Part 5: Where to Buy Good Stuff 

We've covered some of the basics, and what to look for when you go shopping.

This is an interim article; after this, I'll go into a little more detail on industrial weaving and knitting; these will help you with the vocabulary so that you'll know how to describe what you like when you need to replenish your  closet.

Some of you may be wondering where to go shopping.  I HATE going shopping for clothes.  It takes forever, you have to keep trying things on because you can't rely on sizes being the same from one manufacturer to another, and you'll end up spending 4 hours and finding only a few things that you really want to get. Instead of this process, I usually shop by catalog.

If you find a catalog source that you like, in terms of style, price range, and service, stick with them.  You'll learn which of their sizes fit you.  All of the good ones will let you return things to them, no questions asked.  And instead of running around town, you spend 10 minutes looking at the catalog when it comes in the mail, or wandering through their online ordering service on the Web.  If you buy from them regularly, you'll get put on their sale-catalog list as well.

I buy 95% of my clothing from Lands' End, out of Wisconsin. L.L. Bean (Maine) is also an excellent source.  There's also Deva Lifewear, and for brassieres, (None of them is paying me to say this, etc, etc.)

If you haven't looked at either LL Bean or Lands' End, or shopped prices and quality (now that you know what to look for) you may be concerned that their prices are high.  In general, I have found that they are not overly high (for example, I just recently ordered a long-sleeved work shirt for a friend for $31 on sale), and since their stuff lasts so long compared to many stores, the price isn't that much of an issue.  I have dresses from Lands End that I have had for more than 5 years, worn a couple of times a month during that time, that still look good.  Over that amount of time, a $10 difference in price between a dress from them and one from Filene's, will be insignificant.

Here's an amusing aside on the cost of good stuff vs. bad stuff, from Terry Pratchett, a sf/fantasy writer, who writes marevelously.  Most of his stuff is funnier than the following, but I'm illustrating a point.   Captain Vimes is in the City Watch.

    The reason the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
    Take boots, for example.  He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances.  A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars.  But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars.  Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in the city on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
    But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years.  A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
    This was the Captain Samuel Vimes "Boots" theory of socioeconomic unfairness.

The reasons why I buy from the companies I listed is 1: almost all of their products are natural fibers (remember lesson two?) 2: they are made well (lesson four) 3: their service is excellent.  For you web-heads out there, both of them have sites: and and/or you can order their catalog (free) by phone.  Lands End: 800-356-4444; LLBean: 1-800-441-5713

In addition, both have a wide product line, from men & women's clothing through shoes, linens, kid's clothing, outerwear, furniture, and other small items.

I can't make particularly useful suggestions for local stores, since I don't shop for clothes.  The best idea, if you're not interested in foraying into the wide world of catalog shopping, is to find someone whose clothes you like, and ask them.
All material (c) 1999 Cynthia Virtue Email Author with comments
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