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Budget Shopping Advice for Clothing Junkies
Jenny Brown

'Of course I needed that new top'

I think obsession is the best word to describe my relationship with clothes. I view my wardrobe as a collection that is never complete. I go through the cycle - impulsive spending sprees, guilt, rationalising (‘Of course I needed that new top, I had nothing to go with the new pants I bought last week’) and then a plummet into Post Purchase Depression. Sound familiar anyone?

Well fear not – though I’ve yet to find a cure for this addiction, I can teach you how to become an Expert Budget Shopper. The following are 10 tips on achieving realistic wardrobe perfection, in as guilt and stress free way as possible

Top 10 stores to mix and match from:

1. Jacob (Metrotown, Robson) Classy, quality, shirts, dresses, lounge wear.
2. Jacob Annexe (Metrotown, Pacific Centre) Casual, hoodies, cords, T-shirts.
3. Sirens (Metrotown) Ultra trendy, party wear, cheap, petite sizes.
4. Garage (Metrotown, Pacific Centre) Slightly less funky, suits, casual wear.
5. Dynamite Metrotown, Robson) Trendy casual, tops, jackets cool accessories.
6. Aldo (Metrotown,Granville/Robson) Sales, boots, sandals, bags.
7. Gap (Metrotown, Robson) huge markdowns frequently. Preppy. casual
8. Mimosa (Metrotown, Robson) sparkly jewellery, hairclips, belt buckles
9. Le chateau (Metrotown, Burrard/Robson, Granville Sky train) funky, rock star
10. Fairweather (Metrotown, Oakridge) Quality suits and office wear

Make a list. Check it twice.
Before you head out, do a quick inventory of the wardrobe. In the excitement of the moment, you can easily forget that the ‘perfect top’ you just found is almost identical to three other ones in the closet.
When to Buy
Don’t make the mistake of blindly rushing to the till and paying more than you should for the perfect item you’ve been searching for all this month. Try (if you can) to wait a week or two. Chances are it’ll be on sale, especially at Gap, where there is usually a huge markdown. This doesn’t work as well if you’re petite but there are always plenty of mediums and larges left.
What to wear on your big spree
Unlacing, unbuttoning and unbuckling gets tired after the tenth store. Here’s the ultimate outfit: Slip on shoes, zip up sweater, pull on pants and push up bra. There’s nothing worse than trying on a dressy top with floppy boobs, it gives no idea of the full effect.

Who do I take with me
I shop alone because I don’t want to be distracted by contradictory opinions or wait for my girlfriend to decide on items she shouldn’t even be considering. Worse yet is the competition factor – a friend who is uglier/prettier, fatter/thinner. Apologizing or reassuring is a waste of shopping energy. Leave the Boyfriend at home. Have you witnessed the desperately bored looks on their faces? We don’t like browsing for car accessories, don’t torture them, it’s just unfair.
Size up your size, and don’t wait in line
When you don’t want to wait _ an hour for each customer to try on 20 items (a particular problem at Metrotown Sirens), here’s a tip: hold up a pair of pants or skirt to your hips. If it just reaches either side of hip bones, it should fit (also a way to avoid the cellulite enhancing mirrors in the dressing rooms. What’s all that about?)

Bill juggling
I’ve tried to limit myself to $100 a spree, and if that means plonking down the Visa, I give myself a month to pay it off, before the next jaunt. Beware of breaking out the Visa when you’re on a PMS, job loss or break-up spree. It’s as bad as food shopping when you’re hungry. You’re not thinking straight. Where do we go for lunch?
If you’ve decided to take the girlfriend, this is one of the day’s highlights (aside from getting the stuff home and putting it on display for a couple of days) It gives you a chance to show off your incredible spending savvy (you got a similar top for $10 cheaper than she did), or maybe discover new territories she’s already conquered. Robson is littered with plenty of people watching hangouts: Cactus club, Milestones, Le Crepe and many sushi spots. Metrotown food court is about the only option there, but there is plenty of variety and cheaper if you are alone (save money for more post lunch shopping)

Dealing with Post Purchase Depression
A call to the girlfriend may remind you of more outfit combos than you have already thought of. I find it usually disappears the next day when I get to dress up and have everyone admire how fabulous I look. Clothes don’t make the woman, but looking good is a great ego booster.

Finally, if all else fails:
If you are really on a tight budget, don’t forget there’s good old Value Village (Hastings/Commercial). You may have overlooked this untapped resource whilst browsing for a dress up party once a blue moon. There are racks of untapped retro items of dead cheap prices that smell only slightly of mothballs.

Don’t forget - consignment chic is timeless. Many Hollywood stars will agree. I read that when Beck was living in poverty he used to wear clothes he found, and no-one can accuse him of lacking style. (Incidentally, wouldn’t you agree that his duds look the same even after earning millions?)

© Jenny Brown November 2002

Van Dusen Gardens
Jenny Brown takes a walk in Vancouver's 'secret garden'

Michael Wright will soon be ‘The Happiest Fag in the World’
a Vancouver personality on the ‘up and coming list’.

Jenny Brown

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