There was an interesting story in The Wall Street Journal the other day titled, “The Devil Wears Costco and $44 Pants: Fashion Insiders’ Favorite Low-Cost Basics” — and I thought it might be fun to have the same discussion here. So readers, regale us with your multi-pack / BOGO / always-on-sale favorites — for work or for play. Here are some of ours…
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Elizabeth’s Favorite Low-Cost Clothing Basics
I have several wardrobe workhorses that get the job done without breaking the bank. The first is my ride-or-die white tee. I don’t remember how I found out about the Fishers Finery brand, but now that it’s in my life, I’m never looking back.
This t-shirt is completely opaque, incredibly soft, and just slouchy enough to be comfortable without looking sloppy. The fabric is a viscose/cotton/spandex blend that washes beautifully and can go right in the dryer. I’ve worn it dozens of times and it still looks as good as it did the day I bought it. The price is usually under $30, but I would pay a lot more.
My second item has caused no fewer than five people to whip out their phones in my presence so they can order one of their own. In fact, if this company had a small unexplained spike in purchases in late May, it is probably attributable to a girls’ trip with my college friends.
If you are unfamiliar with the Goodr brand, they make amazing sunglasses at an incredibly reasonable price. But that’s not all. Let’s say, hypothetically, you are a person who loves the look of a classic Rayban Wayfarer, but you have an enormous noggin that makes Wayfarers look teeny tiny in comparison to the rest of your face. Goodr makes a style of sunglasses that are proportioned for a larger melon, but still look rad. They also make a pair for smaller heads.
I currently have four pairs stashed in my car and my most-used handbags, and at $35 a pop, I don’t have the panic that I usually associate with carrying around a more expensive pair.
Kat’s Favorite Low-Cost Clothing Basics
For my $.02, some of my favorite low-cost basics include:
My Amazon favorites:
- Jockey Elance Briefs – my favorite all-cotton undies come in 3-packs for around $25. You can also get them at Kohl’s or Macy’s or a number of other stores, but I tend to buy most often through Amazon. (I’ve started splurging on the Natori French Bliss ones during the Nordstrom sales, though!)
- workout bras from Syrokan (about $25 at Amazon, I find this one to be comfy for low-medium impact activities for my DD+ bust)
- Amazon Essentials t-shirts – I got a two-pack during Prime Day and will definitely get more the next time I need new t-shirts
- (to Elizabeth’s point – I have one of the Fishers’ Finery t-shirts in their Ecofabric, and it is one of my favorites!)
I also have a ton of favorites from Nordstrom, of course — I know most people don’t think of Nordstrom for low-cost basics, but a lot of my favorites regularly go on sale there:
- T-shirts from Caslon and Madewell — it’s rare for me to pay more than $15 for a T-shirt
- Wit & Wisdom pants often go below $45 — especially their twill ones and their corduroy ones, as well as their shorts. If I see a new color I have to have I’ll buy it earlier in the season at full price.
- bras – I get most of my bras at Nordstrom, but for 40-60% off — they almost all go on sale eventually.
- Treasure & Bond sweaters – I splurged on a bunch of nice merino and cashmere sweaters on sale last year… and primarily wore the Treasure & Bond sweaters I got on sale for $40ish.
- I also stalk Nic & Zoe pants for the sales – I think my record is a pair under $40, but that was in 2020.
My Costco favorites:
- leggings from Costco (I’ve had great luck with the Dansko brand; some of the super-soft Kirkland brand ones seem to shimmy their way down regardless of what size I buy)
- sweatshirts – I have so many $11 32-Degree and Orvis sweatshirts from them. Super comfy for pre-workout / morning drop-off type stuff. My mom knows to keep an eye out for me whenever she’s there…
- blouses – there were some nice Hilary Radley blouses for about $15 this year and last — they also had Pleione blouses in the past.
- I prefer my Barefoot Dreams cardigans, but their Max & Mia line of sweaters is also super soft; if I see a color I don’t have I’ll often pick one up for around $25. (They don’t have them all the time, just for a month or two in the winter.)
I also tend to buy a lot for my kids at Old Navy, so I often throw a few things into the cart for myself as well. My Old Navy favorites:
- sweatshirts and activewear leggings
- I recently tried their one of their Everywear t-shirts and really liked it; I’ll buy more.
Other random sales I stalk:
- Soma pajamas – at least in years past I’ve loaded up when their Cool Nights line has gone down to $10-$20
- Lands’ End coats, if I need a new puffer/hoodie type of thing – they often go on a pretty deep discount. (For the kids, too — I’ve gotten my kids coats that were originally around $100 for like $17.)
Finally, their prices are so low they don’t usually have big sale codes — but I buy a lot of our prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses at Zenni. My $.02: avoid the wire frames, and use the virtual try-on feature. We get a ton of flexible-framed glasses for my son (and you can get sunglasses or transition glasses also); we just bought 2 more pairs of glasses in this frame for my husband because he liked the lightweight feel of them.
I have three pairs of a this oversized sunglass frame – the sunglasses become a bit more expensive than the glasses (usually around $60-$90 for prescription sunglasses and $35-$70 for prescription eyeglasses), but I like all the options for sunglasses, including the fun gradiant and mirror tints. (They even have weird things I haven’t seen commonly available before, like prescription safety glasses and “active eyewear.”)
How about you, readers — what are your favorite low-cost clothing basics?
Stock photo via Pexels / Liza Summer.
Thank you for linking that WSJ article, it’s great! I wear mostly low-cost clothing because I’m not a rich lawyer. I get the majority of my casual wardrobe from Old Navy, especially t-shirts, shorts, jeans, and cute summer dresses. It takes some weeding through but there are definitely good finds there.
Same. I’m cheap and I’m also clumsy. I’m much more likely to ruin something before it wears out.
In terms of specific items, I like Old Navy denim (the kind with less stretch) as well as Universal Thread jeans from Target. I have small boobs but a big ribcage (#fridgegang), and I love the Amazon Essentials All-Way Stretch Bralette … which is discontinued, sadly. For sweaters and tops, I’ll look for mostly cotton or linen items from Old Navy, Target, TJMaxx and Nordstrom Rack.
I get a lot of pants and blouses for work at Kohls when they have 40% off coupons.
Uniqlo undershirts (their Airism line). Not expensive, very useful. Holding up well after years of daily wear.
I wash all of my clothing on delicate (or hand wash sweaters) in cold water and hang it to dry on clothing racks/lay it flat. Have found that this really, really extends the life of cheaper clothing items from Old Navy etc. The only “cheap” stuff I don’t buy anymore are shoes; found they just turned into trash too quickly and downgraded my outfits (still get ON flip flops, though.)
Fishers Finery comes out of a teeny, little-known island off the coast of Connecticut. Their stuff is great, I love the pillowcases, and I keep hoping to meet the proprietors on island each summer! If you read the Beatriz Williams novel The Summer Wives, that’s set at Fishers. Here’s a good piece about the place: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/realestate/fisher-island-a-gilded-island-swirling-with-intrigue.html
disregard this link! see my next comment for correct link
I’m going to re-write my whole comment, since I liked the wrong article.
Fishers Finery comes out of a teeny, little-known island off the coast of Connecticut, Fishers Island. My husband’s family has been going there for over 100 years. The FF stuff is great – especially the pillowcases and the cashmere! If you read The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams, that’s set at Fishers. Here’s a good NYT piece about the place too: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/31/nyregion/31fishers.html
Seconding the recommendation for Syrokan sports bras. They’re every bit as cute and supportive (for those of us who need substantial support) as the very pricey Lululemon Enlite and Energy ones.
I shop second hand for most of my clothing. Granted I’m not getting the latest ‘in’ look (which isn’t something I want anyway), but I am able to easily find higher price point brands at either the same or less than a ‘cheap’ brand would be new, sometimes even better than sale prices too.
I do buy what I consider disposables new from the cheaper brans, though, things like socks and underwear.
As an aside, I don’t understand why you would find something like prescription safety glasses or ‘active eyewear’ weird… did you think people who work in trades and play sports/lead an active lifestyle all have 20/20 vision?