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I Need Some New Apparel!

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I am now at the age where the cute clothing stores for the early 20s set no longer work -- and I'm bummed.

woman trying clothes

Jennifer Ginsberg: I recently went to one of my favorite stores (American Apparel) to do some shopping. I love American Apparel -- the unadorned super-soft cotton tees are not only comfortable, but cute and cheap. Additionally, the clothes are made in the U.S. and the company employs fair labor practices. Yes, the average age of their clientele is 17 years old ... but if you subtract my emotional age from my actual age and average it with the age I am in my own mind, I actually fit right in!

When I walked in the other day, the mannequin was wearing a flowy, off-the-shoulder dress with a cinch belt over black leggings. "I can pull this off," I thought, momentarily forgetting my true age (35) and lifestyle (either sitting on the floor with my toddler, or sprawled on my bed writing in glorified pajamas). 

After I tried on the outfit, the first thing that struck me was that the dress was so sheer and drapey, my entire bra was exposed. I called over the retail clerk -- a young Asian man with purple hair who was wearing sparkly silver tights, a skin-tight belly shirt, and red Converse sneakers. His hair was wrapped in a vintage scarf à la Nicole Richie, and his eyeliner and lip gloss were expertly applied. He actually looked kind of cute -- that is if he was a 3-year-old girl playing dress-up! But I desperately sought his guidance because he was all I had at the moment.

I looked so many shades of wrong, but was determined to make it work. I tugged a bit at the dress to try to cover up my bra and asked him the only question I could come up with: "Is it supposed to be see-through?"

He looked at me like I was semi-retarded and rolled his eyes. "You can wear a little cami underneath -- but it's better not to. Sheer is in," he said, as he draped the dress completely off my shoulder.

"But my bra is showing!" I exclaimed, feeling about a thousand years old.

"That's the look!" he chastised. "Just get a cuter bra and let it show a little." I thought my bra was cute.

I looked at the mannequin, who had clearly never given birth, or if she had, she was one of those annoying chicks who only gained 15 pounds in her entire pregnancy. She didn't even need a bra! She rocked the ensemble -- her perfect, hard nipple-less breasts looked smooth and flawless under the translucent dress. The outfit looked perfect on her -- flowy and effortless.

I looked at myself -- bra straps twisted over my shoulders and the dress draping and gaping in the most unflattering way. The elastic waistband of the leggings hit me in the absolute worst spot on my belly, and that, coupled with the sheer dress, only accentuated my doughy muffin top. 

I was a 30-something mom who was desperately trying to regain a piece of who I no longer was.

Perhaps someone should create a mommy mannequin with a realistic body. Because no matter how thin I get, I will always sport a muffin top. Why don't mannequins EVER have a muffin top? Or floppy boobs that have endured two pregnancies and the constant sucking and pulling of nursing babies? Because if mannequins had saggy boobs and a muffin top, it would make it so much easier to gauge how something looks without having to go through the humiliation of trying it on.

Maybe it's time to throw in the towel and admit that I am officially too old for stores like American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. But that kind of admission, especially in this town, feels like defeat. So most days I walk out of my home, teetering the line of cute and trendy versus trying too hard, with a hint of desperation.

And at my age, I should certainly know better than to ask the manorexic dude who works at American Apparel for fashion advice!

next: Police: Iowa Mail Carrier Found Drunk, Eating Leftovers
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 19, 2009, 5:56 AM

Love the last line! I am also hitting that stage, but can’t seem to part with all my old, cute high school clothes.

Andrea November 19, 2009, 9:56 AM

I am soooo there, im 33 and i realized it a little while back, and once i accepted it i started feeling better about it. I remeber the first time it happened, i realized that all the clothes in the junior dept were just not working with me, so i decided (agghhh) with a mad heart =) to go the the ladies dept and boom i found clothes that fit correctly, and looked better than me sqeezing my but into juniors clothes. it hurt, it hurt real bad but the next time i went shopping i went straight to the ladies dept and voila, outfit the first try, and then i accepted it!!!

Anonymous November 19, 2009, 10:51 AM

First of all your wrong
just because something is made in the US does not mean its made by fair labor.
Did you know in LA ALONE there are 4500 sweatshops. your probably wondering yeah? how do you know this. From a life time of fighting against child labor. The only clothes that are manufactured fairly have a label on the marking so. American apparel does not have this label. You are stupid

Heather November 20, 2009, 11:58 AM

This piece rocks! Thanks for the honesty, for having the guts to be self-deprecating, and for the laughs. Your description of the manorexic dude is classic—I know him, we all do! Your body is beautiful and most important, think of what you did to earn it—brought beautiful children into the world, beautiful lady:)!

jan March 10, 2010, 1:23 PM

Great article! Yes you may not be able to wear those shorty shorts, or short, short dresses, but don’t forget you can still pull off cute and stylish looks.

Golf Clubs September 14, 2010, 10:38 AM

In related news, after his press conference admitting his cheating, Tiger Woods began apologizing to the women with whom he had affairs. Twelve hours later they say he barely scratched the surface.

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