I had a really, really intense and unique (for me) experience today. I went clothes shopping for… seven hours!! It was craaaaaaazy! My friend A., who is totally a clone of Stacey on What Not To Wear, offered to take me clothes shopping and hold my hand and give me advice since I am such a total deer in the headlights.
A. has taken me shopping a few other times in the past ten years- but those times, it was because I was feeling hopeless about being overweight and she was trying to show me that I could still find things that looked decent even if I didn’t feel great about my body. This was the first time that I have gone shopping – I think in about thirty years – where I actually got any pleasure from it.
My relationship with clothes is almost as complicated as my relationship with food! Basically, my “before” wardrobe consisted of everything that was either black or brown, shapeless, drab, with no “adornment” (A’s word). She used to describe my clothing as “mouse-colored pajamas.”
I owned (until today) four pairs of shoes. A pair of Dansko clogs for everyday, a pair of really ugly slip on sandals for warmer weather, a pair of Uggs for super cold weather, and running shoes. THAT IS IT. My feet are really really wide, and my arches are flat as pancakes, and most shoes out there are very painful.
We spent two hours in the shoe department alone, and my head nearly exploded. But I did prevail and I actually bought three pairs of shoes – that fit me, were comfortable and actually nice looking. Here is one of my new pairs of shoes. Check out the little gray and pink flowers! They look sort of sandallish, but guess what – they are really clogs in disguise. Which is why they feel magnificent.
It’s funny. Our plan was to meet around 11:30. I figured we would shop for maybe half an hour, have lunch, shop for maybe an hour more tops, and that would be MORE than enough. When I was staggering around with 20 pieces of clothing about an hour in, and said, “I think this is plenty,” A. just looked at me and laughed. Clearly she was just getting started.
I probably tried on fifty pieces of clothing. My main objective was to purchase a festive outfit for our friend W.’s wedding celebration party tomorrow. (the actual marriage took place a while back, this was a post-wedding party) Casual, but festive. It’s going to be at their house and yard, where they have goats. Not super formal by any means.
As we passed by a rack of dresses, A. pointed out this navy blue Cleopatra kind of dress with all sorts of gold “adornment.” I nearly wet my pants from laughing. “Yeah RIGHT!” She ignored my close-minded attitude and swept it up, putting it onto the three foot high pile in my arms.
When I literally could not hold up the quantity of clothing any longer, we went into a dressing room and I started trying on things at a manic pace. My friend sat and “evaluated” each outfit, why it “worked,” why it didn’t. It was truly a revelation. For one, I never had any concept of what might look good on me – my motto was, the bigger and floppier and more nondescript, the better. But here she was talking about my shoulders, my “waist,” (ha ha ha!) my legs and butt and all of it. And I started understanding more about myself and why certain things actually DID look better than others.
I tried on the gold-adorned Cleopatra dress. She said, “O my god, that looks great!” and I had to take a double take in the mirror. It actually did not look bad. But ME? Wear a GOLD-ENCRUSTED dress?
Let me pause here and say that I HAVE NOT WORN A DRESS IN FIFTEEN YEARS. I have one dress that I bought for a wedding fifteen years ago, and it is so ancient and ridiculous I have had to swear to both my daughters that I will never wear it again and not in their presence.
So here I was wearing a gold-adorned Cleopatra dress. And pigs were flying past the dressing room door, and hell was freezing over. But hey, Barack Obama is now president. ANYthing is possible, right??
I bought the dress. Along with a bunch of other things, some of which I adore more than I can say. I bought some Romanesque sandals to go with the Cleopatra dress.
I am going to post pictures. Yes I am! But I realize that these pictures will not have much impact unless I post my “before” pictures first. I’m going to do it. So here’s the befores. You’ll see the Cleopatra outfit tomorrow, and then the rest of the clothes later next week. Macy’s (where all this debauchery took place) is having some crazy storewide 25% off sale (YAHOO) but the catch is that you can’t actually HAVE the clothes until April 29th. Don’t ask. I don’t understand really, but I was willing to do that since I saved a bucketload of money.
The one thing we did NOT do was visit the makeup counter. Another place where I get incredibly nervous and feel like I am eight years old and playing grownup. We’ll have to save that for another time.
PHOTO UPDATE: Here are my hideous “before” pics, along with some pics of the Cleopatra dress.