Where should I shop?
February 21, 2008 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Going to Austin (from WA state) next month, have little or no warm weather clothing. Should I buy clothes here or there?

I'm going to SXSWi (yay!) but since last spring I've lost 50 pounds and several clothing sizes. I really only own a couple of outfits at all, and they're pretty clearly for office wear in Washington in winter.

I'd like to have a few outfits to wear in 70+ degree weather. Should I do some shopping now, or take my first afternoon after I get there?

Now: more leisurely shopping, less jet lag, I know where I'd go.
Later: probably easier to find weather-appropriate wear, less to carry on the plane, could be fun.

Sales tax is about the same either way. I have no idea if I'll find things cheaper there or here (Olympia/Tacoma).

What else should I take into consideration? Also, general opinions welcome!

If I shop Austin, suggestions for places to go? (Mid-30s woman, tallish but not super-tall, dress size in the 10-12 range, somewhat fashion-impaired.)

I'm going to be renting a bike, so I'll be looking for relatively sporty clothes that also look good inside. (I'm thinking skorts/capris.) Also, that means that driving anywhere in Austin is out.
posted by epersonae to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total)
Best answer: Shop in WA, or do the catalog/online thing. Spring stuff should be in stores now. For me, arriving with an empty suitcase and only a few hours to spend (not to mention limited access to shops) would totally stress me out. You want to enjoy your time there, not worry about having nothing to wear. Vacation shopping is good for serendipitous finds, not so much everyday basics. (And congrats on the weight loss!)
posted by libraryhead at 12:04 PM on February 21, 2008

If you only need clothes for your trip, wait and buy them there. Or, buy them at home and keep the tags/receipts so you can return them later.

Weather in Austin in March could be 40 and rainy or 85 and muggy. There's really no good way to plan for it.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:10 PM on February 21, 2008

Unless you want to turn your vacation into a shopping trip, I'd do the shopping up there.
That way you not worrying about buyinga whole wardrobe in Austin. And yes although it's hovering in the 70s this week, It could easily be 40-50 in March.

If you only need clothes for your trip[...] keep the tags/receipts so you can return them later

Sounds dishonest.
posted by jeblis at 12:23 PM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: The bad news is: unless you have a hotel room downtown AND can afford to shop in the spendy boutiques on S. Congress, Lamar, and Guadalupe, it won't be easy to shop for clothes in Austin without a car. And mudpuppie's point about the weather is right, there's no way to plan ahead. The good news is: Austin is very casual and no one will care what you are wearing. I'd bring enough clothes for the week with me, and then if you have the time/inclination, check out some of the shops here to find a few souvenir items.
posted by donajo at 12:27 PM on February 21, 2008

keep the tags/receipts so you can return them later
Sounds dishonest.

I don't think she meant that epersonae should return the clothes if they were worn.

Where are you staying and how many miles are you willing to bike in one direction? There probably is stuff you can buy in Austin without a car, but I need that information.
posted by grouse at 12:41 PM on February 21, 2008

You've lost 50 pounds. You deserve to have clothing that fits you well and looks fabulous.

If you shop in Austin, then you're going to need to buy whatever is available. In a fair and just world, that clothing would all fit you beautifully. In the real world, not so much. Shop at home or online.

The other thing is that there is never anything on the sale rack for the 10's-12'. Since many, many women wear that size all the items are bought. The sale rack tends to have the smaller sizes and usually the largest sizes. In the middle sizes, e.g., 10-16 - nada.

Congrats on you weight loss. Enjoy picking some clothes that make you feel awesome.
posted by 26.2 at 12:45 PM on February 21, 2008

Response by poster: mudpuppie & jeblis: thanks for the tips on the weather. I guess early spring is squirrelly everywhere. (when I did SXSW in 2006, temps soared into the 90s...and it had been snowing when I left home!)

grouse: I'm staying (IIRC) on Congress not far south of Town Lake. I'm pretty comfortable biking up to about 4-5 miles each way.

I don't yet trust clothes shopping online, unfortunately, as that would probably be the best way to go, but since I've got just shy of 2 weeks, maybe I'll give it a shot & be prepared to send back stuff that doesn't work out.

And thanks everybody for the congrats. :)
posted by epersonae at 12:58 PM on February 21, 2008

Sounds dishonest.

Didn't mean it that way. I just meant she could return them if she turned out not needing them.

epersonae -- there are some really cool vintage shops on South Congress, not far from where you're staying. You might check into those if you just need to buy a sweater or coat or something.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2008

If you're going to be shopping at chain stores like Gap, Ann Taylor, etc. you're not going to find much (if any) difference between the clothes at the stores in either city. Looking at the websites will at least give you an idea of what styles and colors they're pushing at the moment. Shopping now versus in a month may make some difference as new shipments come every week, but stores are very much in spring mode now so you shouldn't have a problem finding warm weather clothes in WA before you go.
posted by wsquared at 1:14 PM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: At 6th and Lamar there are is an REI and a Whole Earth Provision Company, as well as some expensive boutiques. As has been said there is a lot of trendy stuff on South Congress.

Barton Creek Square mall is about five miles away. Be sure to plan your route ahead of time if you are going there by bike (go via Rollingwood Drive and Old Walsh Tarlton), as you don't want to get stuck on the wrong side of the Barton Creek Greenbelt or the freeway.
posted by grouse at 1:21 PM on February 21, 2008

My opinion is that you should shop at a leisurely pace at home before you come here to Austin. To know what wardrobe to bring, you can get an extended weather forecast here (The zip code to use is 78701) or here as we get closer to March.

If you don't want to bike, you can take the bus. The 'dillo will take you all over downtown for free. Looks like the Orange 'dillo goes right past your hotel. Check here for schedules. The airport flyer bus will take you downtown, I think it costs a dollar. Way cheaper than a cab for sure. Or you can bike and take the bus, there's a 2 bike rack on the front of most buses.

If you have any questions, feel free to MeFi email me if you think it's something a native might know.

Maybe the SXSW visitors and the Austin natives could have a meetup? I will post to MeTa.
posted by Daddy-O at 1:50 PM on February 21, 2008

Shop there! Texas is a whole different country.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:50 PM on February 21, 2008

Didn't mean it that way.

Sorry misread it. Is Retail Renting Ethical?

There are definitely some newer clubs like Pangea that people tend to dress up a little more for, but they won't be part of SXSW. If you want to blend in, I'd suggest not walking around wearing your SXSW tag. (except while getting in to a venue).
posted by jeblis at 7:47 PM on February 21, 2008

What I did two years ago at about the same time of year was bring a bunch of short and 3/4 length cotton tops...no corduroy or wool.
posted by brujita at 11:11 PM on February 21, 2008

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