MintStyle with Rachel Weingarten: Reader Q&A — Resisting the Urge to Splurge and Choosing a Charity


The most recent mailbag was an interesting mix of questions about delaying fall wardrobe shopping and making charitable donations. As with most of my Q&A columns, the following are composites of several similarly-themed questions.

Resisting the Urge to Splurge

Dear MintStyle: I spent the summer hunched over my keyboard and I’m suddenly in a state of mind that I like to think of as, “fall-is-here-which-means-that-I-want/need-lots-and-lots-of-new-things-to-wear-to-work.”

Do I really have to ditch all of my summer clothes now or can I wear them until the weather finally cools off?

Signed, Not Ready to Splurge

Dear Not Ready: The weird thing about early autumn is that while the calendar may have hit September, it still feels like summer is in full swing. Since Labor Day is long gone, it can feel odd to wear clothing light in color or texture.

Part of the reason we might feel the need to splurge this time of year is that no matter our age, we still get swept up in the back-to-school shopping frenzy. Except now, we don’t have anyone to give us a list of what to buy, how many to buy and where to buy it.

Until you have a clear idea of what you want to invest in this season, it really is best to keep an eye out for the colors, textures, and trends you find most eye-catching and then wait a few weeks for sales to hit.

If you really must indulge, opt for one key piece, like a really great leather jacket, or consider shopping at retailers with great return and price matching policies in case you get a case of buyer’s remorse.

Being Choosy About Charity

Dear MintStyle: I have a healthy social conscience and make it a point to volunteer or donate to causes and charities I believe in.

When the breast cancer awareness/pink ribbon campaign came out, I jumped right on board. It seemed like such a good way to donate to a charity I was passionate about. More than that, I liked knowing my spending was helping a good cause.

Lately, I feel like some companies just slap pink ribbons on their products and pretend it’s for a good cause. I hate feeling like I’m being taken advantage of and I’m almost ready to stop buying anything with that pink ribbon on it altogether.

And while we’re on the subject, what about the requests I’ve been getting on my social networks to support causes that I don’t necessarily believe in?

I want to be selective about which organizations I donate to, but I also don’t want everyone to hate me. I’m tired of explaining or having to fake an apology. What should I do?

Signed, Out of Sync with Pink

Dear Pink: I feel your pain. I was at a major grocery store chain a few weeks ago when the cashier asked me to donate my change (or more) to a cause the store was supporting.

I was taken aback, since the chain is known for their lofty prices, if not ideals. And I became resentful.

Like you, I’m very and aware of the causes I donate to and find it awkward and uncomfortable when people pressure me to become involved in their own. I’ll admit that sometimes I simply take the easiest way out and just ignore their requests. Other times, I donate to everyone who asks and then feel resentful.

What I’d like to do is be more balanced in my giving and stick to what I believe in, while still leaving room to donate to causes I might not be aware of.

A wise friend once told me she chooses her own personal causes and how much to donate each month, but she also leaves a cushion for needy friends or worthy causes.

It’s more than a win/win situation. You feel good, your friend feels great, and the charity benefits.

As for the pink ribbon campaign, it can be hard to recognize what’s authentic or what gets painted pink every October just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

If you have the time or inclination, you can study the product packaging to find out how much of the sticker price is actually donated to charity. You can also find causes you believe in and choose companies that support those causes.

For instance, Massage Envy, a nationwide spa chain with over 700 locations has an initiative called Healing Hands for Arthritis. On September 19th, they’ll donate $10 from every one-hour massage and facial session to the Arthritis Foundation.

They’ve allied their mission with a related cause, since massage therapy can improve the symptoms of arthritis. You spoil yourself with a massage, while they donate to a worthy cause in a related arena.

Just a note: Among others, there were also questions about spa etiquette and whether or not to comment on a friend’s overzealous nip and tuck. I’ll address those in upcoming weeks along with fall fashion and grooming.

Do you have a burning style or etiquette question for Rachel Weingarten? Email her at

Rachel Weingarten has always been a huge fan of the Rails to Trails conservancy which creates public parks out of abandoned railways. She’s a style expert, marketing strategist & personal branding consultant for CEOs, politicians and celebrities and the creator of MintStyle. She is the award-winning author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Visit her online at or on Twitter @rachelcw Write to her with your burning style questions at


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