Saturday, November 10, 2007

Retail Therapy, or "Shopping as It Should Be"

Warning: This is a totally fluffy entry! (But there IS a theological observation about half-way into it.)

For the one or two of you who read my rant about the fell-apart suit, here is the "rest of the story."

My current day job assignment is just a few blocks from a fun shopping venue that includes a Talbot's store. Now that Talbot's has for a few years recognized that there are short women who wear sizes larger than 14, I can find things that fit me there (though not usually any that I can afford except on their clearance racks).

Well, I still had no replacement for my fell-apart suit come 5:00 on Friday. So rather than just go home, I decided to head on over to Talbot's and see what they might have on sale.

When I got there, I was greeted warmly by a saleswoman worthy of the title. She asked intelligent questions concerning what I was looking for (replacement for my interview outfit) and accepted on face-value my condition that, though I love the "look" of their full-priced suiting separates, I could not afford them.

Jill noticed that I was wearing a black travel knit outfit (3/4 sleeve longish jacket worn open, swingy mid-length skirt, with a deep purple shell) and asked if I had considered wearing the jacket and skirt for an interview. I told her that I had it as my "stand-by," but thought travel knit was too casual a fabric. Jill disagreed, especially since it was a solid black and a classic pattern. She showed me a gorgeous white blouse, asked me to try it on just to humor her, and she'd fix it up with my skirt and jacket.

Did she ever! She pulled the cuffs back over the jacket sleeves and dressed it up with a long black, gray, and white scarf worn straight down the jacket facings. The blouse is the most unusual weskit style I've ever seen and if Talbot's had it available online, I'd post the picture. It is straight across the bottom, not "pointy." It has mitered-style pleating trim down the sides of the button placket and a horizontal panel of matching pleats at the bottom hem. The two-button cuffs can be worn as-is or with cuff links. The collar is what I think of as a modified portrait collar; it's a fairly long single point on each side (not notched) and is designed to stand up in the back and fall to the sides in front. The collar has a lacy white-on-white embroidered pattern to it. Since it was a petite length, both the sleeves and the overall length fit me perfectly.

I was already wearing a silver pearl-style bead necklace and silver hoop earrings. She said the jewelry was even ideal and invited me to look at myself as though I were an interviewer meeting me for the first time.

I have to admit, Jill was right. I looked SHARP.

I passed on that specific scarf, since it was over $70 with tax, but bought the blouse, which was significantly more than that. In fact, it was significantly more than the cost of the fell-apart suit that I returned. I've never spent so much money on a blouse in my life!

When checking out, I told Jill how much I appreciated her respectful, creative approach to selling flattering clothing. She said she just couldn't approach her job any other way, since she's been on the receiving end of awful service so often herself. She says she puts herself in her customers' figurative shoes and helps them as she'd like to be helped. (I've always thought that there aren't many jobs that the Golden Rule wouldn't apply to, but it's nice to hear it expressed that way.)

Now, all that said, I'm going to return the blouse. Here's why: After attending the birthday party of one of my preschool choir children this afternoon, I had some discretionary time and decided to check out a couple of stores in a town I almost never get to (it's close to the church but not close to where I live). I was actually looking for a scarf to go with the new Talbot's-enhanced outfit. What should I find at Ross, but the exact same suit in a different color, for $30?! But believe me; I checked every blessed seam in the suit with minute scrutiny. They're OK. It's a red-and-black tweed instead of black-and-white. Still looks good on me, though. And if the unthinkable does happen, I'll return it, too. Meanwhile, I'm going to wear it just once--to church tomorrow, to "test drive" it--and then hang it back up and hope for an interview.

What I intend to do is treat myself to that beautiful blouse as a Christmas gift, once I've re-built my financial situation a bit after spending so much of October out of work. When I CAN afford it. And when I do, it will look smashing with the travel knit combo and the wonderful red-white-and-black Oscar de la Renta silk scarf I just remembered I have in my closet, bought almost a year ago for $10 at Steinmart on a whim. I have to talk my anti-dry cleaning, anti-ironing self into the fact that since it's 100% cotton, it WILL require one or the other. My willingness to do these things should be taken as an indicator of how gorgeous the blouse is. (Please don't misunderstand me: If a garment requires ironing, I buckle down and do it. More than I hate ironing, I hate rumpled, wrinkled clothing. But whenever possible, I purchase clothing that doesn't require more than a little steaming, so my closet is mainly no-iron stuff. I actually cried a couple of months ago when I discovered I'd ripped my only white blouse, a truly no-iron gem ordered from Eddie Bauer. How DOES a grown woman tear clothes? I truly don't know how I did it! I've been MISSING that blouse. What a staple it was! Now if I could just get that Talbot's blouse in no-iron, I think I'd die of happiness.)

Oh, a note for anyone within a reasonable driving distance of a Liz Claiborne shoe store: Check them out! Just down the walk from Talbot's is our local LC store. I found that they were selling absolutely classic, impeccably styled square-toe high-heel pumps in black, navy, and pearlized taupe, at $29.99 per pair, with the second pair 50% off! And they're also having a very good sale on boots and handbags right now. Most are classic and all are at rip-off prices. But I'm content with my black and navy pumps for a total of $45. When I find well-made, classic pumps in basic colors at an excellent price, I make it a point to buy them if at all possible. I'm glad I found these; now I won't have to wear sling-backs in November for an interview.

Yes, I admit it...I have my moments of extreme shallowness. I call it "retail therapy."


St. Inuksuk said...

O the glory of being at times shallow and enjoying some retail therapy!!!!!!!
Sounds like you made a good decision. The blouse sounds like a dream. Sometimes 1 really good, quality piece can tie and spiff up the cheaper pieces it goes with and is worth every cent!
Now, if I could just find comfortable shoes that fit my bunions!!!
Hmm, too bad there's not a Talbot's Outlet store near you. Each year when I vist my sister, I make time to drive the 7 minutes to the Talbot's Outlet store there and I usually always can find a piece or two and I've had great luck with their jeans that have fit so well. July's pair cost only $9.52!!! Wow, imagine that?!!?

zorra said...

The blouse sounds fabulous, and what a blessing to be taken care of in that way. I bet she would appreciate a note to her manager about the outstanding service she provided.

Don't EVER apologize for a "fluffy" post. The more intense my life is, the fluffier my posts become, so I get it.