Friday, February 25, 2011

I shop too much. But I'm good at it.

The last time I shopped at a department store or in legit retail was in high school. Except for the few months that I worked at Nordstrom, when I went ape shit and spent $1600 in two months. My underwear drawer overfloweth, but that $20 Nordstrom Note was so not worth it.

I don't know why I thought I was so fabulous, buying full retail price. Oy, I cringe at the thought. How young and naive I was. When I got to college I discovered the joy of discount shopping. It's pretty damn fun, let me tell you. Excluding a few pieces, 80% of my wardrobe consists of Marshalls and consignment finds. You think my man stalking skills are good? My clothes shopping skills are fine-tuned. When I step into a Marshalls, my eyes can't focus on one thing. They're scanning the entire visual field like the Terminator.

Shopping with friends is great--Meena and I have the "interesting or ugly?" test. But I do like to go alone, too: headphones in, latte in hand, no time constraints, ready to roam the aisles and zero in on that clearance section. Sometimes I circle back two, three times to make sure I haven't missed a juicy nugget.

My go-to's in order of most to least janky:
  • Goodwill: Random ass crap. I just picked up a lantern there, which I happily donated to Chez Knichards. FYI, if you don't know what Goodwill is, I don't know if we can be friends. It's hard for me to walk past one without stopping in and just looking.
  • Ross: As Julia said, you better bring your A game. Watch out for elbows and warning glances from your similarly-sized discount shoppers. I've gotten into semi-shove matches and angry grunting exchanges with many 5'1" little heifers out there who don't budge when you try to move past them in the aisle. I said "excuse me." Move over, woman.
  • Target: Tarjay. How many times have you gone into one, saying "I need laundry detergent," and then walk out with 3 pairs of leggings, a new side table, some Hot Pockets, and a blender?
  • Marshalls: Ah, le Marsh. With each new city I move to, I feel at home when I find one. I get everything here from $5 dresses to shampoo. And I love the shoe section because who else wears a size 5.5?
  • Filene's Basement: I haven't been to one in a long time because it was my DC staple. That's where I picked up Nora's First Prada.
  • TJMaxx: A higher price point, but better quality designers. Just make sure the stainage and tearing are in check before you buy. If there is, however, an easy fix on something, I'll ask for a discount and buy it anyway. Ain't no shame, homie.
  • Nordstrom Rack: I comb that lingerie section like it (was) my job. Like the parent company, the Rack is run pretty well. And the customer service is always great.
Then one day in college, Grace took me to the next level: consignment shopping. The idea may skeeve some of you out, but I have two older sisters--everything I've ever worn has been worn by someone else, so I have no problem recycling clothing. I love consignment shopping because it almost feels like you're picking up a one-of-a-kind. Oh Secondi, how I miss thee. Even you, $1/pound-dive-into-the-pit Garment District. But now I have Crossroads and I'm starting to enjoy selling my haven't-touched-you-in-a-year closet lurkers.

All told, there are certain items you should make sure to invest in.

  • Shoes and Bags: No mas with the pleather. And be kind to your shoes, for they will be kind unto you.
  • Wools: Trust me that ish is not going to soften up in the wash, no matter how much Downy you pour into the machine. Once you upgrade to nice wool (merino, cashmere, mohair, angora, etc), anything less will feel like a scouring pad.
  • Suits and Dress shirts: I didn't understand this until I got my hands on a Theory blazer--big difference. For your shirts, the dry cleaner is your friend unless you plan to starch and iron.
  • Jeans: I don't actually wear pants. I hate them. But the one pair of jeans that I do wear are these Japanese jeans that suck in the right areas. When you find a pair that makes you look better than you are in real life, pick up a few.

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