Tee'd off about the prices? Well, you should be

Would you pay $94 for this sleeveless t-shirt? It's actually "on sale." It used to be $188. Sure, it's Iisli and there's a shiny dragon (fairly elaborate handiwork), but is it worth it? Not if you have a student budget, period. Even if you can afford it, the price is not right unless you wear it often enough (and by that I mean more than once a month). Even though I'm cheap, I don't base my decisions on the price tag alone (after all, I *did* spend $60 on a good blazer). The workmanship does count for something; provided that the top is purchased at sale price and gets worn enough times, it'll be "worth it" in the long run.

What about this? Take a guess.

$53.99. On Clearance. It looks like any old white tee to me, and not well-fitted either. What makes the retail price $135? At least the orange sleeveless tee has a pretty design on it...what's this tee's excuse? Probably the small D&G logo on the back, which will never be visible unless you tie your hair up or have really short hair. No matter how often you wear it, it's not going to be worth it, given there are so many alternatives to this particular white crewneck t-shirt.

The Budget Fashionista (TBF) had an online survey over the summer on readers' buying habits. The results are rather fascinating. There was a very wide range of incomes and tastes--some people spend $30 per month on clothing and others spend $1000. The largest percentage of purchases was for accessories and shoes...I thought people would have spent more on actual clothing. The most that people are willing shell out for t-shirts are $25, and survey participants indicated that t-shirts and underwear are what they spent the least on. For me, even $25 is too much for a tee. TBF is right--there's really no need to buy t-shirts that cost more than $20 for a plain T-shirt. Even though she didn't say what's a good limit for printed T's, I don't think it would be more than $35-40, especially if it's just silkscreened. For simplicity's sake, my thoughts for this post are limited to crew neck, short-sleeve t-shirts with nothing printed on it at all. (Embellishments or special cuts really change things--the pricing depends on a number of factors, like what the bells and whistles are, labor costs, technology used, etc. Even so, in most cases, the mark-up is high enough that vendors can still make a profit at clearance time.)

It's funny how a "low-maintanence," "laid-back" style can cost so much. First we get the $200 jeans, and now the $50 tees. Yes, I know that James Perse, C&C, American Apparel, Rebecca Beeson, *fill in your favorite brand* tees are really soft and comfy. For those reasons, I'm willing to pay $15 for a plain, no-frills, short-sleeve tee (yes, it is possible), though it is by no means cheap. $40 for a paper-thin thing, even if it is supima cotton, is simply ridiculous for "casual" daily wear. On top of that, retailers make more money by generating buzz for the layering trend...makes sense, right? What better way to get people to buy more?

American Eagle has tees that are just as soft and have a really flattering fit; when they're on clearance for $6.50, I can get several of them. Heck, I got a soft, sheer Old Navy tee, with a simple print, for $4. If you still want your James Perse tees, wait for clearance time (which starts August/September for summer stuff) to stock up. Since the basic crewneck style is always "in," there's no risk of it going out of style after you buy it. I've seen them go for 50% off or more from time to time on the Nordstrom web site, and I'm sure your favorite boutiques or outlet stores will have them. You can also hit sample sales for them.

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