’t fit, skirts that I feel I should no longer wear due to the short length, socks with holes, and underwear I’ve had since before I moved into town with my ex-husband back when he was still my husband. That divorce was final over seven years ago, which means that, until recently, I possessed nine- and ten-year-old underwear.

There’s frugal, and then there’s ridiculous. Wearing undies that make me feel ugly, with holes, shot elastic, and a decade’s worth of age qualifies as ridiculous.

I threw out old socks and undies, and found a home for two bras that were practically unworn but far too small for me. I long for the time four years ago when I cashed in some work stock and was able to drop $500 on bras and matching undies. I need to be able to do at least that annually, because an average bra for my size runs over $50 each. I haven’t done that since.

I’ve discovered the blind spot that is my wardrobe, and realize that I need to fix it, but here’s the problem: clothes for me are often ill-fitting, ugly, or expensive due to my shape and size. A good fit also often requires alterations.

I wear a 36 or 38 JJ bra (UK size 36H or 38GG-H). L, XL, or 2XL, depending on the item. For jeans, the brand I wear most often is a US 14 in their curvy line. These can pose some difficulties, but I’m tackling them anyway. I’m going to work on these problems and build my wardrobe with a pin-up aesthetic. Even better, I’m going to do it affordably. Best, I’m going to share my experiences here with you! I hope you’ll give your input.