Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don’t Pity My Wardrobe

Yesterday, one half of my “good” pair of flip-flops broke in an irreparable way, and this incident came on the heels of a broken sandal occurrence as I was rushing to my car on Sunday (late for lunch). I realize that for many women, the opportunity to replace a few pairs of shoes is exciting. In fact, many women would probably take this opportunity and parlay it into a spree in which they come home with more than a few new pairs of footwear.

Not me.

I consider it an inconvenience. I really don’t want to have to buy any new shoes. But: I need the basic starter set, and so I’ll have to make a trip to the cheap shoe warehouse in the next couple of days. Oh well. At least the discount warehouse is in my ‘hood…

No denying it: I am the antithesis of Imelda Marcos.

But it doesn’t stop there. I’m not really much of a clothes horse, either. I can “fix up nice” when doing so is required, but comfort is my preference. I also don’t set aside funds for clothes. It just never occurs to me.

Besides, you don’t have to pay top dollar if you’re willing to go with pre-owned.

Four or five years ago, after a dental appointment, I approached the receptionist’s desk to get the financial verdict. Kim, who was ringing up my sale (as it were) immediately complimented the shirt I was wearing. She clearly liked the design, and she noted particularly that it was somewhat unusual – or at least hard to come by.

“You don’t see that a lot,” she said. “… the short sleeves with the v-neck and the collar.”

I smiled in response to her comment. “Yeah,” I said, enthusiastically. “Isn’t this a nice shirt? I think I got it on the dollar rack at the thrift store.”


Oh dear…

The look on Kim’s face…

Not at all what I was expecting.

There was sadness in that look.


I mean, I think in that moment, she felt really sorry for me.

Poor girl, her look said, poor girl having to buy her clothes at the thrift store.

And here's my take on that whole transaction: Poor Kim.

Because what she didn't get was this: when I shared where I got my shirt? I wasn't looking to elicit pity. I was bragging!

Seriously. I think it’s great that I can pay a dollar for a shirt that elicits compliments.

…Reminds me of an evening in New York, many moons ago. I was walking to the workshop of the theatre group I had joined, and I was wearing an extremely faux fake leopard-skin jacket. (That’s right, I typed “faux fake.” I would have typed “fake fake” but Microsoft doesn’t like it when I do things like that.) Anyway, I loved this jacket. It made absolutely no attempt to look like the real thing. It just looked very hip, particularly in Manhattan in the 80s.

I had bought it for seven dollars at a thrift shop in Virginia, and it was actually two jackets in one, the reverse side being sheepskin (and every bit as fake as the leopard side). But although it was ostensibly reversible, there was no experiencing the sheepskin look. No way, with that thick fabric. Reversing the sleeves would have taken a team of Olympic medalists from the tug-o-war games. Doesn’t matter, though -- the leopard-skin side was the one to wear.

The jacket had a nice cut, too. It was relatively long, with a straight line. And the shoulders appeared padded (though that was probably just a result of the thick fabric). The sleeves were long enough to be cuffed, thereby featuring about five inches of fake sheepskin at the end of each leopard-skinned arm. I always felt like Veronica Lodge when I wore that jacket. (She’s the one in the Archie comics, in case I just went over your head.)

So back to that night I’m remembering. I’m on West 50-something, near Eighth or Ninth Avenue, and this was when the area was called Hell’s Kitchen. (I don’t know what its name is now, but I’m guessing all the kitchens are well-appointed and probably worth six figures.) Anyway, I’m walking on the sidewalk, and I pass a young man who’s standing closer to the parked cars.

He looks me over. He nods. “Twenty dollars,” he says, attempting a seductive tone.

Dude! I wanna say, the jacket was only seven!

But I’m glad I didn’t respond as such.

Like the gal at my dentist’s office, he might have felt sorry for me.

And when I’m feeling like Veronica Lodge, well… I just don’t need anyone’s pity!


Cheryl said...

Yep, you were the sister I was meant to have. Veronica Lodge doesn't fly over folks' heads it zooms over their ages.

Anyhoo, shoes and clothes are just to cover my skin. Thrift stores are best. With outlets so close, if I want new, I just head there. My J Jill manager friend tried to tell me that the outlets sell "last year's styles" and I just looked at her blankly.

Jules said...

You go girl! I love thrift store, hate the latest trends and comfort is most definitely number one! :)

Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Anonymous said...

I Love the moral behind this story.
I actually dislike shopping for clothes - there I said it. I hate shoe shopping more than anything. I suppose I am more of an armchair shopper.
Thank goodness for the internet.

(I'd have loved to have seen that coat - sounds um heavy!)

Deb Shucka said...

Oh, you've made me laugh out loud. Twenty dollars.

You had me at the shoes. I HATE shoe shopping. Actually, I'm not all that fond of shoes. I find if I need a new pair (like of flipflops for formal summer wear) I just buy the exact same kind.

Thrift store shopping is the best - there is truly nothing more satisfying than getting something that makes your heart tango for next to nothing.

You are such a great story teller. You know that, right?

Martha Gates-Mawson said...

My Wednesdays just aren't complete without reading your words...

Veronica Lodge! What a smile you gave me. Takes me back to our days of reading "Archie" comics and drinking Tab. (Am I getting senile, though? I don't think I remember the coat!)

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

oh you are so lucky... I have to confess an insane addiction to shoes and purses.. it is both my curse and my pleasure. My mother always says: "is not the clothes, is how you wear them what matters". The faux fake story was hillarius! especially the "twenty dollars" guy (are you sure he was talking about the jacket???) maybe he was making you an indecent offer looking so hot in it!! (lol)

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I am your long lost shoe/shopping twin. I brag about the cheap and keep a maximum of four pairs of shoes based on their purpose.

Jayne Martin said...

I love a bargain, too. Ebay has been my go-to place for great deals, but I love thrift stores, too. Finding a deal is like a great game. I look at retail prices and am always in shock. Nope. Finding bargains that look great are definitely the fun way to go.

Jules said...

I have something for you on my blog. :D
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Sioux Roslawski said...

Katie---I love resale shops, too. And I wear the same two pairs of shoes (ugly Crocs) on alternate days because they're comfortable.

But I agree with OJ...I don't think he was offering $20 for the jacket. I think he was offering it for YOU! (ha)

cj Schlottman said...

katie, looks like you are preaching to the choir. i only buy in retail stores if the item comes from the 75% off rack and i have a coupon for at least an additional 10% off!

thrift stores offer items of note - as you have so aptly noted, but i don't buy used shoes. seems a little creepy, not being able to wash them.

thanks for a great essay..........cj

ps my post of today explains my change in writing style, only it published below my pink ribbon post from last week. weird. tried reposting and the same thing happened. just look below the pink ribbon post.