I'm going to be running into a lot of people I work with at Babble and a bunch of other internet-type friends and so I was kind of surveying my wardrobe to see what's doin' in there because I hardly think my daily uniform of stretchy pants and t-shirt cobbled together from old maternity gear and the few articles of comfy clothing I hastily purchased in those first months after Henry's birth would go down well in the world's fashion capital... But then again, it's what I wear most of the time while writing here and on Babble so maybe I should just keep it honest and cruise around Manhattan in comfort, fashionistas and hipsters be damned.
And God, I hate shopping. Flopping down any amount of money for clothing gives me diarrhea... Or at least the beginning roilings of a bad gut. I find everything about shopping for clothes distasteful. From giving a shit about fashion to trolling around some ultra hip joint playing music too loudly, trying to find some apparel that some self-declared expert deems fashionable to cover my baggy, post-baby body. Ugh. And then, when I do find something I love I feel like a sucker for loving it and like a dick for spending money on it, especially when I buy it from anywhere other than Walmart. Even Target feels fancy, at this point.
Enter Urban Outfitters.
Because that's what I did yesterday; entered Urban Outfitters - against my better judgment, I might add. And let me just be clear, I don't know Urban Outfitters from any other joint. Land me in the middle of an Urban Outfitters and I might just as well be in Anthropologie or Abbercrombie and his Fitch (Are those even the right stores to use here? The ones all the kids are into?). I just don't spend a lot of time in joints like that. Not that I begrudge you for doing so. I like a nice ensemble just as much as the next gal but just don't have the style, patience, fortitude and money to make it happen.
Which makes yesterday's trip to the nearest Urban Outfitters all the more anxiety-inducing. I alighted from my car heavy of foot and mind. Lumbering across a street of hot tar made nearly moist by a blazing midday son, I felt like a cave woman. MUST COVER BODY. NEED CLOTH-LIKE ITEMS. HELP ME?
My apprehension only heightened upon pushing open the double glass doors leading into the store. A blast of icy air, tragically hip music and a perky sales associate greeted me before I even set foot inside. Which, oh God, nothing worse than being immediately accosted by a sales associate upon entering a store. When is the last time you entered a store and required immediate help? Never, that's when. Even when returning items, the eager beaver standing at the store's entrance ain't gonna be the one to help.
So the super hot teenage-appearing girl, sporting head-to-toe Urban Outfitters gear probably purchased with two months worth of paychecks even including her work discount, pounced on me like a hungry tiger:
Welcome to Urban Outfitters, can I help you with anything?
I was instantly reminded of pulling into the McDonald's drive-thru and before I get a word out the speaker bleats a request/demand that I try their new Spicy Chicken McBites. Look, if I want a McBite I'll be sure and let you know. Not that I go to McDonald's very much or anything...
The immediate attention made me long for the cool, impersonal aisles within the hallowed walls of Target wherein you can't find someone to help you even after exiting the dressing rooms naked. On fire. Begging someone to dowse the flames.
I mumble something about 'just browsing' to Ms. Urban Outfitter and escape to the nearest rack of impossibly stylish clothing. I say impossibly stylish because the dresses and shirts hanging there cannot possibly be stylish. Really. Assemble a rack from Urban Outfitters and one from my local thrift store in the middle of an empty room and I would be hard-pressed to tell you which one came from where.
The price tag on a couple of items kicked my stomach into percolation mode. Which, I mean, listen. Sometimes I want so badly to be one of these effortlessly chic girls sporting lilac-colored denim and waxing poetic about stripes and "the busier the outfit, the simpler I like to keep everything else – with minimal make-up, a relaxed bun, and delicate jewelry. I essentially live in striped shirts, and usually end up wearing them with jeans or anything in a solid color, but every once in a while it’s a nice change of pace when paired with a dramatic pattern." and have nearly 300 people tell me how amazing I look. But alas. I am me. And me is fashion-challenged.
MUST COVER BODY. NEED CLOTH-LIKE ITEMS. HELP ME?
That paragraph up there is from this blog I stumbled onto somehow called Cupcakes and Cashmere. The name of the blog gives me hives, not to mention the fashion exaltation contained within the posts. I say that not to demean the blog or it's owner - it is lovely, SHE is lovely - but to relay my inability to discern fashion from flop. Take the outfit from the post I linked to up there, for example. Everything within me is objecting to mixing stripes with, well, whatever that is and yet she looks beautiful. Probably because she IS beautiful, though, and were I to wrap my bloated skins in the same ensemble I doubt I would look quite so Baby Powder fresh. Additionally, were I to spot her purse (clutch?) on a shelf somewhere I can assure you I would not/could not envision it with any ensemble other than something my grandmother would wear circa '72. And yet Ms. Cupcakes (or Cashmere?) looks like a page out of Vogue and it appears that hundreds upon hundreds of people are in solid (or striped) agreement.
What's a Walmart wearing gal to do? Drag her sad ass to Urban Outfitters, try to sneak unnoticed into the store and peruse racks with the air of an escaped inmate looking for clothing to replace the prison-issue orange jumpsuit and shower flip-flops she just ditched in the dressing room's resident potted plant.
So I did just that. And felt SO out of my element that I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure the sales associate wasn't watching me. I felt sure she was judging the clothes I was rifling through. Like, Of course the girl in slovenly stretch pants, flip-flops and unkempt ponytail would go to that rack. It's so obviously the least stylish rack in the store, filled with the cast-offs that other much more stylish women had the good sense not to buy.
I mean, really! It's been years since I minced around a clothing joint that wasn't Walmart or Target with the occasional (once a year-ish) jaunt to T.J. Maxx thrown into the oh-so-refined mix. On this day there was no mincing. Skulking, perhaps, but no mincing.
After fifteen-ish minutes of perplexing perusing I stumbled onto a little dress that seemed to be talking to me. Hello there! It said brightly. You look like someone I might be friends with!
Eh. I'm not so sure, I replied as reticently as if the dress were sitting next to me at a bar sporting thinning hair, a Ron Jeremy mustache and finger guns while exuberantly asking me to suck its dick or some such other equally disagreeable inquiry.
Calm down! The dress said. It's not like I'm asking you to suck my dick or anything. I just thought you might like to get to know me, that's all. Sheesh.
Certain the friendly response was another pick-up line meant to hook me I just kept right on moving. But something about the dress's personality made me double-back. It was simple yet vibrant, solid but colorful, conservative with a flirtation of sass. And oldish. Like my mom might have worn it in the early seventies but not necessarily retro either.
I touched the dress. Nothing frilly, just plain cotton. And yeah, I could probably find something similar in a vintage store for $5 but sometimes a stylishly challenged gal needs the backing of Urban Outfitters to be assured that she is, indeed, sporting an item containing some degree of style. I know, I know, we should all wear what we want and pay no mind to trends and we are all beautiful and all that crap but I'm the kind of girl who doesn't really know what the hell to wear and so, like a newborn elephant, must clumsily look around at what the herd is doing and mimic them as best I can.
And so I did. I made friends with that dress. Well, not that one, exactly. That one turned out to be a bit clingy. It wasn't the dress's fault, it was a size small and it was born that way and so, much like the mustached man at the bar trying to get me to tune up his skin flute, the dress tended to squeeze me in a very tight manner that forced my voluptuous back skins to spill forth out of the dress straps in a most disconcerting manner.
Despite her charms I bid the dress a speedy farewell and made the acquaintance of her sister, Medium, and peace was restored within the dressing room and eventually my closet at home where it now hangs.
Here I am working my moody Urban Outfitter angst:
Doing my best to gaze pensively out the window:
And an outtake captured while trying to pose wistfully and simultaneously reprimand Violet for knocking her brother off the bed.
It's no Cupcakes and Cashmere. More like Snickers Bars and Sweats, but hey. It is a cloth-like item and it covers my body. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.