Tip Of The Day: No, not bra tops, BAR tops - shirts one wears to the bar. I needed a fabulous top to wear out when I get my groove on. And I'll tell you where I found one for less.
Tip For Tomorrow: Using your brain is FREE. Finally, a look at the cheapest form of entertainment – daydreaming. Plus, a few cheap restaurant recommendations to make you good and hungry. Then you can daydream about food, which is one of my favorite ways to pass the time.
Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: Back in my wild, misspent youth (aka, my twenties) I was known to hit the bars on occasion. Okay, that’s a bald-face understatement – in truth, I followed local band, G.B. Leighton, like they were The Dead or Phish. It wasn’t unusual for me to see them perform 2-3 times a week, so I needed many a cute top to wear to the bar.
That was my (and all my friends’) uniform back then, and today – jeans and a cute shirt. And shoes you could dance in. I had, at one time, about 10 bar shirts, mostly in black, in my arsenal. Key requirements? They had to be washable (to get out the smoke smell), they had to be maneuverable (so I could shake it without restrictions) and they had to make me look HOT. Or, AS HOT AS POSSIBLE. TO MAKE MEN DROOL.
Now that I’m in my staid thirties, and haven’t seen G.B. Leighton perform in about 8 years, I noticed something amiss in my closet. I have no cute tops to wear to the bar. What if I need to go to the bar? Preferably with a cute boy? I’d have to wear one of the bazillion white shirts I own, and that is NOT SEXY.
I understand that this isn’t the world’s biggest fashion emergency, but I did think it was one I could easily remedy. I was wrong. Cute-n-sexy tops for thirty-something women are few and far between.
I started with the usual suspects – Macy’s, The Limited and Express. I couldn’t find a thing at Macy's, even on clearance, for under $40. But for the rest of you, unbound by shopping restrictions, they are having killer winter clearance sales as we speak. Or type.
The Limited and Express also let me down. I got to tell you, I’m not in love with the current store configuration they are rockin’ right now. NOT user-friendly. And also, they had nothing under $20 I would wear.
Next, I moved on to the teeny-bopper stores, like Charlotte Russe. I feel like such an intruder when I shop there – like I’m a mom, busting up the kids’ slumber party. Plus, hello? Could you oh, I don’t know, ORGANIZE YOUR STORE??? I can never find a THING there. And yet, I keep trying.
Finally I admitted defeat. I’d have to pull out the big guns – the Mall of America. The insanely large mothership of shopping contains two stores I (in theory) love: H & M and Forever 21.
There are other TC locations of Forever 21, and my recommendation? Shop at one of them and avoid the MoA store. It’s crowded, badly organized, over-heated, and messy as all get-out. But, for the chain in general, it’s a great place to find knock-offs of the latest trends. I’ve gotten cute blazers for work, hoodies for play, and accessories I won’t cry over if I leave them in public restrooms. Buyer Beware: their quality is hit or miss, so check the item over thoroughly before you buy it.
Finally I wended my way to H & M, the store I hate to love. Why? Because I have to go up at least one size, if not two, to fit into their clothes. But, oh MY, the clothes they have. So trendy, so fun! So age-appropriate! And, so much on sale. They are clearancing out the winter gear to make way for spring.
On their $10 rack, I found a pewter, satiny halter top with a side zip, size eight. I said a quick prayer to the Cute Top Gods and skibbled off to the dressing room. Yes, I had to wait in line; H & M is always crowded. However, their merchandise is well-organized and their staff is useful. Plus, they don’t blare the music to ‘party in the club’ levels.
Not only did the top fit, it looked (and here’s the magic word again) CUTE. With jeans, black platform peep-toes, and big silver hoop earrings, I will be HOT. Or, AS HOT AS I CAN BE. All for the low price of $10 – no tax.