Monday, August 08, 2005

No thanks, I'm just looking

I'm 36 years old, look exactly my age which means I have a permanent post-baby tummy, wrinkles around my eyes and have very little time for current slutty-girl fashion. Despite this, I still need to venture into clothing stores occasionally, especially when my jeans are so worn out and under pressure that they're threatening to rip out a second bum crack.

Honestly is the best policy, I reminded myself as I nervously entered the Just Jeans store. 'DOOF DOOF WAAA WAAA WAAA DOOF DOOF!' assaulted my ears, and even my throat as the pounding of the dance music overtook me. There was a tap on my shoulder and a girl, aged about 11 and thinner than Paris Hilton mouthed something like "Can I help you?" Considering that I was the only person in the store, I mouthed back: "Could you turn it down?" She feigned deafness and cupped her hand behind her ear to get me to repeat it: "TURN IT D-O-W-N!!" With a sulky flick of her fried blonde hair, she spun on her heel (which was actually pretty impressive, seeing as she was wearing four inch spike heels with only a toe strap to hold them in place) and turned the sound system down one quarter of a decibel.

This attitude didn't faze me however. Being three times her age, I wasn't ready to give up so easily to a human hairpin with raccoon eyeliner. "That's sooo much better," I said, "Now, do you have any jeans that are not hipsters, that a 36 year old woman could wear without revealing her arse or gut when she sits down?" The blank look I got in return suggested not. "Umm, we have some that are a bit higher up on your belly.." she said doubtfully. The pair she handed me had a zip about 5cm long and were covered in cargo pockets around the hip area. Despite this, I tried them on anyway. Boy, was I glad that I'm a regular bikini-line waxer and have heeded my mother's advice that women over thirty should never raise their arms above their heads when they're wearing sleeveless tops because otherwise the world would have been at risk of seeing my map of Tassie...... At least they would have had the potential to see it if my stomach wasn't rolling over the waistband so freely.

The DOOF DOOF was turned up the moment I left the store empty-handed. Two shops down and it was EastCoast's turn. I recited my request in a telephone sales monotone: "Hello, I'm thirty six years old, have a stomach not fit for public consumption and need some jeans that will not show off anything below my navel. What have you got?" They had a pair of 'dirty denims' that weren't promising any sleaze but looked as though they'd been through a round of weekend gardening. My legs were imprisoned like pork sausages but the baggy waistband flapped uselessly around the lower half of my arse. All it needed was a hoop as a belt and I would have been all set to busk in the Mall as Bobo the Gender-Realigned Clown.

Perhaps a department store like Myer would have some more sensible options. No shop assistant came anywhere near me in the designer clothes section, presumably for fear of being contaminated with the Daggy Disease that was so obviously infecting me. At least it left me free to rummage through the racks until I found a pair with a zip that looked as though it could handle the job of holding back the dam that was my stomach. Yep, they looked OK on in the change room. Not crazy about the flarey bit at the ends though but I could live with it. As I peeled them off, the price tag swung around and revealed itself to me - $249 - no flippin' way!

Despondently I waddled down to Haighs chocolates at beehive corner. Just for a look mind you. Well, that was my intention anyway. A facefull of frogs later, I decided to brave Harris Scarfes. Now I know that I should give our long-established bargain department store a go, but I've always been put off by the Harris Scarfes of the not-so-distant past: having to squeeze past the throngs of old ladies fighting over the knitwear on sale in the front of the store andattempting ignore the halitosis of the shoe salesmen at the back of the store just to search in vain for some clothing not made from nylon or polyester.

I took a deep breath, reminded myself of my mission - Don't Come Home Empty Handed Or You're Not A Shopper Worth Her Salt - and went inside. It looked as though it had been through a minor makeover - a sort of botox version over the full face lift type. Not needing to avoid breaking up old ladies in scrums over cardigans or lean back from shoe sellers, I stood warily on the escalator up to the jeans section. There, on the wall were a few wooden shelves with some normal coloured denim jeans. Levis. Normal cut. Enough fabric to ensure that my arse and stomach would remain out of view whatever position I decided to sit, stand or raise my arms in. $70, a darned good price.

One swipe of the credit card and they were mine. Now, what on earth sort of top do I wear with them? The sequined slingshots on offer? The boob tube? A poncho? A skivvy? It was then that I realised my mission had only just begun: I now had to go and fight it out with the old gals in the knitwear section.

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