Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clothes Dork

Barbara: The other day, Deb and I took a little road trip down to Buffalo. The impetus was a business meeting with dear Annette (of our latest 3-way), but we couldn’t go all that way without also checking out the local piece de resistance. Nirvana in all its glory: the American outlet mall.

Shopping as it was meant to be: good, assorted, and seemingly endless.
Woman Shopping

As we told you a long time ago, I’m not much of a shopper and Deb is not much of a “sale” person, but we found ourselves in a perfect storm of opportunity. Mine being that I’d received an unexpected check JUST BEFORE WE LEFT THE HOUSE. Do you hear me, people?! About to walk out the door and a not-insubstantial, completely unaccounted for windfall appears in my mailbox … just in time to wink its sly eye at me and say, “Going to the land of plenty, baby? Well, go for it. You deserve a little indulgence.” (I know, I know, my windfall sounds a little like a cheap whore in a tattered corset. Anyway…)

So there I was amid a veritable cornucopia of women’s wear and I begin the time-honoured pilgrimage enjoyed by many women (and men) everywhere: eye, choose, pile, try on. And all the while I know a sweet, enabling cheque is just burning a hole in my wallet, just begging to help make me gorgeous and happy.

As I pull on the first outfit, I’m fairly daring it to disappointment me. I mean, for once I am karmically ALIGNED to conquer the clothing and return triumphant. But as I stare at my reflection, all I see is a tired, lumpy, misshapen (middle-aged) woman. Um, I am NOT tired, lumpy, or misshapen. At least I wasn’t the last time I looked! But it happened again with the next outfit. And the next one. 

And the next one and the next one and the next one and the next one.

It was as if I’d got caught in an endless dressing room loop of bad Woody Allen impressions. And I was the bad impressionist.

Me, trying to rock my changing room look
S’okay. I blame the clothes and not myself (even if I was the arse who picked the wares).

Deb: There is no possible way in the universe that Barb could be a dork or an arse, least of all a clothes-picking arse. Everything she chose was wonderful and stylish.

But I have the answer to why nothing worked on her. It was just NOT her shopping day.

It happens to everyone. Not to me. Everyone. Not to me.

I have never had a “not my shopping day” day in my entire shopping life.  Would that I did once in a while, says the voice in my husband’s head. I have ALWAYS been blessed with great Shopping Karma. Even way back in the Barbie days. I would go to the store with my Mom and I would concentrate on Barbie Geisha with the black lacquered geisha slippers and removable headpiece or Barbie Picnic with the straw hat and little velvet trimmed straw bag and they would both appear as if from nowhere, last ones on the shelf!

I can be insecure about many things, but never ever my Shopping Karma! I would not do that to something that has been so true to me all these many purchasing years. It has been my stalwart friend.

Yesterday was only a small example of what my Shopping Karma is capable of. This  trip supplied me with not only what I was looking for, but fab fun bonus items too! I have to say that even in my shopokarma haze, I was obsessed with Barb finding something wonderful and kept encouraging her whenever she picked out something lovely and chic.

But ... she just didn’t have the Shopping Karma in her pocket. It happens. Not to me. But it happens. I LOVE new things SO much. I think I give off that scent in the store. I mark my LOVE TO SHOP territory and the merch virtually lands in my lap, just to have a sniff. 


  1. O.K. I have to weigh in here...As the official Sherpa of the shopping expedition, I can address Barb's angst and reveal it for what it was as I've seen the same phenomenom manifest many times before.

    Since moving to Buffalo from Toronto, I've become an unofficial guide for my Canadian women friends who are on the hunt for that special American something or other...(FYI- The appeal of shopping in Buffalo is that it is a blue-collar town and as such the items typically coveted by big city dwellers tend to languish until they end up on the clearance rack. It's a Canadian's dream come true...stylish accouterments to be had at American prices with additional discounts.)

    I've seen what Barb experienced happen to many the pro-shopper before her.
    It doesn't speak to any innate lack of ability to procure or any shortage of taste or heaven forbid, any lack of attractiveness. No... for just as impossible to predict who will get altitude sickness their first time out, you can't know who will be paralyzed by the desire to acquire south of the 49th....

    The extensive selection, great prices, vague list of want vs. need, the time-limit imposed by having to get home, worries about what you can bring back across the border, what's the exhange rate, what can I bring the kids, the pervasive "Am I buying this for the sake of buying something? sensation...It can, and does, overwhelm.
    Like any good guide, I could see my charge was beginning to falter and I tried to offer Barb reassurance that if she didn't summit this time out, the outlet mountain would still be there. But sadly, my voice was swallowed in the mass of tissue lining the bags I was hauling for Deb. From Barb's point of view, this encouragement may have sounded like some sort of muffled Tibetan rant.
    As to Deb's successful ascent,know this...I am shopper...a serious lifelong shopper...and I said to my daughter yesterday re Deb at the mall, "Man that Deb makes us all look like ascetic monks!" at which point we paused to consider her formidable talent in admirable silence.

  2. I am not a shopper. Never have been as a rebellion to my Mom, the karma shopping genius. I am the kind of shopper when I see something I like and it fits I buy it in several colors. Everyone once in a while I choose really well and people notice. But what I am best at is gift shopping. I do it all year round and surprise friends with gifts I know they will love and they do. I just don't see myself when shopping for myself. I have a Barb day every time I go shopping. My best shopper was my best friend Kathleen who died almost exactly 12 years ago. She took me and put together outfits I could only dream about and I looked like I was in the know of fashion-a fashionista if you must know. I miss her terribly for a million reasons but most for that polka dot stripped outfit she put together for me. Never a prouder shopping moment.
    So Barb I totally understand.

  3. My thing that I find when I go shopping is that I can not find anything in my size. Things or too big or to small or don't look right on me. Another thing that is not my faviorte thing about shopping,is that I have really,really pale skin. Trust me it's bad. When I go into stores I can never find a color that looks good on me. I really can't white,and I where black,and purple all the time,but besides those colors I can't find anything that does not wash me out or make me look weird. Don't get me wrong,I love to shop,maby not for clothes that much but love to shop for shoes,and hand bags, and so much other stuff. I feel like I am in my own little world when I am shopping,which is always a GREAT thing. Shopping should be a womens best friend,if not for clothes than at least jewerly,or handbags,or something.

  4. Annette, brilliant assessment of the day's events!! I will say it's one part me(when will I learn how the right length translates from holding it on the hangar to wearing it on my person? And since when do I look good in blue and white stripes?), one part Deb's verdict re the shopping karma, and one part Annette's theory of the too-much-to-process blues. Still.

  5. Annette that KILLED me. Laughing out loud. Read it to husband. He laughed inside which is his way. Yes Lyndsie other fun stuff found on the hunt can be just as satisfying as clothes can't they? Madgew what an awful thing that you lost your dear friend and fashion stylist. Maybe in her honour you should get out there and pull something together that would make her proud.

  6. LOL I am. For I hate to shop especially for clothes and I am most challenged in purchasing a gift for anyone. I think way too deep on what they would like. I am very successful on self purchases when I am actually out for someone else~~so Deb has a point. There are good shop days and days you would just want to cry or scream out loud in the dressing room to set off the security alarm.
    Since I detest large malls I am so unaware of what is even out there. My BGF sends me magazines but I only see clothing for a size two in the publications which might fit one leg or I would need four of them.
    Why is it that all my basic black dresses are in my closet and seem to fit whatever occasion each year, maybe 2011 I best venture out. I know this past March I needed a dress for my nephews wedding. OMGosh is all I can say. I have already warned the other nieces and nephews that I need at least 12 months notice if it requires any type of formal wear and with that I make no promises. Scarfs I master. Still looking for that perfect size wristlet because I am not a handbag gal. Jewelry I make myself and shoes well with wide feet the box is easier. My favorite store a book store filled with books and music. OMgosh I just bought a Kindle will I miss going to the bookstore??

  7. I really only like shopping if two things are both true: I have an unexpected windfall (as Barbara did) and I am having a pretty day (which I think Barb was NOT). My pretty days require me to have gotten much sleep, but been awake long enough for the lines to have worn off my face, be having a good hair day, have a tan, and (this is the clincher that usually fails) be at one of the LOW cycles in my weight roller coaster... There are days you could look good in a paper bag. On THOSE days, you darned well BETTER have a brand new check, cuz it's all going home! But of late, I seem to never have good shopping days...

    My heart goes out to you--sucks to have the means, but the forces conspiring against you otherwise!

  8. I hate clothes shopping and prefer my sisters' hand-me-downs, which fit and are already shrunk and faded. When I have to shop for an outfit to wear to a wedding or something, I miss my mom: she'd always hand me something I'd never have tried on, if left to my own devices, and it would look *smashing* on.

    Deb, does your shopping talent extend to finding stuff that suits your friends? If so, are you for hire? I have to go my nephew's wedding in July and I dread the hunt for a dress or somesuch that makes me look and feel great.

    Barb, doesn't it suck when stuff you love looks fantastic on the rack and terrible on you? Doesn't fit right, colour's wrong with your skin, oh my poor baby I have been there so many times! Hate that.

  9. Clothes shopping. ICK! ACK! NO! DANGER! Clothes shopping involves glaring light, far too many mirrors, a disconcerting lack of privacy, and the stripping away of any indulgence of denial about cellulite, scars, zits, moles, and all around dumpy lumpiness. Clothes shopping means an absolute confrontation with the fact that I am a blob. Clothes shopping, for me, usually ends with me sitting on a stool in the corner of the changing stall quietly weeping and consumed by self-loathing.

    When I was married and I'd get all bummed out while clothes shopping, I could calm myself down by taking comfort in, "Well, he wants me. He says I'm beautiful. When I go home, he'll want me." I remember the first time I went clothes shopping after my marriage ended. I needed clothes for work. It was a HORRIFYING afternoon. I ended up sobbing my guts out over the Macy's 75% off clearance rack, and there was no comfort to be taken in the safe haven of man's love and acceptance back at homebase. *sigh*

    Clothes shopping = bad.

    But, all is not lost. That's what accessories are for! Your shoe size will be the same, sweet, little bitty number no matter how fat your ass is. Earrings will shimmer and sparkle all supercute no matter how uncute you are. And, necklaces will still lavishly adorn us just as they did Cleopatra and Salome with the bonus prize of drawing attention to our all-powerful cleavage. And, purses! Why, you don't even have to try them on! And, hair barrettes and clips! Oh, raptures!

    That said, I make all my own jewelry, now. All possible shoe money goes toward keeping growing-faster-than-kudzu little boy shod. And, I think the last time I bought a purse was, uuuuuhhhhhhh, 2006? I do get given purses on gifty occasions every once and a while, though. My very most favorite is the denim bag with the big Dias de los Muertos sugar skull embroidered on the side of it that my crafty friend Edel in Ireland sent me for last Christmas.

    These days, clotheswise, I'm a handmedowns, thrift shop, yard sale, sew it for myself kinda chic. This is due to financial imperative. However, I've come to the conclusion that even if I were wealthy, I wouldn't spend lots of money on new clothes. Except for exponentially increasing the number of geeky fun t-shirts in my dresser doors and buying a new winter coat, I'd pretty much stay on exactly the same anti-couture path I travel on, now.I'd have far better uses for discretionary income. Like that 23qt. pressure canner I've been drooling over. Or, that 12 qt. Dutch oven in the Lehman's catalog. Or, that gorgeous merino/silk blend roving I'd just love to spin and crochet. Or, dozens and dozens and dozens of ounces of alpaca fiber yarn. Or, a wetsuit. Or, that University of Alabama garden gnome that would look so cute sitting by the driveway out by the giant concrete owl I inheritted off of Grandmama's front porch. Or, a new set of bagpipes. Or, that boxset of Joy Division CD's. And, books. Lots and lots and lots and lots of books. And, more books. Anyway. As long as I have one or two long, comfy denim skirts with big pockets, some snuggly sweaters, some long underwear for wintertime, and some geeky t-shirts, I'm fine clotheswise.

    I don't have Deb's shopping superpowers. But, I do have one shopping talent. I have a knack for finding super nifty vintage treasures at thrift shops, yard sales, and used book shops. I can find the treasures amongst the trash.

    Anyway, clothes shopping? No thanks. But, give me some money or a gift card, and stand me in the middle of a Hobby Lobby (aka: the craft supplies mothership has landed) or a bookstore, and IT IS ON!!!

  10. Drawers. Not doors. *smack*

    That's what I get for trying to type paragraphs while also keeping an eye on an intermediate algebra student who is just learning to extract radicals and combine irrational terms by herself. Sorry.

  11. Rigel, glad I'm not the only one!

    Thanks all so much for your support in my dire hour of need. I feel I have more than mere clothes after my depressing foray!

  12. hahaha oh deb, i feel you with the Shopping Karma.
    best friends/worst enemy

  13. Barb, I have been shopping for a dress to wear to my darling niece's wedding. I was prepared to pay more than I would usually pay for an outfit because this is a very special occasion. I have searched the entire Niagara peninsula and every single outfit I've tried on has made me look like a short old fat woman. I am devastated and have been taking it out on my patient husband. All the crap he thought he'd dodged when I sailed through menopause is coming home to roost (does crap roost?). I'm planning to go over the river to the outlet mall tomorrow much as a cripple is drawn to Lourdes. If a miracle happens and I find a flattering outfit you might find me selling holy water by the side of the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge.

  14. Here is a solution .... but first an example .... All our friends collect dishes for a festive table, everyone seem to hate there own collection and loves the ones there friends have .... my suggestion Barb .... get all your blog friends together one day with all the stuff they bought (cloth, accessories, nicknacks) ... but don't ever ware. Have some bubbly and make an exchange party, if nothing else you will have the greatest party with some of the most talented bloggers and those who don't like to shop may find the best stuff picked by there equals and those who do like to shop can get rid of all the stuff they bought but don't fit .... have a great time .... I will be in the fitting room ....

  15. I think one of my faviorte things to buy besides clothes is different scents. I love to buy things like lotion's and different perfume's and scented candles and things like that. I have at least a hundered different things like that I bet you but I so love them,that and shoes is my so best best thing to buy,maby it's just me but I always feel so much more comfortable buying that sort of stuff than I do buying clothes, I know I'm just weird like that.

  16. Oh, Nag, that is even worse! Having to find something just so and not being able to find it. I have been down this many a time. I feeeeel your pain. (Let me know if salvation is found and I will maybe venture on another pilgrimage) (Oh, and crap roosts, yes it does)

    dradecki, you are on to something! I think this is an EXCELLENT plan!

    Lyndsie, scent is one of my most favourite things. And it never makes you look old, lumpy, or tired.

  17. @ The Nag...If I may be so presumptuous...If the outlet mall fails to deliver, I would suggest you hit Lord & Taylor and Macy's at the Galleria. They usually both have an extensive collection of formal wear. Lord and Taylor is the go-to store for that special frock if you live on this side of the border. Good luck...

  18. Nag (oh my, it feels icky addressing someone as Nag!) -

    I'm not sure how much money you are willing to spend. But, if you are entertaining the possibility of crossing borders and going someplace fancy schmancy like Lord & Taylor, you may have another option closer to home. Have you considered hiring a dressmaker to make you a custom frock? A skilled seamstress would know how to work with your lines and avoid "short old fat woman" syndrome. Plus, you could feel like you were royal or something because you'd have a one of a kind, custom fit gown. ;)

  19. Oh Barb, you tell the story of my life :-(

    I have a very strong love/loathe relationship with clothes shopping because of my size. I am extremely extremely petite, both in height and in weight and I am usually of the scale of most womenswear clothes shops. I can occasionally fit children's/teen's sizes, but my arms are often too long and the sleeves finish a good 2 inches above my wrist which does not look at all flattering :-(

    I have found one shop that fits me perfectly (YAY!) which is my shopping mecca, though it has let me down of late as the style they sell is quite casual, and I need some more formal clothes for work.

    Trousers are the worst thing in the world to buy! If they are the right length - they are too wide around my waist and baggy around my hips and butt... if they are the right width - they are waaaaay too short. I can sew, but I've never been able to get clothes to fit right on me - plus I get sick of the sight of them by the time they're wearable :-/



  20. OMG, Barbara. How I read you. I wanted a skirt yesterday. Didn't want, but needed. I was reasonably flexible on design, colour and style, but everything I found was something I just did not want, and would never wear, and cost way more than I was willing to pay. Two frustrating hours later, no skirt, but two books that I bought to cheer myself up!

    But there are days when I have Deb's luck. When I have only to think of what I want, and I get it at once.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.