I’m going to fess up front here – this one’s about clothes. You’ve been warned.
Around this time every year I tend to look in the old closet and cringe a bit. Shopping is not on my top ten list of favorite activities – at least not for myself. I get itchy and self conscious and flustered and desperate to be outside. But sometimes I have to face facts and realize that when the sweaters have vents in the elbows and the shirts are faded and the dresses are drooping, it’s time to grow up already and get myself out and buy a few new things.
This is the moment when my natural disinclination for shopping runs headlong into my miserable memory and creates a disaster because when will I ever learn that shopping is a team sport? I grumble my way around the mall all by myself, tsking like an old lady at the prices and recoiling at my reflection under the fluorescent dressing room lighting. The last time I tried it, I confirmed that all dressing rooms should come equipped with business card dispensers for local therapists. On-call.
Last week, I was feeling both brave and desperate, so I headed up to the shops with one major plan – Anthropologie. I might still groan about the prices, but at least I’d get to revel in the store design, and the fabrics, and the way their dressing room lighting actually murmurs soft compliments the whole time you’re in there. (Which can be a bit misleading, but I’ll take it.) I really did try that day, but I walked out with just one black turtleneck top that was on sale and somewhat predictable. It’s actually quite nice. I have it on right now.
Right after that, though, I had the unbelievable good fortune to bump into my friends Nuran and Jill, and everything changed. They wanted to see what I bought. I showed them. “It’s black!” Nuran said.
“Come with me.”
And with that, Nuran grabbed me by the arm and dragged me back into the store. She started throwing clothes at me. “You’re going to try this on, and we have to see that. THIS is a great color for you.”
“Don’t argue with me. Just try it on.”
Talk about pushy. But Nuran is always right. Jill was also giving me ideas and trying to protect me a bit. They grabbed clothes that I’d just walked by and never even considered. I thought they were a bit crazy but it seemed safer to just ride the current and see what happened. Can I also say they still only took things from the sale racks? That’s important.
They hauled me into the dressing room, checked everything out and told me what they thought. They said charming things like, “I hate you – look at those legs.” God love them.
In the end, I had too many choices. I couldn’t decide, so they suggested that I put it all on hold and stroll around to mull it over, which I did. We said good bye and I thanked them for the rescue. Shortly afterwards, I got a text from Nuran – ‘Where are u? I have somthng to show u.’ They turned up a few minutes later with a box – they’d bought me one of the skirts I was looking at, for my birthday. I am not making this up. Like a total attitude overhaul wasn’t enough.
The next day, I wore one of my new outfits around town. It has a great 50s feeling to it – one of the other mums at school said I was “channeling my inner Betty Draper.”
You don’t have to tell me – I know the bike helmet really completes the look. Mmm.
(I had a great string of vintage beads from my friend Lori that had the exact same green as the skirt. Sweet!)
Ok listen up, fellow shopping detesters – I’ve seen the light. You need teammates. The kind who will, through gentle guidance or outright bullying, get you to expand your image of yourself. They’ll tell you what looks good and give confidence to wear what you truly like. Yes, it is frivolous. Yes, your confidence should come from within and your clothes shouldn’t make a difference, except for the fact that they do because we make visual decisions and judgements incessantly, subconsciously, and we can’t stop it.
On Friday, I rode my bike around town with a grin on my face because I felt terrific, and it wasn’t just the cut of my new skirt, or the lovely compliments I received that gave me such a boost. It was camaraderie.