Not just any clothes. Non-cheap clothes. Clothes with... brand names.
I've always enjoyed shopping, and particularly snaring a bargain. But over the past year, I've become more and more drawn to the nicer clothes, the better quality stuff. In the fashion world, they don't call them clothes. They call them "pieces".
Don't get me wrong, I still love a bargain. I can't afford most stuff at full price (even if it's "worth it"). But I've started taking true advantage of sales and discounts at places like Myer. 30% off, 40% off, 50% off, even 60% off. Buying clothes that will be practical and stylish for work or play, and not fall apart after a few wears.
Myer is like crack for that s**t.
Anyway, I recently met the lovely Nikki from Styling You, an incredibly popular fashion and beauty blog (for good reason). Nikki is a former journo turned personal stylist, and is a whiz at "creating a look". She mixes garments of varying origin to create sensational outfits that leaves my imagination in a curdled puddle on the floor.
(As a side note, Nikki gets to review beauty products. This means PEOPLE SEND HER BEAUTY PRODUCTS. Seriously, I know it's superficial, but I AM ENVIOUS. I know she's built up a reputation for good writing and balanced opinion, but hey, cosmetic companies, I'm just letting you know I'll sell my soul for a few fruity lip glosses and extra-thick mascara.)
It was through Nikki that I became aware that Coles (yes, the supermarket), now has a clothing line. They're not in every Coles, only the bigger ones with the room. But they're cheap. I checked it out online and there was nothing over $30.
So what did I do? I tossed aside my newfound fashion snobbishness, found the nearest Coles-With-Clothes to me (a good 15 minute drive away) and I WENT THERE TO LOOK.
Oh, it gets better.
It turns out the quality and styles of these cheap Coles garments was pretty darn good. I grabbed about 10 items, and went searching for a fitting room.
"No, we don't have one actually," said the perky brunette attendant when I queried the lack of any curtaining whatsoever. "But you can just try them on in front of the mirror if you like. Lots of ladies do, they're very clever getting them on over and under their actual clothes!"
Cut to me five minutes later, contorting my body behind the end of a clothes rack, in a fit of semi-hysterical laughter as I faced the confronting choice: Whom would I prefer to flash - the check-out chicks, or customers picking up some Birds Eye fillets in the frozen fish aisle?
As I struggled with some pants - and the sad reality that my life is now 'Allo 'Allo like in its level of farce - I began pondering whether expensive clothes are all they're cracked up to be. Sure, I know they're better quality - but do others?
Can you tell the difference between a brand name, and a cheapie?
Let's run a cobbled together pseudo-test.
Below are four photographs of me, in four dresses that I own. They are Black, Pink, Green and Grey. I haven't dolled them up with any accessories, hair or make-up (that's my excuse anyway). They are as plain as a cracker biscuit.
Let's see if you can match them up with the following descriptions.
1. Cue dress, bought for $97 (reduced from $259).
2. Dress bought from a Bangkok market stall for $14 (haggled down from $16, because I am That Guy).
3. Review dress, bought for $109 (reduced from $279).
4. Coles "Mix" dress, bought for $25 (no discounts. I paid full retail price. Mercy).
Leave your guess in the comments below. And, if it's not already obvious from your name/photo, would you mind noting if you're male or female? Let's just see if the shopping socialisation of the modern woman actually stacks up; or perhaps the fellas might have a keener eye for fashion than we generally give them credit for!
I look forward to seeing your couture choices! Also, your friendly mocking of my poor model posing.