I went shopping for an outfit to wear to a wedding yesterday. For many women, this is a pleasurable way to spend an afternoon. I myself enjoy shopping for things like books, furniture, office supplies, and wine. However, shopping for clothes is a horse of a different color, one near the top of the list of things I least enjoy. You can find it between “licking toilets in public restrooms” and “shaving my legs with a cheese grater”.
There are many things I don’t like about clothes shopping – finding my size, trying stuff on, matching colors, prints, and styles in an attempt to be fashionable, not being able to read a book while shopping, and dealing with other shoppers. My preferred method of acquiring clothes is to receive them from others, either as gifts or hand-me-downs. On the rare occasion that I obtain my own attire, I choose a simple style that appeals to me and buy every color they have in my size. This applies to shirts, pants, shoes, and undergarments. Weddings require a bit more fanfare, or so I’m told, and this is how I found myself reluctantly shopping for clothes yesterday.
As I set off for my shopping trip, I was by myself and a little beside myself. The alone part was both good, as there were no small children to keep track of, and bad, because I had no one to talk me off the ledge when things went awry. I chose a newish store that several of my friends have raved about for having reasonable prices (cheap), lots of size options (fat girl friendly), and good customer service (friendly fat girls). Entering the store, I gave myself a little pep talk and some incentive, “You can do this. Women have been buying clothes for at least a century, right? Once you find something to wear, you can get a new book and a latte. Now, GO BUY SOME CLOTHES!” And off I went.
After locating the section most likely to have my size, I stood in one spot and turned around in a circle, getting a sense of what was where. I quickly eliminated one whole wall that was covered in shorts with legs shorter than the crotch and shirts that did not have backs. I was starting to sweat but did quickly find a few things that I deemed fitting room worthy. A very nice sales associate approached me and asked if I’d like her to get a room started. Smiling back at her, I said “Yes, please, that would be great.” while thinking “My God, help me! If you have an ounce of mercy in your body, get me out of here!” Once she had walked a way, I weaved my way over to a display of dresses. I have not worn a dress since my wedding and seeing one in a potentially flattering cut, thought it couldn’t hurt try one on today. I hate it when I’m wrong. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
With several items waiting for me in the room and a few more in my arms, I headed to the back of the store to get the party started. The first pair of pants fit okay but was flattering like a 1970’s yearbook picture. I kept going, trying on items in different combinations until I had put together something I could safely walk out to the big wrap-around-mirror wearing. Once there, the nice sales lady checked to see how things were going. I started to say I was doing fine when a whimper escaped and she quickly realized I was losing it. I asked her, “Is this something that people wear? Like when they are around other people?” She smiled kindly and said, “I’ve got just the thing you need, I’ll be right back.” Hours (moments) later, she returned with a pair of pants that were half pant, half skirt and looked positively dreamy. I put those on and my faith in bottoms was renewed. They were comfortable, flowy, feminine, and somehow slenderizing. How that much fabric could ever be slimming, I’ll never understand.
With these magic pants and the sparkly shirt I was sporting, I was pretty sure I had found everything I needed to attend the wedding and could safely leave the store. Then I remembered the things I had not yet tried on and knowing (hoping) it would be a long time before I found myself in this position again, I decided I wasn’t done just yet. The dress was next. Remember how I said it couldn’t hurt to try one on? As I pulled it over my head, I nearly knocked myself out with the security tag. I mean, I saw stars and had to sit down. As a general rule, I draw the line at head injuries. So after putting the dress back on the hanger and giving all the other “no’s” to the sales clerk, I was done. A bit lightheaded, but done. I purchased 3 of the 27 items I had tried on and high tailed it out the door, in search of my happy place: a safe, logical world with no fitting rooms or wrap-around-mirrors. That is to say, the bookstore.