Get Locally Smitten

Many women find shopping to be their sport of choice.  One of my sisters even had as her high school yearbook quote, “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” For most women the idea of having to buy a new smaller sized wardrobe excites them.  I am not most woman.


I have never found strolling through stores looking at stuff very much fun.  The older I get the worse it is.   I am getting to be more and more anti-stuff.  Early on in life I identified one the reasons I hate to shop is that many of the people who work in big giant corporately owned chains are not really interested in my business.  I like it when someone is glad I might buy something from her and does not look at helping me as a burden.


I am glad to lose weight, but the finding clothes to wear part is completely draining.

Yes, I like being able to shop in “regular” sized people clothing stores rather than “giant” sized but for the most part I really don’t give a hoot about new clothes.  Almost more than my dislike for shopping is my dislike of spending money on something I see as temporary.  I need clothes to fit me now, but I am hoping that the clothes I buy now won’t fit me next winter.


This week has been a killer on the clothing front.  I had to be in a TV show, go to two luncheons; a press conference, a board meeting and now I have two cocktail parties this weekend and church.  I should have had a wardrobe department to help me out.


I realized when I got an instructional email about the “Festive” attire for one of the parties that I needed to step up my game and broke down and went to a store.  I picked the store strategically so that I could not get arrested because a clerk infuriated me, keep my sense of humor and still find something to wear in less than two hours.


I went to a local boutique called Smitten owned by Nancy McKaig and hit the jackpot.  First, Nancy is great at making sure you get the help you need and the people who work there make it fun while still being helpful.  Second, she has different things than you see in every store in the mall so you won’t see yourself coming and going.  The bonus was that she had two artists, Amanda Davis and Baba Berthe setting up their jewelry and accessories for a weekend show and if you bought something from them you got 20% one thing from Smitten.


Well I found a great scarf from Amanda, which was practically free because I got 20% off a dress for the “festive attire” party, cha-ching!  I also feel great about supporting a local business that means the money I spend here stays here and keeps local people employed.  Why didn’t I think to go to Smitten at the beginning of the week?  I’m not changing my attitude about shopping, but I am a lot happier to have another dress in my closet that fits.

Great Closet Advice

Today my friend Hannah and her business partner Suzanne had their Doncaster show at my house and are donating 10% of all their sales to the Food Bank.  Thanks to all the wonderful ladies who came out, stripped down and decided they had to have a new skirt, sweater or suit.


I heard lots of funny and useful information about people’s clothing and closets while they pondered between the lilac and the olive sweaters.  One friend, Kathi, found a couple of pieces of clothing that looked great on her, which was no surprise because everything looks great on her.  She said that she could not buy them right there and then because first she had to go home and see if she already had anything like them and find an equal number of things to weed out of her closet before she added anything new.


WOW!  What a concept.  She says she only needs so much and this way everything she keeps is up-to-date and in great condition.  “How many black shoes does a person need?” she said.


I don’t know about you, but most women tend to buy the same thing over and over again, because that is what they are drawn to at the store.  I have friends who only wear one color, say black, or taupe, you know who you are, which is great because that is what they look good in.  But if you are only going to buy one color, how many multiples of the same items do you need?


I remember when a friend built a new house, she was showing us her closet and she said, “Here is the dress hanging section and the shirt hanging section and the shoe section and the black pants section.”


Kathi’s plan of only having one of anything works for her because she has remained the same size for her whole adult life.  Kudos to her for that hard job, but it does make closet management easier.


Another friend Lucy asked us if we had ever seen the “Home Improvement” episode where Tim Allen built his wife her dream closet.  She described what was needed in a dream closet, “A place for thin clothes, fat clothes and the just five fewer pounds clothes.”  Tim then holds up a tiny slinky dress and asks his wife, “What section would this go in?  The In-Your-Dreams-Section?”


I remember once my mother, who hates to ever part with any of her clothes, tried to do a weeding out.  I happened to come to visit her after she had spent three days removing every item of clothing and trying it on and deciding if it should go in the keep, donate or throw pile.  I walked in the door and was horrified to see she was wearing a 30 year old L.L. Bean wrap around skirt that did not quite meet the wrapping minimum, paired with a thread bare Shetland sweater which had been my sister Janet’s in boarding school that was at least three inches too short for my mother.  As she tugged on the front of the too short sweater she said with a big grin, “Look at these great clothes I found.”  Great has a different meaning for my mother and me.


When I asked if that was representative of the things she was keeping what in the world was she throwing away or donating.  That was when she pointed to three ratty t-shirts on the dining room table that I had thought were dust rags and said, “I’m giving those away.”


I am going to try and break any genetic connection I have to my mother when it comes to my closet and somehow become adopted by Kathi.  I am embracing the nothing-new-in-the-closet-until-something-old-comes-out rule and I will make sure that I am not purchasing a duplicate item unless I have worn out or ruined the first one.  Now, if I could just do something about the In-Your-Dreams-Section.

Have You Looked In The Mirror?

The Bible has many lessons, but as adults we have learned that plenty of the verses can be used to contradict each other.

The great book says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” (Mathew 7:1) But it also says a lot about judging, like “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9) So this is not a judgment, but more an overall observation.

This refection, from the Book of Dana, the third chapter entitled “What were they thinking?” comes today’s lesson:  “Just because you can zip it up, does not mean you should be wearing it.”


The other day I went shopping in my closet looking for pants that I had not worn in a while.  I found a pair of black cropped pants that had descended far down the pile, meaning I had not been able to wear them in quite some time, yet they were still in my main closet and not the closet of hope where I keep good clothes that are MUCH too small.

I looked at the tag, two sizes smaller than the pair of khakis I was wearing.  I let the current pair fall to the ground without even unzipping them and shimmied into the black crops.  I zipped them up, no problem.  Feeling triumphant I practically skipped to the full-length mirror and was thankful that it was close by.  These pants were in no way appropriate for public viewing with me in them.  And thus came the lesson, “Just because you can zip it up, does not mean you should be wearing it.”

As I went about my day, in a skirt that actually fit, I began to notice people or all sizes who apparently did not own a full length mirror or had assumed that the zipping of the clothes was all that was required to tell if they were appropriately dressed.

The first person I saw was a rather large woman in a sleeveless shirt that did not have arm holes big enough to allow her arms to fit out without looking like they were being squeezed out of a sausage casing.  It was a hot day and I am sure her clothing choices were limited, but there was no way that enough blood was getting to her hands and fingers due to the constriction of the arm hole.

The next person I encountered was a teenage girl at the Harris Teeter Grocery who could not have been more than a size 6 in actual body, but she, in perhaps some denial, was wearing a pair of skinny jeans so small that were disabling.  I say this with first hand knowledge because she dropped a lemon on the ground and was physically unable to bend over and pick it up.  I watched as she leaned sideways against the display and tried to get the fruit before I actually bent over and picked it up for her and she sighed with great relief.

Even watching TV that night I thought that Divia, the statuesque Physicians Assistant on Royal Pains needed to discuss with wardrobe the size of her lime and white cropped pants that did her no favors when she turned around.

So the lesson of the day is an easy one.  “Look in the mirror before you leave the house.”  The best-dressed person is not wearing the most expensive clothes, but the ones that fit their body the best, no matter its size.