Wednesday, March 21, 2018

$40 Outfit Challenge: Chesapeake Square Mall

How far can one stretch two 20-spots to create a fresh fit that will impress at any price? My friend Brandon and I had often discussed shoe acquisitions from the likes of Ross Dress For Less and related outlet chains, so our meeting in the favorite department at Burlington last Friday afternoon (3/16/2018) was an inevitability. Sneaker heads and fashion plates I follow on YouTube had undertaken similar quests at various merchants with mixed results. Would we pass on preferred kicks and tees in order to maintain our budget? Feel free to comb the racks with us in search of sweet steals and delectable deals!

As you might've guessed, Brandon and I began the revery by examining the footwear on display. Burlington had treated me well in the past with scores such as Merrell hikers for $21.99 and Simple mid-tops marked down to $17.99. Combining a vintage look with modern technology, a black pair of Nike Air Maxes was easily the most comfortable shoe I tested all day. The gel sole would've provided much cushion during my frequent five-mile power walks, but the $59.99 tag made me stick a safety pin in that inflated balloon. Until the discovery of a missing yellow-tipped lace, I almost sank my teeth into the $19.99 Sperry Top Sider casuals with a Jaws theme. The Levi's blue denim chukka boots were an obvious complement with their namesake jeans and could've been an easy cop at $24.99. However, I decided to cross Finish Line for the green Etonic Trans Am Trainers that had been sitting on shelves for months. At $19.99, the reissued classics from my scholastic days were certainly a sensible option. When the FL rep returned with a box, she informed me that size 9.5 was the last pair in the store. Even with my thick socks, the TATs flopped like a feisty footballer in the Champions League. Disappointingly, I double-backed to Burlington and attempted to purchase the beige Robert Wayne deck shoes that I'd seen in clearance for $10.49. Low and behold, the sticker shocked me via an adjusted $18.99 cost. Had Kanye West worn 'em to Family Dollar on a diaper run or what? Finally, I chose the blue Polo Ralph Lauren Vaughns adorned with a green pony and handed over $18.01 to the cashier. Did I receive a discount for returning an employee card that'd been left in the restroom? DENIED!

Remaining inside Burlington, finding suitable pants quickly became a trouble source for Brandon and me. An overflow of distressed denim would've looked rather repulsive on a 46-year-old dude, and locating a traditional pair of Levi's in the perfect size proved to be an immense trial. As I lifted some light-blue Dockers khakis for $12.99, my fellow shopper thought they resembled the scrubs often worn by staffers at Sentara Obici Hospital. The black NBA draw shorts were a potential slam-dunk for $6.99, but the pairing with blue Polo kicks would've warranted a flagrant technical foul. Without taking 'em back to the fitting room, I grabbed some $9.99 Stanley five-pocket stretch jeans and opened my wallet once again. Too bad there wasn't a seamstress on-site, because the length extended at least an inch too much and the boot cut-like width prevented the legs from being tightly rolled. In any measure, we aimed for Target to gather the final links of the sartorial scramble.

Before striking the bullseye, I wanted to browse JCPenney's latest styles from their St. John's Bay label. My nephew had generously gifted me with fifteen or so unworn long- and short-sleeved collared shirts in 2016, so I could vouch for its quality. While several SJB items were clearance-badged, colorful selections from the Ralph Lauren-inspired USPA maker beamed on the hangers. The $9.99 yellow-and-blue polo would've splendidly meshed with the jeans, but I decided to leave that horse in JCP's stable. Since there were no more rolling pandas for rent at Zoo Riderz' vacated kiosk, Brandon and I trekked like turtles toward our intended Target. A dark, denim jacket-esque top from their own Goodfellow & Co. imprint seemed like a terrific layering piece for a graphic tee, thus I surrendered $9.52 to the checkout lady. Back at Burlington, a light-green Aeropostale shirt slashed to $5.99 was grudgingly thrown in the bag. Sure, I could've chosen a $1.99 black Washington Nationals top instead, but I desired to similarly shade the Polo pony on my shoes. Five hours and 50,000 steps later, our challenge was officially in the books.

That layering mistake cost me dearly, for the figure on a Texas Instruments adding machine tallied $44.47. "When it comes to fashion, less is more." Such was the comment from my friend Kimistry upon learning of our endeavor. The Aeropostale shirt will be returned on Thursday.

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