Friday, April 30, 2010

Swans and Ugly Ducklings

I don't know if this story starts with a purse or a jacket.

How about a jacket inspired by a purse? Cursed by its owner, then set free by a Swan?

(Or...clearly a story about an overly-dramatic 80s-born girl who can't let go of an article of denim. What can I say, this attachment to the perfect denim jacket was written in my 1983 stars.)

So it goes like this:

Once upon a time, in a faraway land (Florida) a young lady (Shannon) was on a quest (shopping) with family friend. That family friend acquired a lovely denim jacket, which Shannon liked very much. For you see, this jacket was no ordinary denim jacket. This jacket was lined with silk.

Never before had Shannon seen such a wondrous denim product!

Being a lady, Shannon was not jealous of the toothpick girl and her ability to fit in the tiny article of clothing, nor was she enraged that it was only available in Size Miniscule.

And, years later, when she came across a denim jacket that had a lovely cut and color, she gave thanks to the gods of fashion for making it available in her size. (Heck, she was glad someone was still making denim jackets.) Unlined and imperfect, she bought it.

But the ghost of the lined denim jacket haunted her still. Try as she might, her own piece of clothing never lived up to the lovely one she encountered years prior. Though she did take it on romantic excursions and fun trips, hoping it would somehow grow on her.

Okay, enough fairy-tale verbiage, and fast-forward to that crazy day last fall when I went into Brighton for the first time. And walked out about, ooh, um, $350 later.

Don't worry, they did give me something in exchange for that. A purse. A gorgeous, bronze, leather purse.

Let's get this straight: I never go to Brighton. Ever. The plethora of hearts and swirls and cute overwhelms me. But that day at the mall, The Purse passed me on the shoulder of another woman.

I had to make it mine. I considered wrestling her to the ground for it, but then decided to try to just get one of my own.

She told me where I could find it, and though I was certain she was kidding, she finally convinced me to walk into that fluffy place. It was a little overwhelming, but I managed to find what I was looking for.

In retrospect, I think that buying the purse might have been what ultimately led me to make this decision to abstain from new stuff for 12 months. I still can't believe I dropped the cash for that, and on such a whim.

Of course, I've loved the doggone thing every time I've worn it. Its metallic color speaks to me in a way that touches my '83 heart, in a way that only crimped hair and "Jem & The Holograms" can. Plus it's the perfect size, perfect weight, passes The Elbow Test (I can put it on with one hand without getting my elbow stuck on any part of it), etc, etc.

And for some reason, it inspired me to take matters into my own hands in the matter of the unlined jacket. Recently, while at Swan's (badass tailor who did the leather pants) to get a pair of jeans fixed (People let me walk around ALL DAY with that hole over my right butt cheek. Thanks, world.) I asked Mr. Swan if he could put a lining in a denim jacket.

Like any crazy request I throw him, he looked thoughtful for a moment, then said, "Oh, sure."

Oh, joy. I knew immediately I wanted it to be the same bronze color as the pricey bag I've been hauling around now these 9 months. I just needed about a yard of fabric, Swan said.

This thrilled Brendon, my boyfriend (though we prefer to call each other Partner In Crime). Because for those of you who don't know my Partner, he has an unabashedly well developed feminine side. And this meant he had the perfect reason to visit the fabric store.

So well done to Brendon for ultimately obtaining the perfect fabric, and well done to Swan for transforming an ordinary jacket into now the perfect article of denim. At this point I'm just going to show you how awesome it is, and say that for this formerly ugly denim duckling, we're going to call this Happily Ever After.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What We Need is a Montage

A Trying On Clothes With No Intention to Purchase Montage!

(If you're not familiar with this joke, please enjoy this clip from the admittedly-racy Team America movie.)

Anyway, you know how in movies people dance around happily while trying on clothes? A cool tune is playing, and they are thrilled to suddenly be...buying a prom dress, shopping with Richard Gere's credit card, or on a European Vacation couture spree.

Um, so, that sort of thing happens in real life.

Some background: I've been enjoying Anthropologie's website by morning, devouring the cute little combinations they come up with and fantasizing about them. So I decided to pop in the real store this weekend.

Oh, what a thrill! Themes of travel and seaside living gorgeously apparent in every dainty cardigan and frilly blouse. I was shopping with a smile. I think I said hello to a pair of shorts I recognized.

When I stumbled across a perfect little fluffy skirt (navy!) what more could I do than try it on? And that weird little blouse with the funny buttons and (navy!) stripes? Yes, I just had to wear them, if only for a couple of minutes!

Oh, to be in a dressing room again! To feel the thrill of...New! The huge dressing room mirror, all that space, no one aware of my existence except the attendant, and her sole purpose bring me more clothes.

I think this is where the dancing began.

Seriously, I was all over that little room. The camera was flashing like mad for my personal fashion show...of 2 items.

Hey, come on, I was wearing a cool, trendy color for once (navy!) and sporting unusual buttons. It's been 4 months without a new purchase! So I had some fun.

Eventually, the attendant's polite inquiries as to my well-being brought me back to reality (and down off the little stool in the, um, dancing platform).

Okay, actually, my camera ran out of battery. End of montage.

I left the dressing room with the skirt and shirt, feeling like I couldn't really give them back to the attendant after hijacking clothes and stall for however long I'd checked out of reality there.

Back they went into that little corner, re-racked and ready for someone else's show. And I wasn't really too sad about it. I guess I went dancing in a cute new outfit, which is quite enough for now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Loud and Clear

A couple of weeks ago, I experienced true, raw fear.

No, it wasn't when I realized I couldn't indulge in a new pair of open-toe wedges. Though that comes close.

It was in the middle of the night. Brendon was offshore. And I heard the loudest middle-of-the-night sound since the hurricane.

I sat straight up, heart racing, totally blind. Five seconds of terror to remember I sleep with an eye mask...that's why my glasses wouldn't go on may face. Another five seconds to properly remove retainer, remove eye mask, don the glasses (yes, I'm very pretty in bed).

At this point, I can tell the closet light is on. I've also begun to process the sound. Other than super loud, it was kinda...metallic. I kept thinking a tree had hit the house, a fair consideration after the three that kissed our roof during Ike.

But everything was silent. Including my eerily illuminated closet. Pulse racing, I peeked out the blinds, expecting to see a huge trunk where it ought not be.


Suddenly, I was certain the noise had come from inside. Perhaps the closet! (Why oh why do I think these things when I'm scared? An intruder decided to bust inside my closet? Surely everyone knows by now that there's nothing remotely new in there! And of course he'd turn on the light to do so.)

Suddenly even more terrified that I might not be alone in my room, I run out into the living room. Nobody's out there, and now I'm thinking I ought to go outside and drive away. But all I can think about is pants. As in, I'm not wearing any. I can't go outside and get in the car without pants!

Agony. My heartbeat actually hurts. I wildly check out a few more blinds, still seeing the very boring nothingness out there.

And then Reason finally decides to saunter back. Took her sweet time. She suggests I go back to the closet, the only thing that doesn't make sense in this otherwise-normal-1:30am scene.

I approach the closet, trembling and pantless, rather like cops approach bad guys on tv: back against the wall, sliding toward it, then whirl around to face it!

And it's a mess. Suddenly, my adrenaline gives way to irritation. Messes usually bug me, what can I say?

And I realize that the waves of clothes flooding the floor are the result of the 3 shelves that decided, just minutes before and during my peaceful, albeit unattractive slumber, to detach from the walls. With gusto. With noisy gusto. Flipping the switch of the light in the process.

Ah, relief. Ah, embarrassment. Ah...maybe there are too many clothes in there.

Oh, no. My closet is communicating with me.

Is there any more obvious way for an overstuffed inanimate object to tell me that I could stand a good Clothing Purge Session? Shannon, GIVE SOME OF YOUR CLOTHES AWAY.

Okay, I hear it, loud and clear. My closet spoke, and I listened.

Which is how, in the midst of total shopping abstinence, I managed to produce a skirt for Goodwill.

Brendon raised an eyebrow at the singularity of my donation, but I did point out that it was a big skirt, quite heavy in fact, and that some girl out there with generous hips would love it. And that it should make our closet breathe a bit easier. In case it should decide to give me another midnight message.

And just in case, I now take my jammy pants to bed.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Wanton Wanting

This is not going the way I thought it would.

This little test of mine came to me on a whim while driving through Nowhere, TX after the Christmas holidays, and at the time I just envisioned a different experience.

Oh, sure, I've experienced the anticipated frustration at not buying the clothes I want.

But frustration has been shadowed by deep embarrassment, the latter of which has been the major aspect of my experience so far. And not one I've really wanted to write about.

So I've avoided my promised chronicling of this for about a month now. Okay, enough. I'm coming clean:

I can't believe I haven't needed something yet. That's it. That's the source of the silence.

I have shoes to run in. I have both jeans and dress pants for work. I have my beloved jammy pants.

Cardigans? Check.

A dress for a wedding/baby/bridal shower? Check, check, and check.

Shorts for the weekend? Check.

Holy cow, I have a lot. The opulence of my closet was never so apparent to me.

And oh, it gets worse.

A black pencil skirt? No, not "a." The correct modifier would be "some." Because I have 2. And another black mini. And then 2 more, but in leather.

A button-down shirt for work? Again, I amend--some button-down shirts for work: 3 long-sleeve, and then...oh, wow, 6 short-sleeve. I don't even want to say that out loud.

This is my embarrassment--that I have enough. I have more than enough. Not even planning for this silly venture into the limits of my self-control, I already had enough.

Three pairs of blue shoes. Yeah, it's my signature color, but really? Three? Not necessary, Shannon.

So I ask myself: how can I still want to go shopping? Why on earth do I see ads for Victoria's Secret swimsuits and still want another one? Why does watching Coco Before Chanel make me long for some gauzy, new summer clothes? Why do I moan a little when I look at the dresses in Anthropologie?

I guess it's my conditioning. I've let myself shop and buy what I want for a long time now, and my lack of need now just screams out how unchecked I went.

I've been humbled. I'm still feeling it, and it'll surely continue.

Yet I'm equally as sure I'll still go into Nine West and drool a little on their sandals display.

I apologize to the world in general, to Karma, to those who don't have enough, to whomever I ought to to make this right. I acknowledge that it sucks that many people in the world long for just one pair of shoes, while right now I'm longing for just one more.

But I also know that this hasn't hit me so hard that I plan to give away all my stuff & take up in a hut with just a pillowcase for clothes. Why? Am I a weenie? Probably. Do I look bad in pillowcases? Quite likely. So it's just delivered enough of a blow to shut me up for a few weeks.

Well, no longer. I'm going to bluntly put it out there--all my selfish feelings, my consumer impulses, and my confused feelings of guilt.

Starting with this: if I come across the field of sunflowers made for lounging in that gorgeous white dress at Anthropologie, there's going to be some serious self-control necessary. I know I have a closet full of clothes, but I've clearly spelled out the wanton purchasing shame of my past life. And I will say that in my fantasies--also full of yachts and Ritz-Carltons and perfect hair days--that dress and I have a date with a lazy, sunny afternoon. And cute sandals.