Coming to Re-terms with Returns

Coming to Re-terms with Returns

Beautiful shoes, back you go.

Thoughts on returns and an informal review of the Per mules by Intentionally Blank.

Do you ever get more joy from returning something than you ever did buying it? Sometimes buying something feels almost like a burden, and then there is so much relief when you send it back. 

I bought a number of things during all the sales last week and so far, as they trickle in to my mailbox, I'm finding that 90% is going back. 100% would probably have gone back if they weren't final sale, haha. I got the Nisolo James oxfords and had them on my feet less than one minute before I was like, nope, these are not my style, what on earth was I thinking. But they were pretty deeply discounted and final sale (please do as I say not as I do) so I'm doomed to resell instead of return.

I probably learned my return habit from my mom, who made it her guiding philosophy. Even at gift-giving occasions, before anything was unboxed, she'd preface it with, "You can return it if you don't like it, it won't hurt my feelings!" Trying things on at home, in your own closet, seeing how it looked with things you already have — she believed it was a necessity. 

With online shopping, which is basically the only shopping I do, returns are even more important. And I sympathize with retailers and especially independent designers who really, really, don't want to deal with returns, but c'mon. I can't predict how something is going to work in real life until I've tried it on. Oxfords that look so nice on a website, with a chorus of "Every girl needs a good pair of oxfords!" I am every girl! I should have a pair of oxfords! Except I shouldn't. They are so not my style.


See? Gorgeous, right? Per in Cloud by Intentionally Blank, worn with Rachel Comey Lure pants.

See? Gorgeous, right? Per in Cloud by Intentionally Blank, worn with Rachel Comey Lure pants.

Some things aren't as fraught as the oxfords. There's this pair of mules by Intentionally Blank that I fell head over *heels* for — ba dum tssss — and have coveted for months. They have a gorgeous cut and are exactly the perfect shade of soft beige. The color is called "cloud." Ahh. I tried the 9, which is what I think is my normal shoe size (but honestly I don't even know what shoe size I wear anymore) and my heel kept wanting to slide inward off the back of the shoe. I figured maybe the shoe was too small. By the time that pair was returned, the next size up was gone.

So enter the sale, during which I spotted that the 10 was available. I bought it. They come in the mail. Same thing. Same stupid heel sliding off the back of the shoe thing. And now I'm like, do I make it work? Do I take them to my cobbler (shout out to Vlad!) and have him add a strap to the back so it's not so precarious? And then my inner mom voice whispers "Retuuuuurn. Retuuurn them!"

Shoe Optimism. The belief that if only they stretch a little, if only we break them in, if only we throw a little more money at some shoes and bend them to our will, then it will be perfect! Don't get me wrong, I also learned from my mom the wonders of having shoes stretched and worked on. But there's a line to be drawn somewhere.

There's some calculus that must take into account the effort and money required to make something work. One variable is initial cost of the item — my mom was a deal queen and probably got something on super sale to begin with, and probably at Marshalls because that's how we grew up rolling. So low investment on the front end. Then there's the effort involved to make something work — could she do it herself or would she need to pay someone to help? Throw in how much she wanted whatever unique thing it was she was going for — she always had these very specific visions.

Heels keep wanting to slide off the shoe. Bad. Will not work. Send them back.

Heels keep wanting to slide off the shoe. Bad. Will not work. Send them back.

I watched my mom go through this process countless times. Often she'd end up ripping apart seams and remaking things to her liking and coming out with something incredible. But just as often, after a drawn out fashion show for her daughters, the thing would get returned, sent back, relegated to the wrong side of the return calculus.

So back to those mules. I think they're going back. I love the color and the cut but damn, they just don't fit. Send them back. Here's the thing though — I'll be disappointed that the thing I wanted to work didn't work, but I'll also be relieved. One less thing to burden me. I don't NEED the mules. I don't even WANT mules in general. What I want is an elegant but wearable leather heel in this exact shade of beige. These are the right color and they are elegant, but they are not wearable. 

The search continues. 


my Tip for coming to re-terms with returns

When you are done trying on whatever it is you aren't sure about, pack it nicely back in the package or box it came in while you think about it. This makes sending it back easier because it's already ready to send back! If you decide to keep it, then fine, whatever.