Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 26, 2008

What not to buy

Shopping for clothes for myself is NOT one of my favorite activities. I often complain that clothes in local stores fall into just two categories -- cute outfits for girls ranging from 13 to 25 or dowdy apparel for "the mature woman."

Youngest daughter Katie says it's because I'm not willing to try anything different. Husband Art has been telling me that for years. They think I lack a sense of adventure when I buy clothes for myself.

I know they're right. I always have some reason for not going with a new look. "That color doesn't go with my skin tone," I'll say. Or "Those pants are too uncomfortable." " That outfit is too expensive." "I'm too old to wear that."

The excuses fly fast and furious. I'm sure I sound like the women on the TV show, "What Not to Wear," that my girls and I watched with my sister Gaila, her girls and Mom in the summer. Most of the women in that show seem to have all kinds of excuses for why their closets are full of frumpy dresses, well-worn sweat pants and monotone suits.

Gaila says her girls think her wardrobe is boring, too. She described a typical day with her youngest daughter Larisa.

"Larisa always looks at me in the morning and says, 'You're going to wear THAT?' Then I have to ask her opinion and she tells me what to change. For a wedding we went to, I had a pantsuit top re-made to make it longer and wider, with shoulder pads to give it form. Larisa wanted to croak. I also had pants made that fit on top of my belly button and were longer. . . I didn't want to feel uncomfortable all blooming day so that is what I wore."

I laughed when I read Gaila's e-mail. She had broken the top two "rules" Katie had given me for "what not to buy" -- no shoulder pads and no pants above the belly button. Rules 3 and 4 are: no tops and pants the same material and color and no sleeveless blouses or dresses.

I decided to take Katie along to help me choose clothes for an upcoming convention. We went to one shop where she picked out a suit and some shirts, but neither of us was overly excited about how they looked. We went to another shop, where she picked out a skirt for me on a "separates" rack. I immediately looked for a jacket to go with it. She said, "Mom, they're called separates, not togethers. You don't have to get a matching jacket."

I smiled and thought, "She's right!"

However, after a few more attempts, we decided to call it a night. We were both tired and hadn't come to a consensus on anything.

A couple of nights later, I decided to venture out on my own in spite of Katie's admonition: "Mom, you can't go shopping without me!"

But I had Katie's "what not to buy" list in mind as I eyed the selections in the store. I brought home a pair of just-below-the-belly-button pants, two long-sleeved shirts and a two-piece outfit - a little black dress with a cropped cream and black jacket. I was pretty proud of myself. All passed Katie's rules.

Then I tried the clothes on for her. She thought the pants were "OK," but the two shirts just weren't quite right. But the two-piece dress ensemble was a hit.

"I love the dress with the jacket," she said, beaming.

Ah, maybe we are seeing more eye to eye on fashion!

Or maybe it was a fluke.

Before she left Kansas at the end of the summer, Gaila bought a bunch of clothes for herself and her girls. They wanted me to check them out before they packed them. The girls showed me various skirts, tops, sweaters and pants, which I thought were nice. Then I spied a pair of shoes on the floor.

"Oh, these are cute!" I said.

Gaila started laughing hysterically. Her girls and Katie just rolled their eyes and said, "You're kidding, right?"

I wasn't. I thought they looked comfortable, but were also attractive. The girls considered them to be disgusting and ugly.

So it seems that Gaila is afflicted with the same lack of adventure when it comes to buying clothes for herself. She said she wants her girls to nominate her for "What Not to Wear."

I think we should go as a sister duo!

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