Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Reruns: Don't Pity My Wardrobe

(original post-date: October 6, 2010)

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.”

Pause…

Oh dear…

The look on Kim’s face…

Not at all what I was expecting.

There was sadness in that look.

Pity.

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!

7 comments:

deborahjbarker said...

Reminds me of the time a 'friend' commented on my three daughters' dresses, "aren't they gorgeous!" she said. I was pleased,
"I made them from a couple of ancient dresses I had lying around," I said.
"Oh,' (pitying look), "Well, I suppose it would be too expensive to go out and buy them all," she said sadly.
I did try to explain that I liked sewing, I liked re-cycling and the dresses were far superior to any shop-bought.
Love this post because I hate shopping (thank heavens for online stores) and I love to be different. Thanks Katie - I am vindicated!

Martha Mawson said...

I've never been able to understand the whole spend-a-fortune-on-something-you-wear mindset. When my daughter was a baby, people kept asking if I had seen the latest Baby Dior. Spend $100 and she spits up on it the first time out? No thanks. And the same for women who MUST have designer shoes. Save your money for the bunion surgery, then. There was a time I loved new clothes, but I couldn't give a you-know-what now. Nope, I am comfy in what I've got and I think I have all of five pairs of shoes (I'm happiest barefoot).

L.G.Smith said...

I've always thought getting a deal was brag-worthy.

Sarah Pearson said...

I don't understand why something that someone like a whole 10 seconds ago suddenly becomes a bad idea. Meh, I'll pay less thanks very much :-)

nadinefeldman.com said...

I love knowing that other women are like me, who aren't really into shopping, and who love a good bargain! I think it's sad that people judge each other by their brand names.

Last year, while attending a memorial for my late father-in-law, friends of my husband's sister approached her and said, "What's up with Henry? Why doesn't he drive a better car?" Our car is ten years old and yes, we could afford a newer one, but it runs just fine, and we seldom use it, so who cares? I couldn't believe that people were actually paying attention to what we were driving!

Jayne Martin said...

I love a bargain and am thrilled whenever I find a great deal at a consignment shop. Ebay is another great source of deals. In fact, for me, Ebay is the second happiest place on earth. ;) Mostly, these days though it's jeans and t-shirt. The horse is just going to slobber on them anyway.

theaccidentalparisienne said...

Just lived through fashion week here in Paris (as an observer, not a participant) and I would have loved to see someone yell "Thrift store buy" at one of the catwalk shows, just to see the reaction. I actually blogged about my friend's little boy and his reaction to coming face to face with some fashionistas. Pretty funny. I like your blog and your writing style. Just signed up, can’t wait to read more.