What makes a good shopping experience?

Is it just me, or is Macy’s one of the harder department stores to shop in?

Yesterday I went to Macy’s for the first time in a couple of months. I was looking for a pair of casual pants (black, navy, khaki, size 6) to bridge the season-change from summer to fall, something similar to the black crops I’d bought there back in the spring.

Now I’d be the first to admit I have two basic shopping styles:

  • Occasionally, I like to browse. Walk into a store, look over what’s there, pick things up. Touch-and-roll, my sister calls it. I find it relaxing. I get ideas. I rarely spend money. It’s more of a sisterly/girlfriend kind of shopping.
  • More often, I power-shop. Decide beforehand what I want or need, then race from store to store until I find it. At the right price. In the right size and color. Sometimes I spend money; sometimes I don’t. It’s the kind of shopping men generally do.

Anyway, as I was meandering from department to department in Macy’s, I became more and more confused. And frustrated.

Nothing made sense in their “organization” of merchandise. It was like somebody had scooped everything up into a hot air balloon, then opened the bottom and dumped it all out, leaving stuff exactly where it landed.

I found a pair of black dress slacks, size 18, by Style&co. right next to a lime green, size petite, scooter skirt by Karen Scott, for instance.

Okay, that’s just a fluke, I told myself.

But it quickly became obvious the store didn’t arrange things by color, or size, or style, or designer — things most stores do to help out their customers.

Nope, it was like a yard sale. Or an Easter egg hunt.

Even the signage along the walls didn’t help.

Maybe I should just give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe things were haphazardly placed because they were trying to move the summer lines out in preparation for back-to-school and fall. Maybe a bunch of lazy customers had come in, tried stuff on, then failed to put it back in the right place. Maybe disorganization is the new style in merchandising. Maybe it’s Macy’s way of forcing customers to consult the salespeople rather than helping themselves.

Ya think??

Somehow, I’m not convinced. It all comes across as a mess to me. It doesn’t make me want to linger in their store. Or buy anything.

And Sales is really the bottom line, isn’t it?

“But I’ve Always Worn a Small!”

Is it my imagination, or are clothing manufacturers doing their darnedest to make things on the cheap these days?

Take sizing, for instance.

While today’s average-sized woman is a 14, thankfully I’m the same size 6 I’ve been for years. I don’t consider that “Large,” but rarely do I find tops that fit nowadays unless I buy a Large.

Or s-q-u-e-e-z-e into something that makes me look like a tramp or a stuffed sausage.

Manufacturers might say they’re cutting clothing more generously, but they lie. Just go into a store, any store; browse through the racks and try a few things on.

Everything is clingier. Flimsier. And adding Spandex so women will assure themselves they’re “still a size 8” or whatever isn’t fooling anybody.

Tight clothing that shows everything isn’t flattering on anybody and doesn’t make you look thinner.

Yesterday I was going through my closet trying to find something appropriate to wear for a special meeting. I stumbled upon a white, crew-neck, long-sleeved T-shirt I’d bought a few years back but never worn.

Finally the occasion I was “saving” it for had arrived!

I tried it on and Wow! It fit perfectly, had just the right amount of breathing room, was of substantial thickness so my undergarments didn’t show through, and felt soft and smooth, just like this style shirt should.

Out of curiosity, I pulled a similar T-shirt off my shelf. One I’d bought this year, earlier in the season; one I hadn’t worn yet, either.

Same manufacturer, same style, same size, same material, different color.

But the new one felt entirely different. Thinner. Clingier. Cheaper.

If I had to choose which one would last longer, guess which I’d pick?

Yep, the one I’d bought first.

Maybe that’s the idea. Make things so cheap they quickly fall apart and force women to buy new things.

Wonder if men have this same problem?

The fashionable heel, 2010

I got my new issue of Lucky magazine recently and combed it cover to cover in hopes of finding that fashion designers had finally come to their senses and were showing classic, comfortable shoes again.

Sigh, it wasn’t to be.

Check these accidents-waiting-to-happen:

Spiky high heels


My niece is twenty-something and swears by this kind of high heel. It makes her look taller, she says.

I refuse to argue, but if I wanted to look that tall, I’d carry around a ladder with me!

Besides, after having crammed her feet into such high fashion shoes for the past several years, she’s now complaining about foot pain, bunions, and all the other ailments that go with mindless beauty.

Oh, sure, I used to wear high heels, too — back when I was young and mindless.

I had a pair of at-least-three-inch-pumps in every possible color — navy, black, maroon, beige, you-name-it. They were comfortable, they made me look taller and feel more confident, they immediately proclaimed me “off limits” to too-short men, and they were necessary so I didn’t have to re-hem my slacks.

But don’t expect me to wear those things now!

I picked up a pair yesterday at a department store, casually wondering how women get their feet inside, and had not one but two other women volunteer they’d never again wear such spike heels!

“I’d break my neck,” one said.

“My back already hurts,” added another.

The fashionistas are trying to convince us to shed our summertime flip-flops and sneakers, replacing them with more fall-like colors and styles. I understand that. It’s been a tough economy for everybody, and shoe manufacturers aren’t exempt.

But seeing these styles, I can’t help but fall to my knees and thank God I work for myself and don’t have to wear shoes at all if I don’t want to!

Just lookin’ for some shorts

Why is it I always seem to want something nobody’s making the year I want it?

I’m talking about clothes.

If I want a red polo shirt, for instance, the designers aren’t showing red. If I want a zip-up rain jacket, all I can find are snaps.

I went on “a hunt” the other day for some denim bermudas. Not just any pair would do. They had to fit, of course, and just about every pair I tried on looked as if I’d poured myself into them.

Don’t look now, but where are all those super-skinny women? Not in my town, that’s for sure!

Besides fit, what I really wanted was cargo pockets (even one would do!) tucked along the side of the leg. For my cell phone.

How hard can that be?

They make plenty of twill shorts with cargo pockets; they make crops with cute little ties at the leg openings AND cargo pockets.

They make denim skimmers that skim your knee. And denim capris. And crops. And full-length jeans. And short-shorts.

But no denim bermudas.

Finally, I got the idea to check the men’s section.

There were my bermudas, with cargo pockets no less!

But how many women can really wear men’s shorts? If you get the waist to fit, the hips and seat look like the Jones family moved out.

And is the circumference of a man’s leg really that much larger than a woman’s?

No, I’ll pass on that!

So, if you hear of any place that’s selling denim Bermudas with cargo pockets (for women), let me know, OK?

Stretchy jeans?

What’s wrong with today’s jeans manufacturers??

I don’t have research to back this up, but I’m willing to bet jeans are the most popular style of pants now being offered.

They come in a variety of colors (blue being traditional) and materials, with pocket detailing, different leg lengths and widths, belts, and so on.

Go to just about any function, and you’re sure to see jeans.

So why don’t they fit?

It takes me forever to find just the right pair of jeans. I comb through the racks, pulling everything out that’s even remotely my size, and haul them to the dressing room. There, I try on one right after another, rejecting those that fall off me and those that squeeze me so tight I can’t breathe, those with zippers a half-inch long and those with button flies that make it nearly impossible to avoid an “accident” getting to the bathroom in time!

Then, when I’ve finally narrowed down my choices to one or two, I put the “rejects” back and take my selections to the checkout counter.

I learned a long time ago that you have to wash new things. Why, I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with “you never know who’s tried them on before you.” Sure, there’s not a lot of logic in this — what’s the difference between trying something on in the store and wearing it? Maybe it’s like the 3-second rule applied when food falls to the floor — germs don’t “stick” if you snatch it up FAST!!

Washing jeans totally ruins them, I’m convinced. I wash them in cold water, then hang them to dry, so I know they can’t shrink. But have you ever heard of jeans STRETCHING?

Yep, the last pair I bought actually stretched.

They got bigger in the waist, bigger in the hips, bigger in the legs, and longer in the length. You’d have thought I’d bought them for a very tall and wide person — someone the size of a refrigerator — or perhaps I shrunk?

No, my other clothes still fit, so what’s going on?

All that time invested in trying on different pairs, not to mention the money to purchase them, gone.

So I did what any sensible person would do — re-washed them and tossed them in the hot dryer! I measured them every step of the way, so I should be good to go, but who knows ’til they dry and I can re-try them on?

In the meantime, I’ll stick with my tried-and-true tattered pair!

Beating the Black Friday crowds

Show of hands now — how many braved the shoppers (and here, the frigid cold!) to hunt Black Friday bargains during the wee hours of the morning?

Because I stayed up late with My Favorite Domer watching Texas beat A&M on TV last night, I opted to sleep in a bit. Still, once I was up and had a decent breakfast, I hurried to the stores to see what I could find. I didn’t spend much, but I got a great deal on some fuzzy boots I’d been eyeing — best of all, they’re almost as comfy as my moccasins!

I couldn’t help recalling this time several years back, when MFD and I arose in the still-dark, dressed, and drove a half-hour away to a store we don’t have here because their flyer advertised HUGE SALES!

The main thing we were shopping for then was a DVD player, the portable kind, and he had to have one.

When we arrived, the parking lot was nearly full, and easily more than a hundred shoppers (bundled in coats and hats) were lined up in the parking lot, well away from the main doors.

No way were we going to do that!

We started sauntering toward the building — not an easy feat, since those other shoppers kept hollering bad things at us. Ignoring them, we continued and approached the doors, just as the employees were opening.

Of course, we scooted in practically first (those people were really mad by this time!). But hey, nobody said they had to line up in the brr-cold like idiots; there was no cordoning off tape, no signs, no tickets to take, and no security guards.

MFD was quite a bit shorter then, so he led the way, slipping in and out of the aisles like a real pro. The others, of course, had stopped to pick up shopping carts, slowing their progress way down. Inside of fifteen minutes, we’d picked up everything on our list and proceeded to check out.

What a rush! He still talks about it — me, I’m just glad we didn’t get shot. I’d almost rather pay a bit more and shop at my leisure, instead of tangling with uber-intent people over “stuff” neither of us truly needs!


It all started with a simple question: “Do you need anything?”

My Favorite Domer said he needs a pair of shoes. Have you ever tried to buy shoes for a teenager who’s not with you to try them on — or help pick them out? Trust me, you don’t want to!

MFD said he wants tennis shoes. Not the “fashionable” kind with lightweight mesh covering the foot; not the kind with gaudy colors — just “basic” sneakers. The kind that hold up in the cold and wet weather that predominates northern Indiana at this time of year.

I’ll probably end up visiting every shoe store within an hour’s radius, looking for the “perfect pair” of shoes. We moms don’t mind, though, do we?

You know, it’s hard enough finding shoes for myself. For some odd reason, women’s shoes just plain aren’t comfortable. Now, I’m not talking about slippers or sneakers here; I’m referring to dress shoes.

Which idiot designed those pointy-toed stilettoes with 5-inch heels? I ask you, does that kind of shoe look like any woman’s foot you’ve ever seen? And who can walk in those things? If you have to sway when you’re standing to keep your balance and wobble like a drunk when you’re walking, well that’s not my idea of dignity and class!

And how about those flat-soled, sueded, furry boots the kids have all grabbed up this season and last? Sure, they’re cute, but I wonder how practical they are in typical boot-weather of rain and snow? Of course, if you’re living in the Deep South, no problem — wear ’em and be cute!

But even flip-flops aren’t comfortable, not for me anyway. I never could stand having that rubbery thing between my big toe and second toe. It does nothing but chafe and rub blisters; shoot, even the flapping sound those things make when you walk gets annoying after a while!

I used to wear dress shoes — every day — and loved them. I had a closet full of at least 3-inch heels — in all the practical colors — and I never had achy feet when I slipped them off at day’s end. I wore cowboy boots, too — again, with heels and pointed toes; no problems. So when did all this change?

I refuse to blame it on age. There are countless women my age (and older!) who wear these uncomfortable shoes daily and seem to have no issues with them. And really, would the designers, manufacturers, and sellers keep churning out these things if there was no market for them? I don’t think so.

If truth be told, I suspect my changing opinion occurred when I started working for myself. At last, I could wear what I wanted to, when I wanted to! If I wanted to go barefoot, who would know? What freedom!

So most days now, you’ll find me in the most comfortable shoes available — my own feet, some next-to-nothing chocolate-brown moccasins I got at Land’s End, or my sneakers. Only if I have a client meeting outside my office or a funeral to attend will I succomb to the agony of wearing dressy shoes.

After all, if your feet hurt, how can you expect to do your best work??