My bra collection was in sorry, sorry shape. Underwires poking out, grubby lace abound. The left shoulder strap of my favorite smoke-colored satin demi was stitched on by hand. All these shoddy underthings created stress each time I got dressed, not to mention undressed on certain Saturday nights when wearing my jury-rigged bra and not much else.
For better or worse, shopping is one of my least favorite activities. I can’t stand to maneuver through crowds of people. I feel overwhelmed by the unending choices. Pushy sales people get on my nerves. The worst part is that I’m not a very efficient shopper – a fact that I’ve been trying to change. My usual M.O. is to walk into a shop, head straight for the sales rack, and peruse until I find something cute and roughly in my size. Nevermind if I need the item. Who cares if I will actually wear it? Then, as just happened last night, I find myself rummaging through my closet in desperate search for something to wear to dinner and come across a bargain-find off-the-shoulder black summer sweater. Still affixed with the pricetags suggesting what a great deal I’d found.
Except, of course, I bought that sweater six months ago, and forgot I had it at all. No value in that!
Needless to say, I was not motivated to buy new lingerie.
Then, one rainy day on my way to the subway after a meeting, I happened to pass the giant two-story Victoria’s Secret store on Lexington Avenue in New York City. I’m pretty sure I heard the choral call of angle-winged VS models and felt heavenly pastel-pink rays shining upon me standing on dreary city sidewalk. I darted it, raced up to a sales assistant and told her of my sad plight. “I need help!” I pleaded.
The store has a very efficient customer service program, in which an expert sales associate armed with every style and size available is at your beck and call in the dressing room. Mine stood aside me – as I wore nothing but panties and one fabulous bra after another – to help me remedy my tragic lingerie situation. Each lacey garment was intoxicatingly prettier than the next. We also got practical: I needed bras for different functions (adjustable straps, everyday comfort, “romantic” in the associate’s parlance). After trying on more than a dozen bras, I selected four in various colors and sizes, along with a selection of coordinating panties.
After an hour and $350, my lingerie pickle had been remedied. But the pricetag was more than just new underwear. I went home, swooped my ratty old bras into the trashcan and giddily lined up my new frilly things in tidy rows. The purchase is an investment: an investment in replacing the negative energy spent contending with old and ugly items with things that make me feel beautiful and give me pleasure. I spend less bad mojo agonizing over which bra will work with my outfit each morning. And I know the money spent on these lovely things will be put to good use each and every day, giving me an excellent cost-per-wear ratio – unlike that summer sweater that may not be uncovered again until August.
A version of this essay originally appeared on DailyWorth.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.
The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.
Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.
Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.