Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Neurology of Shopping



Far more intimidating than talking to ghosts, according to the cosmology of Reya, is shopping for clothing. I have never been good at it, not ever. Not only am I completely overwhelmed by all the choices, but also by the dressing room experience, during which there is no way I can ignore my appearance. I have no choice but to stare at myself in ill fitting clothes, my skin green from the fluorescent light, completely exposed by the three way mirrors.

I'm built for styles from the 1950's. Everything designed since then looks terrible on me. Even at places like Lucy, where the salespeople say they make clothing that "looks good on everyone," the clothes do not fit. I refuse to blame my body type for the way I look in clothes. It's not my fault, really it isn't.

I'm thinking about clothes shopping this morning because, after a thorough examination of my sparse wardrobe, I realize I literally have nothing to wear tomorrow night when I have dinner with Prince Charming, an old friend who always dresses to the nines. He LOVES to shop and looks good in everything. How I wish his talent and enthusiasm would rub off on me. Or that someone would nominate me to be on What Not to Wear.

Over the years I've begged friends who are Master Shoppers to show me how it's done. Recently one of these friends said, "The truth is, Reya, you have to LIKE it." She's right of course. I do not like it at all. In fact, the experience is always slightly traumatic for me. Is that sad or funny?

I'm certain that there must be a strange neurological quirk that could be blamed for my problems with shopping, something beyond the overwhelm, the ill fitting clothes, even beyond the humiliation of the dressing room experience. Where is Oliver Sacks when you really need him?

35 comments:

bluestar said...

i know, shopping might be a fun thing,and stress buster to some but it's certainly not easy.

I do not get it right many a times too.I'd find a dress beautiful at the mall but once home,i'd no longer think so.:)

John Hayes said...

Your friend is probably right about "you have to love it"-- but then, it's ok for people to love different things. The photo of the leaves is breathtaking-- one of the best pix I've seen here.

Joanne said...

How about just keeping it all black with a fun splash of accessory? A wildly colored summer scarf, or a great stone necklace? The black clothing serves as the canvas for your artsy, bohemian accessories. You'll look fabulous, Let us know what you choose!

ellen abbott said...

Oh man, me too. I take my daughter with me when I have to shop for something besides t-shirts and blue jeans. In fact, once, I had to have some nice clothes for a show opening and she told me I was NOT wearing THOSE shoes and she dragged me out to the shoe store.

Reya Mellicker said...

I knew there was some reason I should have had children.

Rain said...

Oh Reya, I was feeling the same way yesterday. I did the dreaded bathing suit shopping. I was surprised that I gained so much weight over the winter! My old one was too tight, oh dear, that mirror was not kind! I LOVE What Not To Wear! Stacey sure loves shopping! I used to love it, but that was when I had a tinier body!

The Bug said...

I've always been out of step with women's clothes are designed to be worn by boys (with large chests!). I have a MUCH smaller waist than hips (nice when I'm at my goal weight - not so nice now) and all of my pants gap at the waist. And I hate shopping anyway. I need a personal shopper & a tailor! When I when the lottery...

Meri said...

Have you tried Chico's? Their travelers collection is super easy to wear and there are coordinated collections that build around a basic color (I've used black). The stuff is wash and wear, wrinkleproof and lightweight so easy to pack.

lakeviewer said...

Not just love it, afford it! If you don't mind releasing your hard earned Jeffersons you too can have the experience of a lifetime, people bringing you lots of stuff to try and then, alter same to fit you just right.

You just need one tailored piece to become an excellent shopper from then on.

Or, adopt the mumu style

Val said...

if i was a shop owner i would put soft lighting and smokey mirrors in dressing rooms - i am sure they would sell more clothes! even those mirrors that make you look thin like at funfairs...
Reya I could have written this exact same lament!! i totally relate. can you borrow a teenager who loves shopping and fashion to help you?
or wear something you feel at ease in thats not new, and leave the fancy dressing to those who know how to do it.
I am sure you will look fabulous whatever and I hope you have a wonderful princess evening xx
word veri. drosess - dresses?

Merle Sneed said...

I keep my wardrobe simple.

deborah said...

you are right
it is genetic
only Hannah,Karen,Tovah and Emily didn't get the gene

when I wanted to intro myself to a group with the info that I love Project Runway--Tovah was aghast, "but Mom, they will be able to SEE you."

I laugh and it is still true.

love

mum said...

When I saw your link to Oliver Sacks, I thought: "well, at least, you're not having dinner with the man who mistook his wife for a hat!" :-)

Every time I'm with my daughter and enjoy her shopping savvy, I have to ask myself where she picked up that gene. Not from me, that's for sure. As much as I love window shopping, I HATE buying clothes.

I say: wear something you feel good in (what's wrong with the white whatever you're wearing for you avatar pic? You look great to me.) Then, admire Monsieur Style and have fun!

Joanna said...

My sister got the shopping gene and I didn't. Too bad she's smaller than I am so I can't even borrow her clothes. But she spends more time and money on the clothes than I would ever want to. I like what Joanne said about black as a canvas for arty accessories. It would look good with your silvery hair too.

Auntie, aka Dog Girl said...

Hey there,
I totally understand your feelings about clothes-shopping. This is why 99% of my wardrobe comes from LLBean and LandsEnd. They don't offer the most exciting styles, but at least I look good.

Jeninacide said...

I hate shopping too. I get so very overwhelmed. If it wasn't for my mother I would probably still be wearing the same clothes I wore 15 years ago.

Ronda Laveen said...

Not a fan of the "shop" either. Spending all that time, money and self-esteem bashing to not look good is somewhat depressing. For something important, I try to ask a friend who is gifted to take pity on me go along. The young women I work with are quite good. It's like they have a Extra Sensory Fashion Sense...instantaneously they make decisions thatI agonize over for hours. I have a friend who actually starts having anxiety attacks when faced with shoppin. Maybe you could make a shopping date some day with Prince Charming.

Loved the Hosta pics. The top one too. It is probably raindrops on chrome bumper but it looks like an invasion of mercury blobs.

Verily I go. said...

I would cry if I had to clothes shop for a "charming dinner". I have two daughters you can borrow anytime you need. They're both in San Diego and look hot any ole time they want.

Chris Wolf said...

It's what's on the inside that counts. Your incredible gift for laughter and conversation and no one remembers what you wore. Peace to you

Poetikat said...

I'm not a good shopper, at all. I hate department stores and boutiques. I only enjoy shopping in grocery stores/health food stores and thrift stores.
Thrift stores are fun because everything is pretty much one-of-a-kind. You CAN get great designer gear in a thrift store; you just have to look for it.
Also, I refuse to pay for brand new clothing made in China that continues to add to the pollution of the environment and exploits child workers. I will buy used items because they're at least being recycled into the system.

Try a good thrift-store, Reya. You might find you like it. (And no pushy sales people to boot!)

Kat

Barry said...

Ah, a woman after my own heart! I hate to shop, but then spending money is foreign to my Scottish ancestry.

willow said...

Oh, I hear ya. There's nothing that bruises my self esteem more. Chico's is okay, but is anyone else bothered by the fact that they have removed all the fitting room mirrors, forcing you to come out to the big three way mirror in the middle of the store, to check the size of your bloggy bulge in front of everyone? ACK.

Reya Mellicker said...

I should have called this post "the neurotics of shopping." I'm not the only one who struggles in the dressing room. Whew!!

Bee said...

I'm not sure why they haven't figured out flattering light plus slimming mirrors for dressing rooms! They could sell so many more clothes!

Perhaps your Prince Charming would shop with you? If you have a 50s figure, a man's eye might be perfect.

Steve said...

I'm not much of a shopper either, but on the rare occasion when I do it, I kind of like it. Of course, men's clothes are different because the range of choices is much smaller. (And within that range, the stuff I like is a tiny subset!)

It's also true that retailers make TONS of stuff to appeal to young, 20-something buyers, but far less that looks good on those of us who are more than, oh, 35 or so!

Lover of Life said...

My younger daughter is exactly the same way. It is never a pleasant experience to go shopping with her, and downright traumatic when we had to shop for prom dresses!

Linda Pendleton said...

I don't like clothes shopping, either. Women's sizes are never the same, always different. Frustrating.

lacochran said...

You have a wonderful sense of color and color is the first thing that people notice. So, you are automatically off to a good start!

California Girl said...

I am not much of a shopper. I like clothes and such but I hate shopping. I have been lucky because, as an advertising salesperson, I've usually had a mall or four with whom I worked and could idly window shop when there on business. This led me to more great finds than if I'd been seriously looking. Nowadays, I visit TJ Maxx about twice a month to see what has come in. That way, I usually find something.

Delwyn said...

Ahhh - you really are a kindred spirit...

Happy days

Phoenix said...

Ok, though your post is about shopping, my comment is about the absolutely brilliant pictures you have going with it... the leaf is just so beautifully taken!

karen said...

I'm with you all the way.. I hate shopping for clothes with a passion!

That leaf pic is good for my soul - thanks so much! x

Natalie said...

I hate it too! My teen daughter tells all her friends at school what an oddity I am. My probs are yours exactly. I always feel demoralised by the dressing room experience and just LEAVE.I then have to go to a school function wearing maternity clothes from two years ago, because I literally have nothing to wear.WAH!

Barbara Martin said...

I tend to leave shopping until I really need an item, sometimes purchasing only one separate per year: trousers, blazer, suit. My weight tends to go up and down, and often it's a real chore to find something that will look nice on my body at a special function.

Black is a great choice, as some of the other commenters have offered, with which to add other objects of colour and glitter.

lettuce said...

i never enjoyed clothes shopping much till I discovered TKMaxx (TJ over there?) - but for TKM, one has to be willing to take time. Lots of time.