I had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking about clothes today. I have lost some weight in the past year--to the point that my clothes are quite baggy--so I decided to go do some shopping, hoping to hit some clearance sales. Clothes were on my mind.
Since my shopping buddy got married and moved away last weekend, I was shopping alone, so I had lots of time to think. My first thought on the message of clothes came when I was wandering through Banana Republic, ungreeted and completely unbothered by the people working in the store--none of whom were familiar faces--while they assiduously greeted everyone else who came in and told them about the sale. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and completely understood why I was ignored. I looked schlumpy. My two-year-old, too-big shirt and too-big cropped pants made me look more like I belonged on the "People of Walmart" site than at BR. I wandered around the store for about five minutes, unaccosted, and then left without seeing anything that even tempted me to try it on.
Next stop was the Land's End store at Sears. Again, ungreeted. Same was true at every store that I went into except J.C. Penney, where every employee you pass must greet you on pain of death. At Aldo I thought I was truly invisible. I even held a shoe for about a minute while the two people working conversed with each other a couple of feet away, until I left, at which point one said, "Thanks for coming in!" Whaat?!
So all of this was fresh in my mind when I saw, first, the woman in the skintight translucent white jeggings, low-cut shirt & platform shoes dragging the toddler through the mall. (Her outfit didn't say "MOM.") Then I saw the two women in scrubs complaining about the styles at Macys being boring and having no-style. (Unlike their scrubs? Sorry, when you wear scrubs in public I think you're either lazy or germy.) Then, as I was driving to my next stop I saw the kids leaving one of our local high schools on the first day of school, and remembered how carefully my friends and I chose our clothes for the first day. You knew that you were making that first impression for the school year. I was somewhat depressed by the array of long, baggy athletic shorts with sports sandals and flip-flops on guys, tight low-cut tops and the infernal jeggings on girls, and a general air of unkempt, I-don't-give-a-rip emanating from the students. Most of what they were wearing wouldn't have been allowed by the dress code at my public school--which didn't allow the much-in-vogue preppy, knee-length, corduroy walking shorts with matching tights when I was in high school--but, aside from that, it was lounge and recreation wear, not clothing for any activity of importance.
My last stop was my favorite clothing store. I haven't been there often in the last eight months because my life has been crazy. But I knew that I would find something there to complete my thus-far-frustrated retail therapy. I used to know everyone who worked there, but last fall the entire staff turned over and there were no familiar faces today. So, schlumpy me walked in in one of my few non-Chico's outfits. I was soundly ignored. Completely. It wasn't until I walked up to one of the women with my arms full of clothes to try on that anyone paid the slightest bit of attention to me. And she turned me over to the other person who was working. Oh, honey, your numbers for the day wish that you hadn't done that.
It really was interesting. Usually I dress for shopping. Today I didn't. I wore my comfy, too-big clothes and my Birkenstocks. (Which any observant salesperson would have noticed were new. And adorable. Seriously.) I know clothes send a message. But I really wonder, when I'm out and about, how many people understand or even think about what their clothes are saying. My clothes today said that I either didn't care to, didn't know how to, or couldn't afford to dress in a flattering manner. I recognized that. I kind of knew it when I left home, but it was also part of the reason I needed to shop.
So what's the conclusion? I don't know. I just had to write it all down.