the discount shopper's conundrum

There's a lot of conundrums this week. The latest? How can someone who works in retail live a secret double life... as a discount shopper?

I'm officially sick--I thought I had avoided the winter cold, but alas, it is here--so this morning as I was getting dressed, I decided to put on my favorite, slouchiest, comfiest top...which also happens to be a cute-but-casual designer number. The best part? I got it for nearly a third of its retail value at my usual weekend haunt, Loehmann's.

The first time I wore it to work, one of the managers on my team immediately wanted to know who it was. "Marc by Marc Jacobs," I responded, meekly.

"Ooh, la, la," was something like the response.

This time, I went through the entire day without an inquiry, until 5pm...when another manager ventured, "Where is your top from?"

Shit. Where? Where was the troubling word. "Umm," I started, looking nonchalantly at my sleeve. "I'm not sure... WHERE, but it's Marc by Marc." Then, I grabbed all my stuff and got the hell out of there.

My mom, an avid, proud discount shopper, doesn't even flinch when someone mentions her top. "OH, this?! Well I got this for $3 on the triple discounted rack at TJMaxx, pulled from the basket of an suspecting shopper in line next to me!" For her, it is a source of pride--a way to showcase her dedication, persistence, savviness. And while I'm proud with my friends, and, obviously, my mom... I'm very cautious amongst my work colleagues.

Now that I'm in retail, what I decide to put on in the morning takes on a whole new meaning and importance. If no one says anything about your outfit, FAIL, no one liked it. If someone says something, it's a double-edged sword. That means they do like it, and, possibly, are thinking how to incorporate something like it into the business...which leads to several inquiries that can get you blacklisted forever. They are as follows:
  1. Is it a relevant designer/brand? If so, is it a competitor? If it's a nice designer, how the hell can you afford it on our salaries? If not, what the hell is it? And believe me, they will know if it is a cheap retailer, fast--and there the conversation will end.
  2. Is it old? Like, so LY? [short for last year, I found out, after MONTHS of people asking me, "Oh, is that LY?" and following with a short, uninterested, "Oh."].
  3. Is it a knock off itself?
  4. Vintage? Cool. Thrift? Poor.
  5. Was it from the clearance rack, or an off-price retailer [Loehmann's, perhaps? Not that they would step foot in there!!!] and therefore means someone else didn't want it??
Of course, if they like it.... maybe I'm really the one who has the last laugh. But I'm still going to lie, just in case...sketchy as the lie may seem.

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