Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dressed Out

I am not a shopper. Since not all shopping expeditions are created equally I have rankings within my list of Most Dreaded Shopping Outings (MDSOs). For instance, while I don't particularly enjoy grocery shopping, I do enjoy cooking and eating. This means grocery shopping makes the MDSO list, but just barely. At the other end of the spectrum would be Walmart. I despise Walmart. I would almost rather go to the dentist than Walmart.

There is only one thing worse in the MDSO rankings than Walmart and that is clothes shopping. The first strike against it is most of the clothes stores are at the mall. I am not on friendly terms with malls. The second strike is the change room mirrors. There must be some sort of legislation that requires mirrors in change rooms to:

1. Make you look 3 inches shorter.

2. Make you look 3 inches wider.

3. Reveal every imperfection you normally work to keep concealed, plus adding some that weren't there before you happened to glance in the offending mirror.

The third strike, the one that sends the whole affair to the top of the MDSO list, is the clothes themselves. Racks and racks of nothing.

So, given my opinion of clothes shopping you can imagine how inspired I was to shop for a dress to wear to Rebekah's wedding. Several weeks ago I came to grips with the fact that the wedding day was rapidly approaching and I could no longer put off the inevitable. Alexandra and I were going to town to run some errands, and one of the jobs was going to take us to the mall. I figured as long as I was there I might as well get it over with.

It's been a few weeks. I think I have healed sufficiently to be able to relate the experience without having a breakdown. It was grim. Very grim. By the time it was finished I had tried on at least a dozen dresses, four skirts, and more blouses and shirts than I could keep track of. I won't bore you with individual descriptions of each and every item. Why do that when one word would suffice? Hideous. I kid you not. Every single item I tried on was a disaster.

Several of the dresses were of a similar style, so I am presuming it must be the height of fashion at the moment. They all did this weird scrunching thing at the front, but weirder still was the fact the scrunching was in a random curve. Think of how the sickle was on the old Soviet flag, make it a bit bigger, and you've more or less got the idea.  It reminded me of what happens when the thread on my sewing machine gets screwed up and bunches the material. This would be something I consider a bad outcome, not a design feature. The effect when I tried these dresses on was breathtaking. Breathtaking in the sense that when I looked in the mirror I almost had a heart attack.

It was mostly good having Alexandra there because she kept going back and forth bringing me more items to try on. The drawback was she insisted I try things on that simply were not me. At one point I looked at a shirt she was handing me and said it wouldn't work. She rolled her eyes, sighed, and said, "That's why you need someone to go shopping with you mom. Just try it on." Presumably she meant if I was on my own I would stick to the boring "mom" kind of clothes.

There was one skirt and blazer I found that I thought had potential. They were a beautiful plum colour, and they actually looked like something I might wear more than once. I was informed by my fashion consultant (Alexandra) that I couldn't wear the blazer because it was the same colour as the skirt. It was too boring. Whatever. I was willing to just go with the skirt and a nice shirt. I do love plum! The next problem was the sizing on the skirt. The size 8 would have fallen off, which really isn't the outcome you want at your daughter's wedding. And the size 4 would have split if I inhaled, which also would not have been a good outcome. Unfortunately the only size 6 was on a mannequin that was going to take two store employees considerable time to strip. They were saved from having to disrobe the dummy because in the end I couldn't find a shirt to go with the skirt. So much for plum.

When I got home I made a cup of tea and went out to the back deck to try and recover. That was when it happened. It was my Harrison Ford moment. Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where he was fighting the guy in the back alley, whip in hand? Then he gets this funny look on his face, kind of shrugs, pulls out his gun and just shoots the guy? It was like that, only the enemy I was fighting was the dress and the whip was the mall. And the gun?

The Lands" End catalog of course! I sat there with my tea and my iPad and in ten minutes flat I had picked out and ordered a dress. A classic, guaranteed not to go out of style before August, sewn by somebody not using hallucinogenic drugs dress. My only regret is I didn't think of it sooner.


  1. I am in fits of entirely sympathetic, laughter here ... I would so have the same experience! Glad you solved the problem without needing another trip to the mall Harrison, I mean Kristie ;)

  2. Woohoo!! I loathe loathe LOATHE clothes shopping at the moment....catalogue shopping sounds a great idea !!

  3. I feel the same way about shopping for clothes. Is it my imagination, or is it uncomfortably warm in changing rooms??? Style isn't an issue for me, blue, gray, black, brown dress slacks are a breeze to find (I just don't like clothes shopping), but shirts are a challenge--20" neck. I should move someplace where accountants don't have to wear ties.

    Gotta love those moments of inspiration! =)

  4. @Annie - Remember, there were still the shoes to be purchased, so I did end up making one more trip to the mall. I just didn't think I could get the size right if I ordered those, but I was sure tempted. :-) Glad I could make you laugh!

    @Luvvie - Catalog shopping is the way to go. No racks of clothes to sift through, no change rooms with their dreadful mirrors, and no overly or underly helpful sales staff. It is perfect!

    @Ric - I am sure Lands' End sells men's shirts. Once you figure out your size with them you are set. You would never have to experience an uncomfortably warm change room again. Or maybe move to one of those island nations where people hide their money. I am quite sure sketchy accountants in tropical climates are not required to wear ties. :-)

  5. I can so relate to your post! I am not a shopper, either. Especially a clothes shopper. You failed to mention the ghastly lighting in change rooms-- makes me feel like I am truly sick and dying. And then the change rooms that have dirty floors. Ick.

    When you order online, how do you know you're going to like the way the dress looks if you haven't tried it on? I would love to shop for clothing that way.

    Great post!

  6. Kristie,

    This is funny, but I can totally relate. You reminded me why I hardly go shopping anymore. I don't even like grocery shopping but I have to. I usually buy a few items on my walk in the US or in Japan. I don't own car anymore. And Walmart is one of my precious choices because it's possible to get there on foot. Talking of Walmart, I have an idea for my new blog.

  7. @Aneta - I forgot about the lighting. Another horrible feature. Ewww, and the dirty floors. As far as ordering it can be a bit risky. At Lands' End they have a comment section with each item so you can see what people are saying about the fit. Still, I didn't open the bag for a full day out of fear that the dress wouldn't work and I would have to go back to the mall.

    @Keiko - I have noticed that although women have a reputation for being shoppers almost every woman I know hates shopping. It is kind of strange if you think about it. If Walmart was within walking distance and I didn't have a car I would probably be forced to upgrade my opinion of them! Looking forward to seeing what you have to say in your next blog post.

  8. Tomorrow you'll see my solution to a summer wedding dress (I've got a family wedding to attend next week-end).

    I bet you like yarn shopping though .... :-) Or book shopping!

  9. I hate shopping, too. It exhausts me. I don't care if I have to pay return shipping, I love mail order. If I can't wear something for at least several years, I really don't want to own it. Have you ever seen/tried Flax? I think it may run large, and you sound small, but it is simple cuts, made mostly of linen. I love it for work.

  10. Thanks Kristie--that's funny about the kids. With my own, I've found myself thinking, "I've asked you 12,000 times to *whatever the thing is*", but I've never said it. I have snapped at them on occasion without having complete information and then had to apologize--and also explain the sequence of events to help them understand my mistake. Ugh! I really hate that, so I try my best to avoid it. =)

  11. @kate - I like your dress! It is similar in style to what I bought. And you are right about yarn and book shopping being exceptions to my rule!

    @Mary Lou - Thanks for the tip. I will checkout the Flax site. You are exactly right about not wanting to own something that won't be in style for several years. Some of the stuff I tried on didn't look like it would still be in style for the August wedding, let alone next year!

    @Ric - You clearly have more patience than me. I have pointed out multiple times my family's negligence. :-)

  12. Oh Kristie, you made me laugh by using that image of Harrison Ford with the gun against the guy with the whip -- one of my all-time favorite scenes! As for clothes shopping, I use Lands' End and LL Bean for probably 70% of my clothing needs because I despise malls too. I'm lucky that my life allows me to dress casually most of the time I suppose, or my system wouldn't work as well....

  13. Clothes shopping is the worst. I have an hourglass figure, but apparently that means that I shouldn't have both hips and a bust. Someday I will find something that fits me and that I can afford.

    I'm glad that you found something.