Now that I have thoroughly documented the universe’s unfairness toward me in the mammary department, it is time to move on to a story with a more satisfying end. It is a classic story, actually, and one that is ever evolving. From time immemorial, women have sought to drape their bodies with shimmering fabrics in which to glide by the populace as a vision of grace and beauty. No doubt the first garments were coarse and mean, but as our skills with weaving and sewing increased, so did the varieties of women’s clothing throughout the world.
And women noticed. At the well, at tribal gatherings, at the place of worship, I am sure every woman knew what every other woman was wearing and uttered words, such as “Hey. She’s wearing the same loosely draped toga type dress that I’m wearing!” As civilizations grew in complexity, so did norms of what women were expected to wear. The invention of the printing press made possible the fashion magazine. With the Industrial Revolution came ready to wear clothing though many women sewed their own dresses. Styles came and went, causing the need for women to refresh their wardrobes more often. We continued to notice clothing and to see it as an extension of ourselves. Women all over the world were united with this ubiquitous phrase: I have NOTHING to wear!
In today’s world, as a post fifty woman, I have found shopping for clothing to be almost as difficult as balancing a twenty pound basket of laundry on my head, walking to the river, and pounding said laundry with rocks in the hot sun in order to have something to wear for the next day’s religious rites. I have found it as tiring as sitting in front of an industrial Singer sewing machine in a locked factory for twelve hours a day sewing men’s shirt collars in order to buy three yards of muslin for an every day dress. It has surely been as taxing as using the green velvet dining room curtains to make an alluring gown for Scarlett O’Hara.
Styles are different now. One can wear anything, except that one can’t find anything suitable. What goes with what? Is that thing a shirt or a dress? Do people really wear shirts that show their bra straps? Are we expected to go back through the bell bottoms and maxi skirts we already wore in college?
Or, since I am over 40, am I relegated to the Sag Harbor department, to forever deck myself out in elastic waisted twill pants with matching jacket? That, my friends is not what I call a vision of grace and beauty!
While I am grateful not to live in a world which requires me to appear in a blue wool suit with gloves, hat and hose, I long for some of the “go to ” stores we used to have back in my youth: Casual Corner, Franklin Simon, the Clothes Horse. Back then we had salesladies who helped us with our selections and brought us other sizes. We could buy an entire outfit, including accessories, all at the same place. Those were the days.
But even if we still had those stores, I don’t wear junior sizes anymore. The stores we do have are largely chains, but with the rise of the Internet they don’t carry the inventory they did before. And I am not interested in wearing what everyone else wears anyway.
And though I long to express my magpie leanings through clothing, I am not going to pay $200, or $100, or even $75 for a shirt. I think a shirt should cost no more than $19.99 if new. If the shirt could be found gently used at the thrift store for $1.50, that would be preferable. I don’t need many dressy clothes. I wear casual clothes to work, but I want DIFFERENT casual clothes to wear out. Do I sound picky?
I also think I should say that although I want clothes, I don’t want to go shopping. It takes up too much of my time. I don’t enjoy driving, especially from one store to another: too much getting in and out of the car. I further dislike trying on clothes. Too much work putting all your clothes back on to flip through the racks for the correct size. I might do it twice in a shopping trip, but that is the limit. Then I have to go through a line, and get out my wallet and all that. Please, just boil me in oil!
For the last few years I have basically “made do” with Marshall’s, because it is close to my house. Often I have simply grabbed something and bought it without even trying it on, and either wearing it only once or twice, or not at all. Sigh. Black shirts and pants are “safe”, but how many of those does one magpie need? Internet shopping has been hit or miss, with items arriving that are either too young for me or not looking the same as in the picture.
And now for the happier ending. Someone finally invented a way for me to get new clothes and ENJOY it !!!! I am passing this on not to promote the company, but because if any of us find an acceptable way to find clothes, I believe we are honor bound to share it. My new magpie find is called Stitch Fix.
My daughter told me about it. It seems you give them all your information, from your sizes, to your likes and dislikes, to your price range and they send you clothes. You keep what you like and send back what you don’t. I admit I was wary. Maybe they only catered to the young who can wear anything? But I filled out the info and I reminded them of a few things, such as that it is hot as Hades down here, so don’t send me a bunch of long sleeved shirts in the summer. Then I hit that send button to schedule my first shipment. What did I have to lose?
I’ve been a “member” for maybe five months, and girls, it has been MARVELOUS!!! Here’s how it works. First, a box arrives in the mail. Everybody knows how exciting that is. Here’s how it looks. Aren’t you excited?
Then I have this very nice card from my personal shopper. I think she really likes me.
Next we ( I feel as though you are all here with me, so it’s become “we”) rip open that tissue paper and see what we got!! Yippee!!
Each month there are five items. And each item has this handy card that shows us ways that particular piece can be worn.
Now we try on the clothes. We have three days to decide what we want to keep. Then we go in to Stitch Fix and tell’em what we want and what we don’t want. Whatever we don’t want we simply mail back to them in the postage paid envelope.
Here are some recent selections.
Thanks to Stitch Fix, I’m feeling kind of sassy again. They have sent me things I might not have picked out for myself and that I haven’t seen other people wearing. The clothes are not too young for me, nor are they too old. And even if they were, I wouldn’t have to keep them. Really, Stitch Fix 2013 has replaced my long gone Casual Corner of 1976 and the other shops I used to hold so dear.
And if all that were not enough, this month’s box came with an bag for ThredUP, which buys gently worn clothing. I will get Stitch Fix credit for whatever Thredup accepts from me. What a great chance to get rid of some of the things I bought at Marshall’s just because they were on the clearance rack!
Well. enough gushing. Whatever you are doing in these complicated times to obtain clothing so that you can leave your home, I congratulate you. If you are finding the search to be frustrating, time wasting and morally degrading, I don’t blame you. But don’t give up. Something will work. Something will fit your style and personality. When something does work, pass it on. All of us girls want to glide by the populace, wrapped in shimmering garments! Shall we?