The Cost Of Things: Looking Effortless

ELLE recommends a $226 caftan-inspired dress from Steven Alan. There are cheaper caftans, though, that don’t look like the clothing equivalent of porridge.


Beg, Borrow, Steal … Or Swap

Once I got a black, white, and yellow Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress at the swap.


It’s Engagement Season! Does Your Ring Come At A Heinous Cost?

Uninterested in narrative? More of a #STEM major? Get a diamond grown in a lab!


Blowing Smoke: How Much Should One Pay For Cigarettes

People who smoke — more precisely, those who despite government educational efforts, still smoke — are, on average, less able to afford $12 or $14 a pack.


How Do You Know When to Stop Spending?

How do you know when to stop spending? What prevents you from buying everything you want as soon as you see it?


Fran Lebowitz Tells You How To Do Money

Fran Lebowitz is right about many things. For instance, real estate should be cheaper and clothes probably should cost more, because they should not be made cheaply in sweatshops. And dry cleaning is both a mystery and a pain.


Success: It’s In The Bag

DISCLAIMER: I like Barnes & Noble, and I write for them for money, so in two different ways I am biased and I would like the store to remain in business. Oh also sometimes I stop in to use their restroom. Three different ways! 

Book-selling behemoth Barnes & Noble — which can be described by other B-words as well, like “beleaguered” and “the last bastion of brick-and-mortar literary retail” — frequently tries new things to compete with its arch-rival Amazon. Some of its innovations, like its e-reader the Nook, have failed to catch on. Other innovations, like selling coffee in the stores and now craft beer kits, have gone over better. Now it’s renovating its shopping bags as well.

“You don’t get a shopping bag when you shop online—you get a box,” says Glenn Kaplan, Barnes & Noble’s creative director. The company distributes more than 90 million bags a year, making the totes one of its most effective advertising campaigns. That’s why its latest bags, featuring first pages from a classic work of literature in a florid serif font, signal a return to traditional bookselling roots. After making their debut last month in New York, the redesigned bags will eventually spread across the country. …

Shoppers who prefer a box of Godiva chocolates to a book will still walk away with a literary-themed bag, and B&N intends for the disposable carrier to find aspirational reuse—just as some shoppers repurpose their status-infused Tiffany, Barneys, or Organic Avenue bags as lunch totes. Kaplan looks to New York’s streets for signs that the new design is working: “I’ve seen a lot of reused bags in my travels around town,” the Barnes & Noble executive says.

Funny enough, I made a purchase at my local B&N a couple of days ago, to — at last! — use that gift card that had been giving me so much grief. Did my books come in one of the fancy new bags? 


The Last Days of Target Canada

When Target, the popular American discount retailer, arrived in Canada, it was doomed from the start.