I’m not into disposable things. Disposable income, disposable razors, disposable food containers, disposable clothing… not me. But I realized yesterday that since half my wardrobe is five years old, some of it should be disposed of. So I shopped til I dropped lots of money.
I hate shopping. I really don’t do it much. Which, frankly, was why I needed to do it yesterday. It was my day off, and there were sales. Deals to be had. On clothes that I needed. Because I actually regularly wear pants that are ten years old.
Not even kidding.
I guess you could say I have classic taste. Most of the stuff I buy tends to be relatively timeless. Who wants to go back and shop again because the clothes they bought last year are woefully out of style now? If I find a pair of pants that I like, that fit properly, that go with everything for work, that are machine washable and don’t give away blatantly what year they were made, I will wear them every week until they fall apart.
This is partly because nobody makes clothes for women with curves. Skinny girls? Yes. Heavy girls? Yes. Women who have hips bigger than 35″ and thighs bigger than 20″ and some junk in the trunk? Nope. And I’m not saying they’re substantially bigger measurements, but they look pretty different. So if I find a skirt or a dress or a pair of pants or, God help me, jeans that fit, I’m wearing those babies into the ground.
It’s also because I can’t justify spending $75 on a pair of pants, and then doing it again the next year.
What on earth could possibly make a pair of pants worth $75? They’re pants. They’re not woven of flaxen gold.
The other thing I hate about going shopping for clothes is that I have to try everything on. I’m not one of those people who can just breeze through and buy stuff, take it home and figure out what to do with it from there. I have to find a room with terrible lighting and subtly fun house mirrors that somehow make me look worse unclothed, but make the clothes I’m trying on look better on me than they will at home. I have to do it. Because the only thing I hate more than shopping is returning stuff.
First stop in the mall: the department store to get a gift card for Sister 2’s birthday. She had spotted a watch there that she liked. I browsed the clothes there only briefly, because for some reason I always forget that I don’t like any clothes in department stores unless they’re $125. I remember as a kid, the department stores were where my mother always took us. Jeans, shirts, sweaters, pants… we got them all there, at Penney’s or Sears, and tried them all on while carefully avoiding the straight pins that littered the floors of the fitting rooms. Mom could find ways to buy us all clothes and not spend more than $150.
Things must be different in the children’s department.
Fortunately, I know which stores sell the kinds of clothes I like and are most likely to fit me. The exception to this rule is Express. I used to love Express. (Not their pants or skirts – because you can’t have hips to wear those – but their shirts and sweaters.) Then its buyers decided to trend the store toward trollop streetwalkers in their early 20s.
No can do. Apparently some people can show up to work in spangly metallic strappy tank tops and super-tight pants. But they probably work on the corner.
I headed into New York & Company. Far and away, this place’s clothes fit me the best. They also over-size them in a delightful twist to that old “Field of Dreams”philosophy that morphs to “If you make me think I’m a size 6, I will shop.”
Now I had to battle the demons of my classic taste. Everything is ruffles in this place these days. Did you know that? Ruffles are big.
I don’t do Ruffles. Unless we’re talking about the potato chips.
But I decided to get out of my comfort zone. I had actually seen one item online that I really liked, and found it easily (which never happens). It fit and it didn’t look retarded. I could wear it with the ten-year-old pants. Score.
I wound up with three tops that have some variation on a ruffle. They’re all tank tops (why do people think most women wear tank tops in the fall?) that will be worn with a cardigan. And they’re all a variation of purple, because purple and blue were the only colors in the store that weren’t white or black.
I found a black cardigan that would work with the tanks. This took a little searching. The first one I tried was cut off at the ribcage, which makes my hips pop out like they’re Serena Williams’ butt. Suddenly it’s all anybody can see. So that was a no. Then I found a really cute wrap that I liked a lot, but there were ruffles that fell at – you guessed it – the hip. And I would have needed to belt it with one of those skinny belts. Which also makes my hips more noticeable.
I think most clothing designers are hipist. It’s like a whole different kind of culturally insensitive bias.
Happily, I managed to find a cardigan that was longer and still fit properly and would look good over the tank tops. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I will be wearing that cardigan a lot.
I also found a pair of khakis that I can wear on casual days at work, or at home. Major bonus. And I bought a casual skirt. Normally I stay away from those; there are pockets at the hips and that’s usually a really bad idea on me. I obsessively rule out hip pockets as I screech hangers across rods in stores. But in the fitting room, the skirt looked decent. I hemmed and hawed a bit, walked out of the fitting room to the triple-mirror to see what it had to say, sort of hoped that another woman would walk by and give me an honest assessment (this apparently only happens at Sears and Penney’s), and ultimately decided it was definitely fine here but would probably be dreadful when I put it on at home. It went in the Yes Pile.
I haven’t worked up the courage yet to put it on post-purchase. When I took it out of the bag at my place, it looked huge. I had to put it down and drink some wine.
Next up: two pencil skirts and a pair of dress pants. These are the items that make me love this store. Not all their styles fit, but I usually know which ones will.
First of all, who invented knit pencil skirts? They’re so clingy. In all the wrong places. No Pile.
Then there was the other pencil skirt, which would have been perfect if the designers hadn’t decided to put a raised panel seam right where the rise of the hip happens. I suppose women who don’t have hips might look for something that would help them look a little fuller.
I hate those women.
The dress pants. I had such hope for the dress pants, but they were all wrong. Fit in the waist, fine in the butt, but too much fabric in the front and all kinds of wrong in the saddlebags.
Sad. This is the store whose clothes are supposed to fit my bottom half the best. Despair began to creep in as I looked with trepidation at the jeans I’d pulled from a shelf. Ominous music played in my head.
Jeans are like my best frienemy. There are some jeans I love. Not many. The ones I love, I own forever. There are other jeans – most of them – that are flat-out horrible on me. Gaping at the waist – always gaping at the waist if they fit in the hips. Indescribably problematic in the thigh/saddlebag area. Sagging at the crotch so that I look like Dick VanDyke in the “Jolly Holiday” scene of Mary Poppins.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Something quite atrocious.
The reason I’d grabbed these jeans was because the sign said they were contoured so they wouldn’t gape at the back of the waist.
Well, that’s exciting.
And the sign did not lie. They do not gape at the back of the waist. No one can see my underwear when I sit down in them. They have a higher waist than I’d like, so we’ll see what I think of them when I put them on at home.
After assessing the damage at NY&Co., I hauled my purchases out of the store in a big bag and set off. I thought I was finished for the day, since I had been shopping for an hour and a half, and that’s pretty much my limit. I stopped by Bath & Body Works to stock up on my signature scent and stood in line at the cashier behind a woman who kept saying she just can’t tolerate odd numbers in her checkbook and was therefore making the store clerk ring up $3.53 of her purchase in cash, and $16.50 on the debit card. This transaction took several minutes because it was confusing the store clerk, and the register. And me. Because why don’t you just put $20 on the card and pay her three cents in cash, lady? Or learn math. I’m standing here.
She was really nice about it, but Nice only goes so far in excusing Stupid.
Leaving there, I walked by The Limited. This is a store I used to love until all of a sudden their clothes got super-expensive without getting any nicer. They have good clothes, but not $75-for-pants good. But the sign out front caught my eye because they were having a huge sale.
Wouldn’t hurt to look.
Happily, their colors ranged beyond blue and purple, and they had a classic, tailored white long-sleeved shirt (which I have to get every year or two because mine always wind up yellowed under the arms) that did not have ruffles, ruching, ribbing or anything else on it that would make it look like an alien was trying to emerge from my bosom under a sweater. And it was 40% off. Sweet.
The salesperson who accosted me immediately upon my arrival handed me a fun peel-and-save coupon that told me I would get 40% off another top. So then I had to find one. And I came upon a red and black dressy tank top that would work well with the ten-year-old pants and the destined-to-be-ubiquitous cardigan.
They had a pencil skirt that I loved, that fit. OMG.
And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I also found a pair of pants. A pair of pants, I tell you, that fit right in all the places where they usually fit wrong, and were only $30.
Jesus wanted me to have them. It’s the only explanation I can think of.
And I saved 30% on the purchase by opening a credit card. The sales girl said I had to put some of the purchase on it now, but it could be a small amount and I could just close the account next week if I wanted.
With a smouldering debit card and arms sore from carrying heavy loads of clothes, I went out to the car. Three and a half hours of shopping had me aching for a cold drink and a massage. I could only have the former. My shopping wasn’t done yet.
But the next trip was to the grocery store. And that’s my favorite kind of shopping.