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.