By the time the salesperson got to me I’d already made my way around the entire Ann Taylor Loft looking for the tall section. I’d wandered past petites thinking it’d be around there — you know, a section for “special sizes” as they call it on the internet. She asked me if she could help.
She was 5’7”. I know because she told me during our brief conversation. Five feet and seven inches, which I guess is technically a few inches above average, but in my mind not really tall at all.
She told me there is no tall section, I’m welcome to shop online. She told me she understood my frustration because she has trouble finding long enough pants too. She said “us tall girls have to stick together.” Oh, okay… thanks, I guess. And thank you for your consideration, mainstream women’s clothing store. I guess I’ll play the online guessing game for the rest of my life or until you change your policies.. whichever comes first.
I fell out of love with shopping that day. It was good. It was necessary. For years I’ve been packing my closets and drawers with piles of clothes that sort of fit well, but not as well as they could if I’d special-ordered them online, I guess. V-neck tees from gap that fit perfectly until one cycle in the dryer, Jeans that are just a little bit too short, but I can play off as cropped because that’s a fashionable thing now, tank tops on tank tops on tank tops. The truth is, I’ve never even been one of those people who really puts a lot of thought into what I wear. In fact, I think more about just filling my closet, which is why its a problem. I’ve been caught up in quantity, not quality and that’s why I’m cutting back. It’s fine.
Fashion is cool. A sartorial passion can play out like an art form, a well-composed type of self expression. Loving clothes can do that. But you know what makes clothes look really good? When they’re on a woman who is genuinely enjoying what she is doing. A sweater knocks it out of the park when it’s the sweater she wore to accept her industry achievement award. A dress looks incredible when it’s the dress she wore while giving the best performance of her life, the one that drew the attention of a record label and got her a contract. That pair of jeans, that came with the kinds of holes that were obviously made in a factory? They weren’t all that cool until they became the pair of jeans she wore while learning to skateboard for the first time, now she rides all over town because its better and more fun than sitting behind the wheel of a car. You can buy every tank top on Earth, but not a darn one of them is cool until you do something in it.