Wednesday, January 20, 2016

When a bargain isn't necessarily a bargain

Oh, I had such high hopes for this Gap coat. It has all the hallmarks of a winter sale seducer: it seems like a fantastic garment to transition from winter to spring, it's a nice design--not too casual, not too dressy--and most importantly, it was marked down from £99 to £31, which with a coupon came to £25. Mega-discount, and that really appeals to my penny-pinching mama side. But oh my lord, what was I thinking? Once it was in my arms and on my back, I could clearly see that I'd been the victim of a sale-rack hit and run. It was the wrong cut, wrong color, wrong fit, so with great regret, it went straight back to the store.

I think this is another lesson in that old maxim (which I just made up) that the sale rack does not necessarily present the bargains it at first seems to. It's easy to become seduced by a dramatic price slash of a potentially great find lurking among the other rejects from a tumultuous holiday season. What a markdown! How could I walk away from such a gem? Yet that exact thinking is where many of the sale rack's most vicious killers do their horrible work. Here's a quick checklist I should have run through before making this purchase:

  • Would I have bought it at full price?
  • Would I wear it in black? 
  • How much would I wear it? 
  • Will I wear it enough that it deserves its own space in my already over-crowded closet?
  • Is it something that was trendy in the fall, but won't be in the spring?

If I searched my heart I would realize that the answer was something I already knew: do not buy. And yet,  shopping the sales can be a great way to bag a bargain. For example, if you look for basics. Seems like the Gap is discontinuing my favorite pair of jeans, so I bought another pair. I also bought another pair of my favorite trousers, which were heavily discounted in the sale. So those definitely saved a bit. But then I discovered a really great handbag (non-sale) and a pair of flats (new arrivals) that went into my bag, therefore canceling out the insane bargain of the pink coat. But they are classics, and will be with me a long time, so I could look at them as a bit of an investment, and in the long run, that is saving.

Unlike a fuzzy pink wraparound car coat. Boo.

How did the January sales go for you? Did you save a ton of moolah and score any real gems? Please tell me how you did it.

PS. I'm trying to up my sketching game. Paintings instead of photos. Is it working?

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