I'm late to the party, but I can't help but reply to this. I'm sorry it happened, but please remember you are never required to justify, defend, or explain your purchasing habits to anyone (except perhaps yourself, if you're not meeting your other goals. But that's no one's business anyway). I'm one of those, though, who would tend to meet rudeness with rudeness, even if that's not the point of manners... Such as:

1. "I've got my budget under control, thank you."
2. "My budget isn't up for general review, but thanks for asking."
3. "I've got a great financial planner. Would you like his number?"
4. "It's called a budget, hon." (I'm from the south..."hon" is allowed.)
5. "Are you asking the cost because you're looking for one for yourself? I'm happy to help others improve their wardrobes."
6. "I'm glad you like my skirt (or whatever)! How's your student loan payoff going?"

Bonus points for delivery with a smile and a sweet tone of voice. I wouldn't even mention ebay. You're not required to explain your sources...and even then, they've shown they don't deserve to know where you score your bargains!

Another technique I use to analyze these situations after the fact, is to try to imagine men having these conversations with each other. And usually I can't. I realize that I may sound simplistic here, but women often try so hard to be nice, and not to offend, when men would not tolerate the behavior.

If there's an employee tugging/grabbing people's clothing and asking what clothing items cost, it appears they've crossed a very visible line in the workplace.

I would not explain one iota.

It doesn't matter if you bought Anthro clothes on ebay or in the store.

It doesn't matter if you drink Starbucks or a cheaper coffee.

It doesn't matter if you drive a Lexus or a beater.

Those are your choices and no one else's business. You don't have to to justify your decisions.

This is just...weird. Some one just wrote about this in OT and the Coldwater Creek thread. It is weird but it seems to happen all the time with women. I don't understand the need to make it sound as if it is a character issue to pay a certain amount for clothes. It is like the woman ( and I know her ) that says, " I would NEVER buy full price, " when I tell her that , "No it was not on sale. "There is some sort of pyschological issue behind it. Though I have no idea what it might be.

I like Gaylene's thoughts. As I have gotten older, I have learned also to not have to excuse my choices. Maybe you need to turn it around on them, " I am not sure why you are bringing that up. "

Here is my one liner: Life is good to me.

I love IK and rachylou's thoughts. But L'Abeille/rae, #4 from becky and zap's are easiest to deliver. Together with two steps back and absent-minded but vigorous dusting off of whatever part of garment was touched...

I couldn't think of anything not outright aggressive when I first read this though I never have a quick comeback myself and typically start fuming or explaining. Now have managed to stop explaining and smile mysteriously or disinterestedly (polite but glazed over expression). With me it was more about colleagues commenting on food choices or ecological attitudes...clothes only now that I dress to be visible. I stopped explaining when I realised that not only was it uncalled-for but that it made no sense as someone ordering a $5 coffee each day but buying battered, half-dead veggies by way of groceries would. not. understand. these priorities as 'valid'. Same thing here, mutatis mutandis.

How very rude! My usual response to such comments is 'I don't drink, I don't smoke so clothes are my vice' works especially well with smokers and drinkers as you can add in ' at least I have something to show for MY money'

ETA another old car driver here, an 02 Seat Leon with 105,000 miles on the clock. I like to think of him as vintage (can vintage be only 11 years old?) he's spotlessly clean and always polished and stills runs as sweet as a nut x

I work with a bunch of hair stylists and there is a lot of hair touching. It is odd. This instructor person has issues of her own and sounds like she may run into the wrong person with her inability to self sensor.
I think a bunch of people discussing someone else who is in the room (!!) is so incredibly rude. Very personal - one's clothes, car, budget, etc - and I think my response would be something like "bargain hunting is my own kind of therapy - what so you do" but I tend to self depreciate in these awkward moments.

I think the priceless answer has got to be raising an eyebrow and asking why they felt the need to know.

I suppose if you do work in the "crazy bin" as you say, you will have a lot of job security

Lyn, I just went back and carefully read the responses. Some very good advice. It strikes me as sad that women so often feel they have to explain or defend what they do when it doesn't affect anyone else.

I am going to laugh all day at what Rachylou said.

I had forgotten that you were in psychiatry. Sona's line was great in giving you advice, from an internist. So that got me thinking, if it happens again, maybe you could ask if they had "issues" with their mothers and that you are always available to help them unpack those issues. You could also prescribe for their obsession with your clothes. LOL !!!!

I really can't stand it when people want to steal the joy you generate and have in pulling yourself together everyday. The jealousy is EVIDENT in these comments and as to how I would handle them (I was just relaying your story to DH who took offense to these comments as well). I would cut straight to the chase and tell them this:
"It doesn't take a million dollars to look like a million dollars it only takes effort, attention, and a spark of creativity. Since I chose to invest my talent and creativity in looking my best I don't look like everyone else. I'm sorry that you've allow your financial situation to dictate how you look. I choose not to be limited in that way."
Yes this is a flip comment and I don't recommend you say this unless your comfortable -- but it's the truth. I have had the same thing happen to me time and time again where people assume that I'm sitting on a pile of money and try to make me feel like I have a shopping problem simply because my clothes fit and don't look like I borrowed them from my little sister or my big brother.

Rachylou had an excellent synopsis of this kind of dynamic on a thread earlier this year. I'll see if I can find it and post it here.

I think you should say, "see, I'm living proof that you CAN look nice without breaking the bank!" Cause this points out that they're only calling you out because they think you look nice, and it also highlights that they probably DON'T look as nice as you...Maybe you could even offer to help them shop...(-;

@ Isabel & Gaylene - That's what my mom told me: that I need to grow up! HAHA.

@ Zaptoee - You're right! It has been. Sometimes it's hard to remember.

@ Louise - I've never thought of my car as Vintage, but you're right! It so is! It has Vintage Charm!

@ Christine - It is theraputic. I should recommend it to all my patients!! All of them not in my size, that is

@ Isabel - That's actually an interesting thought about the mom thing, because I'm pretty sure that certain aspects of my mom relationship has gotten me into clothes. Other people can dress up their little girls (or their little boys these days!) but I can only dress up myself :p

@ Day Vies - I need that on a t-shirt.

@ Jenava - Well, I have offered before, and they said, "ANTHROPOLOGIE? WHO CAN AFFORD TO SHOP THERE?" ... so I put that option away. LOL.

I honestly don't understand why we feel compelled to come up with tactful responses to tacky questions/comments. A completely appropriate response would be "Thanks for the unsolicited advice/comment".

Shocking. You don't owe anyone any explanations. Just smile and say "thank you". It isn't rude, but makes the point that you don't care to explain your wardrobe choices. It also highlights another's rudeness.

Team "I never discuss finances." Good Lord.

I haven't read through all the replies, but here's my take on a creative reply:

"It's the boobs, hon. They get me what I want for cheap."

"Life is full of mysteries, isn't it?"

Seriously, people who overstep boundaries like that don't merit an explanation of any sort from you. They deserve either an outrageous retort or a flip reply to shrug it off, or else the more direct response that calls them out on how inappropriate their behavior is ("why on earth would you care how much my clothes cost?" or "what an odd and personal question to ask me!").

I am so sorry you have to deal with this. (I haven't posted in the forum in ages but just had to express my indignation on your behalf!)

I am late too and did not read all comments because I did not have time.
Honestly I would not stoop to these people to explain why you buy what you buy and how much do you pay for that. For me I would ask plainly: why is it a concern for you? You do not audit my bank account do you? I think any explaining of anything looks very much like apologizing and will make them feel they have a right to talk to you like this.
They were plainly rude and out of line and I would put them back where they belong! I don't really have patience for people like this...

Thanks lovely ladies. I will go and twirl with my pretty skirts and ignore them