Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Simple Life

When it comes to fashion, I've long touted my tastes as simple at best, innocuous at worst.

I like earthy colors: shades of brown and pale blues. Deep red and burnt orange. I prefer comfort a million times over style, the clearance rack over the hottest runway releases.

I'm a tomboy just as comfortable in camouflage khakis and sandblasted jeans as I am in the peasant skirts and sun dresses more commonly aligned with the least conspicuous nouveau hippie.

I prefer homemade jewelry, little faux pearls and small silver hoops over anything you'd find at Tiffany's, and I think diamonds rings are an egregious waste of money.

And if you're going to make me go shopping, please... let's go to REI or a bookstore or World Market or maybe — if we really must shop for clothes, let's keep it quick.

Because, well, life is short and my tastes are simple.

Or so I've long foolishly and falsely claimed.

For whatever reason, I've done an unhealthy amount of shopping in my past couple weeks. New dress shoes to replace the ones with holes in them. New, longer skirts in preparation for the coming winter. New sock monkey house slippers because we all should have a pair. Et cetera.

And what this has all revealed to me, above all other things, is that shopping for simple styles is anything but simple.

Example: a few months ago I spied a pair of Born boots at a department store going out of business. They were exactly what I'd been looking for: they'd fit as nicely under a long, flowing skirt as they would something shorter and plaid. No heel. No bells and whistles. No flair. Just simple, basic, built to last and originally priced way beyond my means.

But it was a clearance sale, after all, and for the low, low price of $40 I could've owned dream boots that were originally marked for significantly more than that.

The problem, of course, is that my size 8 1/2 foot is among the most popular. And so, naturally, they didn't have my size in stock.

Tuesday I went out in search of anything that resembled those Borns. And, naturally, I was sorely disappointed.

Recent searches online have proven to be equally fruitless. No one has my size. And the only other boots I even sorta like aren't on sale.

Also Tuesday night, I found the skirt I was looking for: a natural, creamy white with soft folds at the bottom, thick material to keep me warm, and — above all other things — it fit like a dream. Add to that it was on the clearance rack — and all around me people were shouting ecstatically when they realized their cargo was significantly less than what the price tag read — and I foolishly allowed myself to hope that a genuine bargain was in my clutches.

I ran it over to a price scanner, shoved the bar code under the glowing red eye, and stood a little dismayed to realize the price was exactly what the tag read: $140, marked down to $101.

Sure, it was "on sale." But it was on the clearance rack, for crying out loud. Those things are supposed to ring up for even less than the lowest marked price.

I mean, I'm a writer and writers, as you all likely know, aren't exactly beacons of wealth. So I marched the skirt back over to the "clearance" rack and returned it to its home among the other Ralph Laurens.

Because I knew I could easily buy 2-4 "decent" skirts for that price.

And I insist on being a sensible shopper.
But, let's be honest.

I'm being anything but sensible. Dropping way too much cash on new work clothes, even if I do need them. Replacing my Payless no-name MaryJanes with (admittedly much more comfortable) Merrells. Going to the mall before (or after) I go to the gym all the while still making it clear to anyone and everyone that I absolutely despise shopping.

And I know what you're thinking. And, no, my mama didn't raise no fool.

I know precisely what this is about.

Because no matter how desperately I want for things to be simple...

They seldom are.


Anonymous said...

Nothing is ever simple. Even the simple things. The thing with buying quality is that it usually costs. The Borns would probably last forever, which, incidentally, is how long it would take to pay for them.

The problem with Tiffany's is they have elegant jewelry of exceedingly high quality. And that costs as well. I can understand how you feel about that kind of jewelry.

Good luck in your quest.

Pamela said...

I share your disdain for shopping. Now it's the holidays and I have 8 grandchildren.

I might internet shop just to stay away from the crowds.

I really like that 2nd boots..the "sorta like" pair.

Eli said...

I have similar simple taste in mens clothing and I've found Sears to be the best for affordable and few big logos, also the one downtown in your city (I think) has a coffee shop with a nice quiet upstairs area fit for writers. Good luck shopping!

Unacademic Advisor said...

The problem is that you know what you want and insist on having it. The only way for shopping to be simple is if one is willing to accept whatever one finds... and pay for it, regardless of the costs. Since you can't or won't do this, the hunt for items that satisfy your tastes cannot be simple even if the tastes themselves are.

But I think you are right to make the effort. As disagreeable as shopping might be, living with the wrong purchases can be more so.

Winter said...

I love shopping. The key is not to look at the price tag.

Buy now, pay later.

XOXO said...

I decided this year I need some tall black boots. As poor as I am, I chose to allow $150 of my hard earned school loan to get the boots I REALLY want. Today I did just that. I didn't find them at the mall, but at Kohl's. They were half of what I said I would spend. I figured I could go ahead and allow myself a super cute dress while I was at it to make up the difference. Now I have the boots of my dreams-ish, and an amazing dress, but don't even have a place planned to wear them. Go figure.