The bow-on-the-butt-ship has long since sailed for me, but it’s trying really hard to make a comeback in various stores. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve reached after shopping all last weekend. It could be that outfits with large bows and crazy dart-like patterns that somehow emphasize the nipples, really aren’t in style. They just happen to be on sale at the beginning of January, which is when my birthday falls and the family budget is done. It’s this time of the year that I get giddy and try to “celebrate” by catching all the fantastic sales, but I always get the sinking feeling that I’ve been tricked into settling for leftovers. Just because an item may be 50% off, doesn’t mean I necessarily want it. However, to make sure I learn my lesson and learn it well, I lead Nate like a lamb to slaughter to the outlet mall nearby to help me shop. Poor, poor Nate. Here’s the run-down of “hits and misses” of fashion shopping when Christmas and New Year’s have just passed and thrown down a tornado of garish garments that pinch and pull in unflattering ways. I’ll be sure to sprinkle in tips and cautionary tales below.
Timberland Factory Store: Dangerous conditions loom ahead thanks to the non-existing tread of my hiking shoes. So, if I want to keep up with Nate and Alex, I have to get the right kind of footwear. I’ve always admired the way my husband and son can choose hiking boots that not only hold them steady on the trail, but also look fashionable when walking the streets of Seattle, Vancouver, or Victoria. I, on the other hand, switch to running shoes, which, for some reason, are always loud. The running shoes my achy feet require are never subtle or subdued. They scream, “Look at me! I’m a lady runner in fluorescent pink and blue shoes. I pair them with yoga pants and a dark raincoat, which makes them stand out even more. I’m a serious lady runner! Look at me!” Well, I’m tired of looking like a hard core serious “lady runner.” I want some fur-lined ankle boots that are comfortable and will grip the road. I also want some kick-ass hiking shoes I could wear on the trail or on the mean streets of Stanley Park. And, Timblerand delivered, thank goodness. I walked out of that store with exactly what I wanted. All on sale. Thank you, Timberland for preventing me from slipping and falling on my bow-clad butt.
Famous Footwear Outlet: What about just plain old, go-to-the-grocery store-pick-up-the-kid-from-swim-practice shoes? No problem. I found a pair of comfortable Skechers, on sale. Cha-ching! However, it was difficult to stay focused. There were even more choices of hiking shoes and cute boots, but I couldn’t distract myself from my list of things I needed. Otherwise, I’d never leave—and neither would Nate. So, there’s a tip: Eyes on the prize. Make a budget. Make a list. Stick to them both.
Eddie Bauer Outlet Store: Here, I found four longer shirts to pair with skirts and pants for about $100. Not bad at all. By this time though, Nate was playing with his phone and I had to tell him several times to put the phone down, so the shopping trip was already showing signs of unraveling. Not good.
Hits That Were Almost Misses:
L’eggs, Hanes, Bali, Playtex Outlet Store: In an effort to update my yoga pants, I went to Lulumon first, which was an exciting adventure for Nate. Lulumon pants have a reputation for being sleek. Very sleek. At the outlet store version, there were rows of sexy, stretchy pants. Each one cost $110.
“Maybe there’s a sales rack,” Nate suggested.
“This is the sales rack,” I confirmed.
So, we went to the L’eggs, Hanes, Bali, and Playtex Outlet store, which also had sleek yoga pants, with the added bonus of very discreet dressing rooms, excellent sales clerks, and much more reasonable prices. I found a pair to try on, but a struggle ensued first. Luckily, not many people were in the store to witness the things I said in the dressing room:
“This ***### hurts! Who in the ***### wears these?”
But then, when I finally got them on and paired them with a longer shirt to hide the panty lines and anything else I should probably hide from young children, I liked them. I was exhausted, sore, and sweating profusely, but I decided that I could wear them on the days that I don’t exercise, because getting into them could serve as my “off-day workout.”
Levi’s Outlet Store: My options for church clothes consist of 2-3 pairs of skirts, or jeans, but the jeans seem a little too casual for church, thanks to all of the very convincing finger wagging the nuns did when I was in school. However, I figured if I got a couple of pairs of jeans in different colors, I could fool Jesus into thinking I was wearing pants and not jeans. Before going directly to the Levi’s Outlet Store though, I stopped at the Dress Barn because it looked like I could get my entire “wish list” of skirts, tops, and pants right in one place. However, when I tried on the skirts, tops, and pants, I realized these items just didn’t fit. It was as if designers got together to solve every figure problem women might complain about, but instead of solving these matters, they emphasized them with bows and gathers. More frustrated than flattered, I dragged Nate over to the Levi’s Outlet Store and tried on a pair of olive jeans and black jeans. Done and done.
Banana Republic Factory: Blazers and jackets are my favorite pieces that last a while, but they need to be replaced and, after nearly ten years, I’m due for a replacement. I’ve been keeping my eyes out for the “perfect” jacket/blazer, but I’ve not been able to find anything. Though I did buy a reasonably priced gray blazer at this store, my patience was wearing thin at this point. And Nate wouldn’t put the phone down.
Diane Von Furstenberg:
“Nate, put the phone down and help me, please!” I begged when we’d hit the ninth or tenth store.
“Okay, this should be fun,” Nate replied. “Let’s go to some stores we’ve never tried before.”
Then, he led me into the Diane Von Furstenberg shop.
“Nate, I don’t think we belong here,” I said, pointing to my loud “serious lady runner” shoes.
“Don’t be silly. Look at all of these beautiful clothes!”
“Yes. They’re exactly what I’ve been looking for, but I’m thinking they’re out of my price range.”
Nate suddenly made a loud gulping noise when he flipped over a price tag.
“Let’s get out of here—fast!” he yelled.
Calvin Klein: I have no idea what happened to Calvin Klein. Clothes were just kind of strewn about in what looked like a sidewalk sale caught off guard by a bomb cyclone.
Brooks Brothers Factory Store: This store had all of the jackets and blazers I could have ever hoped for, but they were too expensive—even at “outlet store” prices.
Guess Factory Store: The classic, boxy shapes of blazers that hit just perfectly at the hip, lured me right in from the storefront window. However, upon closer inspection, I realized that these jackets/blazers weren’t quite what I was looking for.
“Is the Michael Jackson look back in style?” I asked Nate.
He shrugged his shoulders. There was no way I’d buy one of those jackets, when I had a perfectly ugly version of them in my closet already. In fact, I now didn’t have to throw it out because apparently it’s back in fashion.
“Well, I’m exhausted and I still don’t have any dress shirts for the skirts I do have. What now?”
“There’s always Kohl’s,” Nate said.
So, we headed to Kohl’s, which had been ripped to shreds by 3 p.m. on a Sunday. I didn’t even try anything on. I just wandered about aimlessly for a good hour, occasionally shaking garments that were still attached to their hangers and saying, “Really? Really, Jennifer López Collection? This is what I’d really wear to the parent teacher conference?” Nate wisely stayed in the car and played with his phone.
Then, I went home and ordered some shirts online. There’s no way of telling if they’ll fit.
Your Turn: What has been your experience shopping for clothes?
Disclaimer: I did not receive any special “Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks” deals or discounts or clothing products from any of the stores I’ve mentioned in this blog post. However, when you shop at these stores, just for laughs and fun, you could mention my blog and see if they offer you a discount, a slap in the face, or a random article of clothing knocked over during a wind/snow storm. If they do, be sure to leave advice/details in the comments section. I’ll offer bonus points if you’re given an article of clothing that has unnecessary, unflattering, or distracting bows and/or gathers.