Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Shopping News

As I write this I am wearing a necklace.

I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, except that this is, to the best of my knowledge, the second necklace I've purchased for myself since 1979.

I am not a shopper. There are reasons for this. One, my weight tends to fluctuate twenty pounds this way, then twenty pounds that way, so 50% of the time I can't abide the idea of trying on new clothes (or any clothes, for that matter). It's depressing. Add this to the fact that my mother is a notorious tightwad and as a result of her training it is nearly impossible for me to buy anything that isn't on sale, reduced by at least 40%, preferably 80%. Which means I'm forced to shop in the dregs.

Also: When left to my own devices, I will buy nothing but black vee neck tee shirts and khaki capris and black shoes. That's it. I don't, as a rule, accessorize.

But last year I had a somewhat transforming shopping experience, thanks to my friend Danielle. I had to buy outfits for upcoming author visits at various schools. Danielle, who is very stylish and always accessorizes, went with me to Kohl's, parked me in the dressing room, and began bringing in clothes for me to try on. She brought in shoes. She brought in jewelry. She picked things I never would have thought would look good on me, but they did. She picked things I never would have picked in a million years, but I really liked them once I tried them on. It was my own episode of "What Not to Wear."

I learned a lot shopping with Danielle. Have I applied what I learned to shopping sessions since? Well, I do make myself try on things that I might not normally try on, and I try on things even when they're not on sale (so many of the nicer garments never are). Those have been good lessons. A big lesson is, sometimes it pays to pay more. You pay for quality, and quality lasts. This is a hard truth for the daughter of a tightwad, but I'm trying to absorb it.

But I still haven't gotten the knack for accessorizing. Mostly, it's laziness. Who has time to pore over the racks of jewelry, all of it looking pretty much the same? I have all kinds of loopy and hoopy earrings, dangling earrings don't work with my hair, and all the rest of the earrings look like earrings I already have.

But today I had to buy a dress to wear to a wedding this weekend. It's a church wedding followed by a parish hall reception. People will dress nicely, but not city-fancy-nice. Many of the younger women in attendance will wear dresses that are too slinky and tight and only one or two of them at most will get away with it.

I found a simple dress, black and gray and pink, scoop necked, just below the knee hemline. Pretty, but not too formal for this kind of wedding. It fit,it looked nice. But with that scoop neck, I knew--because I have been tutored by Danielle--that I needed a necklace. And probably some earrings to go with the necklace. So I went to the jewelry counter and begin sorting through strand after strand of necklaces until I found some black pearls (fake) strung at one-inch intervals on a silver chain. Pretty. I found some pink pearl (fake) earrings that matched the pink in the dress.

In short, Reader, I accessorized. I bought two black vee neck tee shirts to celebrate, and when I got home, I put on my necklace, which I've been wearing all day. I wore it to pick up Will from school and suddenly felt at home among all those chic kindergarten mothers I see everyday and up til now have always felt apart from.

Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll go out and buy a bracelet. I am swooning at the very thought.


Ali said...

I'm cheering you! I'm exactly the same about accessories. But since I began working in the bookshop, I feel the customers are entitled to a little more effort. And guess what? I'm enjoying it!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

It's fun, isn't it? What I've realized is that I really enjoy it when other people show a little style, and that with a little help from my friends one day maybe I can be stylish too!

Heather said...

I have a wicked sensitivity to metals. So my accessories? Shoes. Oh yes, I am all about the shoes. Huh, maybe that's why I knit so many funky socks.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

And don't forget the scarves, Heather. They make mighty fine accessories as well.

My husband gets irritated with me because almost every time I go out shopping for clothes, all I return with is shoes ... By the way, I bought a pair of sandals today that originally cost $39.95 and were marked down to $3.95--and I swear they're cute. Okay, they're a size too small, but still, very cute!

Our Red House said...

Sounds gorgeous!

I know what you mean about accesories. I think the problem is that I spent so many years accessorised by nappy bags, babies, prams, baby slings and so on, that real accessories always seemsed a bit much.


Tracy said...

Who knows...maybe one day you'll change your earrings every day to match your outfit!!!!

I did that for about 12 months. Then we went away for 3 weeks and I had nothing in my ears. I've had gold sleepers in ever since!

Kristin Joy said...

Thanks for sharing your shopping experiences. Last weekend I too shopped at Kohls.