song du jour: all the top 40 hits of the late 80's to now, sung by someone other than the original recording artist, and played throughout the store

mood: not yet fully recovered

I could count on 2 hands the number of times I've been shopping for clothes since Skyler was born. He's not a kid, who waits patiently while Mommy tries on new things to put it mildly. I've come to hate shopping but have finally acquiesced to the fact that what I have acquired since my son gave me an entire new rib cage - I thought I had unthinkably hellacious heart-burn when I was pregnant, but, having no other vertical space to grow in his 5' tall mummy's tummy, Skyler split my ribs wider. - has worn out or just never really looked that great in the first place. If I'm going clubbing or sailing in the Caribbean I've got the wardrobe, but just showing up somewhere in jeans that don't bag on my backside and a top that does not make me appear so top heavy as to defy gravity has become I such a chore that I can no longer face my closet, or the chair that serves as my horizontal one, another single day.

So after teaching the most intense day long workshop I've taught in a while, I drove to the most frightening, most dangerous part of Atlanta, the far flung northeastern suburbs, where there is one of those malls that is one mile long. (The horror!) I like malls about as much as I like shredded coconut, not washing my hair for a week, and non metalsmithing men, who want to show me how to use my own tools. Fortunately, my destination du jour was Nordstrom Rack, the outlet where the greatest department store this side of the Atlantic (or the Pacific) dumps what didn't sell at the regular (usually ridiculous) price and which is located in one of the 25+ (I'm not kidding) strip malls that orbit the suburban Mecca, so I could get in, shop, and get out, relatively unscathed.

There I was, combing literally every round rack and end display in the women's and juniors' sections of the store, armed with the voices of Trinny and Susannah in my head. These women are not your average fashion do and don't naggers. They are the originators of BBC's What Not to Wear, and please, don't even try to talk to me about the stupid American version of that show. Trinny and Susannah would rip off and shred what passes for the poor excuses of the 'do's' on that show. Some say they are brutal, but really they are only cruel about the 'don't' clothes and never the women. Where else on PG TV could you see a woman grab with both hands the bum of another rather heavy woman and declare it a crime that those curves be hidden under a gathered skirt, or watch a woman yank up another's bra straps and declare, "Look, if we get your tits off your stomach, you DO have a waist?"

My favorite line of all time in reference to ghastly crop pants: "Why don't you pants go all the way to the floor?" It sounds best if said with a very straight face in an upper-middle class British accent like "Why don't yaur ponts gow awl the way to the flohr?" Whoever invented crop pants and convinced women under 6'2" that they look flattering hates us, I'm certain.

The Case:
5' 0" curvy woman with slim hips, 4' of hair, and 3' of cleavage.

The Rules:

colors: black, wine, plum, deep teal, dark emerald, indigo

Wear "color with color" most of the time, and don't pair brights with black. You "cheapen" the color, or worse yet, look like a black cat that got entangled with a neon sign

boot leg or slightly bell bottomed pants with side closure that skim the heel to look slimmer and lengthen the whole picture

fitted jackets with no collar and reaching the widest part of hips to up that hour glass factor

low scoop neck or squared neck, fitted but not skin tight tops that go in at the waist and flare slightly back out to up that hour glass factor and not make the cantaloupes appear more like watermelons

pencil, A-line, bias cut, or straight skirts to show off the slim hips

dresses: best of luck

The last time I was in that store, I was shopping with Stacey, whom I dragged into the largest dressing room and instructed, "Strip!" Remembering how frightening those mirrors are, I looked at her reflection and screamed in horror. I would look at her and my eyebrows would go back down. I would look back at her reflection and resume my expression of said horror. It wasn't Stacey, whom I'd already seen half or more naked in enough dance studio dressing rooms to know she's a babe. No, it was the cruel sadistic mirror and lighting, confirming what I had suspected.

Those evil dressing room mirrors really can add 10 pounds. The Nordstrom Rack variety would add celulite where there is none and put 20 pounds on a waif. This I religiously chanted to myself as yesterday my own flesh appeared before the reflecting sacrificial alter of self esteem, lest I otherwise skip the clothes I need in order to save space on my credit card for plastic surgery. One thing for sure, if the clothes look good in those mirrors, they'll look runway fabulous under normal conditions.

I tried on over 40 garments, 10 at a time, according to outlet dressing room rules. Out 40, 10 things fit. One lavender bra (Trinny and Susannah would approve), 2 tops for dance class (exactly like one I already had, but at least I save on laundry), a fitted zip front jacket to wear over said tops, a jean jacket that had a small collar but otherwise does wildly fab things for my shape, a wine colored flared skirt, some pants to wear to dance class that I couldn't believe looked good on me and were $6., the first pair of vaguely athletic shoes I've bought in 12 years, gold cowboy boots (yes, GOLD! and they don't make me look like I'm standing in 2 buckets!), and the Big Prize: JEANS that FIT!!! Ok, so the jeans aren't side closure, but they are made for petites. That I bought jeans that look great on me and neither have to be hemmed nor rolled up is almost worthy of one of those annoying mass emails to everyone on your list just letting them know how your year has gone. Unfortunately, I still don't have any new non dancewear tops (Guys, I can guess your suggestion, so you don't need to email me.), but neither I nor my credit card can face shopping again for a while!

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