Sunday, May 10, 2009


Today I went 'shopping' for the first time in perhaps 20 years. 

Let me clarify. 

There are a lot of kinds of shopping. There is the act of purchasing food or other necessities. There is directed, time efficient shopping (doing errands really) - such as buying gym clothes or new shirts for work. And then there is that other kind. It's often called "window shopping" although I think of window shopping as more passive than the special kind I speak of. The kind of shopping I refer to is where you go look at clothes, especially dresses and jeans, with no intention of buying anything, but for fun and to see, as my grandmother would have said, "what they're wearing." It's not so dissimilar from looking through a fashion magazine, except that it's done in the flesh. It is best accomplished with one good honest friend, with no time constraint, certainly with no children, preferably with no husband (although some husbands can be good partners for short periods of time, mine included). It should also include lunch and outdoor meandering. This special shopping is not undertaken very often, usually not in one's own city and generally it happens by accident - if the stores have good stuff, aren't crowded, a helpful sales rep is found, etc. In its most blissful form, the focus is learning about clothes and styles just for the pure girly fun of it. Before today, I can't even remember shopping in this way in at least 11 years. 

What it does not entail is frantically seeking out any dress that doesn't look awful because you have to go to an unappealing but obligatory event in 4 days and you have put off this horrid task until now and everything in your closet is circa 2002, too tight or both. That kind I've done a lot of.

Today I finally got to partake in the special kind. One of my dearest and serendipitously most fashion knowledgeable friends was in town. It was beautiful - sunny, breezy, excellent meandering weather. My darling husband happily took the kids for several hours - it is Mother's Day after all. And perhaps most importantly, for the first time in at least 11 years, the clothes fit me. This is hard to explain. By 'fit' I don't mean I came out of the dressing room and saw Giselle in the mirror. Of course not! I'm almost middle-aged and have cellulite and 2 pregnancies and 22 months of nursing under my belt! But for the past many years, all I would see when trying on clothes was the 32 or so pounds I just lost. They upstaged everything else - the design of the clothes, the rest of my body. The 32 pounds meant that nothing fit well. Just going up a size didn't really work. Things pulled in the upper arms, hips and butt, weren't flattering when fitted, and the parts left bare looked so mushy and undefined. Bigger sizes were just baggy and shapeless. The whole endeavor was an unpleasant disaster.

In contrast, today when I tried on clothes, I just saw the clothes. This was not even true 5 pounds ago. But today I critiqued the color, cut and style of the clothes in general, and in particular on me, but in a calm unemotional way. This was truly a revelation. We tried on cocktail dresses and jeans. We picked up shoes. We made fun of the weird new 'bra' contraptions made of tape and glue. We talked about style and pattern.

Shopping was fun! I bonded with my friend. We had a great time.

I may even do more of it. One day I might actually even buy something.

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