From Where I Sit – You Can Do It Too

The shopping marathon our family enjoyed during a recent trip to Palm Springs has me thinking about strategy and preparation and dumb luck. Let me explain.

Because I’ve lost 42 pounds over the last six months, Goodwill has been the recipient of many pieces of clothing that no longer fit. And That’s a good thing. It’s also afforded me the golden chance to begin replacing wardrobe items. That’s not quite as thrilling as it sounds, because I’m not yet at my goal weight and new purchases are at best transitional pieces. That in itself is a challenge.

Because of that I haven’t wanted to break the bank. I’ve also been buying pieces that are forgiving. They are wearable now but will be better as more pounds drop off. Or they are alterable, either by me or by a more talented tailor.

Clothing myself as this new, healthier, slimmer body is vital to keeping the motivation going. Swimming in comfy old oversized stuff may save a few bucks, but does nothing for self-image. Makeover shows are filled with people wearing clothes that are either too big or too small; neither scenario is flattering.

At Christmas, when the trip was still just a bright, shiny desire on the horizon, my girls and I discussed every entry in Nina Garcia’s The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own. That book became the template for rebuilding my wardrobe. I took the list to Palm Springs, where it guided many of the purchases.

Pre-trip strategy and preparation included researching the outlet mall at Cabazon. If I wasn’t familiar with a particular designer name or store offering, I researched that, too. When we arrived there I got a mall map and marked my must-sees. I wish I had known earlier about the $5 coupon book of extra discounts available from the mall administration office. Despite the usual qualifying conditions like minimum purchases, I was able to use it. Apparently there are even more online coupons and perks to be had by joining the VIP Shopper Club. Maybe next time.

Another pleasant surprise was finding that most stores in the mall offered an extra 10 per cent off on Tuesdays to customers over the age of 50. Doubling up on discounts on clearance or sale items was okay and even encouraged. If in doubt, ask.

In department stores like Macy’s and JC Penney, applying for a credit card netted an extra 20 per cent off. I have to admit I caved at Macy?s, but paid it off with cash then and there. I witnessed the loosey-goosey way Americans extend credit when someone in our group didn’t have a speck of ID on her yet was able to open an account on the spot. Yikes.

Doing my homework, having a list, happening upon some sales, and layering coupons and discounts made this a very successful shopping trip. You can do it too, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.