Hard to Mall-ify (sorry).

A while ago, I realized that a few items in my wardrobe were on their inevitable way out. Not wearing out, or even out of style, but just not fitting so well as they used to. [Ok, they’re too big. I know nobody’s crying for me, but there it is.] So, to avoid once more tripping over my own hem in my hobo outfit while everyone else in the office looks impeccably tailored (and since, thanks to the happy marriage of the Gregorian calendar and biweekly paydates, I got paid three times last month, and who really needs to be free of credit card debt anyway?), I decided it was the ideal time for another trip to Great Lakes Crossing to pick up a few new pairs of pants. And bras. And underwear, since my former supplier has decided to redesign their cotton panties and make my life hell as I I scout all other manufacturers for a satisfactory replacement, rather than just trot into the nearest Vicki’s and grab a handful whenever I run low. Underwear, formerly as easy to replace as choosing a color, once again sings the agonizing roundelay of shopping—trying on, debating, pro-conning, wearing, hating, regretting, re-shopping. Exasperating. Curse you, Victoria, and your stupid panties du jour. I don’t want to wear the few pair I have left, for fear I’ll never find any other pair as good, as dependable, and will therefore be resigned to going commando, more in mourning than in protest, and wondering whether another manufacturer could ever fit my ample curves so well. I’m hoping they’ll bring the old ones back (VS Classic?), since they fit well and lasted forever; until then, ratty, holey Hanes.

So for all these reasons (and because unpacking my winter clothes yielded nothing but a sweater and a plethora of mittens), I took a day-trip to the outlet mall. Fun, right?

Except I’m me, so it was more like a string of masochistic mini-adventures. The first of which is, people shouldn’t try to talk to me while I’m shopping. I tend to run my shopping errands alone, as it takes me a lot longer to make a decision than most people, and usually involves second-guessing and staring at something for twenty minutes with a mental pro-con list and then doubling back to get the first thing I had my hands on, which doesn’t bother me, but annoys whole years off of whomever I’ve tried to take along. I also tend to talk to myself (and answer myself, so I can make an informed decision, natch), so you think that would make me less approachable—not the case. I am not a good person, and I don’t interact well, and I really think I should hang a sign around my neck that says that before I head out to, say, the mall for an eight-hour shopping trip.

[A note to the kiosk-employed: I don’t want your damn perfume, or your cellphone plan, or your ten minute shiatsu, or for you to buff my nails. I want to walk unimpeded down the thoroughfare without hawkers trying to ingratiate their way into my confidence by means of empty compliments or overtly staring at my rack. I am not making eye contact with you because I don’t want you to speak to me. I am pretending not to hear you so I won’t have to tell you that I don’t want to speak to you, because then I’d have to speak to you. My social skills are underdeveloped, yes, but more importantly my attention span is a maximum of five minutes, and unless I focus on my list and disregard all other merchandise and human beings I’m going starkers for another few months, so while it may only take a minute to tell me about Cingular, it could also cause my death by hypothermia. Leave me alone.]

Unfortunately for her, my aunt accompanied me on the trip. I promised, as it was Sunday and the mall had four less hours for possibilities to be reaped, to run from store to store and omit all but the necessities of my workday wardrobe. Right. To my credit, I wasn’t going to get the white leather belt or the legwarmers; it was she who insisted (who brought the 80s back, anyway? And why are they cool now?). We left, exhausted, heavily laden, with dehydration headaches, at five-thirty. I think I owe her a spa treatment or seven, because if she hadn’t come with me, no decisions would have been made.

ME: So. The shirt.
ME: Yeah, me too. I mean, I can wear it…
SOOZ: How much is it?
ME: Fourteen.
SOOZ: Meh.
ME: I know. It doesn’t match anything I have, though.
SOOZ: What’s it made out of?
ME: Rayon.
SOOZ: Well, it won’t shrink.
ME: I like the sleeves…
SOOZ: It’ll go with black pants.
ME: So will anything else.
SOOZ: Is it comfortable?
ME: Yes.
SOOZ: Warm?
ME: Yes.
SOOZ: Would you wear it on days off, or just work?
ME: Well, both, actually.
SOOZ: Get it, then. Fourteen is fine.
ME: Does it look good, though?
SOOZ: It looks fine. It’d look really good with some brown pants.
ME: That I don’t own.
SOOZ: Good thing we’re in a mall.
ME: (sigh) Let’s go see what Eddie Bauer has for pants.

Lather, rinse repeat. For eight hours.

I did come away with some major finds, though: most notably, the grey and black striped sweater dress from Forever 21. Yes, you read that right, but let me tell you a little about it. I hate this store on general principle, for the same reason I hate The Limited Too: I do not advocate a store that will make adult clothing in child sizes, much less sell it to those children like it’s somehow appropriate for a fourth-grader to wear a wool miniskirt. Call me crazy, but that shit is like seventeen lawsuits waiting to happen. Also, the goods from Forever 21 are relatively inexpensive, but also do not last very long, making it an option for club tops and pajamas, but nothing you would need to last longer than a year. True, fashion is fleeting, and maybe it’s a nod to that concept that all their garments fall apart before the next season’s hit the runway… or, as Occam pontificated, it’s more likely what happens when lowest-bidder fabrics meets sweatshop tailoring. However, the GLC location is ginormous, and I was determined to leave no stone unturned in Beedoo’s Fashionquest ’06, as I am both cheap and hard to fit.

Five steps into the store, I realized something was different. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, until Aunt Sooz picked up a patterned silk dress with a tiered skirt and said “Hmm, will you be jet-setting to Miami anytime soon?” This season, the F21 is an Uli Explosion. There are pattens, haltertops, and braided necklines as far as the eye can (with the aid of Ray Bans) see. Which, while incredibly smart marketing… it’s not the most opportune time for such a tack. It’s October. In the northern hemisphere. Anyone wearing a silk dress in the next few months is going to have it obscured by an anorak and fuzzy mukluks. And speaking of, where are all the damn coats? Or the corduroys? Did I miss the window? I saw scores of them on August 15th—when the mercury was bubbling and the Frappucino line was six deep—and now nothing! My ass is cold, dammit! Are we denying winter’s inevitable coming? It happens every year, people; we all enjoy the summer, hate packing up the clothes, experience a half-week of upper 60s and naively think maybe the snows will spare our MITTEN-SHAPED state this year—and next Monday you’re using a folding lawnchair-cum-snowshovel to unearth your Impala. Every year. Circle of Life. Denial will get you nowhere except sitting on your sofa in a sateen polk-dot number with the heat set at 80, refusing to leave the house until the sun provides both light and heat, aka April. Luckily, the teenagers running Forever 21 decided to pepper their winter line with a modicum of sweaters, that their clients might have a chance of survival above ground until next summer, living to shop another day.

ME: So, what would you say is the maximum age to shop at Forever 21?
ME: Yeah. Absolutely, no more, you-are-trampy-if-you’re-over-this-age?
SM: …twenty-one.
ME: Twenty-one?
SM: Well, I guess not—
ME: That means the minimum is like, fourteen? I’m not behind that.
SM: Well, that’s probably the point of naming the store; that girls want to shop there to look older, and middle-aged women want to look younger.
ME: Yeah, but I saw a woman there who was like forty, and that’s not right.
SM: She was forty?
ME: Maybe she was younger, but she had a leather tan.
SM: Ugh.
ME: And she was shopping with her daughter.
SM: And they were both buying stuff? Like, same outfits, same size?
ME: Yeah, see that’s why I’m a little wary.
SM: You’re not forty.
ME: No, but if my mother and I bought clothes at the same place…?
SM: And it wasn’t a department store, you mean?
ME: Yeah. Or, like, New York & Company, where we’d get work clothes, not, like—
SM: Bar clothes.
ME: Yeah. Is that wrong? That I think that?
SM: I don’t think so. I think over-tanned chicks who wear the wrong lipstick and fry their hair all platinum trying to look younger just end up looking older.
ME: Doubly so if they’re wearing a teenager’s wardrobe?
SM: Yeah, that kind of creeps me out. Just because you can fit in your daughter’s clothes—
ME: Doesn’t mean you should wear those clothes.
SM: Right.
ME: That said, did I tell you about the sweater dress?
SM: Many times.


Team-C4 said…
You're learning french so you can stick it to that ticket guy, aren't you?
You can get me the Idiot's guide to Hebrew for Christmas.

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