October 19, 2011

Food and Fashion

When I go grocery shopping, unless I have a comprehensive list from the recipes I want to make, it’s a total crap shoot. I’ll walk through the produce and think, “Hmmm… those squash look good, I bet I could do something with that”. Then I’ll hit the aisles and pick out the pantry basics, throw in some inspiring ingredients to get creative with and voila, shopping done!

Only then I get home and have no idea what to do. Pantry basics, my ass. If it were that simple then why do I have NOTHING for the kids to snack on but graham crackers? I’ll sit there with my squash, onion and can of tomatoes and stare at them until my eyes glaze over. Without a big picture, it turns out to be spaghetti night. Every night.

It’s exactly the same thing when I buy clothes. I’ll coast through Target, Old Navy, Kohls and grab a bunch of shirts that look nice, a cardigan with shiny things on it, maybe a jacket that could work with “something”. A dress with potential goes into the pot and off I go, brand spankin’ new wardrobe in my cart. Only none of it goes together, none if it’s well made and NONE of it fits. It’s all onions and generic fruit snacks, manager’s special ground beef and a dented can of peaches.

I get home, pull on a shirt with a pair of jeans and admire the total frump-fest in my mirror. The dress is too short, too long, too fitted or too tent-like. Either way, it would need a tank top (mine are all full of holes but why buy new ones?),  a special kind of bra and, oh yeah, let's not even think about shoes. The jacket matches nothing, goes with nothing, layers with nothing and the sleeves are short in a totally-not-as-cute-as-I’d-pictured kind of way.

Don't you love running back to the same store, three kids in tow, to return things you shouldn't have bought in the first place? Yeah, me neither.

When it comes to my “outfits” every day is spaghetti day. Jeans, frumpy and ill-fitting t-shirt. Or a summer dress that gaps in the front or shows off the popped elastic on my old white bra. The finishing touch is the same pair of black flats or sandals I wear with everything.

I have friends who dress with an elegant ease, every item coming together in a variety of interesting, personalized and flattering styles. One has an especially magical gift of consignment shopping and pulling gems out of the racks at Goodwill. Interestingly, now that I think of it, all of them have a flair in the kitchen, too.

I have begged them to take me shopping but here’s the next problem. I balk at any item over $20, from shoes to bras and everything in between. So I stick to Kohls and Target, spending $20 or less over and over again on clothes that don’t work, buy the same t-shirts in the same colors and find that I wake up every day with nothing to wear, nothing that fits right and nothing that puts a smile on my face. It undoubtedly adds up over time to far more than one worthwhile outfit but, really, I have no idea how to put together one anyway, so why try?

I’d love to shop at the “fancy” mall stores (think Banana Republic or Loft, so chic!) but it seems like such a commitment. Those jeans can cost over $60! That silk camisole, the one that might actually match the cardigan with shiny things? It’s $112! Those places are the Whole Foods of the clothing world and if we get into Gucci-land I don’t even have a food comparison. Maybe rare white truffles by the pound?

And as a mom doing mom things all day with a baby who really likes to chew on my shoulder whilst eating crackers, it seems a little ridiculous to get all "put together". A concession I have made to Texas Fancy is mascara every day and sometimes, blush. I know. It's wild.

My kids get dressed in the morning, however, with an exuberant flair and total disregard for circumstance that I envy. Playing in the backyard all day? Sounds like a perfect occasion for last year's Easter dress! Icy cold wind and outdoor recess? Think I'll wear my sparkly sandals. Hair ribbons, glitter headbands, homemade bead bracelets and a wild ruckus of color and pattern, they dash out into the world prepared to shine with no thought to who will or will not see them or what activity will come up.

Someday I'll get dressed in the morning just for the fun of it. All my lingerie will actually BE lingerie, will fit and will (gasp!) match. I will walk into my closet and casually pick out an actual outfit without having to think about it because I’ll know it’s all good. Even my jammies will have some merit.

But that day is not today. Today, my Target t-shirt (New! So cute in the store!) keeps riding up and my stretched out bra straps is showing through while the popped underwire pokes me in the arm pit. My jeans are still a little tight from the wash but by afternoon I’ll be hiking them up methodically as they stretch out just enough to slide down my butt every few minutes.

As for dinner tonight? Ummm… I’ll get back to you on that. Probably something frozen and undoubtedly from Walmart.

So tell me, what are YOU wearing?


grandmem said...

But your taste in clothes is SO much better than mine! At least you wear jeans. My idea of daring is the brown sweat pants instead of the black ones. Let's get Terry to take you shopping when you come up here in December. Terry shopping ALWAYS produces positive results.

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Suze said...

Although I'm typically guilty of wearing jeans and some t-shirt with an amusing slogan or picture I got from the internet your post really struck a different cord with me. My home decorating project has been hitting just such bumps. Going out to fix whatever space issue is cropping up leaves us with mismatched furniture and no long term solution to making sure that all our things have homes. Recently we've decided to take a long look at what we really want to do with our dinning area and hatched an IKEA plan to make the best use of our space and ensure that all the pieces fit together in an eye pleasing manner. It's a costly project... but with the plan laid out firmly it's easy to do in chunks.

Alison said...

I think as a stay-at-home parent its incredibly hard to commit to spending $$ (and even the time) to shop for clothing. At least in my case I often agonize for months over wanting to spend $75 dollars on one pair of jeans instead of $30. I can't offer a solution - for me it's all about the $$, if I felt more free to spend any on myself I know I'd look different. As for the grocery store, I never go unarmed with a list or it's just a just a guarantee I'll have to go back when I decide what I'm really going to make!

Adie said...

I am beginning to think we are the same person! This totally made me laugh and was the exact scenarios i experience everyday. So while I had a heart attack doing it I bought this long necklace with a bunch of different charms in it and frankly it magically makes any outfit look pulled together. I got it from Express. I also plan on buying an expensive pair of jeans.......one day. :)

Meg said...

Adie, a necklace?! YOu rock! I feel freaked out committing to earrings that dangle. Accessories scare the hell out of me. I've always been especially awed by Charlotte with her major skillz with the jewelry, not to mention absolute flair for fashion. I just can't seem to pull it together.

It's like you said, Alison, it's the money that is the hardest hurdle to jump. Well, that and actually having time to go shopping by myself, no little ones in tow. But justifying an expensive (but well made, attractive and wardrobe staple) t shirt just feels impossible in the face of all the $9 throw away tee's at Target. The downside being that I end up, that's right, throwing them all away. Ugh.

Adie said...

Yeah when I see Char out I look away in shame. ;). Man that lady has style. But seriously try the necklace. I cant commit to earrings. I usually wear studs that i can just leave in. My fear with dangely earrings is that like my makeup they will not get taken off.

I am starting to feel like a stalker spending my Saturday gorging on yoyr musings.