This afternoon, I was on a mission. As unbelievable as the following will sound, I actually have TWO adults-only evenings planned for this weekend. One is dinner with a group of friends tomorrow night. The other is the Bon Jovi concert on Sunday night with my husband and sister. I know. I am living on the edge.
Thinking of Kristen at Motherese and her quest to purge her closet and find her style, I had my marching orders. Although I know my style (somewhere among Gap, Banana Republic, The Limited and Ann Taylor, with a few funky, kind of trendy gems), I hardly ever go shopping anymore. I find it frustrating, expensive and hard to find similar aforementioned styles at knock off prices, because I have three kids, you know? And they are usually shopping with me, which is decidedly not fun; for them or for me.
However, I have not a thing to wear. I have tons of stuff, but nothing that is appropriate for a nice evening out and a good, old-fashioned rock concert. So, after work and picking up Joshua, I headed out to the mall with a $40 budget for both evenings combined and three children to boot. I decided to hit Forever 21, a definitely trendy store for young women.
How do I know this?
Because there is no way to maneuver two walking children and a stroller and a big ass handbag (with all kinds of survival mode stuff) through the dang store. I know. I've tried. Several, several, several times. I must be a glutton for punishment.
It must be mentioned that Forever 21 means just that. There is no one in there over the age of twenty five. Except for me. And my three boys, whose ages combined do not equal 21, but are decidedly not the fashion accessory or shopping companion of any twenty one year old. And my sister. With her two girls in the double stroller. Definitely not twenty one.
The place is buzzing with girls ('cause that's what they are). It is Friday night.
These people have hot dates to dress up for.
I have a hot date with the washer and dryer when I get home. After I feed and bathe and/or supervise bath time. I know. You are just breathless with excitement.
But I digress. I start trying to look around the store. I can't get through the mob. There is no stroller courtesy. People don't look down to see that there are children that are going to be trampled on or get stuck on clothing racks. There is no room to move.
But I stay the course, and try to find something appropriate for the occasion, my age, and the ongoing problem areas formally known as my breasts and where my waist used to be. Did I also mention I have a $40 budget and three hungry children who are starting to snarl at one another because they haven't eaten in hours?
I find success at the clearance rack, where these cheap, poorly made clothes are further marked down to ridiculous prices (maybe they seem cheaper to me, because I actually earn my money, instead of asking my mom for the money, like the rest of this particular demographic does). I found a cute shirt for $8.99. Further scrounging produced a tank top for $3.50 and a pretty blouse for tomorrow night for $17. I decided to splurge and purchase a very pretty, funky necklace that I could use for both for $9. So I spent $42 but have some pretty blouses that will survive the trend or barely survive laundering past the fourth wash, whichever comes first.
What was fascinating to me was visiting the Ann Taylor Loft across the way. Wide, spacious aisles gleamed for me as I easily walked between racks, laden with ridiculously expensive clothing (maybe they seem expensive, because I actually earn my money, instead of using my rich husband's credit card, like the rest of this particular demographic does. Oh wait, I don't have a rich husband). I am met with stroller etiquette. I encounter courteous sales people who will offer totally biased opinions so that I purchase the stuff that is not in the clearance racks.
If I partake of the buying experience offered there, there is no question that I will leave with a very age appropriate outfit, and that I will be in deep debt when it is all over. Needless to say, I glided right back out through their very neat, courteous, adequately spaced aisles and right on out the door.
Subliminal messages in both establishments, don' t you think?
Cheap, trendy will cost you in headaches and replacements of the garments themselves: trying to get in and out of the store, your ego taking a pretty good beating surrounded by children who are barely old enough to drive, let alone vote, trying to find something age appropriate and the realization that not only are you not Forever 21 (even though you may feel it in your heart), but you are so far in age from 21, that you are nearer to doubling it.
Or the alternative: classic and elegant, a store catered to more adult tastes, albeit expensive tastes, no age issues, mainly because you are on the younger end of the spectrum of that particular demographic, perfect fit and clothing made of lasting quality. All that, plus wide gleaming aisles for double strollers...and hefty price tags, even on clearance.
I think I am still somewhere in between. No longer a girl, not yet a (middle aged) woman. Kind of a tween, if you will. Couldn't we have a combination of Forever 21 and Ann Taylor, a love child, if you will? Where you could find age appropriate, cute clothing that would accommodate the areas formally known as my breasts and where my waist used to be? Where you are greeted with wide aisles that would accommodate my stroller and two walking children? And have helpful salespeople that would tell you that your arse is too big for those pants? Is it too much to ask?
The bright side? My older boys did not laugh hysterically when I asked them what I thought about the shirts. My sister and I ( and the five kids) got to go shopping for a whole 45 minutes before the Witching Hour. And the whole experience today did not drive me to drink and sob over my lost youth, but I did partake of a milkshake.
Because I could afford it. How's that for a subliminal message?
***I promise to post pictures of said get-up's by Monday, if I don't deem myself looking too ridiculous.