Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

Pushing my boundaries (shopping for spring clothes)

Shopping for clothes in stores is always an adventure.

For the last two days, I’ve been scouring the Kohl’s sales racks. For those of you who don’t know about Kohl’s – it’s a mid tier department store (somewhere between Macy’s and Target). They are known for their sales. At the “end” of every season, they slash their inventory by anywhere from 60 to 80%

Luckily for those who live up north, spring doesn’t really arrive until about a week before summer. That means that you can wear the heavily discounted stuff for weeks – if not months – before you need to break out the linen and t-shirts!

Regardless, while I was there a couple of interesting things happened.

One, I found myself shopping at the low end of the clothing racks. It wasn’t that long ago that I would start at the 12s or 10s or the innocuous Ms. This time I found myself seeking out the 6s, the occasional 4s and the Ss. (Unfortunately I am not naive enough to think that Kohl’s and other mid-level department stores all across America haven’t gone to what one might call “vanity sizing,” but it was still fun!)

Two, I actually put things back that made me look “too big.” This is noteworthy, not because I’m significantly smaller than I’ve been for the last year or so, but rather because I’ve finally come to terms with what I look like in a mirror. And, perhaps even more importantly, I’m no longer trying to hide it.

There was a time that I would have cringed if anything that even remotely looked like a curve was visible. This time, not so much. Does this mean that I don’t have any love handles or (perish the thought of even using this word) muffin tops? No, unfortunately, they’re there; that’s life.

When I did a little fashion show for Michael J, he congratulated me for trying more form fitting clothes.

I thanked him for the compliment and asked him to promise me one thing – that is, to tell me if I go too far, as its easy to get seduced by the pull of smaller and smaller sizes.

“How far is too far?” he asked.

Good question.

After a moment’s consideration, my personal guidelines for if I’ve taken it too far: I look bad or it looks like I’m trying to dress younger than I am.

He agreed. And I trust him to tell me truth.

If you have a Kohl’s near you (or any other store with decent clothes and ridiculously slashed prices) go spend a couple of hours pawing through the sales racks. You never know what you might find. Who knows, you might – if you’re lucky and you’re willing to take some chances – find a completely new you.

In fact, I’ve found some of my favorite pieces of clothing by trying on what other people have left in the dressing rooms. The benefit of trying on other people’s left behinds is that unless that person has your exact same taste, they’re choices are almost certain to be outside of your comfort zone and something that if you’d seen it on the rack you wouldn’t have given it a second glance – let alone tried it on.

As a wise man once said, all progress comes when you’re outside of your comfort zone. So step out of yours and have some fun. After all, it’s not like you have to actually buy it!

An old friend and new patterns

Yesterday, I spent the day with a tweenage friend that I hadn’t seen since highschool (and even then we hadn’t been close since junior high). We reconnected on Facebook.

Because of my evening of over-indulgence the night before, I got up, did k-bells Total Body Blast (again, it’s a much more serious workout in the heat — yielding a 220 calorie burn instead of the 170 that I usually manage at home) and made a shake — destroying my parent’s blender in the process. Oh, how I miss my Blend-tec! Luckily my mother had a spare blade, so she wasn’t too annoyed!

When my friend arrived, we immediately went for a walk! Keep in mind that we hadn’t spoken in at least 20 years! The activity was good. We walked (and talked) for about an hour and 20 minutes, burning 520 calories in the process. Not a bad way to get reacquainted. We both showered and then went and hit the streets.

We browsed, chatted, shopped in boutiques where we would never actually buy anything. We had lunch (a veggie wrap with feta in a spinach tortilla and salad for me) and wandered around some more. Then, partly because it was so hot, we went to the mall. And because I knew she’d have no reason to lie to me, we went and tried on bathing suits. It’s been 10 years since I’ve had on a bathing suit! And, much to my surprise, they looked pretty good. Granted, I stuck to the one pieces, but they weren’t bad. There was one that was very 1930’s Hollywood starlit-esque with a tiny little skirt and a heart shaped neck. We both agreed that I needed a pair of stilletos and a big tray from which to sell cigarettes! I decided that it wasn’t practical as I was looking for for something to wear swimming (not selling). Although I didn’t buy anything, it was fun! It was also good to have someone there with me who challenged my initial preferences and urged me to take a second look at things I wouldn’t normally try. It was also good to go with someone who doesn’t really know my style, but it going on looks alone.

We when then went to my favorite Mexican restaurant, where I had exactly what I wanted: Pork Carnitas and a frozen marguarita. Not the healthiest choice, but it was a choice, as opposed to the out of control bienging from the day before. It was also absolutely delicious.

I’m heading back home today. Part of me is relieved that I am leaving the land of bar-be-que and frozen margaritas, but the other part will miss it — not the food and the drinks, but the people, the friends, and (believe it or not) the heat. There is something wonderful about the heat, especially when an unexpected breeze offers a much-appreciated moment of relief.

Days three and four with the folks!

Yesterday was another awesome exercise and food day; though my power walk has become less powerful as the humidity is climbing nearer the air temp!

I had my normal breakfast and lunch (spinach salad and tabouli) and then for dinner we went to a pizza place, where my dad had a $50 gift certificate. My mother and I half and halfed a medium pie (she had a Maui Magic and I had a Mediterranean, hold the mozzarella and light on the feta). According the alkaline diet, feta made from goat’s milk is a lot better for you than mozzarella or any cheese made from cow’s milk. I started with a dinner salad, had two pieces and took the other two home. With the olive oil and garlic glaze on thin crust pizza, it tasted more like a flat bread and felt reasonably virtuous. Yum.

Today was a little more challenging. It started off okay. I went for my walk, which was a little slower than it was the day before and I had my shake. Yea! But for lunch, I had a carnitas quesadilla (the whole thing, but light on the cheese) and guacamole. In my defense, I didn’t have a margarita, but it was a close thing. The scary thing is that the nutrition guide for this particular restaurant isn’t on-line and I’ve seen calorie counts for restaurant carnita quesadillas ranging from 500 to 1300! Since I had them hold the cheese and the sour cream, I’m hoping it’s closer to the former than the latter! However, I am not holding my breath, so I’ve tried to make adjustments elsewhere in my daily food plan.

For dinner, I had another big spinach salad and the last two pieces of my Mediterranean pizza.

A friend of mine was also having a garage sale today. I always liked her clothing style, but she was always a lot smaller than me. Given my new physique, however, I actually cleaned up big. I bought a lot of winter stuff — including a super cute little coat — that I am leaving with with mother to give me for Christmas! It was like my own personal consignment shop. I even got a couple of accessories! This is a win-win for me and my mother; I’m certain to get something I like and she won’t have to look for it! Additionally, I bought a very fitted pair of pants that I am also leaving here. That will motivate me to make sure I don’t gain any weight until Christmas!

You know, if it wasn’t for the scorching heat, summers in the south may not be so bad after all!

Clothes horse

Within the last two months, I have procured a tremendous number of pants. I’m not talking two pairs. I’m not talking three pairs. I’m not even talking about five pairs. Embarrassingly enough, it’s closer to ten! It’s insane. And to make matters worse, I haven’t even worn the majority of them.

Luckily I am buying them at consignment stores, thrift shops, and at the 75% off outlet at J.Jill, but still. Ten pairs of pants?

For those of you who know me, you’re probably thinking — do you even wear pants? And when you do, don’t you always pretty much wear the same ones over and over?

It’s true that I used to never wear pants. And on the rare occasion that I did, I tended to wear the same pair. The reason being was that I could never find pants that would fit me! I remember standing — dismayed — in a GAP dressing room with a pair of 14s that fit my hips but stood out about six inches around the waist. (To give you a little perspective on the situation, my thesis adviser once asked me if I had natural curvature of the spine!) Regardless, just as I was thinking that I never wanted to see the body that these jeans were supposed to fit, the sales girl came around the corner and gasped, “You’re right! You do have a big butt!”

I think it was at least five years before I ever set foot (or butt cheek) in another GAP; though these days, I have several pairs of GAP pants that I picked up for cheap at the consignment store! There’s more than one way to heal old retail-inflicted wounds!

In addition to the recent weight loss (40 pounds since February 2006), my body shape has also changed. Without giving away too much information, suffice it to say that I can now wear pants! In fact, it’s nothing for me to buy six different styles — all in the same size — and have them all fit. I think my new found pant lust stems from the joy of actually trying them on — after so many years of failure — and having them fit. But as I put away the new dress khakis, the dress linen tweeds with flared legs, and the moss mini chord cargoes, I have to think, enough is enough!

I say that as I sit here typing in a pair of moss colored cargo pants with purple piping that my inner child — KJ, Junior — just had to have. Was it the purple piping or was it the fact that they were size 16 girls?! We never wore cute clothes in girls’ sizes, even when we were girls. I picked them up, told myself I was being ridiculous, then put them back on the rack. But every time I walked past them, I hesitated. When I finally tried them on — and when they actually fit — I knew there was no way they were going back!

I am close to 40 years old. When’s the last time you saw a 40 year old woman wearing green cargo pants with purple piping?

Will I ever wear them outside of the house? Maybe — but probably not. But they were only $3.00.

Green pants with purple piping: $3.00. Fulfilling my old childhood desires: priceless.

Try on Something Really Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I don’t know about everyone else, but I tend to have a certain style. It may not be particularly stylish, but it’s a style and I like it. More to the point, I am comfortable with it. However, when I look in the mirror and I’m wearing the same style of clothes that I used to wear, I often don’t see any difference whatsoever in my physique. Essentially, I look the same, because the shape of my clothes looks the same.

Recently I have really been pushing the envelope. I wrote earlier in about my low riding boot cut jeans. I have also traded in t-shirts for tanks, and floor length skirts for shorter ones that show off the legs a little.

But the other day, I actually went and tried on some very fitted evening gowns. The first one was lovely, it looked like me and it fit really well. I loved it.

But my attention kept getting pulled back to this floor length snake skin looking, slinky sheath that I thought wouldn’t fit on my right thigh without a wedge.

Luckily I hadn’t gone shopping alone. A women who is in my spinning class was there as well and she said, “I think you should go ahead and try it on. You might be surprised.”

Well, I did. It fit like a glove–as opposed to a sausage casing. It was stunning; more to the point, I was stunning. I stood there in the middle of the dress shop and stared in the mirror like a five year old in her first Easter dress. We (the dress and I, that is) were glorious. I had no idea my body could look like that. I could finally see what other people had been talking about. I stood there with my mouth open as all of the sounds in the dress shop faded into nothingness.

Fortunately for me I know the owner of the dress shop. Also fortunate for me, the dress was a used vintage evening gown as opposed to a new one. Luckily for me, they couldn’t find the dress in the database. And even luckier, the owner is a lovely, generous woman who–I think–realized that I was seeing myself for the first time. She sold it to me for $30!

So, where are you possibly going to wear this dress, you might be asking. Well, I’ve been asked to participate in a student fashion show on campus; not only will I get to wear the dress, I’ll also get free make-up and hair! So not only will be all slinky and sleek; I’ll also be colorful and girly!

So get outside of your comfort zone; you might be pleasantly surprised!

Mission Accomplished!

I stepped on the scale this morning after an hour of aerobic conditioning and bingo! Since that fateful date four weeks ago with the lovely weight loss coach, I have lost 10.8 pounds! I still have 1 more pound to go before hitting my old Weight Watchers goal (the one that I had at age 17), but I am certain that it will be no problem. I guess I’ll have to change the tag line of the blog: everything you wanted to know (and then some) about losing the last ten pounds and keeping it off!

I took another load of clothes to the local consignment store and bought a pair of jeans and then returned two pairs of 10s to Talbot’s. It was great!

Consignment Shopping

I went to a consignment store today and tried on clothes that I would never have picked out in a traditional department store. There was something easy about picking up something that I figured was too sizes too small for me and slipping it on in a consignment store that I don’t typically find in your name brand chains–The Gap, American Eagle, Talbot’s, etc. However, because this store (located in the middle of a college town) had many of those brands on consignment, it gave me the opportunity to try on things without the experience (real of not) of being gawked at by anorexic teenagers.

Guess what? Gap pants aren’t as intimidating as I thought they were! In fact I bought my first pair. I must admit that they are a tiny bit snug in the hips, but I bought them that way on purpose. AND they were only $12! They are, in effect, a quick and inexpensive way to get leverage on myself. That is, every time I put them on, I’ll remember to pay closer attention to what I put in my mouth. They are also my new markers of success, so I can be less tied to the scale.

As I was striking up a conversation with the owner, she also mentioned that she was taking spring and summer consignments; did I want a consignment agreement? I hesitated and then thought about it. Yes. Yes, I do want a consignment agreement.

Another point of leverage: get rid of the two largest sizes in my closet. This seems like a total win-win. I may make some money. I won’t have any open invitations to gain weight lurking in the dark corners of my closet. And even if they don’t sell, she’ll take them to the same community center that I would have done, saving me not only the trip, but also the hassle.

Anyway you look at it, consignment stores are ideal for people who are changing sizes and also styles. When I go to a more conventional store, I tend to stick with what I know (if I go at all). In consignment stores, there are a plethora of styles from which to chose. There also is a conspicuous absence of fluorescent lights and overly helpful sales people who have only seen cellulite in pictures.

For example, I tried on a Chinese-style orange dress with pink embroidered dragon flies. It was fitted and very sleek. I loved it. I loved the way I looked in it. I would never have tried that dress on anywhere else. (I probably never would have found that dress anywhere else, but that’s not the point!) Although I felt like a queen while wearing it, I left it there. But maybe next time I a see a long fitted dress I won’t automatically scoff, “That would look terrible on me” or, even worse, “That’s just not me.”