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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where to Shop

Over the years, I have heard my grandmother say this statement:

"If you have good taste, you can shop anywhere."  

How true it is.   Where you shop really is not as important as what you buy.  As much as I think that I would like to shop strictly at designer stores, high end department stores etc... I realize, NO.  I wouldn't!   We all seem to think "Man....if money was no object I would buy _________."   or "If I was rich, I would shop at ___________."    Think about it.   Would you really? 

I am pretty good at looking at outfits and having an idea where they came from.   I browse enough websites to know what's in at the Gap, Banana Republic, AT, The Loft, etc.   I am not a name brand snob at all.  In fact, I purposely look for NON-name brands and pick clothing based on what I really like.    I get the Neiman Marcus catalog in the mail....I am not salivating over their clothes, buying Win for Life tickets at 7-11 in hopes of "someday" being able to shop at Neimans.   

So much of the fun of shopping, to me at least, is the thrill of the bargain.   And how nice is it to have things that no one else has, because no one would buy clothes in that store.   This blog is going to be somewhat of a ramble, because I am not sure how exactly to organize it.  

This blog has me reflecting on some of my favorite purchases over the years:

Favorite Stores:   Fox's in Eastchester, TJ Maxx, Annie Sez.    
Admitting that I have bought clothes at:  Target, Kohl's and Dress Barn

I used to have a black sleeveless wrap dress with periwinkle blue designs on it.   When I was working, I would get compliments on that dress EVERY time I wore it, often more than once a day.   "Cute dress!" people would say.   I am not one of those "oh, this old thing..." people.  I can accept a compliment and smile.   What I could have/should have/might have said was, "Target!"  But I didn't.  Why spoil the moment?     Target has some cute things!   I do own not one, but two Missoni for Target dresses.....and believe it or not, together they did not cost $100.   I bought ONE Missoni Missoni scarf on a discount site for $99 and was disgustingly disappointed when I opened the package, hoping to find my treasure, my real splurge and treat to myself.....to find out that I did not like the quality of the $99 scarf nearly as much as I liked the dresses for Target.  

What I love about Fox's and Annie Sez is that you can get the "in" clothing relatively inexpensive and by next season, when it's out, you did not spend a fortune.  And truthfully, how many times are you going to wear the same blouse??   Once you wear it to a girls night out, a family party with a different group of people, to a bridal shower with a third group of people.....you don't want to be seen in it again!!   Especially now with Facebook! You are no longer allowed to "outfit repeat" because people post pics and you're going to get caught.   So buy 3 cute shirts at Fox's and leave the fancy one at Lord and Taylor or Nordstrom where it should stay.   That brings me to my next topic.

Overhead
When you are shopping at XYZ store, consider the overhead.   What does a space in the Westchester Mall cost per month?   A favorite purchase of mine comes to mind.   I "like" (don't LOVE) the store White House/Black Market.   I will occasionally pay full price for something that I just have to have.   I like their things but really, I might buy 1-2 items per year in that store.    
One day, I am in a favorite store, Amazing Savings.....kind of a variety junk store, a little nicer than a dollar store but not as nice as a pharmacy.   Lots of overstocked items for seriously reduced prices.   I was looking on the clothing rack, in Amazing Savings, yes.  What did I come across?  A pair of capri length black leggings, from White House Black Market!  I thought I was seeing things.   I forget if they were $5.99 or $7.99 but I am sure that they were less than $9.99.   Full price in WHBM would be around $30-$35.   
WE are paying for overhead costs.   To buy cosmetics in the department stores, we pay for their space in high end commercial spaces.   I went for a facial once and asked the esthetician for some skin care product recommendations and she told me to get the Oil of Olay Regenerist Line in CVS.  I was expecting her to name drop the higher priced ones I have seen (and bought) in Lord and Taylor.  
When those high priced items do not sell in the department stores.....they get shipped off to places like Fox's, TJ Maxx and Annie Sez.....for people to buy at a fraction of the cost.   That brings me to my next topic.  (This is more organized than I thought it would be)

Kids Clothes
Kids aged 0-5 years old wear things for ONE season.   Under 2 years old, they change sizes 5 times!  After that, less frequently, but things usually don't last from one summer to the next summer.   Sometimes spring and fall clothes can be interchangeable, yes.  But generally they are in it and out of it in under 6 months.   
To say that I over bought for my first child is an understatement.  I lived and learned and decided that with my second, I would buy less.   I have been much better the second time around.   Part of it is first vs second and part of it is girl vs boy.   Shopping for a girl is definitely much more fun but I honestly think that if I had a second girl, I had learned my lesson to know that sometimes less is more.   
With kids clothes, you do not need quality as much as you do adults clothes because they are not going to need them for too long.   That's not to say that Kmart is on the top of my list for kids clothes, but neither is Janie and Jack or CrewCuts.    Of course there are splurge items for kids too-- A holiday outfit or a special occasion outfit (professional photograph picture day clothes!) you might want to spend a little more.   With that said, when I had my daughter's 4 year old pics taken, she was wearing a glittery sparkly dress that I bought for her in the dress up/toy area of the cough-cough, Christmas Tree Shop.   Swear to God.   When I figure out how to put pics up, you will see it.  Every SINGLE person who saw the pictures commented on the outfit.   The dress and the white furry coat from Old Navy!    
That brings me back to my grandmothers words.  If you have good taste, you can shop anywhere.    On my notes page is a reminder to myself to tell the story about the "strawberry sweater" and that fits in perfectly now.

The Strawberry Sweater
I used to have this acquaintance/neighbor/friend, whatever you would call her.   My husband called her my "frenemy" (friend/enemy)   We had girls the same age, but could not be more different.  She was a name dropper, cared about things that I could care less about.  Strangely she was at least 10 years older than me and probably could not afford the lifestyle she was living but that's another story.
We would bump into each other in the stores, out walking, in the playground often.  I saw her daughter's sweater and complimented her on it.   She thanked me.   When I told her that my daughter had the same one, she froze.   I realized at that moment, that I embarrassed her.  The sweater was from Babies R Us.  In her nervous way, she back pedaled and said, "I never go in there but I was low on diapers...." blah blah blah.... but she was happy to receive the compliment until her secret was out.  She bought a clothing item in Babies R Us!?   She even said, "A sweater like this would sell on the Upper East Side for a hundred bucks."  I just smiled.   I happened to like some of my baby items from Babies R Us.  I'm not ashamed.  :-) 

Favorite Kids Clothing Stores:  
TJ Maxx
Gymboree (for multi season matching-ness purposes) but past a certain age, not cool anymore, for some girls.   
Epsteins in Tuckahoe (love Pink brand for girls)
Carter's Outlet-- Great value, washes up nicely, lots of choices-- Esp zip up pajamas
Lord and Taylor (amazing sales.....great if looking to buy end of the season clearance for the following year) 

Cheapish but "good enough": 
Old Navy/Target/Childrens Place  (cute graphic tee's, Hello Kitty, Batman, etc.) 
Baby Stores (holiday themed items, costumes, shirts with sayings, Big Sister, etc.) 

Not impressed:
CrewCuts
Janie and Jack
Hanna Andersson

Pocketbooks 
This kind of doesn't flow with the topic above but I want to revisit another line of good old grandmother on the topic of purses.  In her day, women always had to match the purse with the shoes; I don't know if that is the rule so much these days.....who really looks?    And the white after labor day rule is one she always observes.   
I believe that every woman needs a nice bag, or two.   Nice meaning, expensive.  More than you would probably spend-- a splurge.   I have a number of genuine designer bags and I will have them for a long time, I know.
What I also have though..... is an entire closet shelf with "other" bags, inside bags, filled with cosmetic cases, wristlets, wallets, etc.  Sooooo many inexpensive bags too.   Not to match up with shoes, to go with an outfit, for any occasion-- just because I wanted it.  $50 here and $50 there...it adds up.    Still my favorite bags are the real ones.   :-)   The others do not compare.  BUT, to come back to my main point, some of those $50 bags are knock off bags.... a fake Louis Vuitton, a fake Tory Burch clutch bag.....but according to the mother of my mother, "When you have nice things (she means expensive things) you can pull off a fake one, because it's believable"  Believable that the Tory Burch clutch MIGHT be real....because, look at her.....she has a real Gucci.....and she drives a nice car....and always has her nails manicured, etc.   One fake item here and there, mixed in with all of the other "nice things" works.    

Shoes
I would say my theory on shoes for myself and for kids is the same.   Splurge on the pair you will wear most often.  Get the better sneakers, if your child is wearing them day in and day out to school.   Buy the less expensive holiday card, Easter Sunday shoes that will be worn a handful of times.     

Shoe Favorites:  
DSW, Marshalls, TJMaxx
Gymboree/Gap for kids.  
Always good sneakers
Aerosoles for comfort

Once in a while:  
Payless for tap shoes/ballet slippers for an 8 week session.  
Target for a pair of rain boots or snow boots for the few times your toddler wants to play outside in the winter.  

Websites
I am addicted to online shopping.   I have seriously contemplated cutting up my credit card for ONE WEEK to see if I could manage.   I will admit I binge shop sometimes.   I have made myself a deal.   Load up the online cart, and before checking out, remove a couple of things before finalizing the order.   Another little strategy is to buy a gift or two, to kind of offset the guilt.  I will buy a generic birthday gift, for a random classmate and I feel validated because I saved myself a trip OUT to buy a present and completed an errand from home....so my reward is one cute item for my little guy.  :-) 

Love: 
www.ruelala.com
www.hautelook.com
www.gilt.com
www.theminisocial.com
www.zulily.com

Wrapping up for now.  May continue on other topics at a later date but have so many topics I want to cover by 4/1.   Have to do 1 a day at least this week.  Will set more realistic goal for weekly blogging once 4/1 passes.  

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