One of my oldest items of clothing is a striped long-sleeve T from the men’s section of Forever21. I bought it for $10 when I was 19, on one of the many voyages my friends and I took to the store. The space was brand new and a boon to our little college town, with its parking lot-sized retail floor and 30-foot church-like ceilings. We’d drive there giddily on Sundays, piling clothes on our arms until our biceps ached, trying things on while doing paycheck math. I shudder, now, to think of how much money I spent there despite having only one old shirt to show for it today.
I bought a lot of cheap clothes back then, and while I regret that now, I’m still in awe of the way some things managed to prevail long past their expiration dates. There were the $20 jeans I bought on sale at Gap and wore consistently for five years, there was the $15 Zara sweatshirt that outpaced my $150 Zara dress. The Forever 21 shirt is pilled and softened by hundreds of washes, but it still maintains its original appeal, with its thin navy stripes and boyish three buttons at the neck (you could call it a henley). It has nary a hole.
It’s not my favorite unsuspecting item in my closet (more on that below), but to me it represents the unlikely delight of coveting something with a commercial value that’s nil compared to its practical or emotional one. Read on to hear about the items in Team MR’s closets that fulfill this little niche — the stuff we spent the least on but love the most. I’ll go first, then meet you in the comments to discuss your own.
Picked by: Yoohooooooooo, it’s me. Haley Nahman, Deputy Editor
It’s beloved because: I’m picky about white T-shirts, but I wear them constantly. I get dressed pants-first, and 9 out of 10 times, my first thought is: This would look nice with a crisp white T-shirt. I’m very predictable. This COS t-shirt is what I want in a white T for the summer; it’s soft without losing its shape, silky without being thin, and oversized without being bulky. After owning it for a month, I went back and bought three more. (But if you’re after a thicker shirt, highly recommend this Uniqlo one.)
I wear it: At least twice a week, with utility shorts, jeans, trousers, track pants, anything!
I’d blow my last $5 on: A ginger shot from Butcher’s Daughter in Soho.
Picked by: Starling Irving, Office Coordinator
It’s beloved because: Shoes are the only item of clothing that I don’t purchase secondhand. At $98 this isn’t a wildly inexpensive purchase, but man oh man I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth. These babies have a vintage vibe which made for a seamless integration in my wardrobe. And the heels are the most supportive figure in my life.
I wear it: With belted dresses and high socks.
I’d blow my last $5 on: Renting Something Borrowed on iTunes the next time my sisters are in town.
Picked by: Elizabeth Tamkin, Market Strategist
It’s beloved because: This is the most perfect form-fitted white T-shirt. I am more inclined to go boxy (like this one) however, on the days when I’m either aiming for a tee as a layering piece, dressing it up, or wearing something baggy on the bottom (like these shorts for example, which I love!), this ribbed guy is soft, easy to wash, and has kept a bright white for probably 30+ wears.
I wear it: Probably once a week.
I’d blow my last $5 on: A lemon Snapple iced tea. Maybe two depending on the bodega’s price hike.
Picked by: Gyan Yankovich, Managing Editor
It’s beloved because: The day I replaced all my underwear with high-rise underwear was truly one of the best of my life. I exclusively wear high-waisted pants/jeans/shorts/skirts, so the progression to high-waisted underwear made sense from both a comfort and style standpoint. These undies are 92% cotton and so comfy I can’t see myself ever looking back.
I wear it: Every damn day.
I’d blow my last $5 on: An almond croissant from Bourke Street Bakery. (If I could borrow another $2.50 from someone, I’d splash out and get the lamb and harissa sausage roll.)
Picked by: Leandra Medine Cohen, founder
It’s beloved because: They are distinctly informal shoes, and probably not the expected choice when you’re getting dressed in something put-together, like a one-and-done tea dress, or a shorts suit, but add that great contrast that enables the presence of several opposing opinions in one outfit. They are also great to leave by your door and wear out when you’re running not walking to get your morning coffee. Unless you make yours at home in which case, that’s cool.
I wear it: At least once (sometimes more!) every day when I go out to get coffee.
I’d blow my last $5 on: A single-ride Metrocard to the coffee stand by the 68th Street 6-train stop to get a small iced coffee with Hazelnut coffee mate. Then I’d walk back downtown through every park that is on the way in my Pearl River Mart slippers, hoping to catch an iconic New York moments (like a couple using the public park cement chess board tables as a breakfast bagel perch).
Hanes Men’s Undershirts, $14.40
Picked by: Nora Taylor, Partnerships Editor
It’s beloved because: It’s so many shirts! All I want to wear in the summer are white T-shirts and these are great. Not fancy but super comfortable.
I wear it: With jeans, Linen pants, colorful shorts.
I’d blow my last $5 on: As many Reese’s as I could possibly buy.
Distressed Denim Jacket, $44.99
Picked by: Hillary Nelson, Product Manager
It’s beloved because: I had been comfortable wearing my dad’s old Levi’s denim jacket for years until I stumbled upon this inexpensive find. I have such vivid memories of my dad super 90’s style sporting a denim jacket and while I love wearing his old one, it is a men’s XL and it kind of engulfs me. So when I happened to find this on Old Navy I grabbed it up, stuck some pins on it, and I wear it with everything. It reminds me of my beloved other jacket and my dad and the 90’s, but it fits!
I wear it: Almost every single day if there’s even a slight chill! It’s my go-to jacket for spring and summer evenings when I may need a post-dinner date light jacket.
I’d blow my last $5 on: A Repeller ice cream bar from Morgenstern’s! My dad was a big ice cream fan so jean jacket and ice cream would make him proud.
Vans slides, $39.90
Picked by: Dasha Faires, Director of Product Development
It’s beloved because: They are so easy to throw on with everything all summer long and they’re super comfy.
I wear it: With a floral slip dress
I’d blow my last $5 on: A bag of hi-chews
Picked by: Amalie MacGowan, Social Media manager
It’s beloved because: This shirt isn’t precisely “inexpensive,” but it’s the one basic item in my closet that I can say I wear almost every week, even in summer. The drape of the neck and sides of the blouse are just perfection. I bought two more after I knew it was going to be on heavy rotation en permanence.
I wear it: With lightweight linen pants or black trousers. But I’m telling you there is not one skirt or pant I wouldn’t wear this with, I’m ready to goooo.
I’d blow my last $5 on: A book from the $5 rack at The Strand.
Uniqlo Linen Blend Coat, $49.90 on sale for $19.90!
Picked by: Andrea Araujo, Director of Client Services + Production
It’s beloved because: I’ve become someone who is always wearing a long, flowy (read: baggy) garment. An old coworker told me I taught her that oversized is the best size. I have sooo many dusters, but this one is my fav because it’s so airy and comfortable. It’s just-loose-enough, and doesn’t wrinkle easily which is p impressive considering a duster is something you sit on all day.
I wear it: Pretty much daily. Usually over another oversized piece (jumpsuits are my go-to), over jeans and a tee, over my yoga clothes while en route to class.
I’d blow my last $5 on: A glass of chilled red at The Fly, who would hopefully hook me up knowing it was my last $5.
Photo by Madeline Montoya.