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Shopping for clothes is fun! Said no teenage boy. Ever.
Well, maybe some teenage boys like to shop, but I didn’t get one of those.
Ever since Tech was a wee thing, he wanted to exit the mall as quickly as possible. He’d find one pair of pants that fit and start walking toward the checkout counter. “Get five of these,” he’d say.
Truth be told, that ethos worked for me because I’m not a big shopper, myself.
But the kid had a major growth spurt last year. He sprouted six inches, people! Six! During the last academic year, he outgrew his jeans 4 times!
When he came home for a few days between sessions of overnight camp, we assessed his closet and — just as I suspected — he needed everything.
It was overwhelming, but we made a list and rallied.
So whether your son identifies himself as a prep or a jock, a skater or a Goth, a hipster or a geek (or a combo pack), he’ll probably need this stuff in his closet this fall:
1. ON THE FEET.It’s been said that a person can judge a man by his shoes. If this is true, my kid was in bad shape because he came home with one muddy pair of sneakers and one pair of stinky flip-flops. Nothing else fit. We took care of that.
2. ON THE LEGS
Jeans. I don’t care if they’re straight or slim, boot cut or skinny. Boys are going to grow out of them before the end of the year.
Pants Other Than Denim. Jeans are great, but not every day. Khakis and cargos are must-haves, especially in Western New York, where it gets cool early into the academic calendar.
Shorts. Cargo shorts are staples andshould hit the knee.
Gym shorts. Yes, please.
3. UP ON TOP
Causal T-shirts. Sooooo many fun graphic T’s out there.
Short & long-sleeve shirts.
Button-up shirts. Can be worn open over t-shirts for a casual look, or buttoned for a more dressed up look.
5. INVISIBLE ESSENTIALS
Socks. And yes.
Belt. Find a reversible brown to black leather for the win!
6. DRESSED UP
A Suit. (If not a suit, a good jacket.) Because you never know.
Button up shirt & tie. Because you need the fixins to go with the suit.
Wristwatch. If you’re my kid, you won’t leave home without it.
What essentials did I forget? Besides dress shoes. Oy.
NOTE: This is a sponsored post from the good folks at Kohl’s, but the opinions expressed here are mine. I still despise going clothes shopping, but Tech got a lot of great stuff! Click HERE to check out more great back to school stuff that you may have missed.
Also, check outthis hot mamato read about another #KohlsBack2School shopping experience. Because. Two little ones. Wow.
One day while shopping, my friend Jan pointed at this awful table.
“That’s a cute table,” she said.
I looked at it, nonplussed.
Because it was gray.
Where was my color? Where was my whimsy?
But it was made well enough, and it was cheap the price was right.
So we jammed that sad, gray table into my rental car.
I figured it could always be returned.
That afternoon, Hubby bought a couple cans of spray paint.
Everyone knows a fresh coat of paint can transform a room.
Why not a drab piece of furniture, right?
Thirty minutes later, Hubby killed the can of spray paint.
And I was dancing in the middle of the road.
(Sorry, new neighbors.)
But that table?
Totally awesome sauce.
Inspired, I forced Hubby to take me to Sarasota Architectural Salvage: nine jazillion square feet of crap treasures like old lobster traps and wooden oars, brass ship lamps and carved wooden mermaids, concrete urns and gargoyles. I could go on. The place is huge. We picked up a couple of knick-knacks, and voila.
Our foyer is on its way.
Now, if only we had some window treatments so the gators out back don’t see us walking around naked.
What Do-It-Yourself Project have you done where you got it right?
Recently, I showed you the line-up of amazing bloggers who committed to sharing their most embarrassing moments over the course of the year. If you surf Twitter, you will be able to find the series under the hashtag #SoWrong. And a lot of other crazy shizz, too. Probably. Last week it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t share one of my own heinous moments. Gulp. Here it is.
During high school, I worked at a department store in a local mall. At its peak, the chain had ten locations, and I spent many afternoons, weekends and vacations behind the costume jewelry counter, helping blue-haired ladies decide between faux-pearl earrings and plastic white clip-ons.
When I came home from college in the winter of 1985, I learned I’d be working in fine jewelry where black surveillance cameras hovered over the display cases.
One day, a man in an expensive gray suit leaned against the glass case where the 24k gold was kept and flashed me his whitest smile.
My heart beat loud in my chest. Gray Suit was cute. I wondered if he was single.
“Is there something you’d like to see?” I asked, hoping he would say something like: You. I’m here for you.
“Didn’t Carol tell you?” Gray Suit asked, invoking the name of my supervisor.
When I shook my head, Gray Suit frowned. My teenage heart dropped.
“Let’s start over.” Gray Suit outstretched his hand.
We shook hands the way my father always said was indicative of a person with character: firm and not too quick to release.
His lips moved. “I’m John Stevens, the gold rep. I come to swap out the inventory occasionally.” He set a hard, silver briefcase on the floor, bent over and produced several, rose-colored velvet bags, which he set on the glass countertop, careful not to leave messy fingerprints.
“I need you to get the keys from that drawer over there and put everything inside these bags.”
John flashed his dimples.
I bit my thumb. “I think I should probably wait until Carol gets back from lunch…”
John glanced at his watch. “I still have to get to North Syracuse, Camillus and Clay.” I could feel his frustration. “Carol should have told you I was coming.” John shook his head. “I guess I’ll go see Mr. Big Boss…” He leaned over to lift the handle of his briefcase.
And I should have let him go.
Oh, I should have let him go.
But I was 18-years old.
And I didn’t want my supervisor to get in trouble with Mr. Big Boss.
And there was this small stupid part of me that hoped that John Stevens, the hot guy with the great smile, might want my phone number. Or something.
So I did as I was told.
I drifted over to the drawer where the key laid waiting inside a small white cup. And somehow I was pushing the tiny tarnished key into the lock. Once the lock was off, I slid open the doors, dropped to my knees, dragging all the gold into one clunky pile.
John handed me a velvet bag, which I filled and set atop the empty display case. He smiled as he flipped open his briefcase and placed the bag inside. He tapped the top of the tall earrings tower with his fingertips.
“I’m going to bring everything out to the van, and then I’ll come back with the new inventory.”
I nodded. Of course he would.
“We don’t like to leave the cases empty for long.” John explained, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “Every minute the case is empty, we lose potential sales.”
He promised he’d be right back.
When Carol returned from her break, I told her John had been there.
“Who?” she asked absently as she tidied up around the cash register.
“The gold rep” I said. “You just missed him. He took the old gold, but he should be back with the new stuff any minute.”
Carol looked at me with big eyes.
And then I knew.
I was a stupid girl.
My idiocy was confirmed when Carol stood in front of the empty display case and held her hand up to her throat, like something was burning there. “How long has he been gone?”
The words caught in my mouth. “About five minutes.”
Notoriously unflappable, Carol stomped her heel on the floor and swore.
I had done something really bad.
In Mr. Big Boss’s office, I sat in the naughty chair and wept. As he questioned me, I remembered something. “The cameras! He was standing in front of one of the cameras the whole time!”
I was elated. Thank goodness. We could get the footage and give it to the police. We would be able to catch the bad guy.
Mr. Big Boss rubbed his huge palm over his bald head and looked at me with soft eyes. He could probably tell I was confused. “The cameras aren’t real. They’re there to deter theft, but there’s no film inside. That guy probably knew they were fake. He seemed to know everything else.”
And, I thought, he knew how to work me.
I was sure I was going to be fired.
I braced myself for it.
Instead, Mr. Big Boss called the day “a learning experience.”
It was not the first time nor would it be the last time that a boy would trick me.
But it was a very embarrassing moment: the day I swapped nearly 10K in gold for a phony smile.
The fancy department store where I worked opened its doors in 1896. In 1992, the corporation filed for bankruptcy and four stores closed. Under pressure from creditors, Mr. Big Boss, grandson of the founder, sold the company and its remaining stores in 1994, just two years short of their 100-year anniversary.
I have always felt partially responsible.
Have you ever done something incredibly stupid at work?
I stood in my minuscule dressing room in Nordstrom’s Marshall’s, looking at the dress I’d put on thinking, Not bad for $49.99.
I ventured out to find the large three-way mirror located all the way at the other end of the long hall of individual stalls.
I know the psychology behind communal mirrors.
Stores want shoppers to come out because they are hoping you will get a compliment from a stranger.
According to an article in Real Simple Magazine,
Such praise doesn’t just make you feel good about yourself; it also helps forge an attachment to the product. Once someone gushes over the top you’re wearing, you’re more likely to “become emotionally invested in the item and have more trouble leaving it behind.” 1
As I twirled and inspected myself from all angles, a woman standing outside the changing rooms decided to give me her unsolicited opinion.
“That dress makes your ass look fat,” she said.
I felt like I had been zapped by a taser.
I stared at the woman but, for the life of me, I can’t provide you with one descriptive characteristic about her.
I tried to imagine how devastating an unsolicited comment like that could be to someone in a fragile place. I thought about all the young women suffering with eating disorders or low self-esteem who could’ve come in contact with this woman. I thought about how a woman who’d just had a new baby might have received her words. Or someone battling depression.
I decided to say something.
“You know, I feel good about myself these days,” I said. “And I’m pretty sure there were ten ways you could have told me that you don’t like this dress rather than criticize my body.”
I expected the woman to apologize profusely.
I expected her to be embarrassed.
I expected her to look down at the white-tiled Marshall’s floor in shame.
That’s not the way it went down.
“I drank a lot of coffee today,” she said. “I was trying to help you from making a expensive fashion faux-pas.”
Once upon a time, a November baby met July. The baby’s feet were small and bare and, as she crawled across spiky grass to the place where the lawn met road, she crouched low to pop tar bubbles with the tip of one tiny index finger.
One hot July, the little girl screamed as her mother buckled a new pair of white strappy-somethings firmly onto her feet. And no matter how many people told her how lucky she was to have such fine shoes, she knew she must have been very bad. To her the word sandals always sounded like a lie: a fancy name for prison.
Another July, the girl slipped into a shimmery yellow leotard and jazz shoes. While she was on-stage, she was confident in her dancer’s limbs. And when the audience clapped its approval, she knew her body was moon beautiful.
One July, the teenage girl watched her mother slip into a pair of rainbow-colored high heels. She saw how a 45° angle could transform a woman’s legs, instantly make them longer and leaner, and she decided that, one day, she would have a pair of magical shoes in her closet.
One July, the young woman dressed up in silky lingerie — thigh high stockings, a corset and ridiculously high red platform pumps: a last-ditch effort to make a man she wanted notice her. When he wouldn’t leave his piano, she threw one shiny stiletto at his head and realized it was time for her to live alone.
Later that same July, the young woman saved up all her money to buy a pair of distressed leather boots. As she straddled the back of a horse, her heels pressed into silver stirrups. And despite the fact that the world was shifting beneath her, she felt completely in control, holding the reins of that bridle, cantering into the darkness beneath a canopy of green and gold.
One July, the woman found herself in New Orleans, wearing a sundress with sneakers, and holding hands with the man she knew would one day be her husband.
One July, pregnant and hopeful, the woman learned sacrifice. As her ankles swelled into fat sausages, she could only wear flip-flops. Soon she would be someone’s mother; she understood her body was for rent. And she was grateful the feisty tenant who had taken control of the premises only had a few weeks left on his lease.
Over forty July later, that November baby found herself barefoot on the neighbors’ lawn. The soles of her feet were filthy, but as she turned cartwheels, she realized she owned the magical shoes she’d always wanted. She understood now that the shoes weren’t magic. It was the everything else around her that was positively succulent, that she carried an entire orchard of ripe peaches inside her, that she lived from joy to joy, as if death were nowhere in the background.
Recently, my family was chomping on chunks of bread at Outback Steakhouse, a place we often go after I announce that I didn’t make it to the grocery store.
As I sat in my old jeans, the thick, pine doors parted and in paraded boys wearing tuxedos with cummerbunds flanked by girls in fancy dresses with sparkles and sequins. I was bedazzled…
…and instantly transported back in time. To the mid-1980s. To my own school formals.
I went to Junior Prom with TB, a boy I had spent most of middle school trying to get to fall in love with notice me. Lord knows, we spent many afternoons in detention together as a result of misbehaving in French class. Before he moved to Philadelphia, however, I realized we were always going to be “just friends,” which was good enough for me. I sort of figured I’d never see him again, but he magically materialized to take me to prom.
Here’s what I remember about that prom. First, let’s just establish TB looked awesome in his tux. Done. Okay, now let’s talk about my dress. Featured in Seventeen Magazine, my dress was a gauzy, white Gunne Sax for Jessica McClintock that covered me from chin to ankle; it had three layers of crinoline and 10,000 buttons up the back. I was hermetically sealed inside my dress. All I knew was that I felt like Madonna in that dress. Seriously, from the neck down, I totally looked like Madonna.
Shut up, I did.
Sadly, we must address things from the neck up. Just a few months prior, I had butchered my long mane and had not yet figured out quite what to do with what was – tragically – a long brush-cut. Or a lady-mullet. The in-between stage lasted for years. In an effort to try to make people not notice my heinous hair, I stuck an over-sized silver safety-pin through the extra hole in my left ear lobe. Because I was that stupid cool.
For Senior Ball, I was slightly better prepared. First, let us establish that JMo looked awesome in his tux. Done. Now, about my dress. As it turned out, my big poofy dress from the year before was really uncomfortable. The crinkly crinolines had filled the entire backseat; it had been hard to walk, and did I mention that I was decidedly not hot? Senior year, I decided to tone down my attire and wear a really simple yellow dress. Alas, there was no teenaged version of “Say Yes To The Dress” because somehow I ended up looking like I had been dipped first in a vat of French’s mustard and then into a second vat of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Seriously, I had no business wearing pastel yellow. I know you can’t tell from the pictures, but I looked jaundiced. Luckily, most people were blinded by my like totally radical Sun-In highlights and my tan, both of which I had been cultivating after school for weeks while simultaneously ignoring my upcoming Trigonometry final. (That proved to be a big mistake.)
I did not do a lot of primping for either prom.
I mean, I showered. I was clean.
Not too long ago, I went on Twitter to see what people were saying about prom. Here is a sampling:
People were freaking out. About shoes, about fingernails, about limos, about dress fittings. Dress fittings?
Whaaaaat? I bought a dress and I put it on. As you can see, it fit.
(Okay, so there was a little extra room up top. What’s your point?)
Unlike the tweeps, I did not worry about prom for days in advance.
Time spent preparing my hair for Junior Prom: zero minutes.
For Senior Ball, I actually had hair, so I did use a little mousse which, thankfully, had been invented earlier that year.
I do remember some mental anguish at both dances. Even though I wasn’t dating either guy, I still wanted the romance of the evening. I still wanted my dates to ask me to slow dance.
I mean I was scared, but I still wanted to be asked.
Ask me. No don’t ask me.
Please ask me. Wait, I don’t know what I’m doing.
One year, I remember the band playing Foreigner and mouthing the words: “I wanna know what love is. I want you to show me.”
Because, really, I had no idea.
But I so wanted to know.
Somewhere between 1986 and 2011, dress designers realized that high school girls did not want to look like Victorian dolls in ginormous hoop skirts nor did they want to look like mothers-of-the-bride. Thus, the prom dress industry was born. That night at Outback Steakhouse, the girls looked so beautiful; their dresses complemented their body shapes and each dress represented a stripe of the rainbow. Each young woman looked like a contestant from America’s Next Top Model. Each had a signature walk. Each looked so confident.
For a minute, I felt envy. I mean, I was decidedly un-hot at junior prom and kind of potato-sacky at senior ball. But then I realized, to the outside world, I probably looked confident, too. Even with the bad hair. I found myself wondering about the girls at Outback – and all the girls who go to formal dances these days. They are so well-put together, so styled, so prepped. Outwardly, they appeared so mature. I wondered if they would be able to look back at themselves in 30 years with a sense of humor and recognize that they were also at a tipping point. Or had they already passed it?
I imagine some things will never change about formal dances: the grown up feeling of getting dressed up and “going out on the town” without one’s parents; the freaky-deaky feeling a girl gets in her stomach as she sees her prom date pull into the driveway; those awkward posed moments where parents hover, taking zillions of photographs from every possible angle; the worry that a zit could erupt at any moment (and often did).
I think of prom as that awkward place, a threshold between adolescence and adulthood where no one really knows what to do, so we just hold onto each other in our fancy clothes and spin around in circles for a little while.
And so we did.
And it was good.
You know, up until I learned I had failed the Trig final.
Because that sucked.
What did you wear to prom? Did you think you were hot? Were you? Really?
There is almost nothing wrong with Wegmans. It is the world’s best store. Indeed, people visit from across the globe to see how things are set up. They bring cameras and snap pictures of our amazing store, which is set up to look and feel like an outdoor market in Paris.
In the produce section, the fruit is heaped in baskets and barrels. There is usually someone cooking and serving something simple yet delicious — like sautéed shiitake mushrooms with shallots and basting oil — (and all the ingredients just happen to be right there for you to pick up for dinner that night). The marketing people are amazingly brilliant.
Wegmans also has a deli, a bakery, a fish shop, a meat market, a cheese department, a tea bar, a coffee bar, a place to buy sushi or salad or pizza or subs, and they have this one entrée and two sides deal for $6 that cannot be beat. There is a pharmacy and a café. They have an organic food section, a kosher food section, a lactose-free section. They cater. The store sparkles. The public bathrooms at Wegmans showcase nicer tiles than some private homes I’ve visited. The soap dispenser is always full. They have towels and air dryers.
If you buy a jar of tuna and get home and see it is dented, they will take it back. If you buy a pound of meat and think it smells a little bit funny, they will take it back. If your kid is hungry, you can let him nibble an apple or a cookie, and no one hassles you. Alec Baldwin’s mother loves Wegmans so much, he did some schtick about it on Letterman, and he landed himself a few pre-holiday commercials discussing Wegmans’ awesomeness. Frankly, Baldwin’s commercials are awful, but anyone who has ever been in a Wegmans understands; there really is nothing like it.
That said, the following sign has been tacked up in my local Wegmans for years! I don’t think anyone notices it except me, but it drives me bonkers. Given their attention to detail, I can’t believe the sign has lasted this long. I figured, surely, someone would notice it. After all, it’s right next to the water fountain.
For those of you who appreciate spelling and grammar, as well as the art of letter writing, see how many errors you find.