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Blog: The Pile High Club--how NOT to become a member
Whoda thunk it'd be hard to spend $5,000 at SAKS???

If you read the Your Home Editor Facebook page then you know that last month my husband won a $5,000 shopping spree at Saks Fifth Avenue at a fundraiser we attended.  Yesterday we spent said $5K and shockingly, it was NOT easy.  

First, there were rules:
1)    We could only buy full-price items (no sale items).  This was very hard for us, as we are hard core "Clarence and Sally" people (a.k.a. Clearance and Sale).
2)    We had to spend exactly $5,000.  We couldn't buy something that went $75 over the limit and pay the difference.  It had to be exact.
3)    We had to spend it all in one day.  We couldn't spend $1,500 today, another $700 next week, $800 later, etc.  All. In. One. Day.

Second, we went there with our two young children, with only the intention of "browsing" first to get a lay of the Saks land, but ended up deciding to spend our money that day… with kids in tow.  In retrospect, a foolish choice.

Five hours later (!!), we walked out with $4,998 in merchandise, weathered, weary, bewildered, and a little shell shocked.  My dear, precious husband kindly shared his winnings with me so each of us got quite a good bit of booty.  If you're wondering what all this has to do with organizing, it's that the session taught me a few things about properly stocking your closet, and I thought I'd share with you.

Choose classics over trends.
Though tempted to buy the long, flowy, bright-patterned summer dresses I see on all the movie stars right now, I shied away from trends.  I believe you don't need a lot of clothing in your closet, if what you have stands the test of time.  I chose things that would not likely ever got out of style, like a Diane Von Furstenberg frock that I can easily wear to a cocktail party next week, or to my grandson's graduation. My grandmother taught me this.  She didn't have a huge wardrobe, but the things she did have were classic and looked as good on her when she was 50 as they did when she was 75.  Think crisp, perfectly tailored white shirt, pencil skirt, fabulous Ferragamos and a Valentino scarf. Timeless.  

Go for quality over quantity.
I have several jackets in my wardrobe ranging in price from $50 - $100, all of which I like, but none of which I love.  At Saks I bought one seriously classy jacket by Nanette Lepore ($425) that will become my signature jacket.  I will wear it more than all my other jackets combined, and I will get compliments on it everywhere I go.  I can dress it up with a skirt or dress it down with jeans.  I will wear it for every TV and newspaper interview I do, and every speaking engagement.  I will wear it when I'm on The Today Show sharing quips with Meredith and Matt ten years from now.  People will know me in this jacket and it will be worth every penny.  

Tomorrow I am going to purge several of my other jackets and exchange some of the quantity in my closet, for quality. I am also going to keep this in mind for future purchases.  Better to save up for a couple months for one really good piece of clothing, pair of shoes, or handbag, than to have a mountain of mediocre taking up space.

Rethink your wardrobe expenses.
I had a client tell me once that she looks at prices on clothing as a rental fee, not a price tag.  So, if she buys a $300 dress and wears it 5 times, it only cost her $60 per time.  This, to me, makes good sense.  Mainly because when it's time to purge it, you don't come up with the excuse of "I can't get rid of that, it was $300!" (even though you never wear it anymore, or perhaps haven't fit into it for several years).  Instead you can say, "I got a lot of mileage and my money's worth out of that $60 dress, and I can let it go with no remorse."  

I will do this with the $300 pair of Chanel "Jackie-O" sunglasses I bought.  I can justify that price for sunglasses because I live in Florida (the Sunshine State, in case you didn't know) and I literally wear sunglass 365 days a year every time I'm in the car or outside. Assume I keep these classically styled glasses for several years, and divide that up by $300.  That's less than a penny a day! Now they seem like a bargain and I won't feel bad about letting them go when their time is up.

It's only fabric, buttons, and zippers.
As we carefully put our items into our closet, a sudden fear ripped through me.  What if we got robbed tomorrow?  What if our house burned down next week before I got a chance to wear my new duds?  What if my 3-year-old got her markers and scissors and decided to "pretty up" mommy's new threads?  Then I took a deep breath and reminded myself, as I remind all my clients when I'm convincing them to purge their closets: it's only fabric, buttons, and zippers.  That's all.  It doesn't matter what it cost when you bought it (or even if it was free and you could never afford anything like it again).  At the end of the day, it's just clothing. 

I will always have the memory of my husband's face as they announced his name as the winner of that prize.  I will always have the feeling of love and gratitude for my husband as he spoiled me by sharing his riches, and I will always have the experience of the day he and I spent 5 hours and 5 thousand dollars at Saks Fifth Avenue.  To me, all that is worth infinitely more than the fabric, buttons and zippers, and it can never be taken away.

SIDE NOTE: Those of you who are avid readers know I am currently on a 90-day spend freeze.  I would like to note that even though I shopped yesterday, I did not spend one penny, thus I am still in compliance with the freeze (though it still feels like I cheated!)

posted on: 5/18/2009 10:30:00 AM by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

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The Pile High Club--how NOT to become a member

by Heather Lambie

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About Heather:

My Husband - "Honey, how thin can you spread yourself before you're no longer there?" Me - "I don't know. But I'm in it to win it, so we may have to find out."

Heather's Website:


Favorite Websites

  • The Sartorialist
    This site appeases my hunger for all things New York, reminds me of my time there, and gives me great ideas for unconventional looks.
  • Toffee To Go
    They are located in Tampa, very near me, but they deliver/ship nationally. They have THE BEST toffee EVER. It's buttery, salty, sweet--all my favorite things in one bite.
  • The Container Store
    I know this is a no-brainer for an organizer...but this place really turns me on!
  • The Poetry Foundation
  • Because I Said So (blog)
    As a mom myself, this mom of 6 (!!!) has me in stitches.
  • Michael Buble
    If I wasn't happily married, I might be stalking him. Bar none, the best voice and best sense of humor!

Quotes That Move Me

  • General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
    "The truth of the matter is, you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."
  • Ivern Ball
    "Most of us ask for advice when we know the answer but we want a different one."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    "The secret of education is respecting the pupil."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    "Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."
  • Abigail Van Buren
    "The best index to a person's character is how he treats another person who can't do him good, and how he treats people who can't fight back."
  • Dorothy Galyean
    "Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
  • Aristotle
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
  • Mark Twain
    "To be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth. As long as one sorely needs a certain additional amount, that man isn't rich."
  • Jackie Kennedy
    "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much."

Places I'm Dying to Visit

  • Hawaii
    Any how, any way, any time.
  • Los Cabos, Mexico
  • China
  • Japan
  • Alaska (via cruise ship)
  • Marbella, Spain

Places I've Already Been

  • Australia (Sydney)
  • New Zealand
  • Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora
  • London
  • Paris
    Spent only one day here (took the Chunnel from London when I was there) but it was one amazing, beautiful day where I walked the flea markets, visited the Louvre, people-watched and used all 6 senses to experience it.
  • Trinidad & Tobago
    My husband is from here, so we go several times a year to visit family.
  • Italy (Milan, Vicenza)
  • Jamaica

Things I'd Like To Do Before I Die

  • Run a leg with the Olympic torch before the games begin
  • See the monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico
  • Ride a horse on the beach (in the water)
  • See a prize fight (boxing) in Las Vegas
  • Run the NYC Marathon
    I ran the Disney Marathon in 2000 (pre-kids). Would love to run another post-kids, to prove I can.
  • Have washboard abs.
  • Eliminate self doubt.
  • Own an apartment in Manhattan.
  • Watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve.
  • Take an RV trip down the coast of California.

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