Saturday, March 17, 2007

Material Girl

A couple of months ago, I realized that I don’t buy clothes for myself unless the need is utterly dire (i.e. shrinking my go-to black pants – argh) or I have money from a gift lying around. So, for my birthday, I asked for gift cards to clothing stores so that I could treat myself to some new stuff. I don’t know if there was a conspiracy behind all of this, but in the end, I had a fistful of gift cards that were all for Ann Taylor. Maybe my family is trying to class me up or something.

Armed with my birthday money and some leftover Christmas funds that were never spent, I headed out to the mall this afternoon. (I had a slight delay while JG and I unearthed my car from a layer of snowcone shavings from yesterday’s ice storm. My car was covered in 4 inches of tiny ice marbles with not even one flake of snow. I had never seen anything like it.) I had plugged a list of things I was looking for into my Palm so that I would stay focused. Shopping is serious business for me.

Ann Taylor was my first stop because my spending there was completely guilt-free. I am very cost-conscious and I pride myself on being a savvy bargain shopper, so the experience of walking straight to the Petites section, choosing items based on size and style, and taking a pile of clothes to a dressing room was totally foreign to me. Usually, I go directly to the sale portion, survey my size section quickly, try on something if it’s marked down at least 50% and I could really use it, decide that it’s not worth the money, and cruise right out of the store. For once, the fit of the clothing was more important to me than the cost, which was strangely liberating. Is this what it’s like to be on What Not to Wear? For the first time ever, I put on a pair of jeans that fit me correctly and immediately made me feel great. Even better, I was able to pick up another pair on the way to the register! At the conclusion of my euphoric experience, I had a bag stuffed with two pairs of jeans, a pair of denim-like pants, a black-and-white dress, and two pieces of jewelry. Get this - I didn’t even spend all my gift card money and the only thing on sale was the pair of pants. It kind of freaks me out.

I emerged from Ann Taylor feeling optimistic about the rest of my day. The first item on my list was a pinstriped suit and I had a few guesses for where I might find it. In store after store, I avoided salespeople and crept around racks of jackets and pants, hoping to find the elusive combination of perfect pinstripe and separates in the right size. I could tell that there were a few of us looking for the same thing. We circled around each other, vying for the “good racks” but trying not to be pushy. We eyed the garments draped over the others’ arms, hoping to spy a pattern that looked desirable. I used my best skills in flicking through the racks to eliminate styles that didn’t come in my size and kept my ears open for cries of discovery. Alas, all of my efforts were to no avail. I could not find a suitable (ha) combination of pants and jacket in a pinstripe that I liked that happened to be for a short person. It’s so depressing to find a pair of pants that have potential and hold them up at the waist, only to find that there are eight inches of fabric pooling by your feet. Sigh.

I checked off a few items on my list (black ballet flats, camisoles), but not finding the one at the top irked me. I drove home with aching feet and an empty stomach, feeling somewhat blah. Excited to hear about my excursion, my sister called me as I parked in the driveway. I recounted my afternoon and found that I was gaining excitement over what I had found and not just what had eluded me. My sister commended me for not bargain shopping for once and said that she was looking forward to seeing all my stuff whenever we get together again. Talking to my sister was a nice way to end my session of retail therapy. It’s almost as good as actually going shopping with her.


alyndabear said...

Sounds like fun - Guilt free shopping, fabulous! :) You'll find the pinstripe suit out there somewhere, most likely when you're not looking for it.

dionna said...

I'm a fellow bargain shopper, thanks to my limited budget. I don't know if I could even shake the habit with gift cards in hand - congrats!!

Sijbrich said...

Ha, you have an 8 inch pool of pant leg at you feet, while I have the opposite experience - the pants end up being several inches too short. I feel your pain.
But yea! for all the fun things you did find!

Jummy said...

Oh, we don't have Ann Taylor here but I did tag along with my friend when she went in there while we were in Syracuse a week ago: they have some really nice things and their petite section is substantial too.

Congrats on your (expensive, heehee) finds. I guess sometimes buying something that fits really well is worth it (I'm a confirmed bargain shopper too)!