This is a quick one. We went shopping tonight. My husband’s mother babysat. We went out to the outlet stores. My husband needs new dress pants and shirts. After almost 20 years of listening to my shopping mantra — only buy things on deep discount — he is used to shopping at Macy’s or Kohl’s or The Gap when there are really, really good sales. It wasn’t always like that. When we met he would go into a store and just buy what he liked. He never even bothered to read the price tags. We fought a lot about that when we first got married. We were poor — we had just paid for our own wedding and bought a house — and he needed to understand that he couldn’t shop like that anymore. To drive home the message — and make it easier on both of us — we didn’t have any credit cards or even a debit card in those lean years. If we couldn’t pay cash, we couldn’t have it.
Digressing as usual…so we get out to the outlets and I ask Chris where he wants to shop. Saks Off 5th is his answer. I was about to start walking in that direction, but I stopped and looked at him first. Something went off inside of me. No, he wasn’t going discount this time. No, he needed something that would wow people. In the business world — especially New York City — he deserves to wear the best. Yes, it’s okay to buy $4.99 slacks for hanging around the house or going out to dinner with friends, but he needed to look like a million bucks when he stepped into his new place of business. So it was settled (at least in my mind): We were going to Brooks Brothers, someplace we’ve never stepped foot in. Ever.
After a little prodding we walked into the store. The Brooks Brothers outlet was really nice. Even sizing was a breeze since they had every size of shirt in the dressing room for him to try on before he got busy shopping. The salespeople were so helpful, too, and the clothing was really sharp. My husband is tall and has broad shoulders but is thinner through the waist, so he usually has a tough time shopping. Not at Brooks Brothers, though, where we discovered they have something called Slim Fit –shirts and suit jackets cut broad at top and narrower through the waist. He tried on one of the Slim Fit shirts in his size. He looked amazing. He didn’t have any of the annoying “puffy” look around his back and waist that he’s always complaining about. While he was trying on shirts I started looking at pants. I found the softest, lightest summer slacks I have ever seen. Tropical wool, they are called. I grabbed a few colors in his size and brought them to his dressing room. He tried them on and was ooohing and ahhing over them. We both agreed they would be so comfortable for commuting.
In the end he came home with three dress shirts and two slacks. Brooks Brothers shirts are usually $79.50 or three for $199. The slacks are usually $178 each or two for $279. I have to say it: WHO PAYS THAT KIND OF MONEY FOR BUSINESS CASUAL CLOTHING??? Okay, sorry, I lost it for a sec. Anyway, there was a HUGE sale going on plus I snagged a 10 percent off coupon from someone (“Excuse me, miss, are you going to use your Brooks Brothers coupon?”) so we paid about $170 for everything. Yes, that’s way more than I would ever pay for five items of my clothing, but I looked at Chris and, bursting with pride, I knew he deserved the splurge.
The sweet part was that he hesitated at the last minute. Are you sure, he wanted to know, as he stood waiting to check out. He knows how I stress over spending money and how I like my bargains. He knows my past still colors my present. I know that a simple phrase like, “Are you sure?” doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but it is SUCH a big deal. He gets me. Not only does he get me, but he respects me and how I feel. That’s huge. But what’s just as huge is that I didn’t stress too much about spending that kind of cash. I really can’t wait to see him all dressed up in his new clothing on Tuesday. I can’t wait to see how handsome he looks. I think we’re finally finding a happy medium between my fear-of-poverty mode and his the-pricetag-doesn’t-matter shopping style. It’s a refreshing change.
What’s the most you’ve ever spent on an item of clothing outside your wedding dress or tuxedo? What’s your shopping style? How much is too much to spend on clothing. And again: Who pays $178 for a pair of work slacks?!? I really want to know!