On Beyond Anthropologie: A Shopaholic Learns A Valuable Lesson

Fabulous find for less!

Fabulous finds for less!

The past few years I’ve been a creature of habit shopping at the same handful of stores. Most of my clothing hails from Anthropologie, J. Crew, Lord and Taylor, Macys, and Bloomingdales. Two factors contribute to why I always go to these same places; store credit cards  (which I hold for the latter four) and the belief that nowhere else, but my beloved Anthro, could I find the very feminine whimsical clothes I am drawn to. I carried this belief for possibly the last decade despite the cost of the clothes at Anthropologie, also I found it very easy to peruse the website, pick stuff out, and grab it at the store. I’m not a huge fan of shopping for hours. I like to go with an item in mind, grab it, and get the *&^$ out of the mall.

During this time I always admired the style of one of my co-workers. Her clothes have the same lacy details I love. I’m guilty of “copying”her on more than one occasion, a fact I’ve apologized to her about many times. Recently, due to being assigned to the same department, we’ve been working more closely and getting to know one another a lot better. Of course this leads to a lot of “Where did you get that top, pants, those shoes…?” Expecting to hear answers like the ones above I was caught off guard by Target,Old Navy,The Gap. “I like your clothes too,” she tells me, “but you spend way too much.”

Now I am not a fiscally irresponsible person. I don’t swim in credit card debt and I hold my family to a firm budget each month. I prefer to do things myself when I can (no cleaning lady for me…yet) rather than paying for them. Wasting money is not something I believe in, but when it comes to clothes I like quality. I admit it’s been years since I’ve shopped in some of the average mall stores, I guess I no longer knew what they could offer. So last night I gave myself an assignment. I was going to give some of the thriftier chains a try.

My first stop was Charlotte Russe. I had noticed a pal in the Hamptons last summer mixing items from this store with Christian Louboutins. It wasn’t awful, if you don’t mind dressing like Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. Totally not for me. So I trekked on. I was in and out of several places before I finally struck gold in The Loft, which I guess is supposed to be Ann Taylor‘s less polished (er cheaper) sister. Not only did I find many tops that looked worthy of a spot in the Anthro catalog, but many that my co-worker owned. They were also on sale…not like old things that didn’t sell on sale, like on sale for the hell of it, something Anthro rarely does.

I left The Loft with two adorable tops that thrilled me as much as any of my beloved ones from that other store. I probably would have walked out with more, except most of them my stylish co worker already had and well, that would have just been really creepy. The next place I scored was at The Limited where they were having a BOGO sale on tops. BOGO on clothes? I thought that was as big a myth as the unicorn! I walked out with two more tops.

“Any luck with tops?”my work friend/stylist texted me. “Yes four!” At this point I had been shopping for four hours and was also toting two new pair of Michael Kors shoes (marked way down, of course) and a comfortable bra, which really is a unicorn after breastfeeding twins. I still needed to find pants. I got lucky…at J. Crew but hey, you can’t argue the value on a flattering pair of pants. All in all, I did very well considering I am reforming. I got home to find my four new tops cost me less than $90, embarrassingly about the cost of one top at Anthropologie.  Don’t get me wrong, it will always be my favorite store, and my co worker will even admit to going once in a while, but from now on, this frugal fashionista will look elsewhere first.

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