Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

Normally Wednesdays are "Virtual Shopping" days but surprise(!), not this week.

If you're interested in the explanation, please continue reading this paragraph; if you don't give a whit skip to the next which will tell you the ad lib; middle-of-the-night "what am I going to do about Mercredi" hysteria; maybe I could call in sick compromise. The reason we're not going virtual is because Edith spent last weekend -- when we normally work together -- picking thousands of apples destined to be smashed, or whatever the process is, into cider. Since the cider is delicious and we're on her gift list, I had to let her go. Et voila.

What we shall examine today is the shattering of yet another of my illusions -- though this one secretly makes me giddy with delight. Yes, French women do make mistakes, maybe not as many as some of us do, but still. . . They too have never worn, once passionately loved garments gathering dust in their armoires.

Thus the question of the moment: Tell me some of the most egregious shopping errors you've made.

Edith: (I give you my word, this is how the conversation transpired.) "When I make a mistake I usually get rid of it within a year or so. The only things I can think of now are a brown, herringbone pencil skirt I thought was beyond chic when I bought it. Later I decided it was da-dame. One huge miscalculation, though thankfully not expensive because it was on its fourth markdown at Celine, was a pair of red, transparent silk harem pants trimmed in gold. I thought, 'oh, what fun I'll buy them and have an Indian themed dinner party and have everyone dress up appropriately'. I never got around to the party and have never worn the pants.

Btw, what size boots do you wear?" she asked me. "Size 41," I replied. "Zoot." "Why?" I queried. "Because I just bought a pair of black boots one size too large for me so I could wear them with socks in the winter, now they're too big and too small. I wanted to give them to you." 


Françoise: (I know four Françoises. I don't want you to think I'm hitting on the same one for each survey.) "A pair of bottle green velvet pants that were two tight when I bought them and continue to get tighter. I still like them, but I realize I'll never wear them."

Gisele: "Several pairs -- you'd think I would learn -- of pleat front trousers. They make me look huge."

Aurore: "A T-shirt that says, in English, "Shopping Is My Religion" I've passed the age of message T-shirts. I'm right at that point where I'm redefining what is too young and what is da-dame. My other mistakes were a little girl puffy-sleeved blouse and a khaki dress with a ruffle at the bottom, both from Zara and both regrettable. I would like to qualify, when I buy something expensive it is never a compulsive impulse purchase. I think long and hard before I invest."

Alexandra: "Even in the moment when I buy something outside my comfort zone, I know I will never wear it. Unfortunately it hasn't stopped me from 'taking risks' I later regret. This year I bought a plum silk V-neck sleeveless, A-line dress. It's pretty, I wore it once, it's not me. I'll never wear it again. I found a black and white nubby tweed Chanel-like jacket at Zara, brought it home, put it on and decided it made me look frumpy/da-dame. I've never worn it.

My three daughters (23, 21 and 14) and I all wear the same size and they constantly steal my clothes. Not one has gone near any of my mistakes."

Danielle: "I hate to even talk about the worst error I ever made. It's so embarrassing. It was a short, plum, flouncy, lacy, cleavage revealing confection made for an 18-year-old -- I don't know what I was thinking. I gave it to a friend who has an 18-year-old daughter."


Bonjour Madame said...

Well, I'm glad to hear they make mistakes too and that it happens to everyone. My biggest mistake was a top in bright marigold yellow. I cannot tell you how funky it made my skin tone look. I have no clue what I was thinking. I always make mistakes with shoes. I try them on, they feel fine. Then I get them home and wear them and they absolutely kill my feet.

Shelley said...

That is good news, that they aren't perfect after all (and one is even gaining weight!?).

Joking aside, my mistakes are nearly always to do with ruffles, party clothes when I don't party much and summer shoes when I live in a cold wet country.

Is there no way to accessorise a frumpy dress to save it? I know there is no way to make the too-young look more distinquished!

Great post -- in spite of not being what you'd originally planned. Lighten up, Tish -- we're flexible!

Deja Pseu said...

"da-dame?" Never heard that one before. Does it mean "frumpy?"

Glad to know that we're all just human and even women with reputations as the world's most discerning shoppers still have some of those closet bloopers.

My biggest "what was I thinking" moments generally result from trying to copy a look I've seen on someone else that's too radical a departure from my style comfort zone.

Marsi said...

I smiled through this whole post. It is so amusing to know that we Americans are not alone in our shopping goofs. I loved hearing about Edith's gold harem pants and Danielle's jailbait party dress.

I went through a vintage-y/boho sort of phases six years ago when Anthropologie opened a store in town. As you know, I am petite, and I was wearing all of these colors and whorls of fabric. It took me about a year to realize I felt fat! Then I went back to all black, very tailored, and with micro-ruffles or other tiny details. What an easy way to lose, oh, 20 pounds -- visually.

I still like Anthropologie, but never buy their clothes, only their housewares. Some of their clothes you could really look deranged in, even if you had the right build for it.

Thank you for adding "da-dame" to my vocabulary.

Lorrie said...

It's nice to know French women make the same mistakes the rest of us do. My mistakes usually come from a desire to portray an image of myself that isn't really who I am, but have a bit of longing in my heart to experience - sort of like the harem pants. Don't we all want to see ourselves as exotic sometimes?
For years I bought pale clothes that floated away from my body in a mistaken desire to be a Victorian-inspired woman. So not me. Fitted styles and solid colours suit me so much more.

Thanks for this - and for the new vocab - "da-dame" Love it!


Clarity said...

What I have gleaned from that is avoid plum, cleavage-revealing, short and flouncy.

Interesting to know what they share. Thank you Tish, and your comments make me smile, xx.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

It is good to know that I am not alone in making fashion mistakes! I often fantasize about receiving the money back for all of the clothes I regret purchasing over the years- that would be an enormous lump sum!

BigLittleWolf said...

Egregious shopping errors. Mon Dieu, mon Dieu... par ou commencer ?

I almost inhaled my café through my nez...

They are, ma chère, too numerous to specify, though I've done it less - much less in recent years. I will say that one such shopping adventure I recall with a misty eye involved a purchase following dramatic (divorce-induced) weight loss. It was a stunning evening gown, in graduated shades of red, sequined, very simple, plunging neckline, and I looked spectacular in it. (And I never, ever think I look spectacular in anything...)

Furthermore, it was on sale for about $100 (marked way, way down - it was a tiny size but allowed for voluminous PFDs (personal flotation devices)). It had Big Little Loup written all over it.

But I don't have a "gown" sort of life. (In my head, I still imagine that some day I may have a once/year gown sort of life... on ne sait jamais.

Though I bought it, and tried it on several times at home (and even have pictures), about 6 months later I gave it away to a friend who looked quite lovely in it (and she didn't require the 6" heels). She wore it once, she told me.

It was certainly a shopping "mistake" - I know the friend no longer fits it; I suspect she gave it to one of her grown daughters. But I'd love to have it back though would never dare to ask. (A faux-pas, for sure; it's been some years.) Why would I love to have this dress I never did and never would wear out in public?

Then there's the short, fitted black leather skirt... Mince, alors...

For play, of course. A woman needs to play.

Jacqueline said...

I haven't made many mistakes as I'm not very daring with colour. I buy, black, black and .....yes, you've guessed it, black. Sometimes there's a little grey, brown or burgundy thrown in , oh, and white. I really do know my own style (I'm not saying I look wonderful, I just am comfortable with what I like.).
The only mistakes I make is when I'm with friends and they tell me something looks nice and I buy it. I really should just listen to myself. XXXX

La Belette Rouge said...

I am glad to hear that we American women aren't the only ones who make a fashion mistake or two. A comforting and hilarious post.

ELS said...

I bought a browny khaki crinkly-cotton-shot-with-metallic suit - skirt and jacket on an unsupervised shopping trip in the Hague. The jacket is military and cute, the skirt is like a kilt but with wrinkles. What was I thinking? the Colonel took one look and addressed me as Field Marshal Montgomery for the day. Worn the jacket twice, skirt never.

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