My Darling Cousin gave me a lululemon shirt a few years ago for Christmas. She gushed effusively about it's wonderfulness, so the following Christmas I set foot for the first time into a shop with the intention of buying her a gift. I took one look at the $58 price tag on a plain t-shirt and walked out. Lulu is just too rich for my blood. I was afraid if I tried anything on I'd fall in love with it and then I'd go broke. With Physique 57 and Bar Method, I really don't need another expensive obsession. And really, how good could lululemon be?? Is it really better than all the other purveyors of high-end fitness wear? You know, the ones that are also expensive, but at least run decent sales? It just seemed highly over-rated.
But lulu devotees swear by the lusciousness of their clothes. I've been promised they'll make my bottom look irresistibly cute. I've been told they will last for years and years. A dear friend was hit by a car last year while she was out running. A horrible accident that left her in the hospital and a rehab facility for weeks. Once we got over the 'oh my, thank God you're alive!' part of the story, she said, 'yeah, they had to cut off my running tights. I was pissed. They were lululemon!'
And yet still, even with that most remarkable testimonial, I resisted. The little gift card sat in my wallet for exactly 380 days. Today I finally decided to do something with it.
I walked into the shop and was immediately accosted by loud music. This gave me a sickening feeling of being far too old.... like this was the workout-wear equivalent of Abercrombie & Fitch and I should only be shopping here with a sullen teenager in tow. But the gift card kept whispering, 'spend me.' I reminded myself that there were plenty of women my age at the barre wearing lulu, and so, I persevered.
I wouldn't mind something that would make my bottom look irresistibly cute, so I headed over to the pants. There were nice, firm plastic mannequins wearing all the different styles, which were stacked according to size--lots of 2s, 4s and 6s, a few 8s and only a handful of 10s and 12s. (It seems, like Abercrombie, they don't want anyone bigger than that wearing their clothes.)
A friendly saleswoman helped me pick out a few styles suitable for my workout of choice, then led me to the very cramped fitting room. She introduced me to the girl working that part of the floor. "This is Stephanie. She does barre."
I tried on a few pairs, and meh.... for $128, these did not light me up. They were just regular workout pants. For that price, I need something to sing to me. So I dropped them off with fitting room girl and told her none of them worked for me. She said, "Is it the style? The fabric? The fit??" I replied, "Honestly, they're just really expensive and I didn't think they were anything special."
Well, she asked. (Actually, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago that said,
"Lulu also trains its workers to eavesdrop, placing the clothes-folding tables on the sales floor near the fitting rooms rather than in a back room so that workers can overhear complaints."So really, by being straight with her I was able to save her the subterfuge.
After the pants fail, I perused the workout tops, t-shirts and hoodies. I liked one of the hoodies, but not for $128. They like that number, 128. They also like the number 58, which was the price of the t-shirts and workout tanks.
Finally, I saw a scarf I liked. It's actually quite versatile! It has snaps and you can wear it a number of different ways, including all the way open, like a blanket. The other friendly saleswoman said, "A lot of people like this option. You can use it like a blanket on a plane!" Well, this was a nice selling feature, since jetBlue now charges you for blankets. So I settled on the scarf.
I still had $27 left on my gift card, so with a little kick in from my wallet (because nothing is only $27!) I bought over-the-knee grippy-soled socks. Apparently they'll keep me warm during savasana. And now I can look like Jane Fonda. See?
And with that, I departed lululemon. I like my scarf. And my legwarmers, but I won't be rushing back. In fact, if I never go back, that will be just fine. Don't get me wrong--I'm thankful for my gift card. I fully intend to enjoy my purchases.
But I stand by my original suspicion--to me, lululemon is highly over-rated. And for that I am glad. My wallet, and my children's college funds, are safe. At least, for now.