Nobody Knows the Difference





A few weeks ago, I shared these pictures of four Little Black Dresses in my closet. Three of the dresses were thrifted for around $6-7 dollars each, and one was purchased at White House Black Market for around $200, and I still have buyer’s remorse about it. I asked Facebook users on my Dressed on a Dime page to guess which dress was NOT thrifted.

Interestingly,  the results of my little game were evenly mixed.  Each dress received approximately the same amount of votes.

But the answer was Dress Number 3–the sleeveless lace dress.

Dress 3

Despite the fact that I’d shelled out hundreds of dollars more for Dress Number 3, it was fascinating to me that it didn’t stand out to  Facebook users as appearing higher quality, more fashionable, or more expensive. It actually seemed that the the non-thrifted dress was indiscernable. (In fact, I once wore Dress Number 3 to work, and one of my colleagues asked me if it was one of my vintage finds. 🙂 )

In case you’re wondering about the others, Dress 1 was also from White House Black Market but thrifted from Goodwill along with the wedges.

Dress 1



Dress 2 was thrifted but was originally from  J. Crew.

Dress 2

Dress 4 was a no-name brand–probably  purchased from an inexpensive department store. Ironically, it received approximately as many votes as the other dress options.

Dress 5

The moral of the story is that no one knows the origin of your clothing unless you tell them! The second moral of the story is that brand names clothes don’t always appear more expensive or more fashionable to others. There’s a chance that the dress for which you dropped $200 at an upscale store might be mistaken for something from the 60’s. 🙂

So there you have the results of my non-scientific but fascinating study!  I hope this encourages you to venture into your local thrift store, consignment store, or an inexpensive department store every now and then to see what you can find on a dime. No one will know where you purchased your clothing or the amount of money you paid–except for you!


No Appreciation for Depreciation

When I first started my financial overhaul several years ago, I made a lot of of lifestyle changes. I quit going to Starbucks for overpriced lattes, I temporarily quit traveling (this was painful), cut coupons, (hated this) and started thrifting for my clothes.  Though I’d never been reckless with money, I was certainly guilty of being thoughtless, especially when it came to my spending habits at the mall.  I ultimately determined that changing my shopping habits was a necessary step and would save thousands of dollars every year.

Looking back, instituting a travel ban to the mall was the best thing I ever did for myself. Though thrifting is certainly more time consuming, the ultimate result is no different. I have a closet full of clothes that I love. But I paid thousands of dollars less.

In financial speak, clothes depreciate. They wear out and go out of style, and if you’re like me, they’ll endure too many spills. They are not a good investment!  On the contrary, thinking  about the ways I could build wealth with the thousands of dollars I could save every year was transformational. (Compound interest is magic)!

With our spending choices, we essentially throw away money or pave opportunities to create more of it.  Sometimes “throwing away money” can be justified. For instance, travel is still one of the few things for which I am willing to “lose money.”  To me, the benefits outweigh the “loss.” Personally, I couldn’t say the same for expensive clothes.

Ultimately, we all have to weigh our individual priorities and live accordingly.  But the reality is that every time we’re at a cash register, we are charting our financial future. Choose wisely!




Time Equals Money

time-is-money-1050857_1920.jpg“How do you have the patience to thrift?” That’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked when people find out that nearly my whole closet is thrifted. It’s a legitimate question: It takes time to sift through racks of unsorted (and sometimes unfashionable) clothes to find something that looks nice and fits.

My resolve to start thrifting started around this time several years ago. I work at an academic institution, so once May hits, my schedule dies down and I enjoy more leisure time. The downside is that I make less money.

About three years ago, I was thinking about a way to make extra money during the summer, and frankly, I didn’t want to get a summer job. I was exhausted and tired from a hectic year, but I knew I also needed a way to have more funds, especially if I wanted to travel.

We’ve all heard that “Time is Money.” In other words, the more time we have, the more money we can make. In theory, I could have used my extra time to get a summer job and, in turn, generate more money.  But I instead began thinking about ways I could use my time to save money. Because a penny saved is a penny earned, to quote Benjamin Franklin.

So I began thrifting. Thrifting takes time, and it requires a lot of patience. But knowing that my time was being used to earn money through saving money was a big motivator. Essentially, thrifting became  my “summer job” that year.  Three years later, I’ve “earned” thousands of dollars with my extra time because of the money I never spent. I’ve used this money to pay off debt, save for the future, and travel.

How did you start thrifting and for what have you used your extra money? I’d love to hear your story.