Like many runners, I don’t seem to have enough running clothes. They can be expensive. Who pays $44 for a pair of nylon running shorts, $112 for a jacket and $165 for shoes, not to mention the 34.95 compression socks, $36 sports bra, caps, water bottles, GPS watches, etc. So much for running being a cheap sport!
While I own about six pairs of running shorts, only one pair fits me decently and they are so old that the black is more of a charcoal gray. The other pairs ride up, fall down, bunch up between my thighs or ride up my butt making me constantly pull the leg bottoms down to prevent from flashing someone. Instead of running a four beat cadence I run a 60 steps, wiggle wide stance, followed by another 60 steps, tug left side of shorts down, pull waist band up, wiggle, shift, wiggle, tug.
I looked into compression shorts, but they were pricey and felt like wearing a girdle. I bought a cheap pair from China on eBay that rode up unevenly and disappeared underneath my shorts line.
A few years ago I found a good sale on three quarter length running tights at JC Penney, but there was only one pair left in my size and I hated having my butt exposed having seen more than my fair share of lumpy misshapen behinds and wondering if the women wearing tights ever bothered to look behind them in the mirror or were just clueless and didn’t care that it looked like they were hauling a cratered asteroid in a decaying orbit.
Who knows, maybe they just bought into the hype of the sales poster promising the tights would slim and firm their figures. Let’s forget about protecting from the cold wind, that would be superfluous.
In any event, it was getting cold outside and I needed to buy a few new pairs of tights that I could cover up under black shorts, and a pull over top that was loose around the bulging belly and long enough in back to cover up my own planetoid protuberance and thick enough not to see what shade of underwear I had on.
I looked around Savannah and tried a few well-known discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Bealls, Ross and Dress Barn, even Sam’s, but their 21.95 price was still a bit out of my price range, so why not drive 45 miles north to the Tanger outlet and see if I could find new running gear and new Jeans, which seemed to have also risen in price since I last purchased them some 10 or more years ago.
While it is cool to wear jeans with holes in the leg, wearing jeans with holes in the crotch hasn’t really caught on fashion wise and if you have ever tried to restitch jeans, you know this is a futile effort and may result in chafing or an unexpected splitting of the pants in public when you least expect it.
Everyone was willing to give advice on where to go. I tried Old Navy with their jeans lined neatly on the wall and no price listed. I finally found a sign that said ONLY 39.95!!! That’s like saying, 14.95 jeans priced to stay on the shelf at nearly three times what they are actually worth!!! Yeah, not really doing it for me.
I tried the Under Armour outlet even though I am not a fan of brand logos on my clothing and go more for the look, fit and feel of the fabric and whether or not it does what it was designed to do and makes me feel comfortable doing it. They took a new tactic… 30% off everything in the store!!! Oh yay, 200% overpriced merchandise at 30% off is still over 100% over what it is worth.
I had a AAA card. The AAA company said to go to the customer service desk and ask for a coupon book so I did. There were a lot of coupons My favorite was the one that said, Buy $250 worth of regular priced clothing and get 20% off! Really? Like, aren’t you supposed to be an “outlet” store? Isn’t everything in an outlet store supposed to be on sale to begin with and cheaper than what you would pay in a regular store before the percent off discount or am I just smoking medicinal pot and missing a few too many brain cells? Do you really think that pricing a hooded cotton sweatshirt at $49.95 is a bargain I would drive 45 miles to get when I can go to Walmart and get the same hoodie without the giant u u label for $9.95 apiece? Heck, I have an artist friend with a cricut that could replicate a more attractive logo and charge me less to do it.
Sure, the polyester sweat wicking zip up jacket was really nice with the miniature logo that made it look almost attractive, but $89.95? Really? How is that outlet pricing? I could feed a family of four conservatively for a month with that kind of dough or nicely for two weeks.
I checked the clearance rack. Ultra thin t-shirts, barely there tops, ratty looking cover-ups that looked like the dog chewed them and stretched them out and they were still priced at 19.95 and higher… come on folks, who do you think you are kidding here?
I consider myself a savvy shopper. I know a bargain when I see one and I know when someone is ripping me off and trying to use marketing psychology on me to make me think I am getting a good deal when I am not.
After about the fifth store I entered I was almost ready to hack my way through the kudzu at Moss Creek across the highway and go for a run in the woods and forget about shopping, when not one but two sales people literally ran after me as I tried to weave in and out of the clothing turnstiles to avoid them (can we say stalking?) so that they could tell me about their “bargains”… if you buy three you can get the fourth at 50% off…. Dude, I wouldn’t even buy the first one if it was 70% off because it is still too expensive. That is NOT a bargain, it is price gouging for people who obviously make about $30 more an hour than I do and don’t care what it costs as long as they think it will make them look as hot as that leggy blue eyed blond with the big horse teeth smile who’s wrapping herself around a lamp post like a pole dancer while slinging her $400 leather purse around like she’s about to turn into Wonder Woman on the next half spin.
I remember the days when outlets were real outlets. They sold slightly blemished clothing and goods with irregular stitching or things that were outdated like Ugg boots and skinny jeans… oops, my bad if you are wearing either right now.
I don’t ask for much. I even shopped for shorts thinking they would be on sale now that winter was here, but the only shorts they had were paper thin with hot pink stripes and yellow and purple with red trim. Yeah, for $6.97 a pair that was tempting, but only for a brief moment.
So, it was on to the thrift shops where I did find a decent pair of new shorts just in my size only when I got home it turned out they were my size in youth, not adult, even though they were in the adult section.
I did find a pair of leggings that looked enough like running tights to be safe with a pair of shorts on over them for only 7.99 at Ross, but I still want to wear what the cool kids wear: a sweat wicking zip up jacket with the little thumb holes that cover up your hands, but I only want to pay 14.95 for it (18.95 tops) Is that too much to ask? When they start to reach the $25 mark with tax, all I can think is that I am paying a quarter of $100 for them, so psychologically that is a huge turn off to my thrifty gene inherited from Scottish Presbyterian parents who made us wear shoes until the bottoms wore out (if the tops wore out we could simply duct tape them back on and spray paint them black so no one would notice.. no seriously, they weren’t that bad, but it was close).
Granted my work jacket which does not have thumb holes and cost nearly $50 is very comfy and works great for running, but I just can’t justify spending that much on something that will most likely be worn as a base layer as the weather gets colder.
For now I suppose I will dream, search eBay and Amazon for bargains and Thrift stores for gently used cast offs that do not look like something Steve Austin would have worn on the Six Million Dollar Man, though it would be nice to have a million dollars and not care what things cost and be able to try on overpriced outdoor clothing without feeling like a faker knowing there is no way you can afford to buy it.
You may laugh and think it impossible to find good prices on quality clothes, but you are talking to the woman who found a brand new wet suit on eBay for 24.95 with free shipping that sold regularly for $179 so don’t laugh and belittle. It took seven months to find it and arrived just eight days before I needed it, but it made it! Persistence pays folks.
On the positive side, the search for affordable running and outdoor clothing was not a total bust with gas prices thirty to forty cents cheaper per gallon in Hilton Head than back home in Savannah (another rip off we shall not go into at the moment).
And so, we go back to checking out the local stores at the end of the season, hoping to find a running jacket in the color and size we want at a price we can afford and avoiding Black Friday and the promise of more bargains which aren’t really.
It was bad enough to go into the grocery store after the clothes searching and have a woman dart in front of me to get in line first and then go to the ten items or less check out and see a woman with 12 items in her cart, plus about 20 individual cups of yogurt. I guess she figured since they were all the same item and small, that they only counted as one item. Yep, as I left my pickles and cranberries sitting in the cart and sighed on my way out the door in search of my local Kroger with the self check out line that actually works 90% of the time unlike the ones at Wally World, I contemplated taking a sewing class, but I know the limits of my own patience and the depth of my own wallet and miss the days when stores advertised bargains that actually WERE bargains and not just mind games to draw you in and rip you off and make you thankful for the experience.
If you know of any good bargains for work out clothes, please feel free to post links below in the comment section and if you are going out shopping for outdoor gear, do me a favor and do your research. Don’t pay a small fortune for a jacket that is worth less than half what you paid for it or you will only continue to encourage companies to price gouge knowing people will buy it if they think it will make them look like they know what they are doing while those of us in our K-mart sweats are serious losers who should stick to Zumba Gold and Richard Simmons videos in the living room where no one can see us and gasp at our cotton is rotten outfits while viewing themselves as far superior in their race back tank tops and compression shorts that stay put when they move and never need to be tugged back into position.
What is your top price you will pay for running and work out wear and are you willing to pay more for brand names? Let us know your own experiences and give our readers tips on where to shop without breaking the bank.