Tag Archives: bargainista

Championship Shopping

SHOPPING IS NOT A HOBBY,” read the pretentious bumper sticker.

up to 40% off

up to 40% off

That’s true. Shopping is not a hobby. It’s a sport.

Like the Olympics, there are many categories and events. Shoppers with higher incomes excel in Brands, Early Adoption (buy it before it hits the racks), Boutique, Custom, and Couture. Creative divas and penny pinchers make out like bandits in events like I-Got-This-At-Walmart-But-You-Can’t-Tell-Can-You?, DIY, Consignment, Thrift, and Yard Sale.

Me? I specialize in Bargain Hunting New Merchandise, with major wins in the Women’s and Children’s Clothing divisions.

Once I bought a floor-length Ralph Lauren evening gown for $9. Set a personal record. Wore it to my brother’s wedding. Alas, the victory was bittersweet since I got it at Lord & Taylor’s closing sale.

that's me in the $9 evening gown

that’s me in the $9 evening gown

Then there was the time I paid $5 for a wool pea coat for my son. A darling post-season triumph he wore with panache the next winter.

Before the big snow fell this year in Wichitawesome, I snagged a pair of leather and calf-hair, zebra-print gloves at Ann Taylor for $12.

Anything animal print counts as Big Game and earns extra points.

My aptitude is genetic, geographic, and circumstantial. My mother was a Bargainista before Bargainista was cool. I grew up in a textile manufacturing town. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on clothes. Trained by example, opportunity, and necessity, I have the makings of one of Gladwell’s Outliers.

store full of bargains

store full of bargains

Mom was a pro. At true factory outlets—the kind located in tiny, dimly-lit rooms inside actually factories—she fished out overstocked nightgowns from big cardboard boxes for pennies per pound. She bought me a pair of pants with a small tear at the ankle for $2. Roll up those preppy chinos and no one knows the difference. She waded through piles of Esprit and Liz Claiborne 80 percent off at Dillard’s Clearance.

Full-court bargain shopping may be beneath some women, but that’s where champions are made. Take the Smith & Hawken store in Chicago. Had to reach for it. Bottom of the box. Linen sundress. $16. Nothing but net.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. Impulse buys that were just not right. Like the time I bought a candy pink sweatshirt with “PRINCESS” emblazoned in large, white letters across the front. It cost me less than $10, but I was 34.

“My daughter would love your shirt!” said a neighbor as I pushed my son past her in the stroller on our way to the park. That Sunday I promptly wrapped the sweatshirt in a nondescript, brown paper bag and slipped it to a man at church between praise songs.

“It’s for your 15-year-old,” I whispered. “I hope she enjoys it.”

I brake for designer fashion

I brake for designer fashion

The older I get, the more likely I am to pay full-price for a basic wardrobe piece of superior quality, fit, style, and color. Do the math. A bargain is only a bargain if you wear it. A $100 dress worn 20 times costs less per wear than a $10 dress worn once.

My husband reminds me the cost of my time also needs to figure into the equation. Shopping for sport, especially Bargain Hunting, burns a lot of hours.

But it’s like I tell him, practice makes perfect.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25 NLT

Madame Onassis got nothing on you.” You Wear It Well by Rod Stewart.

What’s your shopping story?


Filed under humor, women's studies

Not a Moo Moo

not a moo moo

Needed pajamas for a girls’ weekend away. My comfortable, old nightgown was threadbare. The loungewear department was calling.

As I swept across the sales floor at Dillard’s pulling things to try, I spotted it. A rack of baby terry cloth by Miss Elaine. Bright colors, soft fabric. I circled back for a closer look.

There I found a slightly A-line dress. No waistline, v neck, side seam pockets, tea length hem. Modern, close fit at the top. Loose on down.

The dressing room verified my suspicions. It was comfortable. Extremely comfortable.

So I bought it along with a couple more items for my trip. It was too warm to wear the baby terry dress at the time, and it was still full price. But I couldn’t leave that caliber of comfort in the store.

I bought it dreaming of a cool fall Sunday after church, pulling on the baby terry dress and lounging around the house. Making hot chocolate or popcorn. Watching movies. All cozy and warm.

Then it occurred to me. I’m only 40. Had I just purchased my first moo moo?

To me, Miss Elaine seems like an upper end line for mature women. And baby terry cloth? No pretty young thing I know would be caught dead in tea length baby terry cloth. No PYT even knows what tea length is these days.

mini patch pocket

It’s not a moo moo, I reasoned. It’s fitted at the top for goodness sake. And it’s got a mini patch pocket.

Besides who cares if it is categorically a moo moo? It’s one of the most comfortable garments I’ve ever owned.

I heard a Bible teacher once chastise us women for seeking our own comfort. Who did we think we were to put ourselves first and care foremost about our own well-being? To choose comfort instead of sacrifice?

Rather than a call to asceticism, I think she meant for us to see our own selfishness—as if we needed to be bashed over the head with the obvious and have the sacrifices we do make heartily invalidated. We wallowed in guilt while comfort was called on the carpet.

It’s fall now. A chill nips the edges of our daytime temps. I’m sitting at my computer, wearing my baby terry dress that’s not a moo moo.

The world is spinning into chaos outside the door of my little house. The economy is stalled indefinitely. There are protesters occupying Wall Street.

Decisions are not being made. Conflicts are left unresolved. People I know are divorced or alone, hurting, sick or dead. Winter will be here soon.

God comforts us. He wouldn’t do it if we didn’t need it. Over indulgence, selfishness, and hedonism are vices for sure. But comfort? Comfort is a necessity.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT

Going classical with Comfort Ye My People from The Messiah by George Frederic Handel. Sacred prelude to the holiday season.

trio of terry


Recently I hit Dillard’s clearance. Picked up two more Miss Elaine baby terry dresses that are not moo moos. Only $6.20 each. All rise for the Bargainista.

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Filed under humor, women's studies