Clothing: I Have Some Questions For You

Before a piece of new-to-me clothing comes home with me, I have a few questions for it. I’ve done this questioning for ages, unconsciously. But yesterday I was at a cool consignment store in St. Petersburg, and found I was muttering these questions out loud. (No one asked me to leave, heh).

First, and easiest question for potential purchases: are you in a thrift or consignment store? That’s my preferred way to shop, and over half my closet is thrifted or second-hand. It’s more fun this way, more of a treasure hunt, more unpredictable, cheaper, and better for the environment.

How well will you play with the other kids? Can I picture you – drop-crotch cotton/linen trousers, e.g. – with tank tops, graphic tees, or a silky shell? (As it turns out, yes you do, and I can, and the trousers came home with me.)

My second-hand trousers are kind of like these, also very cool, but mine have a narrowed hemline.

Do you need dry cleaning or ironing? If so, you know I have to leave you here. That said, lots of clothes that say “Dry Clean” on the tag can be safely hand washed in cool water, and hung to dry. So if you’re a vintage rayon blouse, I’ll take a chance on you. An elaborately beaded top, probably not.


This vintage beaded top is swoon-y, but I wouldn’t wash it.

Am I excited to wear you tomorrow? Seasonality excepted, you have to excite me enough to put you on right away and mix you up. So what am I wearing today? Drop-crotch linen/cotton trousers.

Are you the twin of something already in the closet? If I owned you both, which one would I reach for first? I used to be a major “duplicates” buyer, not so much now. I’ll look at, say, two black full skirts in my closet, and pick which one I want to wear first. The other one is taking up valuable real estate, so it goes to the thrift. But one cannot have enough black tees, can one? : >


Black tees are exempt from the “no-duplicates” guideline.

What are the questions you take along when you shop for clothing? Stay fabulous and have fun with your closet, xo,


Here’s some fun, affordable pieces to browse:

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  1. These are excellent questions to ask when you’re shopping. I check the care instructions, and the quality of the fabric, but then comes the “how does this make me feel when I’m wearing it?” question, and even though I may absolutely love a piece, if it makes me feel older/larger/frumpy or just not like myself, then it’s a NO. I do also ask, “what would I wear you with?”

  2. It’s been a hard-fought discovery, but I have finally started asking “Do I have something for you to go with?” and “Where will I wear you?” I say “hard-fought” because I used to just buy the things that jumped out in all their striped, spangled, or sequined glory and then worry after I got it home how I’d ever style it with anything else in my closet and realize I wasn’t actually brave enough (yet) to pull of that particular boldness of style.

    Looking forward to seeing your new-to-you drop-crotch trousers!

    – Sherry

  3. My questions – and I’ve been known to ask them aloud too – are somewhat similar to yours. That said, when I’m really, really in love with a piece, the questions can get dropped at the wayside … xxx

  4. I love these questions. Also, that you mutter to yourself. I do the same thing lol I used to love duplicates, too. I realized I was [practically buying duplicates, sometimes, triple, quad-licates of items. Don’t get me started on striped shirts or sailor shirts because my closet has shown me I have a weakness, or more like a penchant, for purchasing them. The questions are great and I think it’s a definitive way to be a more conscientious shopper—-and maybe hopefully person!

    • Oh yeah, the striped shirts!! Addictive I think. thanks for coming by and adding wisdom, xox.

  5. I echo all of these sentiments every time I shop too.

    Since I find myself almost exclusively shopping thrift I ensure that I check each item over well. There is nothing worse than getting it home and realizing that there is a massive hole somewhere.


    • Right? I bet you are super-vigilant about finding flaws. And you can sew too, that’s a big plus. xox

  6. BTW, I find laundry bags in the machine work great for hand wash only items. Never had a problem yet.

  7. All pertinent questions, and definitely multiple black tee’s are in order. Great post! Lise

  8. First of all, where is a photo of you in these drop-crotch cotton/linen trousers? I am not sure about the drop-crotch look, except for some a friend had that dropped all the way to her ankles and made for a kind of long skirt.
    I haven’t bought clothes in a few years. I went one year and was fine, so did another year, then another and I still don’t need anything. However, my growing teen shops a lot and does ask questions: do I love it? will I wear it? (Not the same–you can love something–say a strapless full-length sequined gown–and never have an opportunity to wear it.) Does it fit or do I have to tug to keep it in place? Is it comfortable (which encompasses not only fit but the fabric)? Does it go with what I already have?
    I agree with you on dry cleaning and ironing. Life is too short to iron, though I do a bit. I like a knife-edge crease on trousers and shirt sleeves.
    Completely unrelated: did you see the New York Times story this week about menopause? Wonderful.

    • I will post a pic soon. I didn’t think I liked drop-crotch trousers, either! Going to look up the NYT story, thanks for the tip. xo

  9. Glad to know I’m not the only one who talks to clothing (and hears them talking back). One of my questions for a secondhand find is “why did someone give you up?”. Is there a hidden damage I should look for or was it uncomfortable to wear? I try to avoid questioning my style sensibilities as in wondering why I like it if someone else was willing to part with the item. Thanks for the sharing your insights.


    • that’s a good question, Rena: why did someone give you up? I tell myself “because it was so beautiful I had to pass it on.” xo

  10. “Will I have to lose 5 (or 10) pounds to be happy with the way this looks on me?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ I leave it. No more additions to the ‘future clothes’ collection.

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