Two months ago, my husband opened a couple bills and saw evidence of what I spend on clothes. A black day for all involved. Before that day, when we got bills, I paid them, and he was none the wiser. Under that system, I had managed to successfully conceal my spending habits for the better part of our ten-year marriage.
Overnight, I was placed on a “suggested monthly budget” of $150. As a bonus, the budget came with a lot of blame and acrimony from Tom, plus annoying and irrelevant commentary like “Yoona, the kids will need money someday for college.” Don’t get me wrong, $150 is not an insignificant sum, but it’s downright insane when you have to buy shoes, workout clothing, socks, and underwear from the same pot. Tom even had the balls to suggest with a straight face that the $150 should also cover my LUNCHES. I remember pausing in the midst of my sobbing to feel genuine alarm that my husband was stuck, price-wise, in 1983.
I successfully kept to Tom’s suggested budget for exactly one pious month: September. For the record, I’d like to note that the worst month of the year to be placed on a mandated clothing budget is September. September is the beginning of sweater and boot season. In today’s currency, $150 will buy you approximately one-half of a pair of boots. Which is why, since October 1, I’ve been reduced to stealing from our joint checking account to make my fashion ends meet. But, for better or worse, thanks to Tom’s intervention, I have become more mindful of overspending.
The benefits of my newfound enlightenment are many. For starters, I don’t wake up in a cold sweat worrying about how to intercept my Amex bill in the mail before Tom makes it home. I don’t spend as much time at the mall returning things. Well, okay, in September I did a lot of returning, but only because Tom said any money I made on returns, I could add to my monthly budget. But since October 1, I have spent far less time at the mall.
Pre-mindfulness, I could afford a shopping mistake or two. Now, I get one shot. Which means I only get one try to land that perfect pair of red pants that will take me through to the spring. Red is a great color for fall. It adds vibrancy and interest to the browns, greens, and denim we often wrap ourselves in when the weather gets cold. But red is tricky too, because the wrong red will torture you like nothing else. Too blue, and it won’t go with neutrals. Too orange, and it can seem jokey. Both pairs of red pants in the photo at top are red. But I wish I’d saved my money and taken a pass on the pair on the left. That shade of red, it turns out, doesn’t go with anything. The pants on the right, on the other hand, go with all sorts of stuff, as evidenced below. So, when shopping for reds, try taking the item home and pairing with different colors under different lights before you cut off the tags.
Below, a few ideas on what to pair with a good red.
Sometimes stores push a trend that seems generally ill-advised and flattering to no one, but refuses to die. I’d put capes, leggings, and mid-calf boots in this category. I fought fake fur for a couple years but finally gave into this number below a couple weeks ago, because it was on sale. I’m now a believer. It is soft, warm, and totally a blast to wear. I’ve tried on a lot of fake fur vests, and the most flattering and seemingly versatile are the longer ones. The volume and length of this particular vest also pairs well with maxi skirts, but keep the skirt tight on the hips so people can tell that there is indeed a body under your clothing.
I have a soft spot for ugly sweaters that fit right. I couldn’t resist the cheesy ladder sleeve on this cotton space-dyed number below. I think of it as my Alexander Wang, except I got it on clearance last year from ASOS for $19. Its price per wear at this point is probably something like six cents, a price that even Tom could probably live with.