It’s grey out today. The skies are grey, the river is grey, the melting snow is grey. The wind is raw, and seems to cut right through you. It might be spring, but it’s not the kind of spring day we imagine when we long for spring in the middle of winter. Not one of those blue-sky, sunshine-y, warm breezy days that make us think of tulips and daffodils, and getting our bikes out of the shed.

Nope, mother nature is being rather frugal with her spring weather this week. A little miserly, a tad stingy, economizing on the sunshine, and even when she deigns to bring us some sunshine it’s often paired with a crisp breeze. She doesn’t want us to get soft. Ha.

So I’m looking for something to wear today that will be a nod to spring even when it doesn’t altogether feel like spring yet. And I’m going to dig into my closet and find some stuff I haven’t worn in a while. Stuff I haven’t worn since last fall, or last spring, or even ten springs ago.

two shots of woman in navy blazer, white shirt, jeans, white sneakers, pink and green scarf
My frugal spring outfit

Mother nature isn’t the only one who can be frugal, you know. Don’t laugh. I know that frugal is not the first word that my friends think of when (and if) they think of me and and shopping. I have been known to maybe, perhaps, sometimes pay a bit more than I intended for an item of clothing.
Like that blue Montcler anorak that I told you about last week. I know, I know, it’s expensive. Or the navy Veronica Beard suit I bought in 2016. Or the burgundy Akris sweater from last fall. All expensive. But all pieces that I love, which filled an empty niche in my wardrobe, and which make me smile when I’m wearing them. And which I hope to wear for many years.
In my own way, I am kind of frugal. Aren’t I?
To answer my own question, I looked up the definition of frugal, and its many synonyms. Let’s see. I’m not “self-denying, mingy, or parsimonious.” Neither am I “miserly or stingy.” Or “cheeseparing.” Ha. Love that last one. But I am “economical,” in my own way. And when it comes to wardrobe planning and shopping I’m definitely “cautious and prudent.”
Being frugal is no longer just something our grandmothers preached to us. The idea of being a frugal shopper has become cool, lately. Cool and desirable. For this, we can thank, in part, the many bloggers out there who know how to spend their dollars wisely, who know how to find a great outfit at thrift shops and vintage stores. People like Patti at Not Dead Yet Style, Melanie at Bag and a Beret, or Suzanne at These ladies are wizards with their thrift shop and vintage finds. But I’ve never had much luck thrift shop shopping. And I never find anything that fits me at vintage clothing stores. Maybe it’s a failure of imagination on my part, or maybe I just give up too soon.
It seems the only time I have much luck shopping for vintage is when I shop my own closet. Like in 2016 when I hauled a Max Mara spring suit out for the first times in years. Maybe even a decade. I bought that suit in 2002, wore it for a few years, and then packed it away until 2016 when jackets with strong shoulders and wide leg pants became trendy again.
This is how I wore the suit jacket two years ago. With my Current Elliot jeans, Paul Green ankle boots, a striped tee, navy scarf, and my Mackage cross-body bag. And a vintage brooch. I have better luck shopping for vintage jewellry than vintage clothing.
Out for lunch in a “vintage” jacket shopped from my own closet.
But today I had a hankering to wear my Stan Smith sneakers with my old suit jacket. And since the weather was brisk, I needed socks, and thus my Current Elliot flared jeans. Under my old Max Mara jacket, I wore my Lafayette 148 white shirt from last fall. And since it’s spring (supposedly) and almost Easter, I added a bright scarf in Easter colours of pink and green. I bought this scarf on a girls’ shopping weekend in Montreal in the spring of 2004.
woman sitting on steps in a blue jacket and jeans and white shirt and sneakers.
A bit brisk to be out without a coat today.

Now, let’s examine the provenance or history of the elements of this outfit. I bought the jacket in 2002, the scarf in 2004, sneakers in the spring of 2015, jeans in December 2015, and shirt in the fall of 2017. If you look at the longevity of each of these pieces and factor in the cost per wear, that’s a darned frugal outfit, in my estimation.

So, if I say that what this spring outfit needs to finish it off is a great spring coat, such as a navy Montcler anorak, and said anorak is quite expensive (okay, very expensive), can I still say that the outfit is “frugal?” Well, in my world I can.

That last line makes me smile and remember a certain shopping trip with a certain good friend and former colleague in 2010. When the sales person rang in my friend’s purchases, and announced the total, we both gasped, my friend with dismay, and me with surprised pleasure. “Wow,” we said, almost in unison. Then, I turned to her and said, “You’ve done really well. That’s a great price for all those pieces.” Until I noticed the stricken look on her face, and added, lamely “Well, in Sue’s world that’s a great price.”

How does one define frugal, anyway? It seems we all have a slightly different answer to that question. For me it’s not just about the cost of the item. But about spending my money in a way that I don’t regret. I almost never suffer from buyer’s remorse. That’s because I buy what I love, and what fits me, and my wardrobe. And I take good care of my special pieces, and keep them for a long time.

So, I guess a frugal spring for me would be about finding a way to wear my old spring pieces, with my new spring pieces. New pieces which I really love, and which fill a niche in my wardrobe. And if a couple of those pieces were quite pricey, then I’ll just think of my Max Mara suit which was also pricey in its day. And which I’m still wearing and loving many years later.

Now if mother nature could find it in her heart to be a bit less parsimonious with the sunshine, and a bit more generous with the warm temperatures, we could get on with spring in earnest.

We also wouldn’t complain if she were a little more frugal with the allotment of Canada geese we’ve been given. The river is filled every evening with wave after wave of birds. Sheesh. Talk about the evening chorus. Cacophony, more like. Hubby’s even had to turn the television up so he can hear the hockey game. Ha. Poor lad.

How about you, my friends? What constitutes a frugal spring from your perspective?


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32 thoughts on “How to Have a Frugal Spring”

  1. Congrats on acquiring a new coat — looking forward to the 2028 post detailing how you're styling it with a few frugal purchases from 2023 and 2026 😉

    1. Jeans and what we here in California call parkas, forever. And, BTW, I am 100% with you on your frugality strategy.

  2. Difficult to comment after Mater :-)!!
    But ,actually it is true (for all three of us :-)).Your Max Mara suit jacket is something I admire today-not because it is MM,but because it really looks great ,now as well as then. The scarf is lovely and you look nice and contemporary
    I like the way you wear your new and old pieces (is there something blue or borrowed?)-it completely resonates with me and it is very similar to the way I supplement my wardrobe. It is boring for some around me. When it starts to be boring for me,I leave a piece or two to rest and wait for the next revelation
    This (very belated) spring is still quite cold,so I'll wait a bit for jackets,trenchs or leather jackets (all quite old) and I'm looking forward to wear them again.
    Today I'll wear straight leather ankle pants with white cotton ribbed sweater under the coat-the scarf alone will have to announce spring .

  3. Yes, shopping my closets is frugal, but it also helps me to remember so many good memories and to plan and imagine future pleasures to come.

    This coming July I will visit for the first time Venice, Croatia, the Greek islands, and Athens. (And no, I have no idea how I've managed NOT to have traveled to those destinations before now.) I'm now assembling a trip wardrobe by shopping the guestroom closet where I store my other-season clothes.

    I take the chosen pieces back to my bedroom closet to hang them on a rack where I can see them and imagine the scenes in which I'll wear them — sipping espresso on Piazza San Marco, crossing Venetian canals on arching bridges, strolling through Croatian walled cities, climbing steps on Santorini, trying to keep my footing at the Parthenon.

    I'm often surprised (and a little embarrassed, too) at what a large part clothes play in my real and fantasy lives.

    Ann in Missouri

    1. Ah, me too. Sometimes embarrassed by the part clothes play in my life and always have. Is this the same trip which will take you to Ireland, Ann? Sounds lovely. Venice… we'll be there too this year, but in September.

  4. I had to look up the price of the Montcler anorak. I had no idea. Ha! Looking at cost per wear and considering you should have it for a minimum of ten years it could be considered a frugal purchase. In Canada we have cause to wear such a coat for a minimum of six months per year.

    I was like you a few years back, never really cared for thrifting, the smell and disorganization turned me off. I can remember telling my brother, "Why on earth would I want to buy someone else's garbage? " Ha! Oh how times have changed!

    When I fell in love with vintage I knew all the resellers were finding their pieces at thrift stores so I tried to shop thrift again. Now, after much practice, I find it hard to shop retail knowing all of brilliant pieces waiting in thrift stores.

    Love the "new" frugal outfit. You manage to chic without looking like you've tried too hard.

    Thanks for the shout-out!


    1. The disorganization of many thrift shops also puts me off, how everything is crammed together. I run out of patience pretty fast. I only have a limited amount of irl shopping stamina. I can wait months and years for the perfect piece, but sometimes on the ground I just give up and decamp for a cup of tea.

    2. As someone who once was not keen on thrift stores at all, now I also have very little interest in retail. I pick up amazing gems at extremely low prices in thrift stores. I am based in Bulgaria and pick up high quality items for just a few euros at the most. You do have to sift through some junk but it sure is worth it! And we have a huge selection, many stores that turn over their entire stock monthly. Lise

  5. Relate well to your feelings about a gray cast to everything outside today…a perfect time to revisit purchases made months and years ago! Your clothing selections have always had a classic and timeless appeal yet staying on trend. When I look to buy an item of clothing I always consider cost per wearing….a $3000 formal gown worn once or twice is a definite splurge but a coat with a similar price tag worn many times over 5 to 10 years can be considered 'economical' or 'frugal'. The initial purchase price has sticker shock but there is a sense of satisfaction when you pull on an item of clothing that still fits and looks smart years after it was purchased. My Gucci watch was purchased in 1984 and is still worn almost every day…it was a total splurge when bought but has more than paid for itself. The saying "you get what you pay for" is true in many instances! Thrifting is a fun challenge to find quality garments that fit well and can stand the test of time. Let's hope for spring weather soon…Winnipeg is having colder than normal weather for the next week which is not ideal for the Easter visit of relatives from Victoria. Sigh…spring will arrive eventually! Cheers, Alayne

    1. Sometimes I think my style is "timeless" and sometimes it looks just plain boring to me. I think I need a cheap and cheerful, and colourful, piece to throw into my spring mix.
      Happy Easter… hope it warms up out there, Alayne. Your Victoria relatives may never come back otherwise:)

  6. Hi Sue..
    Be gone Ontario wind!
    I tend to wear my clothes forever. I consider them classics. 😉
    This past year & a half, I have added 8 pounds to a small frame. No whining, I promise!!
    But it does change how I feel about shopping, spending, to my new body shape. No shopping in my closet!
    I have purchased new jeans. They were bought on sale as I consider them temporary. 😉
    Happy Easter!

    1. Ah yes. I've put on the "Retirement 5," as opposed to the famous "Freshman 15." I put it down to less stress since I retired, and a whole lot less running around over the course of the day. So some of my more vintage bottoms have been sent to the consignment store. I don't need them around to guilt me out. Having said that I'd also like to lose a couple of those new pounds. But I need a plan:)

  7. This outfit is oh-so-not-boring. Smart and sharp spring to mind. I'm glad you can shop your closet. I have a favourite thrift shop, mainly because it's in my neighbourhood, and also because the "oddities," often high-end pieces, usually end up highly discounted. And inside, the shop is neat and clean-smelling. If I'm on a mission, I can shop for hours in a disorganized store, especially with friends, but by myself, my patience runs thin quickly.

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on frugality. I suppose I am an exuberant frugalist (rhymes with pugilist, which is handy if you see that video I made with Suzanne, Thrift Shop Fight Club – all in good fun. Hahaha!) Thanks so much for the shout-out.

    1. Ah, thanks, Melanie. To be called "not boring" by the queen of not boring is high praise! I did see that Thrift Shop Fight Club video. Ha. And loved it.

  8. Hello Sue, my eyes always shoot first to the blazer when you have one on. I love blazers!
    Not a very springy item to talk about especially if you're thinking daffodils, tulips. apple blossoms and bunny rabbits hoping around your lawn with pretty easter baskets. Love your subtle but humorous way of getting even with Mother Nature. Yes, spring frugality be gone! The far Northern Hemisphere is ready for the abundance of spring colors. BTW, you can rock a pair of jeans and boots like nobody else's business. It is a lovely thing to see!

    1. Thanks. I do love my jeans and boots. They're in my fashion DNA… well, ever since high school, anyway.
      It's raining today, so hopefully warm temps and some sun will be next:)

  9. You never look boring to me , frugal or not . It’s funny how popular anoraks/parkas are these days – we dog walkers are now fashionable ! I love them . So , Venice in September , our paths almost crossed again . My sisters & I had Venice in the hat for this September but Max did the draw for us & pulled out Lisbon . So we just missed you .
    Wendy in York

    1. Thanks, Wendy. Dog walkers for the win. Sorry you won't be in Venice. That would be great if our paths crossed again, wouldn't it? Do you and your sisters actually put destinations in a hat? How fun is that! I'd love to convince my sisters to go somewhere with me.

  10. I like the way you have styled the MM jacket – very elegant. It prompted me to go upstairs and start pulling out some work jackets I have put away (just in case) since my retirement 18 months ago. My husband, who has also retired, uses the second bedroom where my clothes are kept as his study while he is writing a book. His comment was, "Have you been reading that Canadian fashion blog again ?!". So he does listen to me occasionally when I am commenting about blogs I am reading. The sofa in the bedroom is strewn with different combinations ready for Spring. Still too cold in the UK Midlands to dispense with heavier outdoor clothing.

    Like some of your other readers I rarely find anything of value in my local charity thrift stores but I don't live in an area where there are many good quality ones. When I retired and gifted work dresses and suits the store manager said they were actually sending them to another branch in Stratford upon Avon where they could get more money for them ! What I do now is try on clothes from brands that I like – LK Bennett, Hobbs, Crew Clothing- note the sizes, and then buy them online when they are on sale. Crew Clothing has wonderful rich textured herringbone blazers and the last two I bought at New Year were an absolute steal. They look great with the new cross-over body bags.

    1. That comment from your husband really made me laugh, Heather. I must try that technique of trying brands before shopping on-line. I've ordered on-line before but, like you, only for things I know will fit me. I never thought of actually seeking them out first. How clever.

  11. I love your concept of frugal, although I have yet to let myself buy something that was initially really expensive. My clothes usually last a long time, although I have noticed as tees and some sweaters get thinner they don't last as long. I tried on a tee I bought in 2001 for a trip to Africa and the fabric is much sturdier. It almost looks new, while some I bought in the last couple of years are in the "wear to work in the yard" stack. Good consignment shops may depend on where you live. I live in a town with a large university, and the only thing they have are shorts and athletic wear!

    1. I know women who have great luck at consignment and thrift shops… but not me. Size is always an issue for me, and when there's usually only one of everything, you have to be really lucky to find something to fit.

  12. You look ultra trendy in this Hun, love the sneakers with your jeans. I'm with you on the weather front, have just about had enough of the cold weather and need some sunshine to light-up my face to I can get out into the garden to tidy it up. Hope you can share on the #chicandstylish #linkup next Thursday. Jacqui Mummabstylish

  13. I love the idea of shopping for vintage in one's own closet—you've inspired me to rifle through my storage space this weekend! Thanks for linking up at Fabulous Friday last week—I'm cohosting with Jennie this week and we'd love to have you back. Please stop by (if you haven't already)!
    Cheryl Shops |

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