I was on a wonderful trip in London last week (husband had business and got me there with points).
The American Dollar is incredibly weak against the British pound. $1.67=£1.
While there, I was certain I could find some warm-weather clothes since the body types there are similar to mine (plush but posh I like to think) and it’s unseasonably warm (most places I have travelled, the shop ladies giggle when I ask for a 40 shoe. In Singapore, they must have said “you HAVE to see this! The giant is here!” In Paris, a woman said “max-ee-mum!” While I was looking for a red mini trench).
I stopped in @ TkMaxx (not a misspelling). I found 2 suitable tank shirts marked @ £9.99 and £34.99. $16 is okay, but $59.02 for a shirt? No. I liked them but did not LOVE them, so, back onto the racks they went. Sigh.
To add insult to injury, I went to Harrods. Because London and Trip Advisor. That OWL needs a good smacking…
I was feeling self-conscious there and left quickly though I DID try on a sheath dress by DKNY because it looked like what I had been looking for for an upcoming trip in the right material and right price range $160. If the saleslady had been REALLY good, she would have been smiling like and idiot and said “oh! That looks FABULOUS on you!” Instead, I read her lack of poker face and saw that she saw it make me look BIGGER. Gah! She then offered HORIZONTAL stripes. In bright colours.
I’m not sure how she got hired.
Then I began to wonder “who on EARTH really shops there?”
Blouses for $700? Really? Shoes for $900? Most of the people were in the lowest part of the store where it smelt strongly of unappetizing cheeses….
There’s no tax on clothing, but that doesn’t really help. Median incomes on some of the best jobs in London (project managers, software engineers, consultants) would gross ~$260,000 for a couple. Their taxes are 45%, so let’s whack it down to $140,000-there, the Queen likes that better… If we divide by 12 and use Dave Ramsey’s suggested budget,… $11,667/mo
$233.34/mo or £116 for clothes.
Let’s look on Harrods.com and see what our London couple could buy…
Hoorah! We can almost buy a single skirt!
I did some further research on Harrod’s (owned by the Qataris) to find out who they target in sales (ages 19-32 in one 2013 report). I don’t know about you, but during those ages, I had nothing as a student, grad student or new-hire.
I read a completely-clueless report from Emerson college in 2008, when Harrods was looking to open a store in Boston:”more affluent people live on the East Coast” and other uninformed opinions like “Americans are more willing to buy luxury (when they can’t afford it) because of 9/11 and ‘living for today’.”
Because we think we will die any day, we should shop at Harrods and fritter our hard-earned money and make no future for our older selves?
Many of us lost a lot in housing ($40,000 for me), our jobs, life-savings on paper for a while and confidence in the country even remaining Capitalist.
It turns out, in 2013, the bulk of sales came from the Chinese. They own most of our debt, remember? Growing economy, clothes are a status symbol. And, like Americans, The ladies are many shapes and sizes there.
In the past, I might have made some clothing excuses to buy something thinking “well, it’s from London!” And bought and kept it no matter what.
But that’s silly.
No one would know except me.
These days, one can buy Tshirts stamped with anywhere from Express or ebay. I could buy some tacky tee with “Taj Mahal” on it though I’ve never been.
I walked out of there feeling less-than and I realise now I should have felt more-than.
Though surrounded by shiny objects and Robert Plantesque salesladies in black with red lipstick, I stood in my truth.
If I wouldn’t buy it back home, I shouldn’t buy it here.
And who would give a hoot?