The first time I was to meet my boyfriend’s (now husband’s) parents, my friends were full of sage advice. “No, Kristie. You cannot wear that. It has glitter on it. Those are Daisy Dukes. You should probably wear a bra.” Nag, nag, nag.
I was horrified.
At 25 years old, I was being asked to venture into grown up clothes. I assumed that meant giant panties, sweaters with embroidered kittens or holiday motif, and full length denim skirts. Those are deal-breakers for me; as was anything made from tweed, thick knits, or modesty. How would people know my personality if I was covered from head to toe in neutrals, with no boobies or glitter to show the world my flare?
After some tough negotiating, I was talked into purchasing an adult tank top from not the junior’s section, and some modest, but flattering capris. I felt old and resentful. But I looked less trashy, and his parents loved me and hence, my first lesson that tasteful didn’t have to mean matronly. That also marked the the beginning of the end of my love affair with the junior’s section. And as I get older, and more accepting of my role as a wife and mother, things are getting even weirder when it comes time to shop. All of a sudden, a lot of the clothes from places that I used to shop are just a little too short, just a little too shiny, and way too 1980s.
After I had my baby, my first post-baby shopping adventure was at a store in the mall known for loud music, half-naked teen models on the walls, and extremely potent angsty cologne. I blew a lot of cash on clothes with a couple of initials sewn on, and truthfully, I looked like an idiot pulling up my mini tee to nurse. Lesson learned, self. You are not a teenager anymore.
So where do we draw the line? How do we know when we’ve outgrown a store? Does it go further than just a sizing issue? Do we really have to start dressing like our grandmothers to be adults?
Here are some signs that you’ve outgrown your clothing store of choice:
- When you walk in, the radio is blasting current songs that you have either a) never heard before or b) only heard when your teenage child is listening to it. Thinking “what is this infernal racket” is a big indicator that you need to walk away.
- You see clothing that reminds you of your childhood. If you wore it the first time around, don’t wear it again. You looked silly when you did it, and today’s generation has earned the right to look silly when they do it without your help and/or interference.
- If seeing the store’s models makes you feel like a pedophile, you should probably skedaddle on out of there. Repeat your mantra, “16-year-old boys in their underwear should only be attractive to 16-year-old girls. 16-year-old girls in their underwear should be kept behind locked doors.”
- If the store contains a lot of lycra, and it’s not designed solely for gym purposes, you need to leave. Lycra is okay if you’re the age where climbing trees is your major household chore. After a certain age, structure in your clothes is a necessity.
- You may have either breasts or a crop top. Not both. If the store is trying to sell you crop tops, it’s probably designed for people who have yet to develop breasts. Back away slowly.
- If your age doesn’t end in “teen”, your store should sell clothes in even sizes (2, 4, 6, 12, 20). A size 7 is a junior’s size, and thus proportioned and designed for a junior’s sense of style and body.
- If you no longer believe in the tooth fairy, stay away from stores that are festooned with cartoon character clothing.
- If you are old enough to have a mortgage, you do not need to shop at stores that have matching sets of tops and bottoms. That’s okay for Garanimals. Not for grown ups.
- If you walk into the store and are at least 5 years older than anyone else shopping there without a parent, that is a bad sign. Similarly, if you walk into a store and the entire clientele is old enough to pinch your cheeks and tell you you’re adorable, you’ve overshot and need to youth it up a little.
- If the store doesn’t carry a size that is flattering and fits you, then don’t shop there. You are a woman. You have crazy accessories like breasts, booty, and hips. Trying to cram them into a pair of sparkling jeans from Limited Too isn’t going to do your body any favors, and isn’t going to make you feel like a confident adult who can take on the world.
As for me, I’m still learning and adjusting. Maturity is a struggle, and at times I’ve given up and started wearing only yoga pants. Anything I bring home that looks suitably adult, I am driven to bedazzle or slash. I can’t be trusted in the marketplace of womanhood yet, though I’ve clearly outgrown the marketplace of girly sparkles and tiaras.
photo credit Kristie