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Confessions of a (non) fashionista

Mannequins at the Holt Renfrew store in Montre...

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We are all slaves to fashion to some degree.  But who needs it?

It is an incessant marketing machine, a ploy to keep the clothing, shoe, jewelery and accessory shops populated by a steady stream of young and old alike in search of new items for their already over-flowing-yet-so-last-season closets.

And given I live in a four season climate, keeping up with the Joneses is a full time occupation.  Just when you think you have mastered this winter’s jean, boot and sweater combo, spring rolls around and it’s time for leggings and sandals. Not to mention expensive, bad for the environment, and mentally exhausting.

Yet I take the bait.  I am a sucker for punishment.  Any marketer’s dream.

Not consciously or willingly, however.  I try to ignore fashion.  I am too busy and poor to bother.  Besides, I like to be comfortable.  I turn my head the other way when the September issue of Vogue hits the newsstand.  I am above this, I tell myself.  I am happy with a few well-cut, classic pieces.  They never go out of style, after all.  It’s all just stuff, who needs more stuff?

I think of the poor people who wait for H&M to open its doors when they announce they are carrying Jimmy Choo shoes, or those who flock to Holt Renfrew when a sale is announced.  Victims.  They will not get that time back.  They could do so many better things with their time and money – help feed the homeless, perhaps. Fight AIDS in Africa.  Ponder life.  Play Wii.

I smugly pat myself on the back for being above this fashion crazed society.  Think of all the bags I am saving!

But when I least expect it, a magazine falls open, revealing the most beautiful woman with flowing locks wearing tailored short cuffed shorts and a billowy shirt, paired with military inspired stilettos. She has great legs.  Surely I, too, could have great legs if I wore shoes like that with shorts like that.  Imagine how great life would be if I owned that outfit; surely everything would fall into place. Hmmm.

Of course a quick glance at my closet tells me I have nothing resembling that outfit.  Another hmmm.

I’ll just take a quick spin through the mall when I’m doing my errands that I am suddenly inspired to do.  Hell, there’s a grocery store attached to the mall, I may as well go there to get milk.

Before I know it, I have a babysitter coming (kids hate grocery shopping after all, and if I should venture into a store, that changing room gets awfully small awfully fast.)

I go straight to the mall.  My milk will get warm, I reason, I’ll save my errands for the end.  I dash into the Gap, usually a quick fix at the right price, but they have no cuffed shorts or billowy shirts.  They do, however, have some cute sunhats at a great price.  The sun is doing irreparable damage to my skin as I speak, I can’t afford not to buy these hats: one is floppy and will provide great coverage, but definitely beachy, the other more military in style and for everyday.  I’m sure I’ll wear it all the time.

I stop in at a shoe store that I love – functional yet funky is what I generally go for in shoes, stilettos not usually my style, but with these shorts (that I have yet to find but surely will…) clearly there is a need for a substantial heel.  They don’t have anything like the woman’s – she of the giraffe-like legs – in the store.  But they do have some pretty cool Egyptian looking wedges that seemed all the rage last year.  I can’t be a year too late if they are still selling them in stores.  Besides, look at Uggs and skinny jeans: trends that keep going and going, despite the wishes of many that they disappear.

And the kicker: they are on sale.  Meaning if I am guilt stricken when I get home I cannot return them.  On the other hand, they are a bargain that surely will belong to some other random size eight woman should I pass them up.  And don’t you hate it when you are throwing an outfit together and you think “if only I’d bought those shoes…” I shudder, and sweating slightly, tell the salesgirl I’ll take them.  “They’ll look great with a flowy dress,” she says as she rings them up.  Yes, I muse, so they will.

A quick mind’s eye scan of my closet sees I have no such flowy dress.  Surreptitiously I add “flowy dress” to my list underneath “billowy shirt, cuffed short shorts, military stilettos,” and note I have not yet crossed anything off my list.

I soldier on.  American Eagle is next door, and although it appeals to a more youthful crowd, I somehow think billowy might apply.  And what do you know? Everything is on sale! I browse through a rack of cute dresses, the words “flowy dress” echoing in my mind.  These are more beach cover-up than something you’d wear with my new kicking wedges, but then that “dress it up, dress it down” rule might apply: beach cover up by day, rocking dress at night, perhaps?  I grab two. (One halter style, one racer back, both shades of gray but totally different.  The racer back one could totally satisfy the flowy dress requirement. Maybe.)

And look! The perfect white summer t-shirts and tanks! A wee bit longer in the body than last years, some great racer back styles (note to self: acquire racer back bras) with plunging necklines perfect for flat chests.  I’ll wear them all the time! I want it all, but limit myself to a couple of tanks and tees – neutral, of course – they will go with everything I own.

As the items thrown across my forearm mount, my perspiring worsens, and shortness of breath follows.  I know this condition.  I am a runner, but the only time I ever experience this tightening in my chest and stitch in my side is when I am shopping, not running, curiously enough.

I attribute this reaction to screaming factions in my brain that arrive in my head whenever I shop: one sounds like me, the other exactly like my husband, strangely enough.  A voice remarkably similar to mine shouts “But it’s so cute! And cheap! Why not? You won’t be able to wear this stuff forever! Life is short!” But then a deeper, more masculine voice counters “You have too many dresses!  When will you wear these? Do you really need another tank top? Don’t do this! Put them back! Walk away!”  I am on my way to the checkout; I know who is going to win this one.  Yet I ask the age-old question: “Are these returnable?”

My babysitter fees are racking up and I’m sure my children are starving for dinner and filling the hole with cookies in my absence.  I pay for my items and flee the mall, not even furtively glancing at the shops that just might house my cuffed shorts and billowy shirt, military stilettos be damned.

I push aside negative thoughts that tell me I had not accomplished any of my mission, save and accept adding “flowy dress” and (perhaps) crossing it off in one foul swoop.  I added racer back bra to my list.  I owe my babysitter $40, and spent a wad on things I hadn’t, until this moment, thought I needed.  The cuffed shorts and billowy blouse had eluded me, but tomorrow is another day.  Who knows what treasures a stroll down Robson Street will unearth?

As I pull in the driveway I realize I forgot to buy milk.

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