how not to shop

In an effort to break free from the soul-crushing despair this journal has become, to bring some pointless frivolity to the melodramatic, whiny ranting, I figured I would share my newly found shopping tips. Clothing shopping tips. Right, I want to tell you how to shop for clothes.

I realize shopping advice from me, the self-admitted crappiest clothing shopper on earth may seem a bit odd. But if we learn from our mistakes, then I must surely be a wise shopping guru woman, dispensing shopping wisdom from my place aloft the highest shopping peak. Or at least, I can tell you what not to do is what I’m saying.

I’ve had many learning opportunities of late, as all of my clothing is either completely hideous or doesn’t fit to the point that I look like a coat rack, flailing about in the jackets with my too many arms and stubby legs. I’ve had no choice but to brave the stores and the malls and the internet with the perky salespeople and racks of ugliness, like cardboard and curtains stitched together by blind lobsters without thumbs (not that seeing lobsters tend to have thumbs, just go with me on this) and crazy cartoon carnival house mirrors and did I mention this? with their clothes that refuse to fit me because apparently I am indeed the aforementioned coat rack.

So, what have I learned?

Clearly, regardless of how lazy one might be, one should not just randomly grab clothing and bring it home, with the good intentions of trying it on there and returning if it’s not quite right. Especially when that one is me, the one currently on the road to hell paved with those shiny good intentions. I discovered this tip years ago, but I’m caught up this loop of madness wherein I repeat the same behavior and somehow expect a different result. Like maybe the clothing fairy will return all the poor choices for me and replace them with gleaming racks of gloriousness and light while I’m sleeping.

I thought this process might be a bit easier if I shopped online. After all, you can’t possibly try things on before you buy them, so no lack-of-trying-on guilt! And how hard can it be to find a box, fill out the form, drive to the post office and… Right. I guess I didn’t quite think that one all the way through.

Another bad habit of mine is that I refuse to shop in places where clothing is less than a thousand dollars an item. Not that I’m willing to spend a thousand dollars on any one item, which makes the buying process a little more difficult. Maybe those discount stores remind me of my childhood a little too much, when I spent my hours of back-to-school shopping at thrift stores, going through rack after rack after musty, crowded, hopeless rack.

I tried going into Marshall’s again earlier today and was reminded as to why I normally drive right on by. Everything is too big for me, except for the space between the racks, which is way too small, and I have to cut my way through the clothing like I’m in a dark jungle, dodging shoppers who are oblivious that anyone else might possibly be in the store and might need to get by them to get the hell out already because I am suffocating and please don’t make me shop here anymore. (Why oh why can’t there be a Target near me so I could do my inexpensive clothes shopping in peace?)

But, again, it’s not that your more expensive-type stores are any better. For one thing, everything is a thousand dollars, which yes, is a drawback. And knowing that, it’s best to consider price tags before purchasing. Or you might end up paying over two hundred for two belts. Not that I’ve ever known this to happen. I’m just saying that it’s possible. You know, hypothetically.

OK, fine, here’s what happened.

I really did need new belts and I’d been looking for them everywhere except that I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but belt makers apparently think it’s the 80s rather than 2007 already, my god people, seriously. 2007. Not 1986. Ahem. Anyway, all the belts for women are those super wide, angled, generally white, possibly with bangles, crappy crappy horribleness that I could barely wear the first time it was hip. OK, so I wore it the first time, but I was much younger and stupider then. I wore those black rubber bracelets too. And put crazy scarves in my hair! My permed hair! No, I don’t have pictures. Anyway, the point is that I have been searching for normal belts for months, the kind that will actually go through the belt loops in jeans and the only ones I found were at this shoe store in New York so I was all ready to buy them but then the guy mentioned that they don’t come with belt buckles. Seriously, you’re supposed to find your own buckles and figure out how the hell to put them on. That was never happening. I declined the belts.

So, I was at this store the other day and I tried on this dress, because you know, my whole if only I were pretty, why can’t I wear ribbons and curtsy and and oh yeah it’s because ribbons tend to clash with the weight of the fucking world on my shoulders and could I possibly whine anymore, but sometimes I still want ribbons. Right. Because of that. I tried on this dress and it was honestly, the prettiest, floatiest dress you’ve ever seen and it had ruffles, but not too many and it was the color of the sky and it twirled and sang and danced. And it was $715. The dress went right back on the rack.

So, you see, after that experience, you would think I would check the price tags on the belts. But I saw the belts and I was like, finally, belts that won’t make me look like I’m in a Cindy Lauper video. I must have these belts! And so I marched them right up to the counter. And managed to look convincingly nonchalant when the cashier asked me for $213. Oh, $213? Of course, just the price I would expect to pay for two small strips of leather with ugly metal attached to the end. Absolutely.

The other problem with these stores is that they remind me how completely frantic my life has become and how mere seconds can seem like an eternity and I could have answered three email in those twenty seconds, please let me take my blackberry and my diamond-encrusted belts and go! But no. The cashier has to first wrap the items in tissue paper. And then tape the tissue paper. And then lovingly place the tissue paper in a bag. And then tie ribbons around the bag. And curl the ribbon. And bring the bag around the side of the counter because Lord knows I couldn’t possibly be expected to lift anything as heavy as two belts over a counter. And honestly, I hope those belts are enjoying all the attention because when I get them home I’m going to tear them out of the paper (if I can get those damn ribbons untied), throw away the bag, and shove them into a dark and lonely drawer with nothing to cushion them. Well, maybe socks.

My impatience at the tissue wrapping ceremony makes me wonder if I’m becoming a little too high strung. I have a friend who talks to the various people he meets as he walks in and out of stores and it is an absolute joy to walk around with him or even be on the phone with him while he’s doing it because he just brings calm and happiness everywhere he goes. Like there’s all the time in the world. And I think, I should be more like that rather than furtively checking my watch (you know, if I had one), wondering how much longer the ribbon curling will take.

But back to my shopping tale, which does in fact have a happy ending. I did find a dress online that was not $715, I did manage to escape the Marshall’s with no dire effects, and no one has tried to hang a coat on me yet. And hey, I did get that ribbon I wanted so much. Perhaps my future as a shopper isn’t so doomed after all. I just need someone with me at all times to check the belt prices.

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