My professor pointed me towards this Boston Globe article, which touches upon the impact of the economy on today’s fashion trends. After reading it, part of me completely agrees, while another part of me really disagrees with what they had to say. Part of it may be my upbringing, and my attitude towards trivial things like dying my hair and getting botox. A prime example is my mom, who has gorgeous long hair that falls to the middle of her back. Her head is half grey and she refuses to die it – saying that every grey hair is living proof that she survived raising two teenagers. She never dyed her hair growing up and I was never allowed to dye mine as a teen. When all the girls were getting streaks and highlights, I called my hair poop brown. In retrospect, I’m thrilled with my mom for not letting me destroy my hair – every time I get my hair cut my hair dresser marvels at how gorgeous and natural my hair is. Granted its full of split ends now, but thats a whole different story. I did, however, grow up going with my mom to the nail salon every once in a while. Since I was 10 and insisted on getting 10 different colors, one on every nail, I have evolved to having a variety of classic shades on my fingers and toes. At the same time, as a broke college student, I never go to the nail salon in Boston – the only time I ever go is when I’m home and Mom is in the mood to treat me. I can tell that the lady doing my toes is disgusted by the polish that has been on since the last time I was home three months ago.
The fact of the matter is – I cant afford to be shopping right now. My roommate just ordered a huge amount of stuff on American Eagle’s website simply because her mom had a 40% off coupon that was expiring the next day. People cant afford to be getting new stuff, but I dont think that’s a good excuse to drag out the sweat pants. There are plenty of fun ways to dress up basic items – I wear the same 6 american eagle beaters under every single sweater I own – they’re pill-y and falling apart but they do the job just fine. I rock the same gold bangles from forever 21 and the same long gold beaded necklace from target and nobody judges me – I can still put myself together and look cute even if I cant afford to be constantly buying new items to spice up my wardrobe. [That isnt to ignore the fact that I have no self control and go buy trench jackets and scarves at forever 21 when I shouldnt be, but still].
I think its a good thing that girls aren’t going out to the tanning beds, waxing places and hair salons as much – all of that stuff always seemed trivial and unnecessary to me. It’s just as easy for me to do a slightly sloppy but decent job on my own nails before an interview than it is to pay 30$ to go get a mani-pedi on a regular basis – I somehow doubt that the Boston Globe won’t hire me just because I did my own nails the night before and dont have the latest streaks or highlights in my hair.
I think I’ve also always stuck with the basics – solid american apparel v necks, basic bra camis from express and american eagle, simple denim without rips and execessive stitching, that can be paired with different items over and over again. And that comment from the girl with her hoops – I wear my hoop earrings every single day and I dont think thats lazy or boring at all. Theyre simple, classic and match everything I wear… so why not?
As I mentioned in my initial post, I work at Express. My store is a brand new location that opened just before thanksgiving. The store is enormous, with large mens and womens sections. For the last few weeks, Express has had their annual ‘shop the bins’ sale – the madness that ensues when obnoxious ladies come in to the store to dig through bin upon bin of marked down clearance items that should be organized by size, but by the end of the day theres absolutely no way you can even make out where one bin begins and the other ends. As you can imagine, it’s obnoxious to shop but even more obnoxious to work.
This sale is nothing new, and I’ve seen from working at the store for just a few months that Express is known for their great coupons and their incredible sales. Items that were once $80 get marked down to just $20 or $30 – it makes you wonder why people even bother to pay full price. Well wait. With this economy? They dont.
As my manager put it the other night as we were closing the store – our company is practically bribing customers to come in and shop. The latest twist on the bin sale? Every red-line item is marked down an additional 40% when you get to the register. I bought a gorgeous red satin cinched tube dress that was originally $98 for $17.99 yesterday [and that is without my employee discount, which we sadly don’t get on sale items].
Because of the drastically lowered prices, the sales plans that my managers set out at the start of the week are being missed by thousands of dollars per segment, our numbers are much much lower than then ever were. For a new store, that isn’t so great.
The state of the economy is effecting more than just Express. I have never seen such huge sales in my entire life – it really does seem like the stores are begging shoppers to come through their doors. Everywhere you look, signs are offering 40, 50, even 60% off of once full priced merchandise. The Buy One Get One sales are everywhere. When I worked at American Eagle we were giving BOGO 1/2 off on every single item in the store. Even 344 [the latest jasmine sola store that sells a variety of designer jeans and tops] is offering 30% off of true religion, citizens of humanity and joes jeans [& I am not ashamed to admit that I already went in to find my size and was out of luck, of course]. It’s true insanity. Or, as my friend put it, a girls shopping heaven. The reality is, how much are teenagers and young adults affected by the economy? I hear my parents yell at me over the phone every other day about how I need to stop my spending because times are tough, but I am still working and getting a regular pay check. And when clothes are half as much as they normally are, why wouldn’t I take advantage? A friend was telling me that one of her friends is normally stingy with spending money, that she hates going shopping and buying clothing. But they went to their mall over break and her friend splurged because of all the sales. So does that mean that young adults are ignorant to the downfall of the economy? Are we just unaffected? Do we not care? Or are the sale ploys just really working on us?
Well clearly, I bought my dress. Granted I had an occasion and I already have the heels and jewelry to go with, but still. I have a perfectly good tube-top dress from Zara sitting in my closet that I could have simply reworn. Maybe I just have a shopping problem, maybe the temptation of working in retail is part of that problem, but something tells me I’m not so far off from the average young woman’s shopping pattern.
xoxo; rachel sarah