Saturday, April 30, 2011
Lesson 4: Shop For Free
"But it's staring at me..."
And it was. Hardcore.
Shoes stare. It's basic science. They look at you in a way that emphasizes the fact it was on your foot just moments ago, being a good little shoe, making your legs look long and fantastic, but now you're leaving...without it. How cruel, leaving it behind like that, unloved, without a home, like an abandoned puppy...poor thing. Well now I don't want to be a cruel person...
As you're well aware of, shopping on a nonexistent budget can prove to be quite hazardous. Personally, I fight the urge until I just can't take it anymore and then whoosh I'm off in a spending frenzy. I return home and instantly empty everything onto my bed, treating my style savvy audience (i.e. my cats) to the fashion show of the decade. I frantically rummage through my stockpile of new treasures, coordinating recent purchases with closet classics, desperately attempting to create as many outfit combinations as fast as possible with all the urgency of a Emergency Room television drama.
Me: "What about this one?"
Nurse 2: "It'll never work!"
Doctor: "It's the only chance she's got! For God's sake people give her some space!!"
(Patient puts on top.)
Patient: "This is fabulous."
Doctor: "It's a miracle!"
Patient: "How can I ever thank you?"
Me (slowly putting on sunglasses): "No need. Just doin' my job."
This continues until I'm completely exhausted and I leave everything in a heaping pile in the bedroom, promising myself to put it away later (later meaning sometime in the next 2 weeks). I then return to my usual daily tasks, the rush of my shiny new purchases slowly fading. Soon the guilt sets in, and I begin contemplating returning anything with a tag still on it, but the thought of going back to the store I just so gleefully left, handing back my purchases like a broken and beaten consumer makes my stomach turn. So I keep everything. Bad day.
I seem to have found a solution for this dilemma: Closet Swap Parties.
For those of you who have never been to or heard of one, closet swap parties are the equivalent of throwing a large quantity of raw meat to a pack of starving hyenas. They are chaotic, they are dangerous, and they are positively terrific.
Now I'm sure somewhere in the world there are nice proper versions of these parties, where well-mannered ladies sit in a circle and collectively "ooh" and "aah" over each individual item, passing it around and then politely excusing themselves to the restroom to try on a below-the-ankle sock, but this just isn't the case with any I've attended.
Having said that, all of this madness and margaritas (or tea and crumpets, depending on your circle of friends) has some serious advantages. First of all, everyone usually has different tastes, so one person's hand-me-down gag-inducing 60's dress is another's fantastic find. Different sizes are also accounted for, so a woman six months along with twins can find a mountain of riches in the woman-who-just-got-her-tubes-tied's useless maternity wear.
Nonetheless, there are rules. Well, only one actually. If two people want the same thing, a fair way of settling it needs to be established beforehand. One such method of intervention is a try-on-off, which is where they each try on the desired article of clothing, model it accordingly, and then the group decides who gets it. For the fashionably self-conscious I guess an old fashioned game of ro-sham-bo (or bear-hunter-ninja, as we often play here in Montana) is in order. Perhaps you'd prefer a light-saber duel, a thumb wrestling contest, or a winner takes all game of flip cup. Anyway, decide ahead of time, otherwise it could get ugly.
Some advice if you're attending a closet swap party? Seriously try and clean out your closet. Don't take one or two items, there's no point. I read recently that the average women wears 20% of what she owns 80% of the time. So be honest, and really go through your wardrobe. As a general rule, anything you haven't worn in the last year is fair game. All those shirts you keep saying you'll wear but never do? Bring 'em! Seeing the look on someone's face as they absolutely fall in love with a piece of your clothing makes it immensely easier to let it go.
So for the budget friendly women of the world, I say consider throwing a closet swap party. My own version of shopping cabin fever set in weeks ago, but I held out for tonight. And the result? Five, count 'em five, pairs of jeans, 8 shirts, a scarf, and a jacket; all for free. There were even more categories I didn't choose from; shoes, jewelry, belts, purses. I got to come home, put on my usual spectacular fashion show, and then curl up on the couch next to my boyfriend, all without feeling one ounce of guilt. Great day.