Thursday, January 28, 2010

What They Know

The topic of leather pants is owed a redress of grievances, so to speak. But this is not the time.
Yes, I've had them altered. Indeed, I have endeavored to choose them as part of my daily outfit on several occasions. But due to a variety of factors including, but not limited to: the weather, the temperature, and the way I feel in the mornings...I haven't worn them again.
But I will, and that story is coming.
Today, right now, I'm considering What They Know. They are, at the moment, my adversaries.
Macy's, Express, Victoria's Secret, Banana Republic...they have been inviting me over to their places for years now, and I used to accept their invites with innocent glee.
I figure they know my marketing profile--25-30 yr old female, x disposable income, recently tends to purchase in shades of purple, has a strange addiction to coats for a Houstonian, and quite a considerable appetite for shoes.
They have always sent me emails with coupons and offers, and I figure they do so based on all the information I provide by buying online, in stores, and with plastic.
Currently I pretty much ignore those emails.
Give me a break--it's time for the spring clothes, and I just itch with Purchase Anxiety when I see those light fabrics and happy models frolicking in the ocean. It's taken me about 3 weeks to actually go shopping again, and even then I didn't even dare try anything on.
But this shopping excursion made me consider, really consider, What They Know.
How much data have they really gathered about Shannon Kelly? They can't be aware of my current situation.
And that's what made me realize--if I'm not buying, I can expand my horizons. I can go into super expensive stores I ordinarily avoid. They don't know!
So I went to the frou-frou side of the The Woodlands Mall. (Yes, I know that this is not the Galleria, and that I'm not ever talking big names like Armani or whatever. The Shannon Sliding Scale of what's expensive and what's not is simply that--my own definition, and I'm operating off of that.)
Anyway, I went to the side of the mall called Market Street, where the yuppiest of the yuppies like to throw their plastic around. And I went into Tommy Bahama.
Not really my style, not really my preference. It was full of kinda snobby white suburbanites. But I got to become one. Because I had no intention of buying, and they didn't know.
I didn't even look for a sale. They probably didn't have one. But I just wandered in and out of the gorgeous fabrics and kind of silly beach clothes and...enjoyed it. I have no idea how much they cost. Well, okay, I did look at the price tag of a kids' shirt just for shits and giggles ($$$!)
But otherwise, it was the first time I ever did that--shopped without regard for price. I waltzed through the store with the regal air of a bored trophy wife, and wow. It was awesome. I felt priveleged, elegant, kind of regal.
The attendants never looked down their noses, but rather glanced expectantly at me as if I might grace them with a purchase. Oh, the joy of it!
They paid me all the respect in the world...and I didn't pay them a dime.
So that's good to know. There can be indulgence without purchase.
This experiment might not be so painful after all.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Catwoman Meets Mom Jeans

Coming down off the pain of not shopping Thursday night (see previous post) I dressed for work Friday with a renewed sense of boldness and optimism.

I shall go forth and wear the clothes I have. I have more than enough! I do not long for any more wardrobe variety!

So the Confident Shannon pulled out an item of clothing never before donned in public: Aunt Maggie's leather pants, given to me years ago and deemed too small at the time, thereby relegated to the back of the closet.

Perfect! It was another freezing day outside. Leather is appropriate in winter, right? And...ooof...squeeze...yes! My butt fit! They weren't too small!

I was catwoman, daring, a young professional in awesome leather--oh. Mom jeans.

The waistline I looked down at the mile-long zipper. And the button at the top really didn't quite button, being a bit too tight right there under my boobs.

I looked in the mirror. Was this supposed to be some sort of pantsuit? How did anyone get away with making such hot leather pants with such an upsettingly high waist?

Okay, well, at this point, I was determined to wear them. So borrowing a little trick my stepmom used during her pregnancies, I used a hair band to close the button and hole at the top. This way I could sag the waist a little. Sure, there was a little bump where the button was not buttoned, but I just layered on a few shirts and a cardigan, effectively hiding my secret Mom Jeans conversion technique.

Effectively hiding anything awesome about wearing leather pants, too. From the hips down I was catwoman. Everything else was, well, this video:

But the catwoman half of me was unrelentless. Clearly I just needed a good tailor! I popped in to Minh's Alterations at lunch, only to have Negative Nancy there tell me there was nothing to be done.

Excuse me? Had I accidentally wandered into a San Diego hospital's neurology wing? Surely there were thousands of pairs of leather pants made every day, all out of leather and thread. I was simply asking him to make me some leather pants, and I was supplying the leather and thread...only this leather happened to already look like pants.

Frustrated with Minh's lack of vision, I left. Perhaps I wasn't commanding enough authority with my look of Frumpy Superheroine.

I thought about giving up, but then the pants really came through for me that afternoon. All around town, pipes were freezing and busting off the tops of vacuum breakers, creating geysers at the sides of folks' homes. The first valve I shut was at Aunt Sarah's house, where I was instantly baptized in the icy water that had been shooting out for the past hour. We noticed several more mini Old Faithfuls up and down the streets of her neighborhood, and felt called to help those people out, too.

Leaping into the waterfalls to shut the valves, my layers of conservative tops were soaked through...but my pants remained waterproof! Sloshing through little lakes in backyards and stopping the wasteful gush of water with one flick of the wrist, my legs stayed wonderfully dry. I spoke to neighbors, explained what we had done, and finally felt like the Superheroine I had pictured when I first pulled those pants out of the closet.

So I gave them another try; yesterday I took them to Swan's, and he didn't even bat an eyelash when I explained that I wanted him to drop and expand the waistline.

Oh, sweet renewed sense of accomplishment! I shall return Thursday to a pair of real leather pants, properly fitting and totally catwoman-esque! Perhaps I'll make it through this crazy resolution after all!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Uh oh

"Will you be doing any shopping today?"

An innocent enough question, but the smile on the Marshall's customer service lady's face quickly transformed into a puzzled frown. Probably because her query had made me break out into a cold sweat. Yeah, on this--the coldest day of the year.

Heck no I wasn't going to be doing any shopping. Already I had been to Dillards, Macy's, and Anthropologie in search of this Christmas present's original home, and I pretty much wanted to throw up from the pressure of all those gorgeous clothes displays.

What was I thinking, what was I thinking, making this resolution? No clothes purchases until 2011? Seriously, did I really think I'd be able to try on clothes without buying them?

One whiff of those purses in Macy's and I knew I was in trouble. I actually ran for the doors in Anthropologie, grateful that they didn't carry this sweater's brand so that I wouldn't have to stand there throughout the whole return process, bombarded by their adorable, quirky clothes.

At Marshall's, I knew I was just one tiny road bump from falling off the wagon. And oh god, they had to go find the original price of this gorgeous, (sadly itchy), evil sweater. The sweater that had thrown me, full-throttle, back into the shiny, too-tempting world of sweet retail bliss.

Why didn't I just keep the damn thing? It was my color, it was a cute cut, it was new.

But it was wool. Stupid sensitive skin. The rash I'd have gotten from wearing it probably would have been easier to bear than a full hour and a half of walking through department stores with a determination not to buy.

So the Marshall's lady wanted to know if I'd shop while they looked in the back for the sweater's price. I considered just giving it back to them, considered waiting outside in the car, and then realized I'd been waiting way too long to answer a seemingly simple question.

I nodded, and scurried over into the far recesses of Housewares. There I resigned myself to examining their strange collection of coffee cups, kitchenware, and furniture. In great detail. Jonesing for a purchase, I found myself considering buying a cup shaped like a chicken, an incomplete stemware set, a green velvet ottoman.

I left the store exhausted, but triumphant. On several counts--I did not buy any clothes, I successfully returned the sweater, and I did not foolishly acquire any whimsical/useless housewares.

What is this, Day 7?

This is going to be a bit more challenging than I thought. Next time I want to wear myself out this much on a week night, I think I'll go to the gym and run. Sprints.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

365 days, no new clothes

What does it take to make a drastic change?

For some folks, I guess it's medical help. Brendon's wearing a patch on his arm to keep himself from lighting up. So maybe I can find a patch for this: not buying any new clothes this year.

That's it. From January 1 through December 31, I will not purchase any new clothes for myself. And I'm including shoes, purses, and other accessories in that. Not a headband, not a sock. Definitely no cute jeans from Express.

What could I learn from this? What could I gain?

Well, I could probably save some money. And in an effort to see how much, I will allow myself to continue shopping. And trying things on. The clothes that I want to purchase will simply be put back on the rack. That money otherwise used to buy the clothes/accessories I adore will go into a savings account.

(Sorry, retailers, for trying on your clothes with no intention to buy. I will endeavor to re-rack all of my own near-purchases myself so as to be fair.)

Can it be done? Can an an average suburban Texan keep from giving in to the siren call of The Sale? I think so. But I want to see what it takes. What acts of self-restraint are involved in such a schism with so basic an aspect of female consumerism?

As part of this experiment, I allow myself the full temptations. I'm not unsubscribing from any of the emails I regularly receive from Victoria's Secret, Macy's, Express, or Banana Republic.

I'm not going to abstain from buying clothes for others, either. As long as the recipient is not Shannon Kelly, then purchasing a clothing/accessory item is totally fair game.

As with any game, I will have a little Get Out Jail Free card. My Ace in the Hole: a $100 gift card to Macy's (a Christmas gift from my not-in-laws). If I drastically change cup size or desperately need socks, I'll use this.

So there it is, my plan for the new year. It's not giving up smoking or losing 100 lbs; I don't think I can get help from a doctor or a support group. But it's a drastic change for me nonetheless. And I'm intrigued as to what it will take. So I'm keeping this diary as a window into my thoughts and an outlet for whatever it is a girl can learn from total retail abstinence.

Five days down, 360 to go!