12 In Shopping Tips

All My Secrets, a parody on hiding your new purchases

styling new purchases

Shopped for items get ready to be styled


Okay, you’re going to get some silliness today. Ready to enjoy a parody of a daytime soap opera drama? You’re going to learn that this episode of All My Secrets will pick up from yesterday’s final scene where Melanie is feeling guilt about buying some new clothes for herself. She doesn’t want her husband to find out about her purchases. Her best friend Hope is about to offer up a plan for how Melanie can hide her shopping bags from her husband, Jeremy, who is president of the local bank. Before we get into my script for All My Secrets, let’s talk about real life and times when legitimate shopping purchases could actually fill several shopping bags.


Real life shopping scenarios

In real life a woman calls me and wants to hire me for my services which would include the style assessment, possibly some closet work and maybe some personal shopping. When I’m hired to come and understand why a wardrobe isn’t working and come up with strategies for fixing it, two things could happen.

  1. All the ingredients the new client needs to have several outfits that work head-to-toe, so she can be out the door in five minutes, already exist in her closet. She just needs help putting those looks together that match her style recipe. I can do that and document the outfits so she never says, “I have nothing to wear.” And we can do that with little or no shopping. She may tell me at the end of the closet visit, “Oh, my husband is going to love you!”  because it didn’t cost anything to get exactly what she needed other than my services. Or…
  2. She tells me before we even do the style interview that she has nothing in her closet. I tell her, “Most people say that but quite often they actually do have what they need. They just don’t know how to put it together and I can help with that.” But when she opens her closet door and I peer in and poke around the items hanging in her closet, I realize she was speaking the truth all along. She really doesn’t have anything in her closet and we need to shop ASAP.

When that happens, I am often putting a whole wardrobe together from scratch. This is what she’d already suspected so she’s prepared to spend the money. There will be several shopping bags in the trunk once we’ve shopped for clothes and shoes and handbags. The investment is a wise one. She will be filling her closet with things that will work perfectly. Then I’ll come back to her closet a week later to put the outfits together and document them on Wardrobe Charts. She’s thrilled.


Here’s where fantasy comes in…or does it?

Once in a while as I’m helping my new client load up the car with her new purchases, she may mutter something like, “I’d love to get these by my husband without him noticing. It could be a shock to him!” Certainly not everyone. It happens less and less. How couples manage their finances is not something I’m often privy to. And that’s fine.

Maybe you’ve encountered this what-to-do-with-shopping-bags-in-the-car dilemma to some degree in your own life. You live with someone but you don’t feel like sharing all the details of your life with that someone. And shopping is one of those details. Even when it’s smart, strategic shopping!

In my long career, I have heard a few tales. One day in my head, I saw some of the stories I’d been told showing up in a drama-filled soap opera where lots of unlikely things happen and there’s plenty of dramatic music in the background to sell us on these escapades.

So playing with this idea of what to do with those purchases will bring you right up to speed in today’s episode of All My Secrets!




All My Secrets

The setting of today’s opening scene: We’re in Melanie’s kitchen, lots of white and plenty of stainless steel. Melanie is fretting and Hope is sitting with her at the farmhouse style long wood table. Cups of coffee and a plate of bran muffins are the only objects on the table.

Melanie says, “Hope, I just know he’s going to find out.” She pulls mindlessly on her straight, brown hair.

Hope says, “Melanie, I’m sure you’re overreacting! Now calm down and talk to me. What does he know so far?”

Melanie says, “He knows I went shopping on Tuesday. He was standing here in the kitchen at 7 in the morning, eating a bagel and looking at his iPhone watch. A text came in. He had to leave but he asked me what I was doing today. I told him I needed to buy a wedding present.”

Hope says, “Who’s getting married? Wait, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that he believes you went shopping for a present. And you did.”

Melanie says, “He told me to make it expensive. He wants to impress his boss. It’s his third marriage; the nanny this time.”



Commercial break

Hope says, “Okay, okay. So you went out and followed his advise and bought an expensive wedding gift. What he doesn’t know is you bought three new pairs of pants, a suit, new underwear, three t-shirts and a nightgown. Did Jeremy see you bring the bags in?”

Melanie says, “No, he was still at work when I got home.”

Hope says, “Tell me you transferred the clothes into the shopping bags that had the word SALE plastered all over them, the ones I told you to keep hidden in your trunk to reuse at times like this. Just tell me you did that!”

Melanie says, “Yes I did except they didn’t all fit in those two SALE bags so I had to use that other trick you taught me. I went grocery shopping for a few little things and brought my own bags. When I got to the car I stuffed the t-shirts and underwear into the bottom of the bag and topped it off with lettuce, scallions, and Bosc pears.”





Commercial break

Hope says, “Good, good. So where are the bags now?”

Melanie says, “They’re in the garage behind the tent and fishing equipment. I put the produce in the fridge.”

Hope says, “Good good, Jeremy isn’t going fishing anytime soon, is he?”

Melanie says, “Jeremy hasn’t fished in years!”

Hope says, “Perfect. In two weeks you’ll pull out the pant suit and wear it. If he says, ‘Is that new?’, you’ll say ‘This old thing? I’ve had it for a long time’, and it’ll be true. You have. You’ve had it for a whole two weeks already! Then in a few more days when the coast is clear, bring in a few more items. Believe me, he’ll never know!”

Stay tuned tomorrow when Jeremy goes fishing with his female attorney up at Lake Placid, first sneaking into the garage for the fishing equipment while Melanie is at her tennis lesson.



Real or imagined?

Good ideas? Done them yourself? Not these but others? Did I just think these up or have people shared them with me? The latter. Back in the day when I was married I did a fair amount of hiding the cost of things from my husband who spent very little on things. He loved papayas but complained about the price of them every single time we went grocery shopping. It was tiresome! He was an antique dealer and it wasn’t uncommon for him to buy a painting for $50 and sell it for $1500.

As I was building my wardrobe from scratch and introducing quality pieces to my wardrobe, I just didn’t want to have the discussion. When he noticed me wearing new things I used the line, ‘Oh, I’ve had this for a long time.’

I look at our character Melanie and I’m proud of her for buying what she did. She had a plan. She had holes in her wardrobe and filled them. Nothing to feel bad about, Melanie.

How have you managed this shopping issue in your home? Has it been an issue? I’d love to hear the stories, we all would! Please share!



Illustrations by Jenny Phillips

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  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    May 8, 2018 at 2:41 am

    Oh my goodness! I am rolling around here, laughing, but kind of squirming too! I have a wonderful partner, these days. ( well the last 13 years of days) , who does not control the finances in any way. Even so, I have had to challenge myself over the years, to not hide the shopping purchases I make. He is nothing but supportive of my shopping for clothes, purchases , perhaps because he knows I am reasonably careful ,and thoughtful about any purchases I make. . Even so , I still have to stop myself from saying, that an item cost x amount, cheaper than it actually did. Maybe because money was tight growing up, and we had to be very frugal ! Very interesting, and complex, point, you raise here Brenda . Ps, I do tend to hide my shoe purchases in the car for a while ! ! Not sure why . As always, sending love from Oz

  • Reply
    Ramona Puckett
    May 8, 2018 at 4:28 am

    My mother-in-law used to hide her purchases in the far corner of the closet and pull it out later and say the same thing, “this old thing? I’ve had it for ages!” I never understood why she didn’t just say “it’s new, I just bought it ” now I understand. It’s funny, all the things women do.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2018 at 5:20 am

    Greeting from Toronto as s boutique owner for over 3 decades. I have witnessed and experienced this and other strategy’s. In my inside voice is simply, deserve it and answer to know one but yourself. Any partner that stops you from feeling good. Needs a gentle reminder. I’m worth it “

    • Reply
      May 8, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      “Needs a gentle reminder, I’m worth it.”
      Yes, yes, yes. Thank you!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2018 at 5:41 am

    Sooner or later the husband will catch on to the ‘ I’ve had it for ages’ line, and that is when you realize it is just not worth it. For years we were scrimping to save and pay off the mortgage faster, and that is when I discovered thrift. So much less for some great finds at times. It will satisfy the urge for something new, and with a plan and list, could work out well at times. I still find it difficult to spend a lot on an outfit, but it depends on the occasion and need. I find there is no need to mention that a bra costs $80 just show it off and that is enough. There are no more bags stashed in the back of the closet in the guest room any more. It also helps if you bring home something for him as well. Great post Brenda.

  • Reply
    Kate Hogarth
    May 8, 2018 at 5:52 am

    Funny, and timely too as i recently commented to a friend that ‘I’ve turned into one of THOSE women who hide their clothes purchases and sneak them into the house.’ I’m not sure why though, I have a good job and take a great deal of pleasure in buying new clothes (though most of mine are pre-loved anyway), and my husband certainly wouldn’t ever question my purchases or be critical. I think it might be a bit of a hangover from a time when we had very little money and if I, very rarely, did spend any money on myself I felt really guilty. I’m going to try not to do it now, i don’t want my daughters thinking that they should be uncomfortable spending money on themselves!

  • Reply
    Monique C arends
    May 8, 2018 at 7:38 am

    I have a friend who has excellent taste, money and lots of clothes. She often gives me stuff. The times I’ve bought new things and I don’t want to tell my husband, I just say that my friend gave it to me.

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    May 9, 2018 at 12:11 am

    We are totally independent finance-wise, so no, I never hide my purchases. We also joke that we have a rule that if he doesn’t say anything about my clothes and shoes collection I won’t say anything about his video games and comics collection!

  • Reply
    Sandi Mcdougall
    May 9, 2018 at 11:24 am

    I don’t shop that much anymore & never have hid my purchases from anyone. I had a best friend in high school (God rest her soul) who hid everything under her bed. Her husband and I giggle every time we are together as he wonders why she didn’t realize her parents would see the charges when their bills came. :). My husband is always anxious to see what I purchase when I get home, and as he has excellent taste, I always look forward to what he has to say.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    So cute! I LOVE ur closet instructions for how to build a wardrobe chart!!! Great ideas!

    • Reply
      May 10, 2018 at 8:56 am

      They are tried and true and always work! Glad you found them!

  • Reply
    October 7, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    My system: I told my spouse (who does the finances but does not always “get” what things cost) that I required an amount per month I could spend without explanation. I got it, I work with it, and we are both happy.

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