Month: December 2010

The thrifty shopper

Here is another illustration of why I always try to avoid paying retail for my wardrobe non-essentials. Take this Nanette Lepore “Provence” dress. It’s made of merino wool – perfect for breaking the “pants rut” during the colder months – and it’s got a cute French gamine look.

Did I need this dress? No. Did I really, really like it? Yes. Did I like it enough to pay the online retail price of US$215? No. [Besides, the dress is now sold out.] eBay offered an alternative, but at $160, it would still have been too much for what is, essentially, a bit of an impulse buy.

Lucky, then, that I first saw (and fell for) this dress at my local consignment store for the much more affordable price of $39. No heartbreak here!
Although I am a die-hard advocate of consignment shopping, I will add this caveat. It’s perfect for those occasions when you either have a looong list of must-buys or none at all. That way, you will most assuredly find satisfaction among the racks. However, if you are looking for something very specific (and very of-the-moment) and you simply can’t wait, you’re better off looking at other options for non-retail shopping – from eBay, to online “clubs” like Gilt or ideeli, to personal shoppers. You might not get the same level of insane deals, but you will still have the satisfaction of being au courant for less than full retail. On the other hand, patience can have its own rewards; make sure to make friends with the staff at your favourite consignment store and they will be happy to keep an eye for your favourite brands and give you a call when something amazing comes in. Who knows when luck will strike?

Stay tuned next Thursday, when BCRL will welcome our very first guest blogger, who will be writing about the delights of online shopping.

Bah humbug!

I hate Boxing Day shopping for, oh, so many reasons: good bargains are few and far between, and in order to have a shot at getting them you have to brave hordes of bad drivers, rude shoppers and indifferent-to-antagonistic sales personnel. No thanks! I remember, vaguely, a past when Boxing Day was a bona fide shopping event, from which a dedicated shopper could emerge victorious with “loot” worth envying. I guess the specter of this distant past still lives on for my fellow Edmontonians, judging by the traffic volume buzzing around South Common yesterday … but it’s a mirage, I tell you! First of all, there are as good – and better – sales pretty much all year round. In fact, a lot of stores this year headed into the Christmas season with massive sales banners purporting to offer big discounts. Second, most of the stores have given up the pretense and are now openly calling it “Boxing Day Week”; sure, by Wednesday or Thursday the selection might be a little more picked over, but at least you’ll be able to shop in peace, without having had to run a gauntlet in the parking lot first. Third, in some (but not all) cases, the best deals for seasonal merchandise happen in January when retailers are really motivated to move old stock to make room for spring/summer stuff. If I were given to speculate, I would say that this will depend, to some extent at least, on how successful Boxing Day turns out to be, for retailers, in achieving the same goal. So, in a roundabout way, shopping during the holidays might be counter-productive for bargain-hunters.
This year, I promised myself not to get lured in by the promise of Boxing Day shopping. No, this year, I was going to stay home with a good book and Christmas dinner leftovers, and enjoy some much-needed rest. Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way. At the last minute, I caved in; temptation came in the form of a Holt Renfrew email advertising their Boxing Day sale – up to 70% off designer clothing and accessories, plus an extra 10% off between 7-10 a.m. on December 26.  I’ve had my eye on a bag at Holt for a while now; while not on sale as of December 23, my heart jumped at the possibility that it might – just might – be part of the Boxing Day sale. This is how they get me, folks, every time – hope springs eternal. Guess where I was at 8:30 yesterday morning? Staring at  the (already picked-over) sales table in the handbag department at Holt, wondering how I got suckered – again. If there were deals to be had, I had already missed them … at least in the accessories department. My bag was nowhere in sight.  Upstairs, the sales racks of women’s clothing were more numerous (and not yet scavenged) but a quick glimpse at a few favourite designers told me that the deals were generally more likely to be in the 40-50% off range, not higher. My shopping spirit already deflated, I didn’t linger long. Since I had already gone to the trouble of making my way downtown (and dragging my poor husband in tow), I decided to take a quick look through the rest of the downtown mall to get a measure of the Boxing Day sales on offer elsewhere. Most of the stores were still prepping, and not open yet, but the banners were informative. Practically everywhere, the big discounts were qualified with language like “up to” and “on selected styles” or “on already reduced merchandise”. In other words, business as usual. 
My only other pit stop yesterday happened inadvertently. My husband and I decided to console ourselves with a nice brunch. We should have known better, but given its proximity to our house, we decided to pick a restaurant in South Common. This would not have been a bad choice in and of itself, except that it required us to navigate through South Common to arrive at our destination – a hair raising proposition already at 11 a.m. Since we got there a few minutes before the restaurant opened, I suggested we make a quick stop at the nearby La Senza store, as I happened to be in dire (actual) need of a new bra. Big mistake. It took about half an hour to drive approximately half a kilometer, park, wait in line at the changing room and the cashier, and then drive back – and we got lucky with the parking! That wasn’t the end of it, either. Once I got back home, I quickly realized that the store had forgotten to remove the security doodad from my bra … which meant having to go back to South Common. So,  in the end, my Boxing Day loot consisted of one bra, on which I saved about $19 in exchange for one hour of my (and my husband’s) time. 
Bah humbug!

Mark your calendars!!!

On Friday, February 25, 2011, Blue Collar Red Lipstick will be hosting a private shopping party at Vespucci, one of the premier consignment stores in Edmonton!
Join us for an evening of style, fabulous clothes and fun. Browse casual and designer fashions for spring/summer in a relaxed, intimate environment and take advantage of your very own personal stylist on hand to answer all your style and shopping questions. 

Availability is limited, so please book early – I hope to see you all there!!

Contact me at and stay tuned for more details.
Merry Christmas!!!