image via Ann Taylor
This is Part Two of Now Is My Time #29: Shopping For Special Event Clothing. You can find Part One and the first half of my journey here.
1. Know what different locations of the same retailer may or may not carry.
I got burned on this one. I made a late day run to try to check out another location of retailer #2 and found out they don't carry the lines I had seen at the other store. Big waste of time, big disappointment. That meant on day three of my shopping event I had to hit a third location fo the same store farther from home. Not all chain stores carry the same merchandise or are guaranteed to feature the same product lines. Note to self.
2. Revisit your top favorites.
I decided that a jacket was the most important item to start with. By day three I had decided I wanted to wear black pants and booties (short boots, NOT house slippers) that I already owned. I felt confident, at ease and very "myself" in them. So my goal unless something major turned my head, was to find a jacket and blouse. I did a complete sweep of the "Suiting" section again just to make sure I wasn't majorly missing out on something like a designer suit for $69. Unfortunately none of them fit. Darn.
For some reason retailers think that if you have arms as long as mine, you also have massively gigantic boobs. Not sure why that is, but I rarely find a jacket that doesn't have a chest that is two sizes too big for me. Not attractive! But I did find a jacket that I liked, it was in a lighter, more summery color and it fit the best of anything I found. It was non-traditional in a good way that might set me apart without being too silly. I wore my black pants and again brought my black boots along so when I put it all together I was able to see that this was something that would really work for me. I felt like me in that jacket. Great!
3. Be open to non-traditional, improvisational options.
The last item I needed was a blouse. I needed a solid color and something without a collar. To keep a more summery look I wanted a low round or square neck top in white or cream, maybe with a simple pattern. I was striking out left and right and then I found a cotton tunic with the prettiest eyelet pattern and beautiful banded round neck. But it was way beyond hip length and a size much bigger than I needed. But it was the only one in the store and I could get double discounts on the price -- like that. So I tried it on anyway.
When I tucked the hem of the tunic under about four inches and pulled it back a bit it looked almost perfect. I knew I could somehow adjust the bottom hem. Because it was sleeveless I even thought about taking a few inches off the bottom and using that fabric to make a sleeve.
I checked with the customer service team and found that a couple of other locations had my size so I bought this top just in case I couldn't get the smaller size and then the next day I was able to exchange it for my size. The new size was still too long but I had a plan to hem it to the right length to match my jacket which seemed like it would be very easy. (Famous last words....)
I decided to baste the vents on each side of the shirt and then around the entire bottom of the blouse I basted a 1/4" elastic. I decided to baste it all because I wasn't sure I wanted it this way long term and it would be easy to undo later on if I wanted to.
It also gave me a lot of flexibility in being able to fold it under to just the length I wanted for it to look great with this jacket as well as the flexibility to wear it at different lengths with other jackets. Digging out the sewing machine was the most work and set up and take down probably took me longer than it did to sew the shirt. That was very quick and it worked out fantastically.
4. Find the outfit that feels the very most "You."
When I tried on my boots and black pants they felt like me. When I added the light jacket I still felt like me and it was comfortable, easy to sit in, etc. After trying on several options of shell to wear under the jacket I knew the highly synthetic, slipper fabrics just weren't for me. Neither was a while button down.
Jerry-rigging the cotton tunic was perfect with the jacket and it put a smile on my face when I had the complete outfit on and looked in the mirror and said, "This is just exactly how I want to look and feel in my clothes from top to bottom." There was nothing else I had seen that felt more right or more appropriate for the weather or event. Bingo!
5. Be chatty with the sales staff.
I got some extra perks and a lot of help just by being friendly to the sales staff. If you can start a conversation with them and really let them know what you are looking for and how badly you need it, they will very often go out of their way for you. That happened to me several times during my mega-shop and I definitely got an additional discount because of it at one store.
Sure some can be annoying, but in general a store employee will know the merchandise on the floor very well and can help you simplify your search and save you a lot of time by taking you to exactly what you are looking for without a lot of wandering around. Take advantage of whatever expertise they have.
So I got my outfit and was really happy with it, especially when a young 20-something complimented me on my outfit. I was really striving to dress my age but not look too "old lady" to the college-age set. I was very happy that I felt good and looked just as I wanted to, maybe even a little better than I hoped.
I think my calm, clear-headed approach to shopping for this special event really made the difference in what I spent in both time and money and kept it pretty low-key with a great outcome. Hope you'll find something here that helps you next time you feel the panic of needing that one special outfit for that one special occasion. If there is anything that I really want this blog to be about it's living one's most authentic peaceful, happy, stylish life. Finding clothes that meet all those criteria make a big difference in how one feels every day and is definitely a great basis to feel happy about life.
Have a fantastic day and thanks for coming by.