Sunday, January 2, 2011

Moral Dilemma in Tweed

Anthropologie is still offering an extra 25% off their sale-priced items through tomorrow, so I thought I'd check out the racks, mostly to see what's been returned lately. Stores get loads of returns at this time of year, so you can sometimes find great deals on things that sold out earlier in the season.

I tried on this quirky, mixed-tweed number, called the Alma Mater blazer:

Admittedly, it's a highly unusual, "statement" piece. It would raise eyebrows in conservative circles, and it's the exact opposite of an interview blazer. But I'd seen it on a sales associate recently, and I was struck by how dashing and unique it looked, worn casually unbuttoned. It's been marked down for a long time, and now it was a mere $60. I could only find one, in size 0. I was surprised that it fit, sort of — if I wore it like the mannequin, without a shirt. A size 4 would have been ideal. The women working in the fitting room told me it was the last one left in the store when — fate! — another associate walked in casually carrying one among a pile of other clothes heading for the racks. It was a size 6. It was a little too large when I tried it on. I also noticed that it was massively pilled under the arms and along the sides, as though someone had already worn it for a long time. The sleeves had that rumpled, wrinkled look, too. I stuck my hands in the pockets — and pulled out $30 in crumpled bills.

Hmm. What to do? Jumping to conclusions, my first thought was that this blazer belonged to the sales associate I'd seen wearing it last week. But what could I do? Try to locate her — I remember that she was tiny and dark-haired; I might recognize her face if I saw her again — and then beat around the bush, while trying to find out if she was guilty of wardrobing? First off, if I managed to find her, she'd likely think I was a nut for remembering that she wore such a jacket. And she might be offended that I'd suspect her of such creepy behavior in her workplace. It would be one awkward conversation, and its weirdness might make it difficult for me to keep shopping comfortably in my favorite store. I didn't want to risk being labeled a wacko.

It then dawned on me that there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of these blazers out in the world since the summer, and anyone could have returned it. It's the season for returns, honest and otherwise. I should not be jumping to conclusions just because I saw one woman wearing one recently. Chances were excellent that the sales associate still had hers, which she'd have gotten at a huge discount. I hoped so; it looked nice on her. Come to think of it, hers was probably smaller than this size 6, which was big on me....

I couldn't buy the blazer. It wasn't the right size to be flattering. And I'm not sure I want my clothing to be so eccentric and outspoken these days. I've got those two qualities covered pretty thoroughly, whatever I wear. Plus all that pilling suggests that the fabrics weren't any good.

Now I had to think about how to deal correctly with the cash. I eventually decided that it was finder's keepers. My reasoning: if someone is sleazy enough to wear a blazer until the fabric pills and then return it, it's not my business to try to find her (how would I even begin?), and return cash she sloppily left in the pocket. Nor did I think that that cash belonged to whomever tried on the jacket next, even if they bought it, pills and all. The cash was not intrinsic to the garment, like a removable corsage or belt. It was more like anonymous cash found on the street. I have always taken great pains to return purses and wallets intact to their (usually grateful) owners. But if a small amount of plain old cash is lying around, I believe it's up for grabs.

So I pocketed the money, and thanked the Anthropologie Fairy for a New Year's bonus. She knows very well that I'll spend it right where I discovered it. What goes around comes around. Especially if it's somebody's crazy tweed blazer.


  1. There are a hundred reasons that jacket may have ended up where it did and most of them would be by accident and very few of them would be from someone acting sleazy. Bottom line was that money wasn't yours to keep. How do you know that was $30 someone needed for bus fare to get back and forth to work or school, money needed for baby food or to pay a sitter? You don't know and should have informed the store you found it in the jacket and then also reported the condition of the jacket as being worn before. Shame on you!

  2. You could have had the blazer altered to fit you for the $30 that you found. That is about what a seamstress would charge to cut a size 6 down to a size 4. :)


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