Monday, January 14, 2013

Buyer's Remorse

For almost a year, I restrained myself from buying any new clothes, shoes or jewelry, focusing instead on trying to wear (and fit into) all the stuff I already own. Once I decided to start spending again, I really went hog-wild, dropping $485 in a single store -- something I've never, ever done before. And the worst thing? I have some buyer's remorse about some of the things I purchased, most of which were marked "final sale." The most expensive item and the only piece not on sale, a black top ($189) has turned out to be a winner. It is flattering, washable, and works with a variety of pants and skirts. Plus it is seasonless. The other items, not so much. I loved the way a French dress (discounted to $155 from $305) fit me in the store, but once I got it home, I realized there aren't many places I can wear it. It is kind of poufy in an '80s way, and is, perhaps, too young for me. A camel-colored ruffle top ($45 from $69) seemed like a great completer piece -- the kind of thing Stacy and Clinton would advocate. But I'm not sure it actually goes with much that I currently own. And while I was seduced by how well size 4 culottes ($65) fit me, I don't actually think they make a winning look for a short person like me.

The truth is, I think I do better shopping online. There is no pushy salesperson to distract me and encourage me to buy stuff I really shouldn't. I can put items in a shopping cart and leave them there for days, thinking about whether or not I really want them. Sometimes, of course, the items are snapped up by someone else while I dither, but sometimes, I get lucky and find when I go back that they've gone on sale, or I've received some sort of email coupon to entice me to finish the check out process.

For example, weeks and weeks ago, I browsed through the Lands End site, adding things here and then to my cart as I went. Some time later, I received their catalog in the mail and a pair of winter boots on sale caught my eye. When I received an email offering me 30% off their sale prices, it seemed to be the time to strike. I ended up with a pair of charcoal heather trousers, gold platform thong sandals, and khaki shorts, in addition to the boots, all for the total price (including tax and shipping) of $87.42. While my purchases haven't arrived yet, assuming that the usual Lands End quality standards apply, I will be more delighted with these four items than I ultimately was with four pieces that cost more than five times as much.

Similarly, I made some great buys online yesterday at Ann Taylor, when their already low prices were reduced even more. I got a black and white spotted haircalf skinny belt and a black patent leather skinny belt, each for $12.44 (originally $44). A sleeveless persimmon top was originally $68, but I got it for $25. A blue merino wool v-neck cardigan, a lapis wool wrap sweater, and a tweed print blouse were each $30 instead of $78, bringing my total purchase to $148.89.   As with the Lands End spree, if history is any predictor of the future, I will be happier with these six items than with the four that cost considerably more.  So I guess I'll be staying out of stores!

Update: from now on, I should follow these 28 Shopping Tips.

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