Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — If a spot check of shoppers at the Chesterfield Mall, just outside St. Louis, is any indication, practicality is far more important than fashion when it comes to buying new clothes.
Although some shoppers said they were aware of the hot fashion trends, such as the new knee-length skirt, they said they prefer to stick to items they get more use out of — stirrup pants, for example. Further, they won’t spend more than $50 on a blouse or pants. Many of them said they wait for sales.
Interviews with about a dozen women here revealed that even though they might spend several thousand dollars on new furniture, they are tight-fisted with their clothing budgets. It’s a particularly interesting point these days, when retailers are paying more attention than usual to their moderate- price customers.
The anchor stores at Chesterfield Mall are Famous Barr, Dillards and Sears, Roebuck & Co.
“My shopping goes in spurts, but the most I spend on clothes myself is $100 per month. I spend about $50 per month for both my kids. I probably spend about eight hours total shopping. I don’t go for a lot of fashion, but something that is practical, like stirrup pants and better-price cottons. I’m not so sure what the whole knee-length thing means. I just spent $3,200 on a sofa and some living room furniture, so right now I don’t have a lot of money left for clothes. I shop at Talbott’s, and I stay away from the big fashion trends. Aside from buying Lee and Calvin Klein jeans for myself, I usually don’t buy labels.” — Donna Keller, 34, physical therapist.
“I spend a lot more money on my kids than on myself. For me, I spend no more than $20 on a blouse or a pair of pants, and no more than $40 for a dress. Price is a key part of my decision. I’m just not into brands. I just bought a bedroom set that cost $3,000.” — Mary Anne Miller, housewife, whose husband is a small-business owner.
“I guess I spend more money on fashion than I should, but I always go for sales. I’m in college so I go for casual clothes, but I only spend $15 for a pair of leggings and no more than $30 for a blouse.” — Barbara Fisher, 20, student.
“I spent more money this past year than before, probably because my job was going really well. I spend about $400 per month on clothes, a lot of it in suits, like Kasper. At the same time, I don’t buy any suit that is priced more than $150. I pretty much shop at Casual Corner and Dillards.” — Stacey New, finance manager for a car dealership.
“I’m into all the trends, like leather jackets, vests and crushed velvets, though I wasn’t into bell-bottoms or platform shoes. I get a lot of my fashion ideas from magazines or just looking through catalogs. I spend about $300 per month, but I’m definitely price-conscious. I don’t spend any more than $40 for either a blouse or a pair of pants. My office now has a casual code, so most of what I buy is casual. My favorite place is Limited Express.” — Theresa Burn, 30, office manager.
“I only spend about $75 per month on clothes, less than what I spent last year. Price is a big concern. The top price that I’ll pay for a dress is $80, while I will only spend $50 for a pair of pants. I like classic clothes and my favorite labels are Liz Claiborne and Jones New York.” — Diane Gannon, 35.