Friday, September 30, 2005

Fashion Victim

Yesterday, as is my custom, I did not get to look at my reflection until I arrived at work and took advantage of the reflective surface of the elevators. It was then that I noticed that I was wearing navy blue pants, a cropped black jacket and my brown messenger bag. Let's review: navy blue, black and brown. Of course, the other color holding this outfit together was pink.

I call today's outfit "Five different shades of Pink." It's kind of a riddle, because at first you can only identify four shades of pink, but what you can't see are my UnderRoos. Today's ensemble is accented by a nice run in my pantyhose.

Here's my point: why can't I dress myself? I've seen people panhandling on subways sporting a more pulled-together look. How is it that I got to be the least fashionable person in New York?

Okay, obviously one issue is money. I don't have a lot of disposable income and I've never been one to spend my money on duds. I have been known to drop some serious money on nice, special occasion clothes, but for the day to day, I'm looking for affordable. The problem is, these clothes, or shoes, tend to only last a season or two before they've been totally worn out. Then it's time to buy more crappy cheap clothes. Also, I keep splitting my focus between work clothes and casual clothes. I feel like I can't really afford to have two nice wardrobes, so which is it gonna be? I would prefer to look good in my casual time, but then I'm afraid in my next performance evaluation at work, they're going to say, "One last thing, you dress like a mo." And then if I'm always looking dumpy in my work clothes, damn, I spend most of my time in my work clothes! I am possibly missing out on crucial subway flirting.

Another item is that I get very defeatest thinking, what is the point, the clothes are not going to look good on my anyway. You know all those fun, trendy boutiques with great hip clothes? The kinds of shops that make New York the shopping capital of the world? Here's a fun game: go into one of those boutiques and try to find anything larger than a size 8. Maybe, maybe you might find a size 10. It other sizing I've been places where the largest ssize they carried was "medium". But plenty of extra smalls! So first you have to find a store that sells something in your size. Then you try it on and remember that, oh yeah, nothing ever looks right on you, because designers are not creating with the prototype of a 4'10" woman with big hips and no legs or torso to speak of in mind.

Then, if you can actually find something cool, in your size, that you can wear without looking like you sewed it for yourself in 7th grade Home Economics, you'll flip over the price tage and see the dress costs just $320. Marked down. So you don't buy it. Or maybe you do, but then you're sure to spill red wine down the front of it the first time you wear it. And I had an emergency pair of panty hose in my desk drawer in case I got a run at work, but I used them five months ago and never replaced them, okay?

Does anyone remember what I was saying? Oh yeah. But none of these circumstances seem like an excuse for me to wear navy blue, black and brown together.

I wish I was stylish. I wish I could throw together great outfits and that friends would outwardly covet my earings and shoes. I wish I always looked cute no matter what the setting or situation. I would be willing to make a trade to get some style. I would give back some of my other good qualities: that whole being a good listener thing, gone, you can have it. Same with being generous with others. And God knows I'm certainly not using these smarts. I made it through all of adolesencse without ever playing dumb to get a boy to like me; now I am 24 and I just wish I was maybe a little stupider and a little cuter.

If anyone can help out with my dilema, let me know. Until then, I'm keeping the door unlocked just in case the Queer Eye boys decide to stop by and save me from myself.


bbrug said...

Yes, shopping in NYC when you're above a size 10 and not made of money is frustrating, but there are options. For one--a big one--Le Target. Oui, Le Target carries larger sizes, and a lot of it is hella cute. There are days when I realize that almost everything I'm wearing is from Target. Yesterday, for example, I was decked out in an black Isaac Mizrahi pantsuit and Mossimo shoes, with Isaac Mizrahi earrings and necklace. All cheap-cheap-cheap. The problem with the Target on Atlantic is that it's relatively small, and the Mizrahi section is usually very picked over. But if you happen to wander in on a day when they've just gotten a shipment, well. Last time I went, I scored a hottt brown suede skirt and jacket. I have waaaaay too many clothes for anyone to have, but the ones I actually wear are usually the ones from Target. I do most of my Target shopping online, but I have scored many fine things at the store, too. If you ever want to trek to one of the big Targets further out in our majestic borough, I'm with you.

Another favorite of mine lately is Ann Taylor Loft. I used to not understand Ann Taylor, and I still don't much like the regular Ann Taylor stores--too career-y and expensive--but the Loft brand is full of wearable stuff, and there always seems to be a huge sale section. And they make pants. That actually. Fit me. And for the vertically challenged, they have a totally untouched petites section. Like, half of every store is petites, and I never see anybody over there. It's yours, all yours, my dear.

And then--and it pains me to have to bring this up--there's Old Navy. Yes, Old Navy is the devil. The quality is crap, the cuts are terrible, and they think anyone over a certain size is shaped like a featureless tube, but at least they carry those sizes. And the prints are great. A friend of mine used to design prints for them, and she's a big girl, and she loves their stuff. And the clothes are so cheap, you couldn't buy the fabric off the bolt for what it costs to get a garment. You just have to be prepared to apply a needle and thread, or perhaps a fistful of safety pins, to some of their clothes, otherwise they'll fall right off your ass.

The other thing to worry about at Old Navy is that a sometimes you'll buy something there that you love and consider totally you, and the next day you'll see half of Manhattan wearing it. You must steel yourself against this. It is survivable. Those other people do not look as good in it as you do, and they are not as intelligent, and they do not have as many friends. They are just trying to dress like you so that they will be more popular.

And then there's the magical world of online shopping, where the only thing I'm going to recommend is the J. Jill sale section. But: The J. Jill sale section!

In general, I find that the best tactic when big-girl bargain-shopping in NYC is not to go to a store where everything is small and try to find something you can cram yourself into, as this will frustrate and depress you and result in your getting things you don't look good in. (My mother does this, and it drives me crazy--and she's not bargain-shopping, either: she's buying an expensive Armani thing that's too small. And then she covets all my cheap-ass Isaac Mizrahi for Target clothes, which fit me and therefore make me look good. You will always look better in something cheap that fits than in something swank that doesn't.) Never waste time at places like Daffy's or Filene's, unless it's to look for shoes. Rather, go to a place where there's a realistic range of sizes and try to narrow it down to the things that are irresistibly cute and flattering. Then, resist three-quarters of those.

I hope this helps.

Yours in the struggle,

P.S. I don't understand why the color navy exists at all, but brown and blue is one of my favorite combinations. And black goes with everything. But pantyhose with pants? What's that about?

lebrookski said...

i would just like to second the choices of target and old that order, and i'll toss in an H&M. i'm not really sure if the US H&M has the non-teeny person sizes, but in germany they did...and the close are very cute and quite one complaint is that the clothes are not particularly they don't last much longer than the season. i guess this is why the clothes are so affordable in the first place. also you'll look very euro-chic.

that said, i buy my jeans and some of my dressier pants almost exclusively from lane bryant. though they're a little bit more expensive you can't fuck with the quality and fit. especially when it comes to jeans... they plan for hips, ass, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hey girl! Story of my life!! I think what we need is a good old fashioned Girls Shopping Day. There are quite a bit of store out there for us! I can take you to all of them. Let me know -

Your Yankee buddy