My more astute readers will have noticed this is not a fashion blog. This is because I have no fashion sense. Comfort is my game. Life is too short to be otherwise.
I also love saving money. Sadly, not as much as I love shopping. This is my Jekyll and Hyde (only Mr. Hyde is partial to Blu-Rays and electronics, not clothes and handbags).
Two things happened this month as a catalyst to the shopping trip described herein:
1) I happened to have three paydays as the calendar fell. I love those months.
2) Winter has literally come overnight to Colorado. Went from 63 degrees to 2 in one day. Frigid winds, snow flurries, the works.
So, #1. I paid off two credit cards and planned to sock away all the other surplus into savings. But then #2 happened.
Our condo was built in the 80’s, and we’re rocking the original windows which are not remotely energy efficient (which is actually odd considering we still have the control console for the solar panels that once existed on the roof. America was so much greener in the 80’s, it seems).
Where was I? Paper thin windows. We used to struggle with that plastic shrink wrap every year, but the frustration of applying it has come closer to ending our marriage than anything else. So I’ve since turned to thermal blackout drapes, which work well enough if it means never having to deal with that damn plastic again.
However they’re also pretty expensive, and I could only afford enough for the living room at the time. The bedroom and loft lay exposed and bare, and in 2 degrees and below they might as well have been wide open for all the good they were doing.
I turned to Craigslist hoping for some options. There were plenty, most of them priced well above what I could have got retail, except for someone offering four panels for $20 (see, the kicker with drapes is they don’t seem pricey until you notice they aren’t sold in pairs. What kind of caveman only needs one curtain??) The catch was they were a ferociously horrific shade of pink.
I was seriously torn between them (only because of the fantastic price) or four store-bought that would be much easier to look at but cost more than double. I asked Tery and she wasn’t bothered by the pink, so it was all on me.
That night I went to work at the hospital (under extreme protest; I had the good fortune of riding out most of the subzero temps at home in flannel PJs and wool socks). Remember back when I bought Crocs for work? Those worked great for summer, but I literally went three steps out my front door before immediately turning back and hurriedly looking for an alternative less full of gaping holes that let snow and wind in.
I had a hideous (but comfortable) pair of clogs from Airwalk (do they even make shoes anymore?) that I only used at home to climb ladders or ride my spin bike. I grabbed them and went to work.
I spent the first few hours turning the curtain conundrum over and over and over in my mind. It was maddening precisely because I HAD the money thanks to my bonus check, but I really, really, really, really didn’t want to spend any more than I had to.
Then around midnight I noticed something: My shoes were disintegrating on me. They were leaving little black chunks everywhere, which was mystifying me where they were coming from when I had just swept that spot. I wasn’t that surprised, I did have them for more than a decade.
So. Now I suddenly needed new curtains AND new shoes. This simplified things considerably and I emailed Craigslist on the spot. I heard back the very next morning, which was gratifying for Craigslist, though hardly shocking that no one else had snapped up those fantastically horrible drapes yet. We arranged a meeting after I was done at the shoe store.
I do like shoe shopping despite not being a fashionista (I’m a hiking boots/sneakers gal). I wasn’t having much luck, was 75% happy with a pair of Pumas that were like a slightly wider version of my Sambas (though still not optimally comfortable; but I absolutely needed something by next weekend) when I wandered past some Merrell suede slip-ons. I took a chance and was delighted that they felt light as air (in weight, not ventilation), almost like slippers.
I would have bought those on the spot except that, despite two color choices, the closest to my size were 11 and 8.5. I’m a men’s 10. The 11 felt like clown shoes. The 8.5 actually fit me, tightly but not as tight as I would have thought, which threw me for so much of a loop I flagged down a sales associate for advice.
He tried his very best to help me, god bless him. He said too big or too small were both terrible ideas. But he also refused to believe I was a 10 if the 8.5 went on. He fetched his little foot ruler, which I haven’t seen since I was a little girl.
Something must have changed in the shoe world since they started making those (I know this for a fact, because all shoes fit differently. I don’t know why it’s so hard to standardize shoe sizes), because he announced I was actually a men’s 9.5 and a women’s 10. He would not be swayed from this opinion, even when I assured him I’d been wearing men’s 10 my whole life and women’s shoes were a lost cause (size notwithstanding, almost every pair of women’s shoes in the past two decades have had either some shade of pink or ridiculous spangly things, or some kind of glittery or sparkly finish. Look at my profile pic; do I look like someone who wants pink sparklies on my feet?)
He apologetically asked why I preferred men’s shoes, “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” he hastily added. Please. I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks about me shopping on the men’s side. My choice between pink and ill-fitting or manly and comfortable is crystal clear. Everything in life should be so easy. The guys will have to deal.
So the Merrells were a no-go. But I didn’t want to settle for the Pumas now that I had experienced the other. I decided to hit up a different store on my way home, as much as it goes against my nature to leave a store emptyhanded.
(To satisfy my curiosity, I made a pit stop in the women’s clearance section, size 11, the highest it went. Turns out, nowhere close to fitting me, just as it’s been my whole life.)
I met Craigslist and picked up the drapes. The pictures unfortunately did them justice and they were no better in real life. But 20 bucks is 20 bucks.
The second store didn’t even have the Merrells, but they did have a larger selection of men’s loafer styles in my size. It was here I found my Clarks.
I’d never heard of Clarks. I had started with some Rockport hikers and thought my search was over when I stumbled on the Clarks.
They felt AMAZING. Like the way you think Doc Martens should feel out of the box but sadly don’t. I thought they looked great too, not like a lot of loafers that are incredibly comfortable but unaccountably ugly as hell.
I looked up some Amazon reviews (a favorite trick of mine; how did I shop before smartphones?). They didn’t have this exact model, but I clicked one with over 1000 mostly positive reviews. I read only one, a guy who had written a half a page long love letter to the company, even threatening to track them down if they ever stopped selling shoes. They’ve also been in business over a century, if you believe the description on the tin. That’s just what I wanted to hear.
I walked around in them for ten more minutes to be sure, and boxed them up to go home with me. I should mention they were $90 marked 40% off.
The cashier went to ring me up, but suddenly stopped and stared long and hard at the shoes. She picked up the box and looked all around, umm’ing and uhhh’ing alarmingly. “Please don’t tell me they’re mismarked, I love these shoes,” I protested.
“They seem rather…worn,” she explained. I had noticed some scuffs but nothing I couldn’t live with. I thought they were the “‘distressed” look. And the graphics on the insole looked new, not rubbed away. I insisted I wanted them, and had already determined they were the only pair in the clearance section. She got some leather conditioner and polished them up. Oh, and she gave me 70% off.
That’s right. $90 shoes for $26. Needless to say, I REALLY love them at that price. Tery likes to joke “money goes to money,” because these kinds of things always seem to happen to me (ask me about the $350 authentic Tiffany lamp I got for $19.95). I almost wish I’d bought the shoes first, it would have made me second think the curtains. On the other hand, I love the thought of getting both for what I expected to pay for just the shoes. It was a great shopping trip.