The Squid Ink

SisterBang had a confession she wanted to make but she was too ashamed to spill it. “Tell me,”I said in my best wheedling little sister voice. “I CAN’T,” she moaned. “It’s too hORRIBLE!”
Had she murdered someone? Worn white after Labor Day? WHAT? It took awhile, but she finally managed to tell me that she had spent fifty dollars on that little pot of lip balm you see here.


The photo happened after I took all the cash out of my wallet and threw it on the ungodly overpriced item. I shouted, “IT’S SO WORTH IT IT IS AMAZING IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER YOU WILL HAVE LOVE AND BEAUTY ‘TIL YOU DIE!” SisterBang and I laughed maniacally.

It happens.

Yea, it has happened to me, too. In my case, it was a bra that I tried on in a swanky little boutique owned by a woman who somehow managed to convince me that my bra was OVER-shaping my boobs and making them look too round and prominent so that all she saw was breasts coming at her when I walked in. On a normal day, that accusation would make me laugh and roll my eyes. On a confident day I would respond to that statement by saying, “Wow, you say that like it’s a bad thing!” But on this particular day, this talented saleswoman tapped into my insecurity (“I’m one big walking breast!”) and proffered me a less uplifting and rounding brassiere. I tried it on. It was pretty. I liked it fine. Then she squirted that special squid ink in my eye — the magical ink that good salespeople squirt that makes you feel like you’re way richer than you are — and told me at the cash register that the bra was $90. I stood there stupidly with the bra in my hand feeling dazed. Ninety dollars? Well, this is a fancy boutique and rich ladies get their lingerie here and I’m in here so I must be a rich lady so here’s my credit card la la la my brain just fell out I’m too shocked and embarrassed to say, “OH my God you must be on CRACK no way!” And that is how I came into possession of a $90 bra that fell apart way faster than any of my usual $36 bras.

Remember that it’s the sales staff’s job to sell you things. Be forewarned and forearmed. I know that many of you are relatively inexperienced at shopping for clothing, make-up or cosmetics so I will tell you: be prepared. Do your research on skincare and products so that you have an idea what you want (eg eyeliner and mascara) and what you don’t want (eyelid primer, fake lashes, smoky smudge liner and gel liner with angled brush). Be prepared to be shown and sold something that hadn’t occurred to you to try, but that you would like to. Budget for that kind of inspiration – it can bring you a boost and a new look. Impulse buys can be life-changing.

Know that the sales associate will rave about the effect of the product or garment. Try to walk the fine line between “She’s full of it” and “She may be seeing something I don’t see.” Know that the sales associate will steer you toward a product and say, “Oh my God, I’m OBSESSED with this. I use it every day and it totally [performed miracles for my skin/gave me a new lease on life/solved the problem of world hunger]. Wave off major enthusiasms. Squint at them and ask them if they work for the store or for a particular cosmetic line. If they work for a line, sail away and find a store employee to help you.

If it’s clothing you’re in the market for, try to find the knowledgeable and honest person on the floor who can help you find something that suits you and fits well, not who has the bubbly mojo of a tween at a Justin Bieber concert. The guy with the Mr. Carson Downton Abbey affect. Get him. “This suits you very nicely, sir. I should think it will serve you for many years in the pulpit. Shall I call in the tailor?”

Remember the squid ink. In my sister’s case, the saleslady was beautiful, glamorous and spoke with a French accent. That is a powerful combination. She wove SisterBang in a spell of alluring promises with her Gallic rolling r’s and as my poor sib was handing over her credit card, it was too late. She learned only then of the outrageous price but was frozen in the squid ink, which apparently can have paralyzing properties.

Not all lessons are as expensive as this one, but not all lessons are as valuable, either. When aiming for a more beautiful, groomed, stylish you, be open to enchantment but not stupidly naive. Everything’s a hustle.

$56 for this. F’reals. It must be made of essence of melted saint and baby innocence and roses that were personally grown by Aphrodite.

3 Replies to “The Squid Ink”

  1. I recently walked out of a speciality shoe store with $200 on my feet. I’m still sick that I did that, it was tennis shoes with insole inserts. I don’t mind the $60 on the inserts…well not too much…but I should have stopped there and checked online for better pricing of the shoes.

  2. I can’t find a bra for less than $75 and they always “last” 6 months. Can you recommend a brand especially for larger sizes? Thank you for your help.

  3. I believe that good quality clothing and goods made with good ingredients by fairly compensated people is going to cost more than $20. (In fact, if a blazer costs less than $200, you can be certain there’s something about its making that you don’t want to know.)
    That said, I recently got caught up in the whole women-exchanging-life-wisdom scene at a boutique and somehow ended up spending $90 for a t-shirt.
    I have rehashed the situation—tired, dehydrated, happy for connecting with other women, desperate for new office clothes—and I see how it all played out. Once she told me the shirt, which is just OK on me, cost $89, not the $44 I thought I saw on the tag, I should have said, “ah, you’ve done me a favor; I told myself no more jerseys over $60” and left with regretful smiles and assurances that I’d be back. That said, the scarves I felt pushed to buy at an Oakland boutique have gotten me so many compliments, that I’ll say the $44 and $84 each was worth it. They also cover up my worse-for-wear blouses.

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