Happy Barneys Warehouse Sale!
Can you hear the frenzy beginning?
Which is not to say that it takes a certain amount of fortitude to stomach the crowds, all elbowing, shoving and bumping their way to get to that silver beaded Balenciaga wedge in size 37.5 before you do. For a woman of my stature (a stately 5'7"), I have unusually small feet, proportion-wise. I used to wear a size 6 1/2 -- 7 but gravity has pushed me into a 7 1/2 and an occasional 8, depending on how the shoe is cut. I say my legs look like funnels, and it's no wonder I've sprained my ankles countless times, carrying around this big tall body on these itsy bitsy feet. (Put them in high heels and there's even less on the ground-- "Timber!")
My feet, actual size.
Now, for you novices, let me explain the layout of the Barneys Warehouse Sale. The shoes are the first stop, crammed into tall metal bookcases by size. So my diminutive feet mean I'm in the same aisle as doll-size Asian women and Upper East Side private school girls. In a sense, this means I have a clear shot at the top shelves, however these are the domain of boots and for some reason, boot designers assume that if you have a tiny size 7 foot you must then have the matching slim calf. After spending my formative years riding horses, taking ballet classes and spending more time trying out for cheerleading than I ever did on the squad, I have a solid, muscular calf that puts one in mind of leaping tall buildings in a single bound. So unless they're as stretchy as a month-old pair of Spanx, tall boots are not my thing.
Okay, now imagine that these racks are three feet apart and fill those aisles with at least 100 well-clad but ruthless women, at least 60% who don't speak English and thus don't understand "excuse me" and for fun, toss in about four rambunctious toddlers crawling between your legs and playing hide and seek on the lower shelf. Fun!
Which leaves me battling the ruthless munchkins for the few shoes that won't make me look like a hooker on stilts. Got the picture? Good! So once you've snagged a shoe or two, you step over to the side where a Barneys employee will go deep into the bowels of the backroom and try to find the mate to your shoe. Now, maybe this is true in love as it is in discount shoe shopping, but it seems like the longer you have to wait for your mate, the greater your desire for it. Even if you were on the fence before about the teal leather ankle strap with the wonky buckle. And inevitably, as with life and love, that mate cannot be found. At this point, your craving for the shoe implodes and you go off scouring the rack for another size, convincing yourself that the size 10 is just a wee bit big but you can live with it.
No time to deliberate on your shoe-buying decision while you meander through the rest of the sale, as your shoes must now be trussed up in their boxes like your granny's Thanksgiving turkey. Thus armed, and knowing you have popped your Warehouse Sale cherry, you can now proceed to the clothing...
Truly this is a case of separating the wheat from the chaff.
Like a high school reunion, some items are vaguely familiar, old acquaintances that you've bumped into on these racks in seasons past. Some are like poor one-eyed dogs at the pound, you just sense they want to find a home but the odds are not in their favor. There are concoctions of sequins and chiffon, dangling precauriously off their plastic hangers. I'm sorry, but it absolutely KILLS me to see women carelessly tossing extremely expensive clothing over rails and on the floor. There's enough metallic for Ziggy Stardust and Liberace. Oddly cut dresses by Belgian designers that are puzzles in themselves - "is this a sleeve or a neckhole and if it is the sleeve, where's the other one?" But in between the smudged white blouses and faux leather jeggings, you'll find a jem—a Lanvin dress, a YSL winter coat, a Dries jacket—and your heart soars. You hold your breath, flip the price tag over and chortle in delight! What was once $2,000 is now $250. And while you may think twice about spending that much on a brand new, bandbox fresh cashmere sweater at Bendels, it feels like you've just scored the greatest bargain since Manhattan was purchased for a handful of trinkets.
And that's why you have to be there the very first day of the Barneys Warehouse Sale. Oh, you'll be back, and you'll probably find even more treasures as the sale progresses (and the prices go down and they put out new merchandise and the crowds recede) but there's just something about being there on opening night...