It all started when I was having dinner with V and he commented on the style/age of the shirt I was wearing. I took his comment to heart and decided I needed new clothes, which I’m sure was not his intended outcome.

My policy with shopping is that I prefer to buy things on sale, especially because the things I like are on the expensive side, if not exactly high fashion, and I believe just a little shaving off their price tag would suit me. V contends that the entire concept of Sale is an opiate of the masses because there is always a sale, but when people see a Sale sign, they feel a pavlovian desire to buy something. I’ll admit that it does seem that there are sales quite often – enabling me to adopt my sale only policy – and I’m confused about the schedule.

This has something to do with the fact that I’m confused about seasons, seeing as I grew up in Mumbai which has only one-and-a-half season though we sometimes convince ourselves it has three. Hong Kong purports to have four seasons, though I feel spring is a grey area. So there are the end-of-season sales. And there are also mid-season sales. And there are also sales for certain festivals. It does sound like there are sales all the time, but there really are gaps where everything is full price. Like unfortunately right now. Ugh.

Fortunately, I had discovered this in-town outlet mall in Tsim Sha Tsui. The more well-known outlet mall is in Tung Chung which is way across town, so this one was a pleasant surprise. The main outlet there is Esprit, and I particularly wanted to go there to buy shirts since I got some really nice ones last time. A number of Asian brands – G2000, Wanko, Mademoiselle – have outlets there too. The ridiculous thing about this mall is that shops start closing around 8.30 pm and all shutters are down by 9 pm, which is really odd for someplace in the tourist/shopping district. Given that I can only get there at 7.30 pm, it’s a big rush.

So I ended up picking up two dresses in G2000, one of which I had had my eye on for a long time, and decided to save my bucks for Esprit, except I didn’t find the shirts I wanted and going through everything took ages. In the end, I came away with two trousers and a couple of sleeveless tops. The sleeveless I really should go back and get more of. (V says we shouldn’t buy anything from them because their stock price is tanking, but I feel that at least my shopping is keeping the company afloat and some value in the stock I own, except maybe then I shouldn’t go to the outlet. Hmmm. You’d think they’d give shareholders a discount though.)

Then a couple of days later, I realised that there was a G2000 very near work, and I went and got the other two dresses I had wanted. Dresses are not really most practical thing, because people remember them, so you can’t wear them as often as you might a shirt and also they’re not always machine washable. But they were too pretty to resist, although V while appreciating one of them said it made me look like a bar code. Hmph.

The dresses made me realise that I need new shoes though. Now the price of shoes in Hong Kong has become ridiculous. I know this because the stylish girls in my office are looking online, and Hong Kong girls never stint on their clothes normally. The main clientele of the shoe shops in Hong Kong are tourists from the Mainland whose earnings in a communist state enable them to afford the crazy prices. When I came to Hong Kong the average price of a decent shoe from a local brand like Le Saunda or Joy and Peace was HK$600 and you could get them for HK$200-300 on sale. Now, ha!

I could have ignored my need for shoes if the heel of my trusty black pair (from Catwalk in India) hadn’t snapped in two in office. I had checked out Zalora and the shoes looked nice, at awesome prices, although brands I had never heard of. However, after a very discouraging run of the shops in Causeway Bay, I had no option unless I wanted to bankrupt myself restocking my shoe closet, plus a couple of colleagues had tried Zalora and were happy with their purchases. After much thought, I selected two and was super pleased when they were delivered a couple of days later. Alas, they didn’t fit. However, their return policy is fairly easy. You just take it down to a drop-off centre within 15 days, and they refund you on your credit card (I am assuming I will be refunded). Unfortunately, they don’t exchange. You have to return the shoes, and then try to buy them again in the correct size, with the added disadvantage that they might not be the same price anymore (because they have some discounts going which change apparently).

So I decided to give the shoe shops one more run. I went down to Telford Plaza and walked through, which only confirmed my experience in Causeway Bay. But then I strolled into Zara and realised that the cheapest options are to be found there. In the past, I’ve never really considered buying shoes in Zara or Marks and Spencer because my view is that shoes are not really their thing, and the Zara shoes always looked pretty but unstable while the Marks and Spencer shoes looked too stable bordering on frumpy.

In fact, I’ve had a bad experience with the one Zara pair I own. Well, in my desperation, I have kept it in office where the hope is that I can train the shoes through limited walking in them. But frankly, they’re a lost cause – too narrow in the front, and oddly heavy heels that make walking feel clumpy.

You’d think I would have known better, but the shoes I tried on in Zara seemed so comfy and I ended buying them at the non-sale price of HK$400, comforted by the assurance that I could return them if need be. Then I nipped over the Marks and Spencer where they have a “half-price on second item” promotion going and toyed with the idea of picking up two pairs for HK$650.

Then I remembered Rabbit. This is a Hong Kong designed brand where the shoes are really dirt cheap, despite being leather and very stylish. The only catch – and yes, there’s always one – is that the quality can be iffy. The sole of the first pair of flats came unstuck, but ironically the pair of heels and wedges were sturdier. So I ended up buying a pair of nude-peep toes from there.

In the middle of all this, V who is in Malaysia, called. I had packed him off (okay, his work packed him off) with the strictest instructions to visit a Vincci store and buy me shoes. I even went to the website and sent him photos of the coveted ones. He grumbled, but turns out he hauled ass. He sternly instructed me to not buy any shoes as he had just purchased four pairs for me. Still, I felt a pair of black heels was urgently needed, and put the Zara ones on my card. I only hope the four pairs he bought fit. The stress!

The next day I brought the new Zara shoes to office in a bag and decided to try them out on the carpeted floor, so I could return them if they proved uncomfortable. Now I’m conflicted. The front of my feet is very slightly squished. Apart from that, they’re very comfy. But I don’t know if I want to settle for slight discomfort. So back in the bag they’ve gone.

And I’m back to surfing zalora. If I find my dream shoe there and return the Zara pair, I’ll have saved a tidy sum. However, now it turns out the ones I want, everyone else wants to and they are unavailable in my size. Ouff. The saga continues.

PS: For those nonplussed as to why I felt the need to record all this, I think I have bored Curly to tears with my description of my exploits as well as reverted to a shoe analogy to sort out MinCat’s love life travails so I felt it was time.