Bargain shopping: Where do you draw the line?

I am one of those people who loves a bargain. Time spent digging through the racks of a discount or consignment store is a sacrifice I am more than willing to make. Unearthing a bargain causes the sort of high I imagine career drug users experience (not that I would know. The strongest drug I've ever used was nicotine.) I love informing someone that my Joe's Jeans were purchased during a particularly fruitful dig at the Salvation Army. I adore the look of respect, gleamed from a stylish friend, when I educate her on the origin and price ($10!) of my embroidered Anthropologie sweater (see below.)  I am almost haughty when examining someone's designer purchase, knowing that I would have paid much, much less for it than the wearer. Indeed, if discount shopping were an Olympic sport, I am absolutely certain I would earn a gold medal.

While I am proud of my ability to score a bargain, this knowledge often gets me in trouble. I have a really really hard time passing something up when I know it's a great deal. This might explain why my closet is crammed beyond capacity. Clothes are spilling out of drawers, shoved into storage containers, lurking underneath my bed. My skirts share hangers.  Belts are sexually tangled together in a hulking lump. 

I have a teensy bit of a problem.

Today I had a few hours to fill, so I tripped off to a newly discovered consignment store near my house. I was lazily thumbing through the racks when I uncovered a new with tags J. Crew Collection 3/4 sleeve gold waxed linen belted jacket (whew.) As an avid fan of J. Crew, I knew exactly what this jacket was worth: $275.oo. Price at the consignment store: $45. Score, right? Well, the jacket was a size large. I am not a size large. Moreover, I have absolutely no need for a 3/4 sleeve gold waxed linen jacket. I can't even imagine how I'd wear it, or where I'd wear it to. I imagine women who wear $275 gold waxed linen jackets pair them with diamonds and Louboutin heels and drink dirty martinis with blue cheese-stuffed olives and live in homes decorated by snooty men of questionable sexuality. But it was such a good deal. I'd be crazy to pass it up.

I spent a good twenty minutes examining the jacket. I unbelted it, tried it on, took it off, put it on again, preened at myself in front of the mirror. I examined the lining, the collar, the strength of the stitching holding the buttons. I could feel the salespeople looking at me, questioning my sanity. 

In the end, I decided that despite the bargain price, the jacket was not a financially reasonable purchase. Because I really had no need for such an opulent piece that wasn't even my size. My most expensive heels are from Marshall's. I hate blue cheese. And so my forty-five dollars would have been wasted. (If you're in the Dallas area and want to know the name of the store I was in, shoot me an email.) Will I regret passing the jacket up? Maybe. But I'm not sweating it.

This outfit? All thrifted. Damn proud of it. And much, much more me.

Are you a devoted bargain-hunter? If so, where do you set your limits?

Thrifted Blues Heroes leather jacket; thrifted Sleeping on Snow flutter-sleeve cardigan; thrifted Michael Stars henley; thrifted Seven For All Mankind jeans; thrifted Doc Martens; Urban Outfitters flower studs.


  1. OMG I love that blouse!!! I am a bargain shopper some of time I have to say but I have found myself doing that same thing. Now if I find something that I am almost sure I dont need, I talk myself out of buying it. It takes time, its like you have to train your mind!! Its totally worth it though I think!!


  2. Did you throw in "I hate blue cheese" to see if anyone was paying attention? I'm a big cheesehead so I caught it.

    Great Anthro sweater! I am a big bargain shopper as well. I've learned that if something isn't just right for me or I REALLY don't need it, here will be another sale another deal next time. I used to stock up on stuff on sale (even stuff for around the house or hair products) but I learned that the places I'd go to for sales ALWAYS have sales, so I can buy as needed. Kudos for leaving the jacket behind!

    Come join the Fashion Blog Flash Mob

  3. Wow - what a great post!

    I admit, I'm over-proud of my savvy bargain shopping skills, and I will proudly proclaim myself to be queen of the clearance rack whenever someone comments on my wardrobe. In fact, it absolutely pains me to purchase an item that isn't at least 75% off. Alas, I too have realized that the thrill of the bargain has often superceded the thrill of the actual item purchased, and I've found myself stuck with something I really don't need/like on more than one occasion. Hey - they say the 1st step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? I've started to think critically of each bargain I'm inclined to put in my cart these days. How many different way can I wear this? How many outfits can I think up on the spot where this item would work? If it's not more than 3, I'll pass.

  4. i totally relate to this post. i saw these 2 amazing handmade 40s dresses at savers the other day, and was SO on the fence about buying them because they were wayyyy too large for me. i debated selling them on etsy, bringing them to a tailor, but ultimately decided not to buy them because they didn't fit me, i didn't need them, and i have enough stuff junking up my closet!!

    La Rizada

  5. "dirty martinis with blue cheese-stuffed olives"

    Oh man. YUM. That made my mouth water!

    I loveeeeee that leather jacket. And I may have bought a cape yesterday at Nordstrom Rack becasue it was a good deal. And if I were anyone else I would have tried to talk myself out of it. But I'm me and I'm pretty sure I can make it work.


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