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Friday, June 02, 2006

Lament of the fashion challenged

I've never been a fashionista, in fact I'm quite the opposite. I'm a female who hates to shop and tends to hyperventilate when spending money. My sister (who is a miraculous shopper) chides me that I'm famous for carrying something around a store for an hour and then putting it back only to leave empty-handed.

This isn't a source of pride for me, it's rather embarrassing. I have good taste, I just lack the will and the know-how (and often the cash) to indugle it.

A result of working out of my house for so long is that I really have no professional wardrobe. I'm not talking necessarily suits, though I do like a good pantsuit. But I do need something beyond jeans, cropped pants and shorts. I nearly gagged when I read a report earlier this week claiming that Katie Couric will need to spend about $30,000 on a new professional wardrobe for her CBS Evening News gig.

Anyway, what I really need is for someone to outfit me. My closet contains uninspired selections in black, white, khaki, denim and the ocassional splash of hot pink or aqua blue. I'm not necessarily trendy, but I don't want to look frumpy either. Classic, I'm more classic in style (minus the pearls).

Work lately requires me to travel and dress in business casual (emphasis on business), and I've found myself in a quandary. Where can I find pants that aren't cropped, shoes that aren't flimsy sandals and skirts that don't look as if a seventh-grade home ec student pieced together some rags? I've found no-iron shirts at Eddie Bauer that travel well, but they do tend to be cut kind of boxy, which tends to make me look more buxom (not a desirable thing in my case). I like my fitted Ann Taylor blouses, but they wrinkle easily and I deplane looking as if I just crawled out of bed.

I confess that I'm not good at shopping department stores. Their size and inventory overwhelm me and I'm never sure where to go. The only store I'm good at navigating is Target, and that's just not the place for a work wardrobe.

So in my futile search I head to Crocker Park (somewhere other than Trader Joe's and Dicks) in hopes of finding something inspiring there. Alas, I found only dress pants for a woman with no shape and a 40-inch inseam. Why are women's dress pants so long these days? When I complained I had a sales clerk suggest I buy petite. I'm 5-foot-6-inches and have never been petite.

Then there's the waistline issue. I am a woman with curves. I have a narrow waist and bigger hips. I'm a runner and my thighs are thick and muscular and hate to be contained in some of the teeny, tiny cuts found today. That means when I try on a pair of pants, they hug my rear and thighs and gap six inches in my waist. Christ, I'm almost 40. I don't have the waifish body of a teenager.

And the God are there some ugly shoes today. Barely there straps, enormous soles and chunky heels. My feet ache just looking at the selection. And bags...what's with all the bangles and buckles and rhinestones and labels? Even Coach bags look gauche these days.

My God, I do sound drippy. Really I just want to snap my fingers and have a couple pair of good, slim elegant leather shoes (black, of course, and brown) with the comfort of my sneakers, a couple of nice dress pants that don't have waists to my breasts or an extra foot in length and a great leather bag to contain essentials, plus reading material and notebook for traveling appear in my closet.

Wonder if Katie's personal shopper accepts pro bono cases...

1 comment:

Lori said...

Hmmmm... tell me where you've been finding all those too-long pants and I'll direct you to where they're always too short -- even the "long" size.

You need Kaufmann's and Dillard's. I can shop an entire day looking for something, yet always end up finding it at one of those two places in the end. These days I've cut out the preliminary shopping and just head there. Prices aren't bad at all, especially during the nearly perpetual sales.

When it was May Company, Kaufmann's had a personal shopper service; it might still. In department stores, there's usually no fee for their services. A good PS can help you find stuff that's cut right for you and knows what's hiding out there on the racks.