Friday, September 09, 2011

On Shopping

Living in the Southern Hemisphere, our seasons are the opposite of where I grew up. This makes for occasional confusions when talking to other people, as I’m never sure if I should refer to summer as November-February or June-August. In addition, it makes clothing shopping a bit of a headache. You see, we like to buy our clothes in the US, for the following reasons:

1. They’re cheaper.
2. They often fit better, as we’re both TALL and have oversized feet.
3. The United States has consignment stores! Swoon.

I love buying pre-worn clothing. Someone else takes the bulk of the cost of the item and breaks it in...and I get it at a serious discount from the original price? Yes, sign me up! In a similar vein, I’m a sale junkie. I hate, hate, hate buying anything at full price. When I do go shopping here, which is seldom as things are still much more expensive than I’m used to, I always ask for a discount and pay in cash. I’ve yet to be refused at least a token 5% off.

But anyhow, there’s a problem with buying your clothes in another country. By the time I arrive at the US sales, it’s usually December or January, and I don’t have a whole lot of need for sweaters and wool under the 100 degree summer sun. For us, the best time to buy is in August, when all the summer stuff goes on sale. But short of buying everything off Zappos, where a 365 day return policy lets you get rid of anything that didn’t fit, getting your wardrobe off the internet can be tricky.

Here are my tips for others in a similar situation:

1. Check return policies. Places with brick-and-mortar stores often allow in-store returns (sometimes months after) with a receipt. You might not be able to get cash back after a certain amount of time, but they should still honor the merchandise value. I’ve had good luck with the Old Navy/Banana/Gap trio and J. Crew.

2. Use Pinterest to keep track of the things you’re interested in. I’ll browse online catalogs at the beginning of a season, pinning everything that looks interesting. Then a few months later, I’ll check my page, figure out where the similarities lie (am I seeing a lot of blazers? Orange shorts? A certain color?) and decide what I actually need. Then, it’s a cinch to click on the photos of things I might buy, see if they’re on sale and in my size, and add them to my cart.

3. I prefer sites where customers can send in photos and reviews of the items. It’s saved me from many a purchase that would have been distastrous…and that’s how I decided on my wedding dress, too! A lot of people now put detailed size info, so if Mary from Kalamazoo who is 5’6” and 164 pounds thought the dress in a size M was a tad too long/short/tight, you can extrapolate if it’ll work for you.

4. NEVER forget to google “coupon code + (name of store)” before checking out. Those codes can save cash. And as we all know, pennies add up. (I made my husband switch coupon codes when ordering business cards the other night because the 2nd code saved 30 CENTS more! But why waste it, right?)

Oh, and if you’re in Rio and want to play at the consignment stores, these are my top picks:

* Petit Lilly in Top Center on 550 Visconde de Pirajá in Ipanema, 3rd floor (great stuff, top brands)
* Adoleta (children’s brechó) in the same place, same floor
* Fashion something-or-other on the ground floor of Citta America in Barra, across from the Cafuné coffee shop (adult stuff, more worn/dated but some gems from time to time)
* There’s also a children’s brechó in Citta, but I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s on the other end, maybe near the Magdalena Chique salon? We don’t have kids, so I see the signs but don’t pay too much attention…

Oh, and I'm really giving a shout out to Citta today, but DeliShoes is THE place to go for shoes, especialy for hard-to-fit sizes. They sell one-offs, extras for factories in Brazil, so many of the shoes are names like Geoxx, Ann Taylor, occasionally even Kate Spade (but if you are a size 40, I will fight you for them!). Stock changes often, what you see is what they have, but they often run good sales (3 for R$150 and the like…).


Mary said...

Oh my, now my favorite bargain shoe store in CittaAmerica is out there for all to see . . . and I too wear a 40, so come armed and ready for battle!

Anonymous said...

Very useful comments for me, being new to Rio. Thanks- enjoyed your blogs.


erin wright said...

another good thing to check is or these sites will give you a % back on your purchases if you go through their website. once you get to $20 they send you a check, just for going one more step. i do this almost every time i make a significant online purchase.