The realest struggle

I don’t think there’s a realer struggle than the tall man’s struggle to buy clothes on a budget. Back when I was in college, I was a champ at this. I had stacks on stacks on stacks (stacks!) of shirts and jeans from all of the Lansing area’s finest chains, including the Gap, Express, Hollister and Old Navy. At one point, I owned at least 20 pairs of jeans and more than 100 (I counted) shirts.

A few years and several closet purges later, I have only a few shirts from my college days. (Don’t worry — I’ve bought new things since college over and over again.) And while my style hasn’t changed that much, my luck with shopping has changed drastically. I don’t know if it’s this economy or what, but getting that lucky find — the 99-cent shirt or the $3.99 jeans (which I’ve done several times before) — is no more.

I still refuse to pay full price for anything. But the days of waiting for final, final, everything-must-go clearance are over for me, and lately I find myself paying a little more than what I’d usually pay for clothes. In college, I had way more free time and way less financial responsibility to shop every weekend. These days, I don’t even make it to the mall once a month.

So today was going to be the day to restock and replenish. The last two pairs of Gap jeans I bought — $30 each, marked down from $80! — were ruined after a few washes. (This is the bigger struggle — finding jeans in your size at a fair price that won’t become unrecognizable.) My other jeans have overstayed their welcome in my closet, and I needed some more professional wear. And some of my most beloved shirts have started to rip. I needed a re-up.

If this were 2004, I would’ve had this problem solved in an hour and less than $100. Today, it took trips to four malls, at least 20 stores and about six hours to not only NOT take in a large haul, but spend way more than $100. What happened?

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