Tuesday Cheating Jan 05, 2010

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We are not supposed to wear denim to work except on Fridays. Lately I have been cheating because, A. I only own like two pairs of trousers that currently fit and one is Dry Clean Only, and B. I work on the 9th floor (execs and 90% of the company is on the 7th floor) and sit behind two computers all day so like a newscaster, no one sees me from the waist down.

Today is a cheating sort of day. I wore my black pants yesterday (blackj New York & Company trousers with blood orange scoop necked fine gauge scoopneck sweater from Lands End and olive and silver bead necklace also from NY&Co) and I am not in a dress mood (or living in dress weather right now – Brrrr!).

I didn't take a picture because I haven't figured out yet how to take a picture in my house while it is still dark out without waking a baby or a husband. When I figure it out, I will resume with regular full-length photos. But here I am just five minutes ago at my desk:

010510 006
And yes, I did whip out my cosmetic bag to reapply my lipstick before shooting the picture!  The evidence is sitting right on my desk!
Anyway, today I am wearing a navy waffle-knit shawl-collar sweater from Ann Taylor LOFT that I got on clearance AND with a store credit (more on that in a bit), my Seven jeans (no clue the style, they were on sale, they are stretchy, they have a fake scratch/tear in them at the right knee that is big enough for me to fiddle with during a boring meeting but small enough that I don't look like Lita Ford), my Bern boots from DUO (under the jeans – jeans not tight enough and boots not dark enough for the tuck-in look).  Around my neck is a silver chain with my wedding band (nope, haven't gotten it resized yet), wearing silver hoops and my silver cuff.
Makeup is a blend of Stila Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer ir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B0013N1REQ and Estee Lauder Nutritious foundation (the combo gives me a sheer look but isn't too pale or too dark – really trying to use what I have on hand), Laura Mercier Secret Camoflaugeir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001M8VHYM, Nars blush in Orgasm and a touch of Laura Mercier Bronzer ir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001M5D96Oover it.  On eyes is my beloved Revlon Colorstay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis ir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000YDHLW8 – khaki on the lid, brown in the crease and along lash lines.  I splurged this holiday season and went back to DiorShowir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000N4CIDU for my mascara.  I had bought L'Oreal Voluminousir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B0000531PR but it dries out quickly, clumps the first week or two, dries out my lashes and just doesn't offer the same OOMPH of DiorShowir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000N4CIDU.  Anyhoo, that with a Shu Eumura lash curler  is my fave combo by far.  On lips is Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honeyir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000AM501C.
As for the hair… well yesterday I decided to straighten it with my Croc wet-to-dry flat ironir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B0010VSUI2.  I thought it looked flat but got lots of compliments, even from my shy male new colleague.  Hrm…  well today it is “second day hair” so I just took big sections and twirled them around my Vidal Sasson curling iron for fine hairir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001AFGTH2 and then held it with a couple blasts of Elnettir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001DJ2USM.  It looked fabulous, but then I decided to try on my new hat from LOFT and really jacked it up (while realizing I only should wear hats when it is super duper cold out – I am not a floppy beanie sort of gal).
So anyway… my frugal tip for the day:
I worked a decade in retail, and I hated hated HATED returns.  Man, you would get people who would pull the DREGS out of their closet, bring it to the store and we had to accept it (one reason why return policies in stores have gotten far more tough – that and shoplifting and returning…).
However, I do returns.  If I buy something and it breaks or doesn't turn out well after following the laundry directions to the letter, I return it.  If I get buyer's remorse, I return it.  And if I decide to clean out my closet during my holiday staycation and I find a pair of chinos and two sweaters I ordered from LOFT this past Spring with the tags still on and also find the shipping receipt… I return it.  And I did return it and ended up with enough store credit to get myself a lovely berry-colored cable knit scarf, a matching beanie, and the sweater I am wearing today.
I also went through my closet and found a bunch of stuff I could return to Nordstrom – shoes I haven't worn, dresses with tags still on them, makeup still in the packaging.  Things I bought over the year in an attempt to feel better with retail therapy.  Luckily with Nordstrom, there isn't a time limit so these returns go straight back into my bank account.  I received two items as gifts that I did NOT like and didn't open so I returned to Sephora for a lovely store credit.  I also found a top I got at Old Navy that I didn't like – it had been less than 45 days and I took it back to the store for a refund back on my card.
“But it was only ten bucks!”
“I feel like a jerk”
“It's my fault for buying it in the first place”
“What a PITA to go back to the store”
“Ugh, I don't want to pay $5.95 to send it back”
The thing is, ten bucks is ten bucks.  If you saw a kickass cashmere sweater and it was $10 off, wouldn't you be happy?  Then return that silly top you picked up at Old Navy/Forever 21/H&M/Wal-mart that doesn't fit right, looks a bit cheap but was only $10.  And use that $10 toward something really of value.
Yes, salespeople at stores HATE returns because it affects their bonuses, their sales, their standing with the company, yadda yadda.  But a good salesperson doesn't roll her eyes at you and get nasty when you come to the counter – a good salesperson will be sweet as pie and figure out a way to make that return an exchange (or at least convince you to return and shop another time).  And yes, it may cost to return and online purchase, but it's better to lose $5.95 for shipping than lose $12.95 on a stupid top you will maybe wear once.
FYI: USPS will do free pickups right to your front door.  You can register carrier pickups online.  This makes many returns much easier to swallow – no need to stand in line at the post office or drag that box to your place of employment!
A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Gosh, I think some the clothes I’ve bought over the years where I could have returned them for refund, but didn’t.

    Now I buy things I must really love — it my gauge. The things I kind of like, but not really love, eh, then I put them back. Or come back another day to see if I still want it.

    Stores have a specific return policy, I go by that if I really have to return something.

  2. Stores return policies are there for a reason & I see nothing wrong with taking advantage of it (as long as the item is a new, unworn condition and you abide by the stated retrun policy). I realize that the store takes a hit but ultimately, the price is passed onto us, the consumers, so I don’t feel bad about a privilege that I essentially pay for anyway.

    I am the mother of two small children and my size is a little unstable post-partum. Online returns are inevitable since I am not able to “try before I buy.” if stores were better about giving accurate measurements for their items (love Boden for giving these), this would not be the case. But sizing is very inconsistent from store to store and it can be hard to judge. I often by 2 sizes of the same item just so that I can determine which one will fit.

  3. American return policies don’t stop amazing me… Of course, if something breaks, and it’s still under some sort of waranty, or it’s very obvious that it was faulty, returns are possible, but other than that, just buyers remorse… Nope, won’t work. Most stores let you return within two weeks, but not months or years later, here in my nook of the world. Must be nice: buy a dress, see if it’ll be worn and if not, you just return it!

  4. Allie, GREAT advice! Nothing wrong with store credit, and shouldn’t be a problem if we follow the “must-buy?” rules of fellow commenters, and get great customer service.

    THANKS for the tip on USPS though…I could have shipped out some items efficiently instead of letting them gather dust, forgotten, in my car.

  5. I still do not think returns are bad. I think the majority of big box retailers are doing just fine with returns. Shoplifting is another story. I think returns/ store credit seems to benefit everyone. A happy customer is a repeat customer. If a customer has a negative experience regarding a return then they are less likely to shop at that store again. I’ll be honest – I’m less likely to return things to a little mom and pop individually owned store than to a big box store. I am also careful to abide by the stated return policy. I feel if I am within their return policy then it is my right as a consumer to return an unused item, or a defunct item. Until that changes I guess I will continue to return the things that do not work.

    Stores have tightened up their return policies which means that perhaps we are finding a balance between customers still enjoying the right to return and stores maintaining their bottom line.

    Interesting to hear all the points of view.

  6. I agree with you, Allie. I wouldn’t generally recommend returning things after you’ve had them for something like two years (even if they still have tags), but I think that’s usually the exception–not the rule. Personally, I LOVE stores who will accept pretty much all returns and give you store credit. I feel like it’s a win/win.

  7. You know what – I fully agree with those of you who say returns are bad. I am usually one who buys and keeps and if I don’t like it I swap with a friend, I sell it on eBay or Craigslist, I donate it, I do something. I will window shop even online and put something in my virtual shopping cart and if I still like it and feel the need for it a week later, I will then buy it. I pride myself on not buying crap and not buying that which I don’t need and not really love.

    And then this year was a different year and a year where I fell into old habits and tried to buy happiness and realized I purchased a lot of things that I did not need, did not love. And I returned. And I am back to my old self who buys that which is necessary and not that which will offer temporary pleasure and long-term financial regret. 🙂

    But I do place much blame on poor customer service in stores. I worked retail, and I know that 75% of the returns that come in a store could have been prevented or can be made into an exchange. It’s about caring about your customer and making sure she buys what she really loves and loves her in return. This is why I hardly ever step in a mall any more – everyone is about the fast buck without consequences, creating lasting relationships and caring about the customer as well as the store.

  8. Welcome back, Allie, and happy new year! Love this post. I am with you on returns (up to a point- after 28 days, it’s probably getting a bit late..) but would urge the even more frugal tip of think before you buy. Ask yourself these questions:
    – do I feel amazing in it?
    – does it fit me (and that does not mean ‘can I get into it?)?
    – can I think of at least three outfits it will go with/form part of?

    If the answer to all 3 is yes, then buy it. If not, don’t. I have observed that I find that necessity buying (heel broke/need outfit for wedding/etc) when I feel under pressure to buy a particular item to a deadline is when I end up buying stuff that I end up not liking- anyone else have that?
    By the way, I LOVE your description of the hole in your jeans- funny and spot-on perspicacious.

  9. I actually agree with the last poster–the first time I have disagreed with you also! This is nothing personal–just my $.02.

    I have never returned anything in my life. Never. Some of this is my own silliness in not wanting to be a bother to a poor SA (and I admit that that is silly because taking returns is part of their jobs), but most of it is because I feel that if I am purchasing something, it is within my responsibility to make sure that it is something that I like, need and will use. If I don’t end up liking it, needing it or using it, that is tough banana crackers for me–just a bad purchase on my part. I shouldn’t have bought it in the first place. To be honest, I have made some pretty stupid purchases (as I’m sure we all have), but I like to think that I make these less as time goes on because I have learned my lesson. Perhaps that would be my corollary to this frugal tip–don’t buy the damn stuff in the first place.

    Moreover, I’m always happy to donate my stupid purchases to either a charity or to someone I know who could use them. My mom and I live 8 hours away from each other, and every time we see each other we trade cosmetics–samples we get, things we bought and didn’t like as much as we thought we would. It is very fun. And a lot better than toting it back to the store.

    Holy moly, I’m amazed at how much I sound like my husband right now. Let’s keep this one between us, shall we? 🙂

  10. Oh geesh, I return all the time! If retailers want you to shop online with ease (and spend your money with only a little “click” of the mouse), they have to accept the fact that items will be returned. Great post, and it’s nice to see your gorgeous face! Love your makeup and hair!

  11. Allie,

    This is the first time I have disagreed with you so I hope you take this suggestion in the right spirit.

    I do not believe in returns after a reasonable time period. Even NWT items! I am not on the side of big bad retailers but in the spirit of fairplay, I request you think more about this. If you have buyer’s remorse, you should sell or donate the item on your own without making the retailer take the hit. Actions have consequences. Personal responsibility is important. Entitlement is not good.

  12. Thanks for the encouragement to return things. There have been so many times that I bought items that I regretted and wore only out of guilt or not at all.

    I do feel bad for sales associates; I feel I should be stronger in resisting the hard sale. A friend of mine briefly worked at Saks this holiday season and she was on straight commission. So if you don’t push really hard, she said, you made no money. And then of course if something was returned, all the things Allie mentioned happened. I obviously don’t shop there much, but I guess turnover is really high and morale is really low.


  13. Thank you Miss Allie! I didn’t mean that in any way to sound unpleasant; you’ve actually really helped me to understand. it is unfortunate that corporate cannot delineate the returns from the sales…because I know I often return online merch to a store, etc and I hate the notion of affecting someone’s paycheck. thanks for the info! Food for thought, though I will still do returns. Nordstroms has the best attitude about returns in my experience that I have ever encountered. Fabulous customer service!!

  14. Hey Gorgeous gal..
    Lighten up on your self.
    You made a person, you are working full time, and you are still stylish and lovely.
    I am going to be really bold here and recomend a fabulous woman and her books, Mamma Gena, one thing she says is quit judging yourself.
    You are lovely, your baby is so precious and lucky.

  15. Well as an ex retail manager, I hated returns because my sales bonuses were dependent on how much I made per month and per quarter. If you sell $5,000 in one day, and then someone comes in and returns $500, it shows that you only sold $4500. Corporate doesn’t care that it’s an online return or from another location or someone’s husband made them do the return for them. They just see that you sold $4500 that day.

    Returns also affect things like Units per Transaction and Average Dollar per Sale. Stores are supposed to not just sell a lot of money, but really sell a lot of items and money to each person who enters the door. If you’re selling three items to each person, it’s showing that you are making an effort to get the money in the drawer, not chewing gum and twirling your hair and being lucky. When you return items, it cuts the average dollar per sale (since it’s a negative sale) and average units (since again, you’re averaging in a negative number). Again, corporate doesn’t care that someone made a return, they just see the numbers and think you aren’t making enough of an effort.

    Finally, returns affect profit and loss because items that are not current may be returned at full price but now have to be either sold at a sale price or need to be shipped back to corporate because they are last season’s style or packaging. Items that are damaged or worn need to be sent back to corporate and for many shops, that affects the P&L for the manager, and their bonuses can be based upon this P&L.

    This is only from my experience prior to 2004 at three different retailers, but this is often why salespeople hate returns. 🙂

  16. I would love additional clarification from the point of other sales people on why returns are so unwelcome. Regarding new merchandise with tags, not old nasty stuff. Assuming it does not literally take money out of a sales persons pocket, then what is so doggone bad about returns anyways? I truly don’t get it! I worked retail for 5 years and it never affected my pay. Returning things just seems to have a stigma attached to it and I don’t think that is necessary….thanks!

  17. I’m with you on returns! Sales people can try and make you feel bad about making a return but, I could care less! I would rather have my money back than worry about how someone will look at me if I make a return.

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