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September 27, 2002: Ready to wear

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Because we're both now in jobs that actually require us to dress up (well, beyond jeans and a nice shirt, that is), we realized that our wardrobes were woefully lacking. Technically we were supposed to be working from home today, but since they shipped all our manuals off to Chicago in preparation for two weeks of intense boot camp, there's little we could do that was work related. Thus we decided that going shopping for work clothes was as close as we could get, and we set off for the mall.

We shopped. Boy did we shop. We hit three stores and tried on an awful lot of things. Here is where I need to point out yet another reason why my husband is cooler than anyone else's. Not only does he not mind going shopping with me (although this may be more likely because I go shopping perhaps twice a year, and then usually only under duress), but he helps me pick stuff out. In fact, he's much better at it than I am. I tracked down some pants and a few tops, but then he wandered around and found even better stuff. I tried to be just as helpful when it was his turn, but the men's department is usually smaller and a bit less bewildering, and there's only so much you can choose from.

The comic strip Cathy has been going on and on for the past few weeks about how the younger generation of women tends to dress very inappropriately for business attire. The latest thread of this has been with the main character - Cathy - going shopping for business clothes and being unable to find anything. Richard and I were getting to the point, reading the strip, where we were thinking that she was kind of dragging this story a bit too long, but then we got to the mall, and I realized, with no small degree of shock, that she is not making this up! 90% of what was offered in all the stores we entered was completely unsuitable for business attire, and that was what was actually displayed under "Career". Thank goodness I only need to worry about business casual and not complete business-suit type attire. I'd be completely out of luck if that were the case.

I am not a fashion plate. I will never be a fashion plate and I never want to be. I like plain, simple clothes that don't go out of style and that I can mix and match. Maybe I'm just out of the loop with this stuff, but I had no idea how impossible this would be to find. It didn't used to be quite this bad, but then admittedly it's been a while since I had to break down and go clothes shopping. So I stood in those stores (major department stores too, not little boutiques) and all I could do was wonder what the heck the designers were thinking? Better yet, what are the store buyers thinking? We are not all of us fresh out of high school ready for our first job where it doesn't matter if the outfits are partially see-through, nor are we all 85 and addicted to floral-print polyester. Surely people my age are enough of a buying force that someone out there could consider a few designs for us that don't have poet sleeves, tassels, 60-flashback embroidery or are woven out of what appears to be macramé cord, don't expose midriffs, don't include bell-bottoms or any form of zipper on the pants leg, and don't involve suede, neon, or anything that could otherwise double as a reflector at night. In other words, business clothes for *women*. One wouldn't think this would be such a hard concept to grasp.

We managed, somehow, to procure enough items for both of us so we'll be set for work, but it took hours. Richard looked a little dazed at the end of the trip. He's never actually *shopped* before - for himself, that is. Oh, a quick trip in to grab one thing and run out, sure, but that's not really shopping. Poor guy. He did wonderfully though, and I never once asked him to hold my purse.

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