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Don’t Buy Into Sales

As a guy just tipping 5’7”, clothes shopping is nary ego-polishing or at the very least, dismally satisfactory. For me, rather, it’s decades of mall trips culminating in bagfuls of over-sized devastations. Too-large, too-big, too-long–I longed for a Goldilocksian just right.

J. Crew was a rare solace, offering a slim-fitting line that whittled men’s general sizing down to the uber-small. The brand drastically reduced my weekend errands and the money I spent on alterations. My seamstress, though extraordinarily wizard, charges a bold $15 per pant. Julie claims that her step dad gets his hemming done for $7.

I was absolutely overwhelmed by J. Crew’s well-stocked and varied fitted offerings. I felt at once flattered and militantly supportive of their endeavor. I decided that I would buy from them relentlessly and needlessly so that they would continue to provide and cater to small men. Anytime they hosted a massive sale (or any sale really), I’d splurge hardcore on polos that looked Saran Wrapped to my torso.

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^I’ll take 10 of those…

Julie being the adorable crazy that she is, went through all three of my closets, my storage room and my dresser (maybe I’m the adorable crazy one?) and discovered mountainous stockpiles of shirts and jeans and socks perfectly retained and unworn, in fresh from the factory plastic. This was after the fact that I enlisted familial help to collect and shovel six 30 gallon bags’ worth of clothes out of the kitchen that I’d been accumulating… for reasons. And after the umpteenth time of opening and transporting J. Crew packages from the entryway into the bedroom dresser, Julie spoke in a fit that was more aggressive than passive, “don’t buy shit just because it’s on sale.”

What? Why not? J. Crew isn’t exactly cheap. I’d endlessly regret it and feel as though I missed out if I didn’t take advantage of their limited time discounts. What if, after liquidating current stock, they discontinued XS and slim-fit products? I’d have nothing left. Nothing.

That perspective changed, or is sort of changing, but not before one last anti-splurgist faux pas (12 more cottony-soft broken-in XXXXXS polos). Is it so wrong to buy during sales?

Sales are anti-splurgist because they’re impulsive-buying traps. They actually prevent you from having splurge-worthy things. I spent tens of thousands of dollars on clothes that crowded my kitchen, three separate closets, my bedroom and another whole room. I never wore them and they’re in a landfill somewhere now. I bought reiterations of similarly styled clothes sale after sale after sale and I still don’t have the perfect, confidence-exuding wardrobe that makes me look forward to getting dressed for work or getting ready for the weekend.

Why is it on sale?

How much of a margin are your favorite brands working with if they’re willing to enormously discount their products? As in, how can something originally priced at $50 be reduced to $5?

That store is doing its damndest to clear out old inventory in order to make room for new styles. Are my purchases devalued once new stuff hits the floor? If I think about devaluations from a car viewpoint, I would never buy certain models the year before a new style release.

Am I a proud, willing owner of something that requires a sale to sell? Isn’t the ultimate retrospective compliment for a discounted item: “I would’ve bought this at its full price”?

Maybe the product I am holding is inherently defective, a previously returned item, or even refurbished to resell? While refurbished deals are fantastic when the seller markets it as such and backs the product with some guarantee. However, return fraud is a massive phenomenon and costs billions of dollars. There is no one person that hasn’t worn a shirt or shoes out and sent it right back.

Is it ever acceptable to buy on sale?

Splurgists, off-season and season transitioning sale items should only be bought if they are transcendent, or irrefutably classic. Julie scurries past racks of on-trend or trendy clothes because those silhouettes, prints and colors won’t reappear next year or endure. Those sale items would have limited or short wearability.

Since we live in Florida, we could shop for cold weather gear leisurely and during the off-season. The risk is that we may not have all the sizes and color available to us and we may not have intended or prolonged wear until we take a trip elsewhere. At that point, we may have forgotten about our coats or have even stopped liking them. People evolve their tastes continually and dramatically.

Julie buys discounted clothes by happenstance if the brand/curator’s website does not discriminate between sale and full price items. When merchandise is listed altogether in gallery view and markdowns are intermixed with regularly priced clothes, everything is most likely still in-style and in-season. The markdowns are owed to initial prices being too unaffordable despite consumer interest. If the website has a cornered off “sale” section, they are trying desperately to sell by exploiting deal-justifying shoppers (like me).

It’s fine to bargain hunt when you have the intention to resell for a profit. If you are knowledgeable about the product and its market, you can take advantage of sales by being willing to transport/redeliver, cater to overseas consumers and/or by making adjustments and repairs. Flipping is a fantastic supplemental revenue stream. I’d factor how much cost or losses you’re willing to take on before stocking up.

But I don’t feel comfortable paying full retail?

If you absolutely cannot pay that price, google the item and check multiple stockists for a cheaper offering. Julie professed to her daytime hobby of scouring the net for coupon codes. She also feels strongly about Ebates.

Often, there are exclusive discounts just for subscribing to the shop’s e-mail newsletter. If there’s a shout out for a site-wide discount and you’re in the market for new jeans or something, I would say go ahead and peruse that section for the splurge that you’re wanting. Don’t go out of your way to browse everything that is on sale for the sake of getting it at a discount.

When you buy something at full price, it’s most likely your size and in the color that you like best. I would put it on a card that offers price protection, such as Julie’s Discover it or the Chase Sapphire. The new Citi AT&T Access card is an excellent candidate because it earns 3x ThankYou points per dollar (valued at a 4.5 to 5% reimbursement) spent at online retailers and offers Citi Price Rewind.


Lastly, Visa Signature and American Express cardholders enjoy benefits that encompass purchase protection and extended warranty which insures your product and enforces returns’ compensation.