You’d think I’d know better by now. Even before I was middle aged, shopping for a special occasion was something I dreaded, because none of the stores ever seemed to carry exactly what I needed. If I was looking for a dress to be worn at an outdoor event on a hot summer day, all I found were long-sleeve dresses, usually made out of wool. Sure, there might have been one or two sleeveless, summery dresses hanging on the clearance rack, but they were always a size two, which I haven’t been since…well, ever. But now that I am middle-aged, shopping of any kind has become a chore, and shopping for a special event has become almost impossible.
Even so, yesterday I headed off to the nearby mall in high hopes of quickly and easily finding an appropriate outfit to wear to a wedding I’m attending next weekend. I don’t know why I was so optimistic about the whole thing, but I cheerfully told my husband I’d be back in a couple of hours. Maybe the problem is my memory seems to be going the way of my eyesight, but for some strange reason, I really thought I’d find something that I’d like without wasting my whole day shopping.
Needless to say, I was wrong. It took me quite some time to find any dresses that were even worth trying on, but eventually I grabbed a few and ducked into the nearest dressing room to see if they fit. The less said about what I looked like in those dresses, the better. I came out of the dressing room without anything I actually wanted to buy, but with the firm belief that I needed three things as quickly as possible: a new diet, a gym membership, and an appointment with a really good plastic surgeon.
I tried a few other stores with no more success at finding a dress, but I did spot a nice blue jacket (on sale, thank goodness) that I thought just might work over an eight-year old, sleeveless black dress I already owned. At that point, I was far too depressed to keep on shopping, so I bought the jacket, went home and tried it on with my black dress, and decided to believe my husband when he told me it looked just fine. I know he wouldn’t have told me otherwise no matter how bad it looked, but it still helped to hear him actually say the words.
I have no idea why the people who design clothes insist in believing that all women are tall, thin, and twenty-something, but they do. And its more than a little discouraging to keep trying to stuff my not tall, thin and twenty-something body into the available merchandise. It’s hard enough to have hit the time in my life when everything’s sagging and bagging without having to try on clothes that seemed designed to emphasize each and every single imperfection.
One of my favorite authors is Rick Bragg, and he wrote a very funny essay regarding his hatred for shopping (good to know it’s not just a female thing), stating that he has decided he’s never going to shop for clothes again. After evaluating his wardrobe and his remaining expected life span, he concluded that he can “be dead and naked at about the same time.” I don’t think I can quite pull that one off, but I have an awful feeling that I will be wearing that black dress of mine to every special event I am invited to for at least another ten years, with our without a new jacket to go with it.