I once went to visit a friend in Manchester, and she took me on an epic all-day quest for the perfect pair of shoes. The most frustrating aspect of the day was that she couldn't describe what she was looking for:
"I just want shoe-type shoes", she said. "You know, just a normal pair of shoes. And I can't find any".
"These look fairly normal", I said for about the tenth time that hour.
"No, I don't want that kind of shoe, I want shoe-type shoes!"
Finally, she found what she was looking for.
"OH!", I said, as all became clear. "Shoe-type shoes!"
"Exactly", she sighed happily.
On Saturday, I went looking for clothes-type clothes. You know, just normal clothes. I can't describe to you exactly what I mean, but I'd know them if I saw them. I actually prefer going shopping this way, with nothing particular in mind; looking for something specific is usually a recipe for disappointment.
Unfortunately, all I saw was either
a) boring clothes
b) fugly clothes.
Seriously, I couldn't find a single thing that fell into the happy middle ground. (Well, that's not entirely true. I found a t-shirt that I quite liked. But at $210 it was just ever so slightly out of my price range). Plain black pants, plain grey sweaters, and plain white shirts everywhere, and hideous colours and/or nasty patterns everywhere. No middle ground.
I ended up buying a pair of jeans, a pair of plain black trousers, and a plain charcoal grey sweater. I already have two charcoal grey sweaters (one plain, one patterned), but I really liked the fit and shape of this one. The only other colour options were black (not available in my size*), purple (I can wear some shades of dark purple, but not the brighter purples that dominate this year's offerings), or mustard yellow (with my skin tone I absolutely can NOT wear ANY shade of yellow). In fact, a great number of things in the mall only seemed to come in either bright purple or some kind of yellow, and occasionally a mix of the two (I wish I was kidding).
What is with this year's colours and patterns?! What happened to all the nice blues and greens and chocolate browns and even reds that I can actually wear?! Where did all the nice patterns go?!
I often have a hard time finding clothes that I really like, but this is the second time I've gone shopping in six months, and the second time I've hated (or yawned at) almost every single thing in an entire mall. I even tried all the stores I would never usually consider entering, and it was the same everywhere, at every point on the price and age range.
All hope is not lost; I can usually find some very funky t-shirts (and occasionally dressier tops) in the independent and vintage stores on Main Street. And I haven't been to R&W lately, which is usually a happy hunting ground. But I might just have to wait this season out before trying to find any more work clothes; not good right now, since I've lost a little weight and all but three pairs of pants are literally falling down when I wear them.
I have friends who are much more into fashion than I am and always look very stylish. I might have to recruit one of them as a personal shopper; they might know some places that are off the beaten track (Kyrsten, I am looking at YOU!). Either that or I am going to have to learn how to use a sewing machine.
A plague of moths on the people who design, produce and sell only boring and fugly clothes!
*this is another gripe. I am the first to admit that I am carrying some extra weight, but I am only a size 10-12 (on top, 12-14 on the bottom), it shouldn't be this hard to find something that fits. Some stores had a size 10 (that was really an 8) as their biggest size! Even the Gap only had one (ONE!) pair of size 12, regular length jeans in the style that I like. Although Mr E Man did point out that shopping in our part of town, with its huge Asian population, might put me at the extremely large end of the local size spectrum...