going sale-ing

Our Sample-Sale Anxieties Are Totally Absurd

Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Shopping at a great sample sale can be an exhilarating experience, similar, we imagine, to how a lion must feel after tracking and slaying a particularly elusive gazelle. Call it sad, but wrestling your way through crowded racks to purchase a pair of beautiful, perfectly fitting $1,400 shoes for a mere $150 is about as close as you get to hunting and gathering these days. But while deep discounts can be rewarding, they do come with their own set of risks. Don’t worry, this is not another boring story about how to properly conduct yourself in a room full of frenzied, half-naked shoppers diving into bins of clothing —  the truth is, there are no rules at sample sales. But just because we are ruthless, shameless shoppers doesn’t mean we don’t get performance anxiety. We have thus polled The Cut staffers to compile all the petty fears that terrorize us in the heat of the moment (feel free to chime in with your own, of course). Take solace and soldier on, folks: You are not alone in your inquietude.

These fears, while very real, should not cause hesitation: Remember, sample sales are not for the meek or indecisive.

• What if I take my shoes off and the insoles are gross?
• What if my feet smell bad and/or are swollen and weird-looking because I’ve been standing in line for so long?
• Am I wearing nice enough underwear?
• Is my underwear sheer, lacy, or otherwise overly revealing?
• Is my underwear too sexy and thus drawing judge-y looks from my fellow shoppers?
• Is it acceptable to take off my bra in the group dressing room?
• Did I remember to shave my armpits?
• How will I hide my purchases when I get back to the office so that my co-workers won’t judge me and my boss won’t wonder if he pays me too much?
• Does this shirt have bedbug eggs in it?
• What if I run into someone I know in the dressing room while I’m practically naked? Do I still have to give her a hug?
• What if there’s no dressing room and I am forced into an undignified attempt to shimmy into a strapless dress over my pants and T-shirt?
• What if I run into a co-worker and one of us is buying a ton of stuff but the other is only buying one thing and we are forced to confront our vastly different pay scales in a manner that makes both of us uncomfortable?
• What if I get inside and find out that it’s cash only?
• It’s raining and someone will TOTALLY steal my umbrella.
• Wait — did that girl just point her cellphone in my direction? I am in my underwear. Please tell me she didn’t take a cell phone picture.
• What if someone steals my purse from the bag check?
• What if the bag-check person accidentally gives my bag to someone else, who sees that I have yet to clean those old dry Skittles out of the bottom?
• What if I set my wallet down while trying on a sweater and it disappears? Will the bigger dilemma be acquiring a new driver’s license or dealing with the feeling of loss when I am unable to purchase all these wonderful cheap clothes?

Our Sample-Sale Anxieties Are Totally Absurd