(photo credit: screenshot of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop music video) Guys. Ladies. Fellas. Friends. We all love bargains. Bargains are what America is all about. Anyone in America who doesn’t love a bargain is probably in Al Qaeda and should immediately be detained and hopefully water boarded until they realize how great bargains […]
It really should be no secret anymore that advertisers love splitting us up into smaller, easier-to-market-to groups. And most of the time when they do, we end up spending more for the same product. The plus side to this though is that once we’ve peeled back this marketing matrix and seen it for what it […]
Whenever I need to tighten up my spending habits, I notice that things like gym memberships and pricey exercise classes seem to be the first to go. I tell myself, “I’ll just go for more runs” or “I’ll work out at home,” knowing good and well that I’ll be eating cookie dough by the ton […]
Need to look gorgeous for a hot night out but don’t have the cash-ola necessary to make your designer dreams a reality? No sweat, sweetie! Just go to the mall, slap on a face of free makeup, “borrow” a dress, and strut on down to your destination. You’ll be beautiful on a budget…of $0! TRANSCRIPTSpeaker […]
There are few things in this world less comfortable than an uncomfortable bra. Childbirth, while I’ve never experienced it, seems as though it would be more unpleasant than the sensation of an insufferably tight brassiere digging into your shoulder flesh like a toddler burrowing into wet sand. Pretty much any other painful event a woman can experience, however, pales in comparison.
Finding a suitable over the shoulder boulder holder is a must for any comely lass who doesn’t want to suffer a life of misery. If you’re tired of being victimized by your hooter holsters, online retailer True&Co claims to have the solution. They’re all about helping you “find the perfect fit.” They promise to do so with “no fitting rooms” and “no measuring tape.” You may ask yourself, “How the hell is that possible?” It being 2014 and all, the answer’s simple: Via a confusing, over-stylized website!
As someone who lives her life treating gender like it’s merely a suggestion (because it is), I’ve grown quite accustomed to the way that marketing loves to divide the world up in order to trick us into giving them maximized profits. While my life history has made me perhaps more keenly aware of it, I’m hardly the first to notice, or even to break down why it happens. What I can do, however, is provide you with some examples of some ways that shoppers of any sex and gender can cut costs by cutting through gender roles.
A new addition to the slate of seemingly unnecessarily gendered products this year: sunscreen. Banana Boat has recently launched the all new Banana Boat For Men. This is apparently to combat the waves of sunburned men who have refused to use a product as girly and effete as Banana Boat Sport? I guess I find it hard to believe that there are legions of lobster-looking bros out there who have been adamant that they’d rather get skin cancer than put on any of that chick stuff, but apparently Banana Boat is banking on the idea that there are. Or more likely, they think that by creating the solution the problem will start to exist. All I know is I’ve been to plenty of beaches and I’ve never heard anyone complain about sissy sunscreen.
I’m continuing my foray into some of the more interesting internet subscription service options and whether or not they’re actually worth that monthly fee.
Mavens by Julep
The Premise: Nail polish brand Julep provides a monthly themed box of high-end nail polish and cosmetics for a fee of $24.99. Users pick from a style profile, with names like “It Girl” or “Boho Glam,” and are sent selections for that month’s theme. While you’re given a box that matches your style profile by default, you can opt to choose a box from a different style profile.
The Experience: I spoke with Meredith, a User Experience Expert in Southern California who is a big fan of the service. A self-described nail polish addict, Meredith finds that the subscription service has really helped her curb her spending without sacrificing her nails. “Last year my New Years resolution was to stop impulse buying nail polish, so I got the [Mavens subscription]. It keeps me on budget and they have enough different “packages” each month that I never feel like there’s nothing I don’t want.”
I have been menstruating for over half my life. I’m used to it. I’m, dare I say, pretty good at it. The monthly act of going to the drug store and buying my tampons, cramp meds and assorted accouterments that no longer faze me like it did when I was fifteen. I don’t think there’s anything unusual about the ease with which I deal with the emotional terrorist that is Aunt Flo.
But if I were the sort of woman who, let’s say, wasn’t comfortable getting their Tampax rung up by a bored-looking teenage clerk in a primary colored vest, I could get a period subscription box, filled with a combination of feminine protection products and sweets, delivered to me in a plain, unmarked receptacle once a month. That’s right—the subscription box trend has expanded to the realm of reproduction. But are they worth it? I sent away for a few of them to find out.
As internet subscription services begin to outnumber websites featuring quizzes about things like ‘Which Caroline in the City character are you?” I find myself wondering which of them are actually worth my monthly fee and which have a press release that just fit nicely into a click-through blurb?
I decided to test a few of them out to get a feel for how they actually benefit a user, and how much they live up to their promising allure.
The average person’s experience with Urban Outfitters is mainly, “This place is okay, but too expensive.” It’s a store that has some cute stuff, but also way too many overalls. Who the hell is wearing overalls these days? I’m no slave to fashion, but I do like to buy decent looking clothes now and then.
I’ll admit that Urban Outfitters has some good clothes, but the real problem are the prices. Shirts that go for $40-$70? Dresses for $70-$100? Who has that kind of dough? Well a lot of people I’m sure, but not me.
My experience with Urban Outfitters has been to zip right through the regular priced stuff, and go straight to the sad little corner with the word “SALE” hung over it. That tiny section of clothing is much more in my price range, and often, has at least one thing that would fit me. Or, at least one thing I could squeeze well enough into where I would convince myself that it fit me. I long accepted that this was to be my fate with Urban Outfitters, forever.
You’re a man, busy doing things like biting the caps off of beer bottles and serenading ladies on the street with the ancient Hymn of the Cat Call. With a hectic schedule like that, how can you possibly be bothered with shopping for essential man-stuff? Okay but what if your mom is busy? Right, exactly. That is the premise of Men’s online subscription services. Dedicated to finding the easiest way for you to man it up, they take any and all pesky work on your part out of the equation. So what kinds of things are readily available from your fingertips to your doorstep?
Razors – The internet is VERY concerned with making sure men are shaving. If you haven’t already created an artisan straight razor out of a vintage bike tire and are still going the cartridge route, there options for you. Number one, because it is the easiest to remember, is Dollar Shave Club, which offers three choices of blades in $1, $3 and $9 a month options. Once a month, DSC sends you the razors, and has upgrade options to include a shaving butter, which makes sense for synergy, and pre-moistened peppermint scented toilet paper called One Wipe Charlies, which makes no sense and sort of freaks me out when I think about the men who need that on a monthly subscription.
Knock-off brands always make me laugh. I’m not sure why they’re so amusing. I guess it’s because knock-off brands have that desperate quality about them. Was it Judy Garland or Jeff Bezos who has that oft repeated quote: “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else”? Knock-off brands strive only to be a second-rate version and that disparity between what they want to be and what they actually are is always good for a few chuckles.
Knock-off brands typically present themselves as less-expensive alternatives to the brand you actually want. These are great options when you’re shopping on a budget. For example, Mountain Lightning from Wal-Mart is half the price of Mountain Dew. If you’re going to be buying gross green soda, why pay full price just for the brand name? Although for the dollars you save, you end up paying more when you factor in “explaining to visitors that Mountain Lightning is basically the same thing as Mountain Dew.” Still, these can be great alternatives and by the way, as far as weather events happening on mountains, lightning is way cooler than dew.
As a former connoisseur of return fraud, (emphasis on former, OK?) I am intimately aware of the return policies of many of the chain retailers cluttering America’s once-breathtaking landscape. Some, of course, are better than others. Pretty much all of them are better than Best Buy’s, which is god-awful. (That’s right, Best Buy! I’m callin’ you out!) The ones in this article, as I’m sure you’ve already gathered by the title, rank among the best. It’s hard to find satisfaction in this world, especially when it comes to interacting with big box retailers, but these faceless corporations are A-ok in my book.
As a peddler of wares for the upper class, it stands to reason that Nordstrom should have the Rolls-Royce of return policies. And boy, do they. Their official policy is, well, that there isn’t one. Which means you can return items years after you’ve bought them—hell, even after you’ve worn them. Which, naturally, makes Nordstrom a hotbed for fraudulent activity. A friend of mine’s mother, who used to work there, has horror stories about gritting her teeth and taking back used underwear. (The customer’s always right, after all!) If anything you buy at Nordie’s “malfunctions” (up to and including flip flops that fell apart after a summer or eight), you can bring it back for a refund. You don’t even need a receipt, just the tag from the item you purchased. Now, before you go hog-wild and return every single thing you’ve ever bought at Nordstrom, know this—returns negatively affect the commissions of the employees who accept ‘em. So have a heart. Please?
Retail therapy is a real thing as proven by science. In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan it was found that shopping is more than brief escapism. It does genuinely make you a happier person. They write in their findings, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, “Our experiments provided support for the notion that making shopping choices helps to restore a sense of personal control over one’s environment, and thus helps to alleviate sadness.”
I used to be the type that would spend big bucks on a new clothes and gadgets whenever I got bad news, or felt a little bit off on a certain day. However, after depleting the little money I had, I knew I would need to change my impulsive, frivolous lifestyle. The problem is, since I can’t afford real therapy, retail therapy is the only form of therapy I have. So instead of ditching it entirely, I decided to keep up with my frivolous lifestyle, but on a smaller scale. Instead of buying a new dress for $60, I now go to my local CVS and buy the most expensive dish soap in stock.
It was immediately clear that Beverly was not expecting a voice as deep as mine to respond from behind the fitting room curtain as she pleasantly strolled by and asked in her delightful British accent, “Are you ladies doing okay in there?” Her fellow employee had been the one to set me up to try on my finds and so her startled “Excuse me?” was less out of judgement and more out of the simple complete lack of having expected it. Hearing this in her voice, I muttered “no worries, I’m just transgender, it’s confusing,” to the giggles of my friend in the neighboring booth and went on trying on the awesome peacock skirt that I ended up buying.
It wasn’t always so easy. At 32, completely out and living openly as a transgender person, my experiences with shopping are vastly different from that of a mid-teen me, who would’ve been far too terrified at the idea of anyone jumping from shock at my voice to ever reply in the first place. Even the idea of walking into a store, being seen as a teenage boy perusing the women’s clothing, taking something I liked and actually asking to try it on seemed so daunting, so unachievable a task that you may as well have asked me to go ahead and master calculus and whip up a cure for cancer using household goods while I was at it.