Cheaper than a Free Lunch: Winter Clothing

| November 1, 2011

I thought about all of the posts I could contribute and most relate back to budgeting. So, perhaps I will stick to this blog title, a nickname graciously given to me by my mother. My late great uncle once used this phrase to refer to his extremely wealthy, stingy friend. Fortunately, I am neither —  just always on the hunt for a bargain. Why pay more?

A few of my classmates at TC have recently asked me where to purchase cheap winter clothing in New York City. Not surprising, since we already had our first snow storm of the year — Happy (belated) Halloween!

I offered a few options, including some vintage/second-hand shops across the city and a variety of discount stores. There are also clothing swaps around NYC. But I will get to that later. A pretty comprehensive list of second-hand stores (ranging from basics to couture) is listed on the New York Mag website. My favorite is Staten Island’s ETG Clothing (they also have a cafe and furniture store close by) located by the St. George Ferry. So hop on the boat and go on over! My friends really love Buffalo Exchange (3 locations in Manhattan where you can “buy/sell/trade” clothing) & Housing Works (with shops in Brooklyn & Manhattan).

Some discount clothing stores in NYC include the ever-popular Century 21 (if you can stomach digging around this crowded store, bless you). I am a big fan of basic pieces from H&M, Target, the GAP outlets in NJ (yea, I said NJ), & Victoria’s Secret (sadly, women’s clothing/shoes are only available online). But one of my favorite places for discount clothing is TJ Maxx! I am super excited to find out there are locations in Manhattan!! You can also find great prices & sales at Burlington Coat Factory, NY&CO, Express, ALDO, DSW Shoes, and even the dreaded Herald Square Macy’s. The best deals are usually found online! Don’t forget to add yourself to their mailing lists for coupons, birthday freebies and sale/clearance notifications.

The must-have item I plan on adding to my winter wardrobe is a pair of heat-tech leggings from Uniqlo. They trap the body’s moisture and convert it to warmth. I know two satisfied customers. So, I am willing to dish out the $20 for leg warmth this year. Sure, long johns will do you alright under pants… but if bulk is the issue, Uniqlo is where to go!

For those unfamiliar with the tundra that is NYC in wintertime — a few notes: it gets windy, icy, and puddles form in potholes faster than you can say “AHHH” from falling into one. I suggest a pashmina-like scarf to cover the face as well as the neck (you know, for when it’s so cold it hurts to breathe in), a hooded coat or ear warmers, gloves, and water-resistant/repellant boots. Ladies & gents, if you need the cutesy suede/leather boots — please, at least spray them with water-repellant spray.

Further Reading:

And because we’re an institution of higher learning — some books on second-hand/vintage clothing & fashion:

  • Old clothes, new looks: second hand fashion [electronic resource] edited by Alexandra Palmer and Hazel Clark (Oxford, New York: 2005)
  • Fashion victim [electronic resource] : our love-hate relationship with dressing, shopping, and the cost of style by Michelle Lee (New York: Broadway Books, 2003)
  • 20th century fashion : 100 years of apparel ads = 100 Jahre Mode in der Werbung = 100 ans de pubs de mode by Alison A. Nieder ; edited by Jim Heimann. Germany: Taschen, 2009
  • There is a series of non-circulating reference books available for viewing at Barnard College, all by Kathleen M. La Barre, regarding women’s, men’s and children’s vintage clothing