How to start shopping for U.S. Clothes

You may ask yourself, “Self, where can you find American made clothes?”  It is like a treasure hunt. I call it a quest. There a millions of items of clothes, and 98% of it is not made here. And then once you find these rarities then what? Just like in normal shopping, many questions need to be answered like: Do I like it? Does it fit? How about the price? To help you get started, you may want to use this blog to help find retail stores that are more likely to sell U.S. made clothing. And if you know any of these places yourself, if you could please share that information with us, we would be so very grateful. Or you can start like I did, and many others before me which is to “Random Shop”.

There are numerous types of shopping, bored shopping, pity shopping, social shopping, and wasting time shopping, etc. But when it comes to trying to find U.S. clothes to buy, I would classify shopping into the following types: Random – going to the usual stores, no specific items to look for, looking for something new or interesting or something at a very good price; Semi-Random – As above but going to places that have more U.S. inventory; Specific clothing directed: Looking for a certain type of clothing, shoes or accessories; Internet Directed shopping – Finding U.S. made clothes and using the directions to find the retail stores; Internet Shopping – finding U.S. Clothes and purchasing them on-line. I would recommend a combination of Specific clothing directed and Internet Directed shopping. I have a personal bias against Internet shopping because: 1)sizes are not always the same from company to company (and sometimes within the same company); 2) the picture does not do justice to the actual garment – the color or fabric may look nothing like the picture; 3) how does it actually fit? Baggy, Boxy, Too Long, Too short, Cut funny? and 4) the actual company – is it a PO Box?, does it have an actual store? What is the return policy? Are they worthy of trust? Unless you are too far away from an actual store, I would defer buying clothes on the internet – unless you don’t mind returning things. If you are anything like me, and it needs to go back, it, instead, usually sits in the procrastination pile.

Addendum 5/24/2012

On Internet shopping, although I still am a brick and mortar shopper and I do like to try clothes on to see if they fit, I find the Internet may be helpful in locating clothing made in the USA. First, find a department store that carries lots of US made clothes: Nordstroms> Nieman Marcus> Saks Fifth Avenue> Bloomingdales > Barney’s > Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Dillards>>Kohl’s, Walmart,Sears. Go to department store website. Under search: type:”men’s” or “women’s” and “pants” or “blouses” or “underwear”, etc, and “made in usa” and your search will bring up many of the items you may be looking for. Sak’s doesn’t have a “made in usa” search yet.

Getting Started

Before we start, if you are going to take shopping advice from me, you will have to know a little about my shopping habits, and then you can adjust them to your own needs. First, I am a man, so many of my comments are about looking for men’s clothes, but there are times that I specifically will mention ladies fashions/clothes. Second, I live in Northern California which is very urban with many retails stores nearby.  Third, I don’t mind shopping, meaning I don’t live to shop, but then it is not a drudge either. Fourth, I like nicer clothes, since I have gotten a little older. I don’t buy $8 shorts just because it is a bargain. And finally, I love a bargain. I hate to ever pay full retail – probably because I know how much it costs to make the garment, and who doesn’t love a bargain?

So, when I started my quest randomly, I started at the usual places – the discount stores – you know “Designer names at discount prices”  places: Ross, T.J. Maxx, Burlington, and Marshall’s.  I found almost nothing  American made. Thus far,  I have found one long sleeve shirt from Cohesive that I bought, and a young adult type T-shirt by English Laundry which I passed on, both at a Marshall’s. Out of 10 visits – one garment, poor odds. The next step were the Designer Outlet Stores – Polo, J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. – nothing.  The next step were the upper end department discount stores: Nordstrom’s Rack; Off Fifth Avenue; and Neiman Marcus Outlet.  Bingo. There is a much better chance of finding American made garments there,  I almost always find something each trip. I will go more into details about  these stores later. In conclusion, my advice would be to skip the cheap discount stores and start at the upper end department discount stores. Plus,  stores like American Apparel, Hlaska, and Mystyq, which we will review later. One tip for men, some of the easiest items that are American -made to find are Hawaiian shirts, socks, and Suit coats.

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” – Coco Chanel


2 Responses to “How to start shopping for U.S. Clothes”

  1. 1 Big Mike
    September 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I’ve bought many pairs of Red Wing boots and shoes over the years because they represent good value and high quality. I think you’d enjoy learning about their factory in Red Wing, Minnesota.


  2. September 16, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Dear Mike,
    That is fantastic. I have not been in a Red Wing shoe store in many years. I will definitely check them out. If they are all or mostly made in America, I will add them to my favorite stores list. Thanks, again. I am always looking for places with American clothing. -Jack A

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