I don’t know if it’s because I’m an Aquarius-Libra (one is characterized as easy-come, easy-go when it comes to money; the other is Fancy As Fuck), or because I grew up with a once-poor mom who could stretch 20 dollars to three shirts, two pairs of shoes, and lunch for four days, but I just hate a bargain.
That word, and its cousin, “Value,” (always spelled with a capital V, as in “Value Pak,”) turn me off not because I have an inherent dislike of low prices, but because I hate everything else the two imply: that this thing will not do what I want it to do, that it will break, tear, or fall apart soon, and that in the end the inconvenience of having bought it will make me less happy than if I’d never gotten it to begin with.
For an obvious example, the cash you save on a cheap trash bag is not worth the time you will spend wiping Monday’s pasta sauce out of the grout in your kitchen floor when it inevitably breaks. That is all assuming you have a choice in the matter, which (for now) I do.
Anyway. A couple basic realities result from my preference for The Most Expensive Thing.
First, my mom gives me the side-eye on the reg. Second, I can really only afford to own one thing in each category (work shoes, watch, purse), or no things in some categories (computer, house -- womp, womp). And third, the thing I choose when I finally do buy something is always the Absolute Best.
Even if it’s just sweats. So without further ado, five tips for the profligate and lounge-loving.
1. Go abroad for your sweats.
Reigning Champ sweatpants are the best and that’s all there is to it. They are made of thick cotton and come only in classic colors, with a cool-looking-but-not-in-your-face logo tab. They have huge angled pockets that don’t easily flip inside out. But none of those is the best thing about them, because the best thing about them is that they have DRAWSTRINGS AT THE ANKLE!
Ah, novel applications of centuries-old technology, you get me every time. Trust me when I say that the ability to determine the girth of your sweatpant legs’ ankles is tantamount to the ability to breathe. You’ll realize that once you order your own pair. I’m definitely not exaggerating at all.
But wait, I forgot about the expensive part! These puppies will set you back more than a hundred bucks, and what’s more, you will have to pay about $25 for international shipping unless you live in Canada like Hannah!
Your sweats will come with a heartfelt note handwritten on Reigning Champ letterhead by the lone dude who (I assume) toils day and night to crank these suckers out to salivating spendthrifts, while also managing the company’s Web site and being a retired professional boxer with a chip on his shoulder and a heart of gold. Wait, what?
Oh, plus they’re backordered right now with no ship date in sight. Is there anything more highbrow? I think not.
2. If you want to part with your money, follow the hipsters.
This one’s not complicated. I don’t live in New York, but I spent a few months in Boulder and a couple of hours in a ridiculous artisanal gelato place in Dupont Circle, so I’m pretty much an unqualified expert on hipsters and their behavior, and Saturdays Surf NYC is definitely a hipster douche (sorry) label if I’ve ever heard of one.
Obviously I’m not too bothered, though, because if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have this deliciously overpriced hoodie.
At $118 for a pile of fucking cotton, I feel confident that at least 80% of the list price is just a straight pass-through to the company’s Soho landlord, and that makes me feel like an honorary NYCer, and therefore “cool.”
Another thing that’s cool is how useless I am to you right now, because the killer mustard color I’m rocking in the photo at top is sold out. I guess you just should have gotten on board earlier, when nobody liked it except me.
3. The Curveball: Go For the Discount.
Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, even Loehmann’s -- all can ruin your fucking Saturday.
Have you never visited one of these storied maisons de la mode? That’s fine, I’ll explain them for you. OK. Imagine a store that offers untold promise -- varied designer wares that are sold at a discount and that are at least kind of in style, all at a convenient location on some highway near you. The treasure is there; all you have to do is dig!
So you’re there, right? After minutes of searching, you happen on something you think you like, but which bears striking similarity to a rejected pancake either via its physically improbable lumps and valleys, or the fact that it appears to be crumbling to a fine powder at the edges/back, or -- by far the most horrible possibility -- how it’s inexplicably warm and wet on the inside.
Or it may come only in doll sizes, which is perplexing, as you believe this to be a store for humans. Those are all real experiences that Happened To Me at these discount chains -- and you know what? I still haven’t seen the inside of my last Marshall’s.
Because for every five totally fruitless forays into the Devil’s own fluorescent storeroom, I am compensated with one unbelievable find, like this forest green Cocoa (?) torso-blanket with a double zipper, front pockets, and a waffled inner hood.
Does it fit perfectly? No. It’s tiny. Will it last forever? Fuck if I know. I’m too afraid to wash it. But -- was it eight dollars? HELL YES!
This one isn’t “spendy” in the typical sense of the word, but the man-hours you will lose wading into the depths of retail purgatory, combined with the income you will forfeit in the name of high end post-trauma therapy, will see to it that your wallet stays thin and happy, just the way it likes.
4. Choose a romantic partner several years your senior, then wait for your opportunity to “help them move.”
The length and depth of your relationship are immaterial; the only relevant facts are that (1) this person will be older than you and unusually averse to throwing things away, and (2) you will steal from them.
My way is the long con. I rewarded myself with this crazy soft “vintage” T-shirt after roughly four years of drudging monogamy when my boyfriend had to move house, and I foresee potential for an additional acquisition in another two, with any luck.
And talk about expensive! The financial, emotional, psychic and physical investment I have made for this one shirt cannot be estimated using conventional math. In fact, in a perverse twist that I am ashamed to cop to, I actually have lost a pair of sweatpants to my chosen mark, causing me to question which side I was working for and who I even was anymore at a fundamental level, like Leonardo DiCaprio in "Syriana." (At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what was happening. Wait, was he even in that movie?)
The loss of my identity and sanity notwithstanding, I have made offsetting gains in many areas, and remain a staunch proponent of this method of sweats-acquisition.
5. Don’t Forget Your Toes.
This is where it gets tricky for those of us with strict cash disposal policies. LL Bean’s Wicked Good Slippers are the best there is, and at about $70 they’re expensive but not crazily so, considering you will never have to buy another pair of slippers for the rest of your life.
They’re so warm they make your feet perspire, and so well-designed they somehow just sop the sweat right back up -- which I’m pretty sure feeds back into their cozying powers in some sort of alchemical reaction. In fact, I secretly suspect that they, like the Tempur-Pedic mattress, were engineered by NASA, which I’m beginning to believe stands for National Association for Sleep Altruism. Space program, shpraceshprogram -- I bet they’re up there collecting the Softest Material In The Universe for use in period-undy manufacturing. I salute you, NASA!
So, anyway -- I don’t have much to say on this point, besides get yourself some Wicked Good Slippers. You can spend the cash you saved on Veuve Clicquot and dry aged steak, you fancyboy. The End.
Got any tips for getting rid of that pesky money? Have you bought 20 pairs of sweatpants and a motor home for the price of the shit I mentioned? Tell me, tell me!