Urban Rainbows

I walked out of the office today and it was sprinkling rain, so I huddled under my hot pink umbrella. I walked to the corner of one of those parks that used to harbor crack fiends and heard a guy shout, “There’s two of them!” I followed his gaze up to the sky and expected to see fighter jets or something sinister like that. And instead I saw two huge colorful arcs, bowing over the park. It was fantastic! The arcs were off to the east as I walked north towards the yoga studio, and they followed me for several blocks. If my cell phone were any better, I would have been able to capture both arcs in their entirety. Alas.

Rainbow over I street

On Factory Outlet Stores.

I once read a study that found that, when it came to shopping, women and men stuck to the hunter-gatherer roles forged back when we were, well, not sitting in offices for our livelihoods. Therefore, the study found that women were “grazers” and tended not to go to a store with the intent to purchase a particular item, while men went shopping with a specific item in mind to purchase. Since I have no fashion sense, I tend to shop in bricks and mortar stores when I know what category of clothing I want. So that’s how I found myself out in an outlet mall yesterday, shopping specifically for this ruffle trench coat from bebe. Lest you think I actually am trendy, I had seen the coat in the fashion section in last Sunday’s paper.

I actually didn’t expect to find the coat, partially because it’s still offered at full price online. Also, more and more retailers are now selling “Factory Brand” or something similar rather than overstocks at their outlet stores. That is, there is a Banana Republic Factory Store (or something) brand of clothing, labeled as such. There’s also Ann Taylor Factory. This is a trend that I found disturbing years ago, but now I’m thinking it may not be that bad an idea, if only because not everyone has access to an outlet store, and nearly everyone has access to the interwebs, where retailers’ sales abound and the likelihood of arriving someplace wearing the same dress as someone else is increased. I’m not kidding. Last week I was in an Austin bar, and as I walked out of the bathroom stall, I saw a woman wearing the same J.Crew dress as me. I’d bought the dress at a deep final sale discount, but online. It wouldn’t surprise me if this other woman with stunning fashion sense did, too. I find this whole thing amusing because, in anticipation of the five weddings I’d be attending between March and July, I’d intentionally purchased two other dresses earlier this year at Bloomingdale’s so that I wouldn’t wind up wearing the same dress as someone else at the actual wedding. Anyway, to the extent that there are fewer outlet stores, and that right now, outlet brands aren’t sold online, it’s possible that buying factory outlet brands of your favorite retailer will diminish the likelihood of showing up at the same place dressed the same as someone else.

Oh, and the trench coat from bebe? Found that at a 65% discount from the price listed online. The thrill of the hunt!