I love clothes, but I have to admit that when it comes to coordinating outfits, I am pretty much a disaster. Okay, I can match solids to prints, but I get lost when it comes to layering and accessorizing. Well, lost isn’t exactly the right word. It’s more like a feeling of deranged frustration. I go into a store excited over the prospects of finding a new outfit, and by the time I hit the fitting room, I am juggling two armfuls of clothes and frothing at the mouth because I do not know if any of the items I picked will work together to make one decent ensemble.
During my last shopping excursion, I thought that if I went to an expensive store, I would have an easier time putting an outfit together. I naively thought that one of the salespeople would give that extra effort and help me select the right merchandise. However, when I got to the fitting room with my many apparel choices, I did not find any of the welcoming customer service I envisioned.
“How many items do you have?” the fitting room attendant/salesperson quizzed me with a non-emotional, cop-like attitude.
“Forty-nine!” I joked which only led her to stare back at me in contempt. Then she took the clothes from my arms and began to frisk them. I worried that I was next for the pat down, so in a panic I again tried to lighten the mood before we became too intimate.
“What are you looking for? Concealed weapons? “
Still, no sign of a sense of humor.
“You are only allowed six items. Narrow down the choices.”
Well, I am usually good under pressure, but I crumbled in this situation. I could not think straight. My mind went into apparel overload and began to rant aloud.
“What six items should I take? Which six go together the best? How do I know if a shirt in the pile that I have to leave with you outside the dressing room goes better with one of the six items I take in with me now? Why are you being so mean? Did you used to be a prison guard?”
When the fitting room cop realized my level of anxiety, she allowed her sense of compassion to show. Well, it was not so much compassion as it was probably fear. Chances are she thought I was a Looney Toon and if she didn’t help me out, she could be stuck in the dressing room with a nut job until the end of her shift, and no one would find her, and the store doesn’t pay her enough to put her life in danger, and so in the long run it was better to appease me. Frankly, I didn’t care whether she was feeling compassion or fear; I just wanted some freaking advice!
“Could you help me select one outfit? That might make it easier to decide on what six items to bring in with me.”
With the precision of a neurosurgeon, she dissected my choices and put them into three piles that she identified as “best”, “better” and “I cannot believe we carry this crap in our store”. Then, she handed me three items and said,
“Put these on.”
I did not argue.
When I walked out of the fitting room in the dress slacks, blouse and jacket she had selected, she smiled, and I was proud. Then, she commanded me to stay where I was and ran out of the fitting room area only to return within seconds with a colorful scarf that she wrapped around my neck in a whimsical sort of way. I have to admit when she first came at me with the scarf, I thought she was going to strangle me. I was relieved to discover she didn’t have homicide on the brain.
“Perfect!” she exclaimed, and asked if she could take a picture to remember the moment. The picture thing sort of gave me a weird vibe, so I declined, but I promised I would mail her one when I wore the outfit out.
I know that most people do not have these issues picking out clothes, but I have an excuse. I live in my jeans and tee shirts. I rarely dress up. I have not had to put on a pair of panty hose in about five years. I’m not sure if I remember how to put them on. I have two business outfits that I alternate for when I have to look professional and that is the extent of my wardrobe.
Honestly, I was never good at putting together outfits. I don’t know why this is. My mom is an amazing dresser. My daughter also has that gift. She doesn’t even need to spend a lot. I literally get a headache when I go shopping with her. She scurries around the far-reaching corners of a store and grabs stuff off the racks, digs through bargain bins and then hops in the dressing room. Three minutes later, she stands before me in an outfit that is to die for.
One day after shopping with my daughter, I decided that women like me need a special line of merchandise that would alleviate the pressure of putting together outfits. When I was a kid, I remember Garanimals came on the scene. Garanimals are a line of clothing that displayed certain animals on the tags and by matching the animals on tops and bottoms, parents could teach kids to coordinate outfits. Even as a small child, I saw this line of clothing as nothing short of sheer genius.
I know Garanimals still exist because I looked them up online, but I have to ask why isn’t there an adult version? Not everyone is a fashionista who can put together colors and fabrics and accessories. Not all women can dress like they are ready to shoot the cover of Vogue. Imagine how easy shopping would be? Lady Garanimals could be all over the store. They could include not only shirts and pants, but also underwear, jewelry, shoes, hats, makeup—anything needed to create the perfect ensemble. I think this is a gold mine idea.
I am going to write Garanimals and suggest a women’s line dedicated to wardrobe misfits like me. They might scoff at the idea or maybe—just maybe—they might hire me to be the president of their new division. Uh oh, does that mean I have to go clothes shopping?