How to dress on a limited budget

I suggest the following:

Plan to buy one good dress or suit that may last for years, rather than a bunch of inexpensive items that may not last. You will have to wait a little longer, maybe, but it is worth it. With one good outfit and lots of accessories, such as scarves, jewelry, etc., you can change the appearance of lots of clothes.- Don't follow the fashion trends. They go out of style too fast. Look for good clothes that will always be in style.

Look at the workmanship. Do the seams look neat? Are they well done? Does it hang well on you? Will you be comfortable wearing it?

Sew clothes yourself. Be sure the material is good, not something that will fall apart on the first wash or cleaning.

Take care of the clothes you own. Remove all spots after wearing (follow instructions on inside tag) or have the item cleaned. Press them, if necessary, and hang them up at once. This will help the clothes keep their new look and always be available when you need them. - Ruth Dahl, Alder, Mont.

What we did:

Take closet inventory

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" comes to mind. Here is what works for my family and me:

Keep an eye on catalogs and store circulars for fashion ideas to mimic.

Go "shopping" in your own closet and drawers to determine what you have that fits properly, is usable, you truly like and will wear, and what you need.

Scout out garage and rummage sales, resale and consignment shops and thrift stores for good used clothing, shoes, jewelry, etc. Watch for discount clearances at department stores. There are also designer boutiques that sell used designer clothing for less.

Realize that old castoffs can become material for baby and children's clothing. - Barbara Beach, Indianapolis, Ind.

Sew your clothes

Sew your own clothes, as well as those for your family. Ask the Relief Society to schedule T-shirt-making classes. Shop end-of-year fabric clearance sales. Regularly check out the remnant bins where you get fabric at half off. - Martha Maurer, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.

Avoid rush decisions

A few years ago I was asked to do a mini-class at my ward's homemaking night on this very subject. I shared the following:

Become familiar with clothing lines. Learn what you like and why.

Venture out to consignment shops, second-hand shops and garage sales. Outlet malls are a great place to look, but keep in mind that a lot of their prices are as much or more than department store prices.

Look for items that can be easily accessorized. Look for articles of clothing that "go together," and build your wardrobe around that.

Be sure the item you are buying satisfies a need, not a want. Allow yourself enough time to avoid being hurried into making decisions. - Susan Wutzke, Beloit, Wis.

Found $20 suit

We shop at thrift stores and garages sales. My husband, John, found a beautiful three-piece suit at a moving sale for $20 that only needed the cuffs hemmed.

We get nice clothes from friends and family as they clean out their closets.

Our ward Relief society held a swap some years ago where I found several items I still wear. We get socks and hose at a catalog outlet that offers discounts of up to 60 percent. I found that if I wash new hose and put them in the freezer for eight hours, then let them thaw and hang to dry, they last much longer. One pair of hose lasted for more than a year after this treatment. - Hazel Cotton, Texarkana, Texas

Clothing exchange

The best time to buy that new winter coat that you have been needing is in the spring. You can usually get it from 50 to 70 percent off. Remember, when buying for children, give them plenty of room for growth.

As a foster parent, I started a clothing exchange with our foster-parent group. - Fenessa Little, Clinton, Iowa

Discounted for flaws

For those not interested in malls and the like, many discount and outlet stores will carry merchandise at a lower price due to flaws noticed by few. - Tiffany L. Hart, Columbus, Ohio

Be creative

No one knows where you get clothes or how much you pay for them. Most people just notice whether you look attractive or not. It is you that must look attractive, and be warm or cool and comfortable.

Be creative. Try new things, such as a scarf around the waist, a vest over a short sleeve shirt. Look through recent fashion magazines to get some ideas of your own. Recycle items. Take that old pair of jeans and make a vest or hair-bow, etc. - Cara McLaughlin, Salt Lake City, Utah

Beauty is from inside

A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to try dressing better. By this I mean rather than old sweats and T-shirts and the same skirt and top I had worn for years. I first decided that before I spent any money I would try on things that looked good. Do not spend money just because something is on sale.

Last November, my 16-year-old daughter won a pageant in a $3 dress we bought at Deseret Industries. We added some things to it, and she looked like a dream. A couple of years ago, my sister's daughter won a pageant in a $20 dress they found at a garage sale.

If you stay with classic lines and solids, you'll find your wardrobe can last a long time. But remember, beauty starts from the inside out. - Penny Gazewood, Beatty, Nev.

How to checklist:

Take inventory of clothes you have; determine your needs, not your wants

Don't follow trends; use styles that last for years.

Learn to sew; shop for discounts, or at thrift stores, garage sales; be creative.

Take care of the clothes you have; keep clean, mended.

Write to us:

March 15 "How to overcome obstacles to serving a mission as a retired couple."

March 22 "How to prepare spiritually and emotionally for death of loved one."

March 29 "How to place people above tasks."

April 5 "How to help children benefit from general conference."

April 19 "How to break the habit of being late."

April 26 "How to organize your finances and the paying of bills."

May 3 "How to feed a family on a limited budget."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to help young people show respect for authority in school," "How to unleash the personal impact of scripture study in your life."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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