I love to shop. And shopping as in “real life,” not online. I like to touch the fabrics, try the clothes on, and search for matching pieces when I find something I love. In real-life shopping, you’re surrounded by beautiful displays, larger-than-life glossy photographs, and endless options, often providing more effective relief from stress than therapy or, surprisingly, a good bottle of wine.
Which is not to say that all shopping brings forth the desired result of emotional feng shui.
Jeans shopping, for example, is a landmine of anti-zen. Standing in the dressing room, staring at 10 pairs of jeans and not one that fits, is hardly the prescription for inner peace. One pair squishes the belly up and over the top like a life-size apple muffin from Starbucks. Another pair sits so low on the torso, you can see China down one’s disturbingly visible butt crack. And yet another is so long on my wiener dog legs that by the time I have them hemmed, the “boot cut” is more accurately a “straight cut.”
Skinny jeans make me look like a Ball Park Frank, perilously close to bursting out of its casing at any moment. Relaxed Fit is another way of saying “saggy in the hips and butt.” (If that was the look I wanted, I’d just go naked.) Low-Rise is out (see above), but High-Waisted are reminiscent of Lee jeans in the 70s. They weren’t flattering then, and I was 30 years younger. And Hubs wonders why I live in yoga pants.
Then, of course, there’s the this-must-be-what Hell-feels-like swimsuit shopping.
An afternoon of Speedo shopping can tank a woman’s self-confidence faster than a morning weigh-in after girls’ night out over nachos and margaritas. There’s just something so wrong about staring at your pale, desperately-needs-bronzer body, after a winter of hibernating on the couch with unlimited Netflix streaming and a never-ending supply of frosted brownies (okay, maybe that’s just me), stuffed into an overpriced, tiny piece of spandex, while debating whether or not to wear it out in public. Oh hell, no.
We spend most of the year selecting and wearing clothes that, hopefully, detract the eye from our more visibly aging areas. But then when the sun comes out, we jump into a short toothpaste tube that broadcasts our every missed workout, bad food choice, “okay, just one more” glass of wine, and our losing battle with gravity like a neon arrow over our heads flashing “Let Herself Go and Doesn’t Care.”
Recently I’ve discovered a new shopping minefield. Bras.
Like many women, for years I’ve purchased bras based on the size and styles I’ve always worn. If it was pretty, with underwire and little lace, and reasonably priced, I was good to go. But over the past couple of years, my old standbys just weren’t “doing it” any more. It was painfully obvious that the basic lift bra was no longer enough to get those deflated party balloons back up closer to my clavicle than to my navel. This was going to take some professional intervention.
Off to Nordstrom, my go-to place for uncharted shopping territories. The lingerie department was beautiful, with a veritable sea of undergarment options that dizzied the mind. I found a vivacious 12-year-old saleswoman, who promptly ushered me into a plush, softly lit dressing room, and whipped out a measuring tape.
“Okay!” she chirped, flashing a bright, perfect smile, “let’s undress and I’ll measure you!”
“That’s not necessary,” I mumbled, “I know what size I wear.”
“Oh, no,” she shook her head and frowned, “Most women have been wearing the wrong size for years. That’s why their boobs look like that.”
Well, in the first place, you pre-pubescent Twinkie, that isn’t the reason their boobs “look like that.” It’s called gravity, and someday, if there is a God, even you will meet up with it. Until then, I’m well aware that mine resemble wind socks on a still day, but I’m counting on you to work around it.
Twinkie Girl quickly measured my chest (over the boobs), then smiled and said, “If you’ll lift up your breasts, I’ll measure your rib cage.” Lift up my breasts?? At this point, I didn’t know whether to laugh or just smack her with one of them. But since we were halfway through the process, I just sighed and hefted up one Beanie Baby in each hand, so she could do her duty. Turns out I’d been wearing the wrong size forever.
She gave me a bright, $10,000-in-orthodontia smile and said, “I’m going out to get you some styles to try on. Stay here. I’ll be right back!” (Where was I going?? I was half-naked, the bra I was wearing earlier was apparently completely unacceptable and had been summarily tossed, and braless tends to make me look like a cover model for National Geographic, the Safari Edition.)
Twinkie Girl returned a short time later with a basket full of bras in my new size. She watched as I tried on the first two, then instructed, “They work better if you lean forward and just let your boobs sort of fall into them.” That helped, but they still weren’t getting “up there” like I wanted.
As I stood in front of Twinkie Girl, she studied my breasts for a minute with a small frown, and then said, “Here’s what you do.” She leaned towards me, stuck her hand down my bra and lifted my boob up further into the cup. OMG.
I don’t even let Hubs do that.
I stood in mortified silence, until she whispered, “Now look.”
I turned and looked in the mirror. And there they were. My perky, back-up-there-where-God-originally-put-them boobs, happily chatting with their long-lost neighbors, my clavicles. I was dazzled.
Twinkie Girl gave me a moment to stare at my bouncy new chest and then brought it home with, “And they’re on sale for $85. Oh, and you should wash them after every two wearings, so you’ll need at least two. One in nude and one in black. Shall I wrap them up?”
$85?? On sale???
I looked again. She had me, and she knew it. Wrap up the black one. I’m wearing the nude. And call the bank. My car payment is going to be late.