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College of Human Ecology

Clothing pro tells women: `shop like a man´

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Released: May 27, 2008

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Women who want to build a classic, wearable wardrobe at a reasonable price may benefit from shopping strategies usually associated with men, a Kansas State University clothing specialist said.

Men typically choose fewer, high-quality items and wear them more frequently, said Deb Brosdahl, an associate professor of apparel, textiles and interior design in the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University.

"Choosing quality over quantity can yield a lower cost-per-wearing," Brosdahl said.

With appropriate care, a high-quality garment in a classic style usually will retain its high-quality appearance and provide extended wear longer than a lower-quality, fashion item, she said.

Choosing quality over quantity - and ultimately fewer clothes - also helps to build a sustainable wardrobe that can yield economic benefits for consumers who buy fewer items and reduce the environmental impact from clothing production, said the clothing specialist and K-State Research and Extension researcher.

"People typically wear about 40 percent of the clothes they own," Brosdahl said. "That means that many of the dollars spent for clothing might be better spent for fewer high-quality items that will be worn - and enjoyed - or invested elsewhere."

To trim unnecessary spending, she advised first sorting current clothing into three categories:

1. Clothing that is worn frequently;

2. Clothing that is seasonal, seldom worn, no longer fits, or out of style, and

3. Clothing that is worn out.

After sorting, Brosdahl suggested hanging or folding and placing frequently worn sweaters, t-shirts and accessories on shelves.

The clothing specialist favors wooden hangers to support coats and suits, and also advises allowing air to circulate around clothing in the closet.

"Crowding clothes in a closet may add to wrinkling that detracts from a fresh, ready-to-wear appearance and may require pressing before wearing," she said. Transfer seasonal clothing to another closet or storage area, if possible.

"Hanging clothes after each wearing is recommended," Brosdahl said. Many clothes will not need to be washed (or dry cleaned) after each wearing, and that can mean a savings of time, money and unnecessary wear on clothing.

Before shopping for additional clothing, Brosdahl suggested jotting down a list of frequently worn clothing and accessories to review when shopping for new items.

"More isn't always better. Buy with a plan, rather than making an impulse purchase," said Brosdahl, who offered these shopping tips:

* Be aware of fashion trends, but also be aware that they may be very short-lived.

* Watch for sales, but buy with a plan.

* Consider your personal style and build on it. Don´t buy clothing that is fashionable, but makes you feel socially or physically uncomfortable - odds are you won´t wear it often, if at all.

* Look for natural, organically grown fibers, such as cotton, wool, silk or bamboo, which mimics soft cotton and is relatively new to the marketplace. Fibers such as bamboo, which replenishes itself quickly, are sustainable. Some bamboo varieties can grow up to 3 feet in one week. Many man-made fibers - polyesters, for example - are petroleum-based and deplete a natural resource.

* Read care labels before buying, and follow instructions to prolong the life of clothing purchased. For energy savings choose a cold-water wash with a concentrated form (which requires less detergent and less packaging) of detergent formulated for cold-water.

*Remove clean clothes promptly when the washing cycle is complete, and use a drying rack or hang a shirt or blouse to dry to extend the life of the garment. The tumbling action during a drying cycle can cause extra wear on the collars and cuffs and shorten the life of the garment.

* Treat spots and stains as soon after they occur as possible. (Information on stain removal is available on the K-State Research and Extension Web site: www.oznet.ksu.edu . Search for publication C-638: "Spot & Stain Removal for Washable Fabrics.")

* If dry cleaning clothing, remove clean clothing from the protective plastic covering soon after arriving home.

* Resist the temptation to save certain items "for good." Wear clothing to enjoy it.

* If tired of a piece of clothing, but not ready to discard it, move it to another closet and reconsider whether to keep or discard it later.

* Consider giving clothes that no longer fit to others who can wear them.

* If clothes are truly worn out, reserve textiles for other uses, such as rags for washing the car or dusting the furniture.

More information on building a wardrobe, clothing care and stain removal is available at county and district Extension offices, which are typically listed in the telephone book under county listings, and on the K-State Research and Extension Web site: www.oznet.ksu.edu. Search for "Basic Apparel Management" S134H.

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Sidebar: Less Expensive Garment Not Always Best Buy

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Calculating the cost-per-wearing can be helpful in choosing clothing, but a higher-quality item that will provide extended wear may be less costly in the long run than a less expensive, lesser quality or trendy garment, said Deb Brosdahl, an associate professor in apparel, textiles and interior design at Kansas State University.

For example: A shopper is considering two pairs of khaki slacks, which he or she plans to wear once a week for at least two years. One pair is priced at $30, but is made of thinner, less expensive fabric and has fashionable details that will date the slacks. A second pair is more expensive ($50), but made of a sturdier, stain-resistant fabric in a classic style.

The cost for the more expensive pair is higher, but the stain-resistant finish, durable fabric and classic design should help the slacks retain a fresh look, reduce the care required and extend wear life.

The cost-per-wearing for the dated, lesser quality slacks for one year is 56 cents per wearing. With proper care, the more costly slacks can likely be worn once a week for two years, and the cost-per-wearing is 48 cents.

In the long run, the more expensive slacks will be the better buy, said Brosdahl, who also is a K-State Research and Extension researcher. The cost-per-wearing is lower and a consumer also will save on shopping time for a replacement.

Story by:
Nancy Peterson, K-State Research and Extension News, www.oznet.ksu.edu/news

For more information, contact: Deb Brosdahl is at 785-532-1314 or brosdahl@ksu.edu.

This article was posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2008, and is filed under College News.