Monday, February 27, 2012

Thrifty Style: "Must Haves"

Have you noticed the new "being thrifty" books on the market lately?

Back when I was a young, first time mom, I learned to be thrifty out of necessity. (Tightwad Gazette, anyone?) Back then, "thrifty" meant clipping coupons for cereal, pairing them with sales, and coming home with eight boxes of Lucky Charms for seventy five cents each. It meant stockpiling Aquafresh when I could get it for pennies, and learning to buy Wal-Mart clothes when they were on the $1 clearance.

Times have changed since then. Financial circumstances aren't so dire, and I've learned a whole lot about how managing health goes a long way toward living frugally. It would appear that most of the "frugal" book writers are in the same place, trading out how-to's on price books for chapters on the basics of gardening, and notes about coupon-clipping for recipes for homemade whole wheat bread. I'm loving that these new books include recipes for homemade cleaners with vinegar and castile soap, instructions for canning tomatoes, and some even have basic patterns for skirts and pants, or beginning knitting instructions. Times are a-changing, I tell you, and it excites me.

But one book I was reading today offered a chapter on "the frugal style" and it about made me snort the coffee I was sipping. There was a list of the Style Must-Haves, things every "frugal" woman ought to have in her closet. Amusingly it was on the same page as an article about finding a great deal on a black and white Chanel suit. (Because we all need one of those, don't we?) The list included things like a 'little black dress'; brightly colored flats; a white button-down shirt; black slacks; a trench coat; and a leather handbag.

Now, we have to realize the ladies that wrote this book must live in some city other than The Big City that we live near. If I showed up to do my monthly shopping at Wal Mart wearing a trench coat, bright red flats, and a leather handbag, I'd have folks gawking openly at me as I perused the dairy section. Reality here - whether it be in our Tiny Little Town or even in our Big City, is that no one needs stuff like that.

So I thought a little bit about my "must-haves". Here are some of the things I can't live without:

*A big, full skirt in a color that goes with anything. Bonus points if it's made from scrap fabric patched together, or a recycled tablecloth or curtains.
*A cozy, homemade cardigan, preferably in some fiber that can be tossed in the wash.
*Comfy rope sandals. I wrote a whole blog in ode to my Gurkees once. They're that awesome.
*Tank tops in every shade I can find on clearance.
*Rubber chore boots that can be hosed off after wading through poo and mud. (I've come to realize the rubber chore boots, often times still laden with said poo and mud, are a regular fashion statement at the market here in the Tiny Little Town.)
*Wool socks, tights, and/or leg warmers. Flannel pantaloons aren't uncalled for.
*A giant bag (mine is hand-knit out of 16 shades of scrap yarn - I like to think it matches everything... or maybe that's nothing?) that will hold the normal purse things as well as snacks, books, a small knitting project, miscellaneous rocks and pine cones, a couple bottles of water, and anything else that Two Little Girls might want to stick in there.
*A floppy-brimmed hat for days when brushing my hair didn't make it on the priority list, or when I want the sun kept out of my face.

So what are your necessities? Do you live in a place where wearing a Chanel suit would make you feel right at home, or would it make you the laughing stock of the local discount store? What is one clothing item you absolutely couldn't live without?

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