Thursday, September 5, 2013

Image-Shopping at A Bargain

There is a distinct smell as I open the door of the shop. It’s a little off-putting to be honest. It smells like humanity and maybe old shoes. But inside the thrift shop is fantasy world, all for me to try on, at rock-bottom prices. 

Today I’m here to seek out a new outfit. Since giving up my paying career and taking on this writing gig, I’ve put myself under a strict clothing budget. Besides, for what I do, the same three pairs of capris I own and four varieties of tank tops in my drawer are really just fine.

I finger through the rack of shirts, arranged by color. Do I feel red today? No, maybe blue. My kids roll their eyes at my bland blue, tan and black wardrobe. I should look for something flashier. 

I pull out a rust-colored bohemian peasant top with colorful stitching along the neckline. I try to picture who originally owned it. Was she a hippy type? I imagine the college kids who hang out in our town. I always admire their carefree look and wish I could pull it off. I try to see myself wearing it, my hair down and mildly unkept, schlepping along in moccasins...that just might be too much, too soon. I hang it back up. 

At the end of the first aisle are the dresses. There are all kinds of styles: blacks and lavenders, a champagne colored dress and one that is emerald green. I’d like a new dress. 

One is covered in shimmery sequins that twinkle in the florescent lighting. I wonder why it was first bought and by who? I imagine a special cocktail party, exotic, the kind I never go to. The wearer has perfectly coiffed hair and her makeup is impeccable. She is elegant and working the room, holding her cocktail, laughing with her head slightly tossed back. She is flirting with a Don Draper type. I try to imagine myself dressed up in this outfit, but then I think about the heels it would require and having to keep my stomach sucked in. I grimace and put it back.

I decide to be more sensible and check out the pants rack. There are a lot of small sizes. I’m pretty sure whoever fit into these miniature pants were people I distinctly wouldn’t like. They probably don’t eat much and are obsessed with working out. Those kind of people are never to be fully trusted. Better to look in my own size. No doubt the original owner of these pants are nice, approachable and friendly folks.

Tucked in the midst of dozens of faded jeans is a black pair of Patagonia pants. I double check the label and price. Patagonia is one of those brands that make a statement about the wearer: they are outdoorsy. People who wear Patagonia make a conscious effort to look casual. The person who owned these pants probably wore Tevas too. Not the knock-offs bought at an army surplus store with the souls peeling off, like I wear, but the real thing. Now this is a look I’d like to project: the casual mountain woman, outdoorsy, yet pulled together. 

I pull the pair of pants off the rack and head to the dressing room. Feeling adventurous, I grab the little rust-colored peasant shirt too. I’m already envisioning myself sporting a mountain, hippy mama style. People will look at me and admire how casual and carefree I appear.

I pull the little flimsy curtain closed, hoping no one comes in by mistake, and try on the pants. I pull them up but can’t, for the life of me, get them buttoned. These pants must not run true to size. I should be able to fit into this size. It is the pant’s fault. Then I slip--just so I can see the effect--the little stitched peasant top over my head. I reach up and tease my hair with my fingers so I can create that studied hippy look. I glance in the mirror, forming my lips into a slightly sexy pout.

I look like a pregnant woman with bed head. 

This is not a good look for a 49-year-old woman. Then, because I need to feel better, I try buttoning the pants again, because they really should fit. But they will not quite snap over my tummy. Stupid pants.

I leave that day without purchasing anything, but there will be another time. I’ll be back and maybe this time I’ll dare myself to buy something exotic. Maybe I’ll find a pair of jeans with cool stitching that make me look ten years younger or a tunic top that says I’m a together woman comfortable with her age. Or maybe I’ll pick up a new sweater with swinging bell sleeves. After all, the weather is starting to change. Maybe I will too.




46 comments:

  1. Oh, Julie, I feel like I went thrifting with you! What a fun post. :)

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    1. Next shopping trip: those flowy genie type pants LOL!

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  2. Methinks it may not be safe for a manly man like me to leave much of a comment. So, I won't.

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    1. But thanks for stopping by. Oh c'mon.. men don't do fantasy shopping at thrift stores? Perhaps not.

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    2. No, not real men. It's strictly forbidden under the rules of engagement, and being caught out of compliance with said rules is too terrible to think about. Furthermore, "they" have spies everywhere, who are often referred to as cute kids. Oh yeah, it is indeed a dog-eat-dog world out there

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    3. Jerry, you make me laugh and smile!

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    4. Yeah, but I imagine that you would turn me in in a heartbeat for the $500 reward offered for incriminating evidence!

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  3. Such a great post :) And like the new blog look!

    Filly loves thrift stores - she's her own little fashionista, and adores putting stuff together. She didn't get this from me. I prefer jeans, t-shirts and flip-flops/tennis shoes/boots.

    I envy that you at least TRIED something new :)

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    1. I try, every time I go. I try. I try to find something a little different and outside my comfort zone and man, I just have the toughest time pulling it off. (Grrr-- or having it fit!)

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    2. Oh and thanks for the feedback about the look-- playing with ideas.

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  4. Glad you went and hopefully you'll find something next time. My daughter and I love to shop at thrift stores. It's much easier on the budget and style wise to shop in the thrift store. I'm even making a convert out of my mother. It's nice I could get a whole outfit and shoes for about $10.

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    1. Yeah-- I mean I guess that's the really fun part. Last time I went I bought this top, then got it home and wondered what the heck I was thinking?! It was like something my grandmother would wear. Why I thought it was hip and cute at the time is beyond me. Fortunately it didn't set me back much, so no harm. Now I need to re-donate it.

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  5. I went to the Goodwill yesterday and found two fabulous bargains, a blouse from Banana Republic and a jacket from Chico's pieces that I never would have bought for full (mall store!) prices. Nine dollars and some change for them both. I am a thrift-shop advocate. I learned that, in order to find the best stuff, I have to devote time to go through the racks so handily arranged according to color. Hooray for the Goodwill!

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    1. Oh those are both great brands. Banana Republic would make me feel smart and professional, and Chicos, free, comfortable, stylish and self-assured. I could have totally had fun with those!

      That's a steal! And, I always feel like I'm being a good environmental steward too-- recycling clothes. Plus, so many of these places support good causes. So you get new clothes, an inexpensive new persona AND feel-goods!

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  6. Man, I hate shopping. I love winter clothes though. If only we got winter in Georgia.

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    1. I'm not a huge shopper either, especially if I have an agenda. Then I get frustrated. I'm always read for sweater weather when it arrives, but it always outstays its welcome!

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  7. Such fun, I hate clothes shopping - but you made it sound adventurous! My husband on the other hand loves to take me shopping - truthfully it's the modeling that he enjoys. But he's also never complained about the clothes bill either. A gem of a guy!

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    1. That is a very good husband-- really one of the finer qualities. ;)

      I love clothes shopping when I feel good about me, not so much when I don't. LOL!

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  8. Ok, so you know how many posts I've *EVAH* read about a woman going browsing/shopping?

    Yes, that is a *big*, fat ZERO :)

    But, you had me at "distinct smell." :)

    Oh, Ms. Julie, and how I guffawed ("laughed" is too small a word) at the pregnant bed head look.

    THAT was *funny.*

    Loved this post, absolutely loved it and I think I understand my wife's shopping trips at least a little better.

    Perhaps now, the blood won't flow from my eyes the next time I'm dragged inside of Macy's, Kohl's and J.C. Penney's :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Mark. Thrift shops can be such a fight of fancy for me. I tell myself stories about the previous owners and try to recreate myself for cheap. Yes, bear with your wife. It isn't just about the functional clothing. We are image shopping. ;)

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    2. Oops make that flight of fancy (darn Kindle). But maybe "fight" isn't far off.

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    3. I think I like "fight of fancy", too :)

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  9. I love to thrift shop and would have been there saying, "We can make those fit!" LOL. It's always a thrill when you find something name brand in those stores.

    I took Dad to a thrift store recently to get some things...there was a basket of sunglasses and he needed a pair. While he was looking elsewhere, I sifted through and saw a pair I liked. 49¢. And guess what? Bifocals in MY strength. Clear for the faraway, 1.5 for the close range. I snagged them for myself.

    Dad got some shorts. :) Nice look to the place.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. Mike, I actually thought of you when I wrote this because I know the fun you have finding a good deal. In fact, I had to resist using the word "bahgain ". :)

      .49 glasses? Bam!

      I was in the mood to play with looks. My back-to-school restlessness.

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  10. Ahh Julie, you are describing one of my favorite places. We will have to stop in soon. Want to try again with me and Sally as fashion advisors (this is where you LOL)?

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    1. Are you kidding? Totally launching into my "world traveler on safari and in exotic locations" fantasy now. Plus, didn't I see you two in ... DRESSES?!

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  11. I love that you can create a thousand character profiles in your head just by looking at clothing. I cannot. I get stuck on the damned pants not buttoning like they claim they should. This is why I hate shopping and avoid it until special occasions or holes force the issue.

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    1. Imagination can make any chore into something kind of fun. Probably speaks more to my brain than anything. ;) But yes, nothing like pants that don't quite fit to snap me back into reality!

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  12. I hate to go shopping for clothes because nothing ever looks as good on my body as it did on the rack and the sizes that should fit perfectly never do. It's hard to make a fashion statement in jeans, a t-shirt, and a flannel overshirt.

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    1. But I bet you pull it off with panache!

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  13. I know what you mean about the smell. There is a well-to-do town near me that has some really good charity shops, where the ladies-who-lunch donate things after they worn them once to a function. I've picked up some real bargains.

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    1. I live near an eclectic, funky ski town and sometimes I venture into their thrift store. It always has a fun collection of knick-knacks and clothing.

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  14. Stupid pants. It happens to me all the time and it's ALWAYS the clothes' fault. Forget about it, I say as I eat a feel-better chocolate... I hate buying clothes... But I do love the hoppy look and when I was younger I was hippy! At least as a fashion statement. =)

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    1. I have no fashion statement. I need to get one!

      I've lost a little bit of weight, and I think I'm going to go back to that thrift store in a long shot hope they still have the pants and try them on again. I'll keep you posted!

      And yes, Georgina,let's remember: it's always the pant's fault! ;)

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  15. Stupid pants, indeed. There should be a nasty wash cycle for stupid pants to make them come out fitting perfectly. It certainly isn't us. Right? LOL. I find ranting helps.

    Hi Julie. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. Hi Joylene-- enjoyed your blog very much. And yes, ranting is a great panacea!

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  16. BTW, I'm hosting Yoland Renee over my blog today and giving away a free e-book. Stop by and enter if you get a chance!
    http://bev-thebevelededge.blogspot.com/2013/09/murder-madness-love-blog-tour.html

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    1. I loved your post with Yolanda-- thanks for alerting me she'd be there.

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  17. Too funny! I really hate shopping and this post is partially why. But when I do shop, I like second hand stores because our clothing budget is nonexistent!

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    1. I love to shop when things fit LOL. Sigh-- I have to take responsibility for some of that. And yes, I do a lot of resale shopping for myself. Saves the moola.

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  18. I also get frustrated when I try on clothes. Some things look great in the fitting room, but look completely different at home. I don't remember dressing like a teenager when I was a teenager. I'm sure that you never look like "a pregnant woman with bed head!" Great ending too!

    Julie

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    1. No really, the top was one of those tops that reminds me of maternity tops when it was on and the fluffed hair.. well. It wasn't good. ;)

      I've bought stuff before and liked it there and it never saw the light of day at home. I think that's the other reason I like thrift stores. If I hate it, I haven't spent a lot and I can redonate it.

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  19. This post is so much fun! We've all been there. I love thrift store shopping because it's an adventure. Sometimes, I find wonderful treasures. Other times, I'm reminded that I can't fit into the size I wore 10 years ago.

    Thanks for taking us along!

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    1. Jen-- that's it exactly for me. I love when I find a gem, but it sure takes a lot of digging, but then, so does regular retail shopping.

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  20. I have thought about doing this, too. I mean I do it for my 3-year-old--we buy almost everything at a resale shop because she grows so fast. I've even bought stuff for myself at a garage sale, but it never seems to fit right, etc. There's even a resale shop for me RIGHT BY MY GYM...okay, next time I need something I'm going there first. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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    1. Margo, hope you have a little imaginative fun too! I love the little flights of fancies I take along the way. Good luck finding something. Sometimes I do better than others!

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