Monday, June 17, 2013

The Retail Experience: Now vs. Then

You may think because I am beginning a fashion blog that shopping has always been one of my favorite activities. If so, I am sorry to inform you but your assumption was inaccurate. In fact, as a child, a trip to the mall was not merely an unfavored but necessary activity, I dreaded it. First of all, I had no interest in fashion whatsoever. To me, it didn't matter if I wore in denim overalls (which I did, on regular occasion) as long as I was able to move freely to explore the vast wilderness inhabited by whimsical imaginary creatures, A.K.A my suburban front yard. You could say I was a tomboy with an extensive imagination. Knowing this, it may seem that I was pretty nonchalant regarding outfits, that I would be easy to shop for, right? Wrong. Another huge factor in choosing my apparel was comfort. Most kids tend to lean toward the most comfortable option in clothing, but I was borderline obsessive. Every tag, seam, sticker, or remotely itchy fabric that could possibly come in contact with my skin was extremely irritating. I insisted on wearing my socks inside-out to avoid those aggravating seams. As a kid, my perfect outfit would be something seamless, stretchy, breathable, provides a full range of motion and preferably, not pink. This isn't exactly easy to find.

I regarded clothes shopping as a complete bore. The simple fact that I wore children's sizes was limiting. I didn't grow up with exceptional wealth either, so I was used to shopping trips resulting in a B-line straight to the JCPenny's kid section. Not that I cared where my clothing came from, brand names were foreign to me. The entire process of picking out clothing, hunting desperately for my size, then trying on outfit after uncomfortable outfit was unbearable. I thought of clothing as arbitrary, just another meaningless and impassable obstacle. It wasn't until I was much older that I began to tolerate, and even appreciate, fashion.

I went shopping with a good friend without parent supervision for the first time when I was 11 years old. This was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest experiences of my life. The mall seemed to have transformed into a completely different place. Once the site of torturous afternoons and frustrated tantrums as a child was now a whole new world. A world where mannequins in the windows of various stores displayed art in the form of apperal I not only wanted to wear, but I wanted to be seen in. I discovered a whole new method of self expression, and I was in awe. The most shocking of all was that after trying on clothes from the "big girl stores" that carried juniors sizes, I found that they were even more comfortable that the stuff from the kids section, simply because they fit well. I saw that not everything needed to be seamless or super stretchy. Also, with thirty dollars in my wallet, a friend at my side, and the whole mall to explore, I felt an amazing sense of independence and maturity. The fact that I could buy things on my own that represented me and only me was uplifting. With this, I have discovered my personal style that will express who I am for the rest of my life.

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