Tall Order

I try to stay away from "retail therapy." The act of buying things does not necessarily make me feel better when I'm feeling down or stressed out--no, instead, it makes me even more worried upon realization that I've just spent more money. The euphoria from the bright colors and pretty glitz ends by the time I hit the cash register. Even though my clothing allowance has gotten bigger now, I'm very reluctant to spend money on things that I couldn't afford "back then" but can afford now. It's a strange feeling, but it's good that my cheapskate roots keep me in check. The fun part of shopping isn't buying expensive clothes, as The Clothes Horse demonstrates daily. The fun part for me is the thrill of the hunt, finding great things at the lowest possible cost. If I do need "retail therapy," I'll seek out cheap thrills.

That said, having an expanded clothing budget does open some doors. I used to avoid walking into boutiques because I knew I can never afford to buy anything in them; now I can walk in without that sense of guilt, even though I don't necessarily plan on buying anything. Also, the old adage of "you get what you paid for" does ring true in some respects. I'm very proud of my collection of cheap clothes and shoes that look great, but the quality isn't necessarily all there. Also, cheap shoes that start off comfortable lose that comfort over time, or they get battered easily (as I mentioned before, simply puttering around the courts can do major damage to my shoes). The cheap $5 sunglasses that I wore all the time look great and garner a lot of compliments, but they don't always go with the more "serious" outfits I sometimes have to wear. To a certain extent, my wardrobe needed an "upgrade."

Whenever I do decide to pursue the "upgrade" items, I wait patiently for the right opportunity. The summer sales, in conjunction with birthday coupons, can add up to big savings. Consequently, I scored big on this pair of Ray Bans. I've been wanting a pair of nice sunglasses that look professional and also properly protect my eyes; the cheap lenses of cheap sunglasses don't adequately do their jobs. When I went to the Beverly Hills Loehmann's, there were two walls devoted to (mostly designer) sunglasses. I skipped over the trendy big frames and went for something more lithe. The Ray Bans are the most comfortable and well-fitting pair of sunglasses I own. Because the earpieces are flexible, they fit my small head well without hurting me, which sunglasses tend to do upon prolonged wear. They were marked $50, but when I went to pay for them, I found out that there was an additional 15% discount, on top of the 15% birthday discount I elected to use. I ended up spending a lot less money than I planned. I wear them practically every day now.

I also took advantage of the birthday coupon situation when I splurged on a pair of Converse sneakers. They weren't cheap, and admittedly I probably shouldn't have so much for them ($45 after discount), but I'm more willing to spend money on things I find to be unusual and long-lasting. I don't often see plaid sneakers that I like, and flashy footwear tend to jazz up my colorblock clothing. These have been quite comfortable for long jaunts around town on foot.

I saved the big splurge for the last. This is officially the most expensive pair of shoes I own. I bought it around the time of my birthday, but it wasn't a birthday purchase. Rather, it's one of the rare "retail therapy" trips that I took after I finished a big fat motion for summary judgment. For those of you who have experienced the pleasure of writing one, you'll understand how much "fun" it is (no, really). That's right--the all day and all night caffeine-fueled kind of fun. This one was particularly taxing for a variety of reasons. I was just so happy and exhausted when I finshed that I felt like I needed to unwind. I've been looking for a pair of dressy summer sandals, which I do need, so I headed over to DSW after work. After walking past aisle after aisle, I came upon a pair of Givenchy leather sandals with the most curious wooden wedge heel. The heel had a kind of an architectural quality to it. That particular shoe didn't fit, and after putting them on, I realized they weren't really my type. I remained fascinated with the wooden wedge, so I looked around for something simlar. Sure enough, I found these at 40% off:

They're perfect for the summer. Usually I eschew wooden soles because they are hard and uncomfortable, but for some reason, these aren't the norm. They actually felt quite good. I believe the substantial layer of rubber on the bottom of the sole absorbs the pressure from pounding the pavement. I don't like showy logos, which is why I simply passed by the sandals of the same shape but with a logo-print canvas upper. The logo is on these, but the myriad of colors in the woven straw makes the logo almost imperceptible. Also, the t-strap assembly looks very classic. Best of all, they give me height without hurting my feet. However, all these benefits come at a steep price. At almost $200 including tax, these really are the most expensive pair of shoes I owned. But I hardly felt a tinge of guilt--at the time, I felt like I worked hard and deserved them (which usually is self-justifying rationalization, but it didn't feel like it in this case). Also, I just absolutely loved them, for the reasons I stated above and for another reason that I couldn't fathom at the time.

It was only a few weeks later that I discovered why I love them so much. My aunt remarked about how old these sandals are, at which time I corrected her, saying that the sandals are new. Then it dawned on me--these platform sandals bear a great resemblance to my most favorite pair of shoes ever, the pair that I was never able to find a replacement for. Years ago, I bought a pair of platform sandals from Payless for $7. The sandals have thick black straps with a similar color scheme as the Givenchy pair. I wore those sandals all the time, and I even ran in them. Alas, the heel wasn't altogether stable enough to properly distribute the forces, and after three years of wear, one sandal had completely split in half. Given how sturdy my new pair of shoes are, I'm sure they will last far longer than the 3 years my last favorite pair lasted me. I've already worn them quite often, including once for a wedding:

Obviously I won't make it a habit to spend like this. In fact, I'm all shopped out now. I could have gone out and shopped in celebration of winning the said motion, as someone suggested, but I didn't really feel like it. I did end up picking up a nice cheap tanktop for myself, but that was done while I was on a gift-shopping trip, not a woohoo-let's-go-shopping spree.

I'll close out today's post with some humor. Let's just say my friends really know me well:

(Thanks B!)


The Clothes Horse said...

I quite agree with the way you shop! I think there is something to be said about investment pieces and at the end of the day it isn't about spending a lot or a little, it's about buying pieces that you love.
And isn't it a funny paradox? I often get the most compliments on the cheapest things as well--I suppose it is because they are unique and hard to find.

yulanda said...

Your new sandals are gorgeous.

Sales Rack Raider said...

The Clothes Horse--it is a paradox indeed. A large part of it is the unique nature of thrifted items. But sometimes my Forever 21 purchases get a lot of Oohs and Ahhs as well. Guess they don't shop there.


Alice@longtallsally said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Poster Girl said...

Wow, nice finds, the sandals look great on you. It always feels good to save money and to reward yourself for working so hard. The Bev. Hills Loehmann's has to be the best one I've ever been to. Too bad I don't go there much anymore. Enjoy your new purchases!

Always In Style said...

Those Converse are definitely worth the price - you'll wear them to death! And those sandals are tres chic :-)

Sales Rack Raider said...

Poster Girl--Thanks! It does feel good to get a treat like that once in a while.

I've been to several Loehmann's, and I have to say that the BH location remains my favorite. The selection is simply better.

Always--I probably will at some point. I love those Converse sneakers.

ambika said...

Those shoes are *such* an amazing find. And I love the card! That's too funny and I expect so apt.

Sales Rack Raider said...

Ambika--I still get excited every time I get to wear them. I'm so glad I found them.

My friend always gets me the awesomest cards. =)

Discount Designer Shopper said...

Oh, the shopping gods have smiled upon you indeed! Of course, it sounds like you earned that blessing.

You know, if you join the Insider Club, then Loehmanns will send you an additional coupon for your birthday. Can't beat that!