Here I am again.
It’s morning – zero dark thirty- and I’m standing, bleary-eyed, in front of my closet.
I eye the rack of trousers, tops, and the odd skirt and dress with misgivings. Clothing – in this case, a striped Breton shirt – that looked trendy and chic when I tried it on in the store fitting room somehow morphs into something very different when I get it home.
In the dressing room, I imagined I looked like Bridgette Bardot in my blue-and-white striped top, or perhaps Audrey Hepburn in Two for the Road.
Now? In the unforgiving reflection of my bedroom mirror, I look more like Gerard Depardieu wearing a circus tent.
How can this be? I wonder in despair. Do department store dressing rooms have trick mirrors? Is the lighting different? Do they pump some sort of undetectable brainwashing chemical inside?
Where did that belly bulge come from? And what’s up (or down) with my left ass cheek?
I used to love shopping for clothes. As teens, my best friend Peg and I would go to the nearest mall and seek out the snootiest, most expensive department store. We’d pretend to study the $200 dresses and $50 scarves. When a sales lady would approach, we’d break into gales of laughter. ‘May I help you?’ she’d ask, her expression making it plain she thought us beyond help.
“Oh, no thanks,” we’d say between snickers and snorts, “we’re just-” more snickers, more snorts “-laughing at the prices.” Then we’d high-tail it out of there, overcome with mirth at our hilarious fourteen-year-old selves.
The sales lady did not share our amusement.
When I landed my first real job (real, as in it had benefits and required a working wardrobe), I couldn’t wait to go shopping. I bought a suit from Raleigh’s Haberdasher. It wasn’t boring black or tiresome tweed. No, it was subversively, defiantly purple. In that suit, I morphed from a girl into A Woman To Be Reckoned With. (Well… at least in my own mind, I did.)
Then came kids, and more full-time jobs, and my time to shop dwindled. So I turned to mail-order catalogs. Fashion came second in those days to comfort. Would that I could’ve gone to work in a baggy Esprit sweatshirt and leggings! Instead, I compromised with slacks and blouses I found in Land’s End or J Crew catalogues.
Now? I’d rather strip wallpaper than shop. Or weed the garden and get dirt under my fingernails. Anything but wade through rack after rack of looks-great-on-the-hanger-but-looks-crap-on-me clothing. The latest trends – short plaid kilts, vertiginous high-heeled booties – while cute, are made for a younger, more daring woman than me… and probably one with better legs, too.
But I’m okay with that. I’ll stick with my slim-cut trousers (with a hidden panel to hold in the belly bulge) and my striped Breton shirt…
… even if I do look a little like Gerard Depardieu.