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Buying Cheap Basics

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At first we thought American Apparel was our friend.  So many colors! So many cuts!  And they weren’t too expensive! And they did some sort of vertical management rhizomic thing that we didn’t understand but that made us feel good and right and not exploity.  Finally, there was a simple, easy place to get those T shirts and plain sweatshirts and hoodies we all needed.  Hooray!

But then this happened.

And this.

And this.

And this and this and so on.  So AA stopped seeming like a great, guilt-free place to shop and started to feel more like a gross pro shop for a retro 70s sex trafficking ring.

So where to go for basics then? There are several options.

Necessary Clothing

If you live in NYC you’ve doubtlessly seen this place on lower Broadway, replete with Long Islanders with fake nails and pulsing house music. However, a tip from a dear friend led me there one day where I was rewarded with the best plain, v-neck t shirts ever (fitted, lightweight, soft) for $7.99 each.


IF you can find one near you, this is a no brainer.  Obviously they sell Hanes and Fruit of the Loom for those days when you just need a wife beater, but within their own store-brand selections you can often find hidden gems.  It’s just about a willingness to put aside snobbery for a while and get busy digging through the racks.


Everyone who knows me knows that I have attitude about drugstore makeup. I’m just not with it.  But, the drugstore sells tons of other shit and I make sure that when I shop for anything for my household, I buy the generiv drugstore brand.  Things like Q-tips, Cotton Balls, paper towels, Vaseline, lotion etc are all waaay cheaper when you buy the drugstore brand. Some people need a certain kind of tissue or certain brand of toilet paper to keep their quality of life where they need it, so see what works for you. But if you  cut back on brand names in the areas that are less important to you, you’ll have more cash for that Cle de Peau foundation or whatever it is you like to blow your money on.

Old Navy

As much as I hate it (seriously, what’s with the smell in that place?) I have found some amazing yoga pants and tank tops in there for as little as $3.

Urban Outfitters Bargain Basement

This can be a great place to find shit that seemed a little overpriced at full price (and at UO, pretty much everything is) but it can get marked waaaaay down in the basement. It may take a little digging but it’s usually well worth the effort. Also, my best friend and I recently bought two pairs apiece of their Keds-esque sneakers and with a little big of sharpie magic, they are dope. I’ve been getting compliments left and right.

What are your favorite spots to get basics? Leave it in the comments.

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BAS Writers

BAS Writers

BAS Writers is mostly a collection of articles written by people for the early days of this site. Back then nobody knew that snarky articles they were writing could come back and haunt them when job searching a decade later.

1 Comment

  1. Alexi Lawless
    May 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    H&M! Even though I know it’s wrong that some poor Bangladeshi child’s tiny hands stitched the seams together, those $4 basic tank tops really can’t be beat. Not to mention the fact that I’ve had to return 50% of the things I’ve gotten from American Apparel because evidently LA hipsters don’t know how to use sewing machines correctly causing the seaming to unravel after the first wash.