The Shopping And Style File: Are You A "Renter"?

Me, shopping somewhere in South County a few weeks ago...

Me, shopping somewhere in South County a few weeks ago...

Despite the 90+ temps, an August heat wave in full swing, back to school - and to a certain degree, pre-fall - shopping is on! #RetailSeasons What better time then to talk about one type of shopper you don't want to be and three ways to shop like a pro and look like a red carpet big shot, even if you're practically broke.

Are You A Renter?

The Renter is someone who could easily be mistaken for a self-proclaimed 'good customer' (as in "I spend a lot of money here...I'm a good customer!") or the classic, card-carrying shopaholic, especially because you probably see them in your favorite store or stores all the time. Yeah, they're there, trying on, chatting with the sales people like they're all BFF's, and even buying an outfit or two every week or every few weeks. But The Renter has a dirty, not-so-little secret - They're going to wear that outfit, or outfits , for an event or occasion and then, return everything to the store, usually for a full refund. Hence, the nickname "The Renter". In other words, they're definitely NOT playing for keeps.

Telltale signs something has been 'rented': White deodorant marks on the inside lining and under the arms, pit or food stains or both, a tag that looks tampered with or the ever popular missing price tags, it stinks - BO, and personal items left behind in the pockets - more about that in a sec.

Renters Anonymous: A friend of a friend was (unbeknownst to her) recently chatting with a 'renter' and naively exclaimed - "Hey, you left the tags on your top. Do you want me to help you take them off?" The renter's response? Oh, yeahhh. It's ok. I'm going to wear it and return it after tonight...Whether someone is tucking in tags (as our 'renter' did rather unsuccessfully here) or removing them completely and re-attaching with a fabric gun and plastic T's that can easily be gotten at most office supply stores, there are beaucoup people out there doing it. (I almost ran into a notorious renter from my old retail life at one of my fav restaurants in Providence this summer. Good thing I hide behind sunglasses most of the time. Bye Felicia!) But, before you say something dismissive like: So what? No one's getting hurt., let me tell you that renters are part of what drives the prices at your fav department and chain stores up, up, UP. I mean those stores can't, and shouldn't, turn around and resell used clothes as first quality, so they essentially become a loss which yes, those stores then pass on to YOU. #Yup

But don't despair because they are plenty of ways to look super stylish without resorting to 'renting', which btw most stores get wise to...eventually (especially when someone leaves their theater tickets in the pocket of that blazer they just got refunded for...Hey, wait a minute, wait, you forgot your tickets!!! And, in most cases, stores can and will refuse to accept any returns from that person or people going forward.) Here are three much savvier things you can do instead to look on fleck:


1. Get Online...Like Now

I know beaucoup people who swear by RentTheRunway and order legit designer gowns (from names like Herve Leger, Opening Ceremony, RED Valentino, and more) for a fraction of the regular retail price. Because, as one stylish girl so aptly put it, 'No one wants to be seen on Instagram wearing the same dress twice.' Rent does require a small-ish fee, depending on which style you choose and how long you want to keep it. There is also an insurance option, which could protect you in case of a red wine spill or a waiter accidentally dropping a plate of spaghetti with marinara in your vicinity. (Be warned though - The newest and most current styles book up quickly, so plan ahead when searching for that perfect look for your event.)


2. I Ain't Too Proud...To Shop Consignment

I once found a brand new, pristine black leather a-line skirt for only $30 and a black bag designed by none other than Karl Lagerfeld (the man, the myth behind none other than Chanel) for around $100 at a local consignment shop. That bag was so eye-catching in fact that a lady started yelling and gesturing wildly at me while I was riding an escalator at a store in Boston, just so she could ask where I'd bought it. (Turns out it was a sample from a line of bags that Lagerfeld had done for the iconic store Colette in Paris.)


3. Keep Your Friends Close, Keep Your Shopaholic Friends Closer

My nieces had so many gorgeous dresses (mostly from Zuzu's in PVD or East Greenwich) they only wore once (Ok, maybe twice) for proms, winter balls and what have you, that my sister would open up their closets to her friends with teenage or 20-something daughters as a favor on occasion. (My sister is good like that.) So, my advice is to find those friends who routinely shop till they drop - and are your size - and take them out for coffee or a drink. Maybe, just maybe, they'll open their closet doors to you. I'm willing to bet they have plenty that they're not wearing or may never wear again.


Ciao For Now,

Patty J


Photo Credits: Top photo courtesy of Ashley Farney.