Spend Smartly, Not Sparsely Comments

Why I value being picky over penny-pinching

smart shopping

A friend of mine recently landed a new job as an HR generalist, a role that’d require her to trade in the jeans-and-sweater combo she’d come to rely on for something more structured, to show she means business. I offered to take her to my secret lair: an upscale consignment shop where I regularly score designer duds for pennies on the dollar. She happily obliged, and we set a date to go hunting. 

Except, when it came time to cruise the racks, she hit the brakes. “No,” she said when I held up a seriously underpriced Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, a steal at $100. “It’s too much.” “How about this?” I said, pulling a basic, yet elegant, black number off its hanger, a piece from a contemporary designer regularly sold at places like Bloomingdale’s. “It’s a four-season dress. You can wear it with a cardigan, and—”

“How much is it?” she demanded again, and before I could showcase further benefits, like how it’d look just as great with flats as it would with a 4-inch stiletto, she reached over to glance at the price tag. “$70,” she said. “No.”

I knew then I had my work cut out for me. 

It’s not that my friend is cheap — if anything, she’s one of the most generous people I know and regularly devotes a fair share of her time to handling the neuroses of a particular freelance writer — it’s that to her, a $100 dress is a $100 dress, triple the amount she’d have spent at places like Old Navy and Target. It didn’t matter — at first — that the dress would have retailed for three times that amount at a boutique, or that she could wear it at least once a week to work; it was more than she was willing to spend on something she’d wear in a cubicle, period. And yet at the end of the day, those fast fashion pieces cost more. Who hasn’t witnessed the plight of an H&M skirt that slowly but sadly shrinks into the size of a dinner napkin after just a couple of washes? (I won’t judge if you still tried to wear it, anyway.)

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