“In my family, bargain shopping was important,” she says. “We were not affluent by any means. My mother is from Guatemala, and I love Guatemalan textiles with rich colors and complex designs. They frequently influence my taste in clothes. I also love vibrant silks from India and enjoyed wearing these on a recent trip to India for the India Rheumatology Association meeting.”
She also learned many shopping tips from an unlikely source—her husband, Blake, who was a chemist and worked with textiles. He taught her to stick to natural fabrics, such as cotton, silk or wool, because they wash and wear well, and avoid clothes made out of rayon, because they don’t.
“Anytime I don’t inspect the clothing, I regret it,” Dr. Von Feldt says. “We all do impulse shopping. But when I do that and am not careful about the fabric itself, I sometimes make mistakes.”
Likewise, don’t make assumptions about any shop. She says even your local Goodwill store may have terrific clothes and accessories at bargain prices.
Keep in mind that not all designer clothes are worth their value. Some are flimsy or inferior in terms of how they’re made, she says. Buy clothes made out of fabrics that wear well, make sure they fit and know what styles work best for you. Fashion accessories, such as jewelry, scarves and pocketbooks, can give an outfit a “put-together look,” she says, and can be easy to find and inexpensive.
One of her favorite stores is Great Stuff Savvy Resale in Wilmington, Del., that also carries home goods. Roughly 25% of her extensive wardrobe, which has now infiltrated her husband’s walk-in closet, comes from this shop.
“I discovered this shop about seven or eight years ago,” says Dr. Von Feldt, adding that it’s staffed by volunteer women, many of whom are breast cancer survivors. “I’m a regular there and enjoy visiting the people in the store. It’s a community network of women who believe in a cause.”
[Dr. Von Feldt] encourages people to patronize stores that do more than earn a profit.
Dr. Von Feldt has also passed on her shopping skills and savvy to her daughter, Christine. Years ago, when Christine was a teenager, she was having trouble finding the perfect prom dress. While vacationing, the pair combed through the racks at an upscale department store. There it was—a beautiful, gold, glittery gown that had been repeatedly marked down from several hundred dollars to $19.99.