Beauty Top Down: Clothes


I’m not a snappy dresser. I’m a boring dresser. All winter I wear solid color slacks with an array of turtlenecks or v-necks over them. In summer I wear sundresses with cardigans over them. On weekends, I wear capris or jeans with whatever top matches the fruit I’m feeding my messy, affectionate child. If you think that sounds weird, you try getting hugged by a boy who just ate his weight in blackberries and not get covered in blackberry juice. For going out I wear…oh, who am I kidding? I don’t go out.

Now, the clothes I wear are flattering. I usually manage to look less lumpy that I am and I have bras with enough padding to lift the Girls and tights with enough lycra to strap down my butt so I’m not a total disaster. But shopping with me is either an exercise in watching me clone my existing wardrobe by buying more of the same or watching me waffle uncontrollably over whether or not to buy something a little trendier, a little different, something with a scoop neck instead of a v or some beading or ruffles or something, anything, that isn’t a solid color v-neck sweater or t-shirt.  And accessories? I don’t accessorize. I used to. I have lots of cute bags packed away and I used to update my shoe wardrobe and I wore earrings and stuff but…I just don’t anymore.

Enter my friend A. A might be a snappy dresser. She says she’s not but she lived in LA for a long time so I don’ think I believe her.  I usually see her at book club so I don’t see a full range of wardrobe choices on her though. Last time I saw her she was in sweats. (Side note, that same night her 3 year old son didn’t want to go to bed and spent 15 minutes stalling by showing me every toy he owned and then taking off his pants. It was disconcertingly reminiscent of dates I went on in my 20s but S was cuter than most of my dates.) A’s wardrobe notwithstanding, she is without a doubt brilliant, hilarious, and fun which is why I agreed to haul my butt to Virginia on Saturday morning to go to a thingie she’d organized for moms at Nordstrom.

Basically, what A arranged, was for a whole bunch of moms to come into Nordstrom before the store opened so that Nordstrom could tell us all about the services they have to make shopping, alterations, accessorizing, and beauty routines easier and more fun (not cheaper, mind you, because this was Nordstrom).  Reps from every department, literally from underwear to head bands, told us about what they sell and what the various stylists in the store can do for us. The basic message? You can call Nordstrom, say “I have a party to go to! I’m a 10 on the bottom, a 6 on top, and need a dress and it can’t be green. Also? Shoes and bag. HALP!” and they will calmly tell you to arrive at 3pm and someone will have a selection on non-green dresses for pear shaped women and matching shoes and bags set up in a pleasant room for you to try on while a nice lady tells you how good you look. Then she will help you find the right Spanx to make sure the dress lays flat and will hook you up with someone who will help you make your skin glow for the event and all time after.

And the service is free.  Oh. My. Gawd.

After the presentation, I took advantage of the personal shopper service. I calmly explained to the staff helping me that my credit cards were in a secure, undisclosed location because I’m too poor to shop at Nordstrom but I was happy to blog about them and was that ok? They said it was fine and a really nice, pretty lady named Amanda who was wearing great clothes escorted me to a dressing room where she had set up all kinds of fantastic clothes for me to try on. (Amanda told me she works on base salary plus commissions so her time with me wasn’t a total money void, thank heavens). I looked at the clothes and saw…things I never would have pulled off the rack. Tops with beading, skirts with giant ruffles, a leather vest with animal print drapey panels on the front, a little black dress with zippers than made me think of Joan Jett.  I was determined to be brave and try as much on as I could and see how it went even though, apart from some basic suit-style slacks and skirts, nothing in the room was anything I was adventurous enough to try for myself.

Oh. My. Oh.

Amanda informed me that I have a great shape and dismissed my concerns about my giant butt and for that I would bear her children if I didn’t think it would do more damage to said butt.  She decided that she wanted to emphasize my waist. Which she did. With belts. Not utilitairans belts, skinny cute belts. She put me in ruffled tops that I would have dismissed as being too fussy but, once on my body, helped to balance out my narrow shoulders and child-bearin’ hips. She put me in clothes with fun detailing like beads and ruching that somehow made me look skinnier. She, in short, dressed me in trendy, fun clothes that would make me look less like me and more like the stylish girls I see on the metro whose fashion sense I always envy.

About halfway through the process, I remembered to take a few pictures. Please note my strategic use of the red-carpet-angle-hips-away-from-the-camera pose. Sweet, huh?

This is what I was wearing when I showed up:

And this is what Amanda picked out for me:

So yeah. I can look better than I do.

As fabulous as the clothes were, I left them all in the store. I don’t have $96 to spend on a single sweater. But this little adventure in trying different clothes gave me a sense of confidence that I can take into H&M or Old Navy next time I shop and that sense will help me steer clear of the turtleneck display and head right toward the fun clothes.  Because clothes should be fun, even for moms.

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11 comments for “Beauty Top Down: Clothes

  1. July 27, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Wait, was that nicely dressed lady named Amanda me?! No, because I’m not at all stylish enough (although in my mind I am, it’s just that since I’m not a 6 on top, bottom, or anywhere, things in my mind don’t usually coincide with things at the store) to work anywhere as a stylist. But, man she hooked you up! Not because you looked bad when you got there, just because Nordstrom’s has nice clothes. Although I do LOVE H&M despite the fact that I’m like a size 20 at that store. And, this is perfect for Mom Tip Tuesday because moms of all shapes and sizes can use some guidance in how to dress so that people like me don’t cringe, I MEAN so that they can feel more confident and beautiful and stuff:)

  2. July 27, 2010 at 8:20 am

    When I win the lottery, I’m going to Nordstrom and having Amanda dress me. How fun!!! It’s like being someone’s doll in a non-creepy way!!

    Also, side note? I loved the comparison of the three year old being like a date in your 20s… so true, sadly.

  3. July 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

    ohhh how fun! I LOVE the last outfit.

  4. July 27, 2010 at 9:18 am

    How fun!

  5. Jenny
    July 27, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I like Syms for less mind-bogglingly pricey but more fun/trendy/whatever clothes (they also have a good plus size section which while not important for you is key for me). When we were there this weekend they also had calvin klein blanket footie pajamas in size 12 m-5T in packs of 2 for $10 – we stocked up on winter jammies for Elsie and I got a few cute things. 🙂

  6. July 27, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Oh wow those looks are killer! Take the pictures with you when you go shopping so you remember what to look for – like on What Not To Wear!

  7. Tonya
    July 27, 2010 at 10:14 am

    I LOVE Nordstrom bc of their fabulous customer service, their amazing bra collection (a must for someone who wears a 34G or 36FF) and the fact that their sale prices are actually pretty good. And since I’m stuck living in TN right now and they sadly have no Nordstrom here, I can order online without having to pay tax. Wahoo! 🙂

  8. July 27, 2010 at 10:42 am

    What fun! I want to go see Amanda—though I would need to make a real salary instead of a teacher’s salary to cover that cost! I do love Nordstroms–and their sales are pretty good!

  9. KLZ
    July 27, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I love um, all of those tops. Can you please arrange for someone to make me independently wealthy? And you too, of course.

    And I agree, men don’t change. Always taking off their pants. Always.

  10. July 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    “Because clothes should be fun, even for moms.” Yes! Yes! That’s exactly why I started my blog. Style isn’t just for the cute or the young or the rich.

    Amanda picked out great things for you that give you a template to follow where-ever you shop, whether it’s Nordstrom or Old Navy. Look at the shapes and the details and try to find garments that are similar. You really only need a few pieces to build a wardrobe foundation.

    (If you’ve ever watched TLC’s “What Not To Wear,” Amanda’s given you your own set of The Rules: detailing on top to balance out your upper half with your lower half; belts and accents around the smallest part of your body; darker or solid colors below to minimize your bottom half; and smooth fitting, straight-legged pants to give you a long leg line.)

    Happy shopping!

  11. July 30, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Okay – I need to go to our Nordstrom and have someone tell ME what to buy and then hopefully find it at Target.

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