Tag Archives: shopping

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

Summer Collection: J Crew, a Dress, and a Dog

Desiree, a salesperson at my go-to store, once said of the J Crew design team, “They don’t disappoint.”

Ella dress in porcelain paisley, jcrew.com

She’s spot-on. I mean, look at this dress.

Yes, I borrowed the photo from the J Crew site without asking permission. It’s fair use since I’m commenting on it. But please, Jenna Lyons, charge me with piracy.

Throw me in J Crew jail where I’ll be forced to wear navy blue and white reverse sailor stripes and work in exotic locales like Tanzania, Bali, and New Zealand.

Sentence me to a lifetime of schoolboy blazers, cotton capris with a hint of stretch, and vintage V-neck tees in Byzantine blue, heather graphite, and the perfect shade of bright plum circa spring 2010.

Now about this dress named Ella. Exquisite. Prettiest thing I’ve seen since last month’s J Crew catalog. Oozes summertime when the living is easy.

If you read this blog, you know my dog’s name is Ella. Perhaps Jenna Lyons has been reading this blog, too, and she’s been inspired.

“See that little dog Ella?” I can hear her telling the crew at the Crew. “Who owns a creature of such intelligence, taste, and style? Feel the epistle. Inhabit the epistle. Express the epistle!”

Ella dog in wheaten fur

Voilà. Out comes the Ella dress in porcelain paisley. Named after my dog. And a steal at only… $298?!

Why do you do this to me, Jenna?

How could you design a dress for me at the end of the traditional spring-summer shopping season when my clothing budget is as dry as the sun-scorched earth of Al Gore’s inconvenient truth?

How could you introduce it in May—the month of Mother’s Day gifts, graduations, and summer camp deposits? How could you name it after my dog then price it oh so high above me?

This is one reason J Crew is successful. Besides quality, design, color, and hipness factor, J Crew appeals to those of us in the masses as attainable and out of reach at the same time.

That, and they steal writers’ dogs’ names for their dresses.

A girl’s gotta dream.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:14 NIV

Tempted by Squeeze.

How do you keep your idols at bay?


Filed under humor, women's studies

The Songs of Our Discontent

on air at The Ryman, Nashville, TN

So I’m minding my own business, browsing in my favorite home furnishings store, when it comes on the sound system. The saddest song ever recorded.

I’m not going to link to it because it’s so sad. I might not even tell you what it is.

Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. Circa 1974.


My sugar plum thoughts of needlepoint pillows and coffee table tchotchkes came to a sudden halt. My mind flooded with the festering waves of parental guilt.

What if my child grows up and never comes to see me because he has to go shopping instead?

“Yes, I’m gonna be like you, Mom. You know I’m gonna be like you.”

I sprinted past the dinette sets. Wriggled around étagères. Leaped over ottomans. Until I landed in living rooms where my son sat on a fine leather sofa with my husband, vanquishing a game of Penguin Wings.

Yes, Little Boy Blue and the Man in the Moon were in the store with me. And no, we still don’t have a cat.

“Mommy loves you!” I said with watery eyes.

“I have 145 penguin coins,” said my son and shooed me away from the iPhone.

“Why are they playing this song?” I said to my husband.

“What song?” he said.

And then there’s Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg. Oh, Dan, Dan, Dan.

It runs a close second for the saddest song ever recorded. Heard that one while ice skating recently. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Imagine kneeling and weeping on the cold, cold ice.

pac man fever

Did you know it was based on a true story? Fogelberg crooned the tearjerkers Leader of the Band and Run for the Roses with it on the same 1981 album entitled The Innocent Age. Good grief.

Fogelberg dominates the sad songs category for the 80s. Maybe for all time.

Sister Christian by Night Ranger in 1984 was sort of sad, and yet oddly comforting at the same time.

“You’ll be all right tonight.”

In 1989, Don Henley managed to sneak New York Minute in under the wire and into the decade on his album End of the Innocence. Nice bookend, Don.

November Rain by Guns N’ Roses didn’t come out until 1992. Axl Rose had been working on it since 1983. That explains a lot.

I won’t try to escape if those songs come on like I do with Chapin and Fogelberg. But I will cover my ears if the anguish fest of 100 Years by John Ondrasik (aka Five for Fighting) does. It’s from a 2003 album called The Battle for Everything.

Could someone please just wake me up before you go-go?

Sorrow is better than laughter,
for sadness has a refining influence on us. Ecclesiastes 7:2 NLT

because clearly I do not spend enough time with my child

Wham! was destined to make an appearance here sooner or later. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Jitterbug. Gotta get in line for one of those t-shirts.

Have a great weekend, y’all!
Be a peach and leave a comment about a sad or not-so-sad song on your way out the door, will ya?

Thank you, William Shakespeare and John Steinbeck, for inspiring the title.


Filed under humor

Many Happy Returns

Returns. The ability to take things back. Don’t know how I would shop otherwise.

Sperry cute

The crazy town that is Macy’s during a shoe sale is no place to make a decision. It’s grab and go. Four pairs snagged at the pre-sale this past Saturday should be on their way to me from Kansas City as you read this.

Will I keep all four? Probably not. I don’t need them all. But I couldn’t decide in the store.

They all fit. All comfortable. All on sale. All gorgeous. If I left them in Macy’s unspoken for, I risked losing them to another suitor.

Remember The Limited’s old return policy? No sale is ever final. Those were the days.

Now you have to watch and make sure you don’t overstay the time limit. Sixty days are standard for generous stores and online orders. Thirty at the trendsetters. And always, always, keep your receipts.

put me in, Coach

My method is three-pronged. Try on once I get home. Make a decision as soon as possible. Return upon deciding. Not a moment to lose. While there is still time for the credit to hit my charge card’s current billing cycle.

From the pages of their books and blogs, wardrobe consultants urge me to go in with a list. Shop the list. Buy only what’s on the list.

I had a list this past Saturday. Silver sandals, black sandals, other comfortable shoes.

Macy’s, however, did not get a copy of my list when they sent their buyers a-purchasing for spring 2012. Maybe it’s too early in the season for sandals. Maybe comfort is out this year.

Nothing was a perfect fit for my list. Nothing except for the four pairs that fell into the catch-all category other comfortable shoes.

Sam Edelman stripes done right

Buying and returning is not an efficient way to shop. Yet I think the wardrobe consultants would side against efficiency in this case.

They consistently tell me dressing stylishly and within your means takes an effort. It takes time. And it’s worth the investment.

As image consultant Brenda Kinsel writes in Brenda’s Bible: Escape Fashion Hell and Experience Heaven Every Time You Get Dressed, “You’re allowed to change your mind. It’s one of the redemptions you have in life… (p. 42)”

Redemption in shopping and returns.

Sold to the lady wearing the gorgeous shoes.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to Me,
for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22 NIV

Nu Shooz? I Can’t Wait.

6 days left

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Filed under humor, women's studies