The perils of pants shopping

It appeared to be an easy mission. All I wanted was a pair of pants.

Different types of pants on wooden hangers. Selective focus.
An easy mission?

My friend Meg came along for the ride, to provide moral support on what could only be termed a “fat day” for me. If you are a woman, you will know what I mean. For you uninitiated men out there, this is a day in which the scale might not have moved but you feel as if you’ve added 15 lbs. overnight.

I needed something for just a few days hence. Did I mention I loathe shopping when I need something? Far better to shop when nothing is necessary because that is when you find the keepers. When you need something quickly, desperation kicks in—and it makes for a terrible shopping partner. You usually buy things you wear once and regret soon after.

Desperation was whispering in my ear when I walked into a chain store I normally do not frequent. I brought a pair of pants back to the fitting room, thinking I could slip in and out in a couple of minutes.

That is when Debbie, my STYLIST (yes, she said it with this emphasis), swooped down upon me. I had unwittingly walked into the lions’ den.

As I looked Debbie up and down, she was no stylist (let alone a STYLIST). I had written fashion/style features for years. I have a very good sense of style. Of what I can wear and what I cannot. This woman needed to let me be. Which I tried to politely tell her.

“I’m fine, really. Just need a pair of pants.”

She had overheard me talking about what I needed them for, which was a key meeting.

Woman holding jacket and peeking out from dressing room
The dreaded curtain thrust

And then it began. The ridiculousness. This young thing, who had obviously never seen the inside of a corporate conference room, began to STYLE me. Her older counterpart chimed in from time to time with equally crazy “advice.”

I frowned at the pants I’d brought into the dressing room for not looking as good as they should on me. Out of nowhere, an arm appeared through the curtain, thrusting shirts in my general direction. As I tried to cover my unclothed upper half, a disembodied cheery voice said, “Pink is such an UNEXPECTED color for autumn, don’t you think?”

I couldn’t really think anything at the moment. I was too busy trying to cover up my nakedness on a fat day.

As she brought me more billowy chiffon blouses, I balked. No STYLIST would ever put me in anything billowing, which is not particularly flattering on my frame any day, let alone a fat day. And pink? Well, cotton candy pink and I parted ways at about age 20.

The jacket and pants Bossy Arm thrust through the curtain next were two entirely different shades of black. When I exited the dressing room to verify this fact under real lights, a scarf was immediately thrust around my neck and tied, as I protested that I NEVER wear scarves (she is not the only one who can speak with emphasis).

Pretty young feet in the spotted shoes
Purr. Pretty kitty.

She insisted I try pants on with the shoes she brought me. No thanks. These feet don’t need to step inside shoes hundreds of other women have tried on barefoot. Besides, leopard-print shoes are not something I bring to the conference room. Just a silly little rule I have. If it makes you look like you should be purring, it probably won’t get you that promotion.

As the older one chimed in, chastising me for trying on a tunic as a dress (It’s a tunic on a woman who is 5 ft. 10 inches. On me, friends, it’s a dress. Trust me on this one.), I tuned out. 

Sought out Meg and tried to hear her comments above the din my STYLISTS were creating around me.

I believe I had a come-to-Jesus moment with the older one when she suggested leggings—LEGGINGS—for my business meeting. Because everyone knows that when you want to be taken seriously, you wear something form-fitting and tight that you wore regularly as a sorority girl in the 1980s, right? Perhaps I could pair the leggings with the leopard-print shoes and sashay my way into corporate credibility. Score.

What happened to the days when buying a pair of pants was just that? If I want a stylist, I’ll go somewhere that employs an actual stylist. Not a girl barely older than my teen who reads Cosmopolitan, which has never truly been anywhere close to a fashion magazine. (Case in point—the “Must Read” on its website currently is “10 [sic] Life-Changing Ways to Save Money at Starbucks.” Followed by, “Is Kylie Jenner Wearing Butt Pads in This Photo?” I’m seeing Debbie lapping this one up and suggesting butt pads next time I visit.)

When I finally made my way out of the dressing room, leaving behind a pile of wreckage worse than the Edmund Fitzgerald, I made a beeline for margaritas with Meg.

Purchasing pants can be perilous. Purr.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if I say that as I’m wearing leggings with my leopard-print pumps.







39 Comments Add yours

  1. Finally someone explained why girls always shop when they have nothing to do.
    I can’t believe i read this entire post, topic was not something of my interest

    1. candidkay says:

      I will take that as a compliment (I think):).

  2. Hi. I read your article on ‘Harvest’.
    After my divorce, I felt that I had been denied my ‘harvest’ of a peaceful secure retirement that I felt I truly deserved. Your post is an inspiration that there truly is life after divorce with possibilities for an even more bountiful harvest than I could ever have previously dreamed was possible. Thank you.
    PS. What is the book?

    1. candidkay says:

      Hi there–Just keep planting the seeds! And don’t listen to the “logic” many people will throw at you about what will and won’t work. Your story is just that–yours. And it will have its own way of coming about–sometimes in the most magical ways. Book I’m keeping mum on for now:). But you’ll be among the first to know when I move things along . . .

      1. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. OUCH.

    I will say I was — pleasantly — stunned last night in the Soho (NY) Bloomingdales by…service. GREAT service from a fun, smart, sassy helpful woman our age. I bought a bag that was $$$$$ by my normal standards (love it, though) after she pointed it out to me. I was delighted to actually be treated like a human being.

    I, too, now get the cooing patronizing treatment from 20-something associates as if I were deaf or stupid and broke. None of the above.

    I will say I got amazing stylist help in April 2011 (admittedly at Neiman Marcus, also NOT a place I typically hang out) when my last book came out and I was doing some media/speaking engagements and needed wardrobe help STAT. The male stylist was fantastic and I spent more in one day than I normally spend in a year. But it gave me exactly what I needed and, in the long run, that was worth it.

    1. candidkay says:

      A good stylist for book publicity is worth every penny! I think what some of the lesser qualified in fashion industry don’t grasp is the difference between fashion and style. The former doesn’t always work as you age.

      1. More to the point — and in response to your useles “stylist” he only brought me clothes I really liked at once. I like extremely simple clothing and great accessories, while too many stylists try to throw us into prints or other junk.

  4. heyjude6119 says:

    OH man. I would have been SO annoyed. I would have let her stick her arm in and just hold the stuff while I wasn’t taking it. You know, see how long she could hold them there. I’m mean that way. But I really don’t suffer fools kindly. What is worse, being carded for booze when you’re obviously 50 something or having them shove teenybopper fashions at you. I don’t wear animal prints either. I may start when I’m 60, but not sure. We’ll see how I feel then.
    I’m thinking you should have had the margaritas before shopping. I definitely know what a fat day is or a bad hair day and no, men can’t relate. But it can color your whole outlook on life.
    Thanks for a wonderful post, a lesson on turning frustation into amusement, and feeling normal.

    1. candidkay says:

      I will remember that advice–margaritas beforehand:). Although then who knows how much I’ll buy! And how it’ll look. I might have bought the leggings then . . .

  5. followechoes says:

    Trousers as we call them over here are a nightmare to buy. Well I find it nightmarish. I can never seem to get the right fit. A while ago a friend of mine mentioned jeggings and I laughed. Basically leggings that look more like jeans. I even managed to find some really smart ones on a site called that do not look like jeans and bought a few pairs. They are comfortable, don’t need a belt and pretty much go with anything. A winner all round 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I saw jeggings the other day while shopping with a friend for her son. It cracks me up that these were meant for boys. I’m just not sure I can picture those on my teen . . .

  6. Oh this is a riot!! I am not sorry for your experience because it allowed you to write this post!! By the way…I can totally relate 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I haven’t met a woman over 40 yet who can’t relate! Amazing, isn’t it? 🙂 One day you’re the same age as the cover model for Seventeen and the next you’re trying to explain the art of corporate dressing to someone less than half your age . . .

  7. Sandra says:

    This post was so fun and so funny…probably not having to live it, but reading this was pure entertainment. I’m going to take a wild guess and say you weren’t having margaritas geared in leggings and leopard print shoes.

    1. candidkay says:

      Bingo:). But if I see another woman at the meeting in that ensemble, I’ll know which shop she frequents:).

  8. Funny experience in hindsight but I can’t imagine how annoyed you felt. I can’t stand stylist or staff hovering when I shop.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, you are so right. It was a lot less funny when occurring. But I but my tongue:).

  9. Amy says:

    You, my dear, are a bona fide delight! I’m still chortling. . . xoxox

    1. candidkay says:

      I wish I could say I was laughing during this trip:). But at least I am now! Thanks, friend.

  10. Ah, you shop at the stores that have curtained dressing rooms; that’s the problem. You gotta go to Target where the doors are solid wood. No arm thrusting allowed. And if there’s a stylist in the building, she wandered in by mistake.

    Very funny post. Love the “purr.”

    1. candidkay says:

      Maybe I could take it a step beyond wood and go for steel or a deadbolt. I think nothing less could have kept Debbie out:).

  11. says:

    love this one

  12. dinnerbysusan says:

    Oh, but at least you got attention. I realized I had reached a magical, invisible age when I went into a store recently and no one paid any attention to me. “Don’t you know I spend oodles of money with you every year?” I thought. Apparently, they don’t. I’m no longer their demographic. So when I went to pay for my purchases and the sweet young thing at the counter chirped, “Who helped you today?”, I took perverse pleasure in smiling and saying, “Abso-frickin-lutely no one!”

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, Susan. Don’t get me started. I recently had a horrible experience with I have bought from them for years and spent quite a bit. And then they told me an item I had returned unworn had a stain on it. They sent it back to me–and it was in perfect condition. No stain. I took photos, I offered to send it back to them–all to no avail. Their customer service person was completely horrid on the phone and the CEO/founder never got back to me. Needless to say, I’ll spend my money elsewhere. We really should when we’re not treated well. It seems to be the only thing companies will heed–and even then, only when we do it en masse, unfortunately.

  13. lol…you poor ladies seriously get trashed by that side of life…remove the expectations Kay (them or yours), and just wear your heart on your sleeve…then it won’t matter what your wearing 🙂

  14. Yvette says:

    This is hilarious and bless you for not losing it on your two STYLISTS – a name that surely corporate came up with because it sounds like more than sales girl. I detest when people try to help me in a clothing store. I would have lost it.

    1. candidkay says:

      I am sure corporate was to blame for their unfortunate titles. And I’m sure real stylists around the globe are offended:). Or laughing.

  15. Ha I think every woman can relate to this Kay. When I shop, I want to go in, get it, and leave quickly. No time for 20yr old stylists, who insist they know our body type!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Not only do they think they know our body type, they think they know style!:) ugh.

  16. Shopping for pants is the worst. You can sort of finesse a top or dress. But pants actually need to fit. How cruel.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, yes. And I was stymied again by how I can be one size in one store and two sizes up in another. No rhyme or reason!

  17. The leggings bit was hilarious. I loathe shopping, too!

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah yes. I’m still waiting for a female captain of industry to show up to the press conference in leggings:).

  18. Elyse says:

    Oh lord. Reminds me of the time I needed an emergency haircut when I found myself in Florida for my Dad’s funeral. I went in as a walk in — without any choice. The person who cut my hair may have been old enough to drive, but barely. She kept my back to the mirror much of the time.

    I knew I was screwed when, before showing me what she’d done she exclaimed: “SASSY!”

    She’d given me Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle from Friends. I have reddish blond curly hair. I looked like my dog, an English Springer spaniel. A few weeks later when I was heading off to have it all shaved off, my husband, too kind to comment on how surprised he was that I’d gotten a “Cooper” cut — Cooper being our English Springer Spaniel with long curly ears …

    I’m sure you looked Sassy for your meeting, too.

    1. candidkay says:

      “I looked like my dog, an English Springer spaniel.” Howling. Sassy! You bet. I’m so glad you no longer look sassy . . .

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. Drop me a line.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s