Suppose you had one day to shop for an outfit for an event – a date, a ceremony, you pick.  If you’re anything like me, you’d search the same five stores you always search, cross your fingers, and wind up paying top dollar for something last minute because you’re in a hurry.  I follow the same dang pattern all the time: Need something to wear to a wedding.  Try the Anthopologie sale rack.  Try the two formalenough things at the Gap.  Wander around H&M for a little while, or cave and go to Forever 21.  If I have the luxury of time, I might hit a boutique or two, or the Rack, but I’ll probably walk away because the prices are too steep.  It’s predictable, it always has the same outcome, and it’s boring.

This weeks Cheap Thrill dare is to look at shopping in a different light.

Think about it this way: the stores that you’d define as “your style” will surely reliably have something you like, because you’re their target.  But every once in a while, I’ll bet the stores you love present styles you don’t love.  Most likely, the rest of the regular shoppers at your store won’t like them either, and they’ll wind up on the sale rack.  Which would explain why, as much as you love the store, it’s only once in awhile you find something you love there on sale, at least for longer than 24 hours.  But what about stores that aren’t traditionally your style?  It stands to reason that they might sometimes present something their usual patrons don’t particularly love, which will go straight to the sale rack.  If it isn’t the right style for the store you don’t like, maybe it’s the right style for you!

Example: My mom is a big fan of Dress Barn.  I think Dress Barn has tons of stylish options for my mom, and for tons of other folks, but, well, not so much for me, usually.  They simply aren’t my thing.  However, a shopping trip with my mom recently inspired me to take a quick peek at the sale rack, and low and behold!   Not one, but several dresses that I totally dug, on sale for about $20 a pop, including this little cotton number that I took home and wore to dinner last week.

Now, I’m not saying this will work all the time, but it does work some of the time, and that’s enough for me!  The same theory resulted in this $14 outfit:

The shirt came off the floor in a thrift store I usually avoid and cost me a whole dollar, and the skirt is half of a suit I happened upon in the high-end Goodwill downtown, which usually screams retirement home but beckoned me in on a whim one day- $13.  The belt doesn’t count.  I got it at The Gap.  This isn’t an exclusive challenge.

Whether you’ll find exciting new things or not, here is my cheap thrill challenge to you:

1. Go into a store you don’t usually frequent, even if you think it’s lame/weird/toofunky/etc.  Check out the sale rack.  If anything looks remotely interesting, try it on!  Why not?

2. Think about all possible incarnations of the outfit – future events?  Dress it down?  Dress it up?

3. If you find something good at a killer price, snatch it up and go apply your Wardrobe Remixing skills until you’ve made some rad new outfits.

4. Enjoy laughing when you tell people where you got it, especially if those people are way cooler than you and only shop at cool kid stores.

5. Pat yourself on the back for staying out of Forever 21.  Unless you are 21.  In which case, have at it.






  • Noel July 12, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Woah! Nice tricep definition! Do you work out? 😉

  • Tom Serface July 12, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I often use this technique and, as you know, I am a fierce fashionista (or is that fashionisto?). Like, sometimes I go way out on a limb and buy on-sale flannel shirts at Kohl’s instead of J.C. Penney’s. In two months they will have them at Kohl’s for around $5 each and, although I am enjoying Summer, I can hardly wait for this yearly mega sale event. I have six in my closet that I haven’t even worn yet all ready for this Fall. But Fall of 2012 will get here eventually and I wouldn’t want to be caught off guard. Life can be really exciting sometimes and it pays to always be prepared.