I went shopping for new clothing this weekend. Specifically to find a party dress for my class reunion. Foolishly, I decided I needed to go to Prescott for some chain stores, and shopping malls, to get the best overview of what's available out there in the world. The Verde Valley doesn't offer much in way of retail.
Let me go back to the early days of my shopping career and say I have never been an avid shopper. I have always lacked both the bucks, as well as that crucial "shop til ya drop" gene. After about 2 hours of hustling and bustling, and shopping bags rustling, I am DONE. Not just for the day, but for several months. Until the next season, or the next time I need to buy a specific bit of attire- new jeans, shoes, a dress for a party.
Besides that, when you're rockin' a bod like mine, it is not easy to find clothing that fits. Everything seems scaled for people who have less shoulder, less bust, less height. Off the rack clothing is both too big and too small on me at the same time. You'd think bigger sizes would be proportionately bigger, but they are not. They are still designed for narrow shoulders, and short torsos. Frustration. Besides that, a few spins through the mall shops, and you notice it all starts looking the same. Every last bit of it.
The style I want does not exist in the modern day shopping mall. A search for party dresses turns up 2 specific species that I have zero interest in...
First up, "faux boho", long ass polyester paisley hippy dippy spaghetti string gowns that look like something groupies for the Black Crowes might wear.
Second option, matronly things with sequins, looking like what a senior citizen might wear to the Chamber of Commerce awards banquet. There are few other options--Maybe something called Business Attire with coordinated suit jackets. Everything is sleeveless, which doesn't do me and my ham-like farmer-tan arms any favors. Legs are good, arms not as much. (When did sleeves go extinct?)
There was nothing available anywhere, no hint of the family that I am looking for.
Colorful, classic, vintage styled--what you think of when you hear the phrase "party dress"! Flouncy bottom, cinched waist, cap sleeves-- just cute, elegant, and great with a strand of beads or two. Nice fabrics. Nothing too dated or trendy as far as patterns. Fitted to the female form. Several hours wasted in Prescott and Prescott Valley, I went home empty handed, and feeling more like a misfit than ever.
In my younger days, when I had more time than money (now I have little of either!), I'd rummage through secondhand stores in Chicago, and Dekalb for awesome vintage party dresses--and tailor things to my liking. My sewing skills are weak, but I managed to snip and hem. You'd think Arizona thrift shops would be full of western style awesomeness--- however, the reality is that they're swollen with Wal-Mart discards, and much senior-citizen polyester. I would be suprised to find any garment of real quality at my local Goodwill.
On Sunday, I went to a little local dress shop, in Cottonwood and found a whole bunch of what I was looking for. It practically clobbered me in the face as I walked in the door. The place was rife with precisely the style I was seeking! Two or 3 people had suggested that I go there --"Ellen this is your kind of place. Everything there reminded me of you..."and I hadn't listened, until now. I regret not going sooner-- I could have avoided that entire mall debacle. Lesson learned.