Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Shopping Out of My League

Last night I convinced D and E to take me to Coldwater Creek to take advantage of their 50%-off sale. Their prices are way out of my range without such a sale. They're still a challenge with a sale!

But I've finally faced up to the fact that I simply don't have the wardrobe I need for my teaching position and my ministry position.

The problem (?) for me is that I've been shopping at Thrift Stores since high school, lo so many years ago. And not just Thrift Stores, but on "fill-a-bag-for-a-dollar" day at Thrift Stores. Even when that has meant having to scrounge around in the Thrift Store parking lot, where the extra cheapy items are unceremoniously dumped in piles on old sheets.

On my truly extravagant days, I venture into Target. And weigh, with a heavy heart, the possibility of paying ten bucks for a shirt.

But I've recently thought that a little extra investment might go a long way in helping my professional appearance, especially as I have some trouble with folks believing I'm over 21. (Though I'm about to turn 37!)

So off to the store last night, with my two guys in tow. I think I knew I was in trouble when D & E settled themselves in the leather couch situated cozily next to a lit, gas fireplace. I handed them our cell phone so they could play a game of chess while I wandered off into the store's vastness. I wandered back about fifteen minutes later. "How ya' doin'?" D asked.

"I'm a little overwhelmed," I admitted. "Too many choices."

My return to them had been like a satellite's return into the gravitational pull of a planet. Just long enough to send me back out with greater velocity.

Next time I returned with two sweaters and held them up for approval. I'd chosen first for price markdown, second for color and style. Both were met with underwhelming approval.

So on the next orbit, D & E joined me. This time, D picked up a few things as suggestions. I found a couple others. I steered him away from any non-sale items. He steered me away from always choosing black.

Finally, I had a smattering of options to go try on. I started heading toward the dressing room and nearly plowed into a sales person (attendant? associate? consultant?). The near collision made me disoriented, and I said uncomprehendingly, "Oh! Dressing rooms?" She pointed me back in the direction I'd been heading.

Another consultant (I like consultant best) stood at the doorway ironing shirts as she refolded them. (Yep, ironing them.) I said, stupidly I soon realized, "Do I need, y'know, a number?" She shook her head sort of sadly, as if I were some wayward peasant, "No, my dear. Just head on in."

"Oh, of course." I attempted my recovery.

I selected a stall (room? boudoir?) and set my things on the bench with the leather cushion. Just as I was about to close the door, the consultant I'd collided with inquired: "May I have your name for the dressing room?"

"Excuse me?"

"May I have your name for the dressing room?"

It was in that moment that I felt certain I would not be buying anything that night. I was out of my shoppping league.

Still, I followed through and tried on the first outfit. A beautiful tunic-shaped shirt in rich burgundy/purplish colors and velvet pants. Hmmm. I went out to show my companions. Well, I attempted to. Except the door (la port) to my boudoir was stuck. (Had she put my name on it then locked me in? Why do they lock people into boudoirs here? Is there some bell I'm supposed to ring? No, I can't be locked in!) I tried again. Pull, pull, ah! Got it!

I padded out to the guys. "Huh," said D. "They look more like pj's than I thought possible." (That had been my initial concern before I'd taken them into the boudoir.) E added thoughtfully: "Highly spiritual pj's."

I went back to my room and emerged again (after some struggle) for the second option. Also discouraging. So I went back a final time and put on my peasant's clothes and left everything else in the boudoir. The consultant was walking by as I yanked my door open. "That door sticks, doesn't it?" she offered with some pity.

It was all a lost cause for me.


Katherine said...

They are kinda pj-ish... though certainly fancy, liturgical pjs. I'm still toughing it out in Target and Marshalls, but every so often it dawns on me that shirts that don't cost $10 (or 4.98 on clearance) are less likely to pill and bust their seams.

Good luck with your next attempt!

Emily said...

I invest in nice jackets that look good with clergy shirts/collars from Chicos', Coldwater and J.Jill, and black pants and skirts from less fancy operations. I always get complimented on the stand-out jackets, and who notices just another pair of black pants?

Mary Beth said...

I so identify with the shopping disability. My DH now goes clothes shopping for me (without me!) and generally does really well!

JWD said...

Thanks for the commiseration, friends! I took myself to Ross today and was right at home in all the chaos. Found a few nice things. Thanks for the tip, Emily! What a great idea!

Liturgical pj's. tee hee!

see-through faith said...

I loved this :)

In the UK I feel as disoriented in a bakers. I end up pointing and saying I'll take that one please.

Clothing shopping is no fun ... but I must say the fireplace and armchairs sounded good. Did they serve hot chocolate too :)

Lorna said...

Oh and Em your advice was wonderful. I'm very short (4'10") and buying anything is traumatic - except when I'm in the US Canada because the petite jackets fit and trousers can still be shortened :)