Saturday, May 25, 2013

My beautiful new wardrobe and an old story

The other day I posted "If they gave degrees in bargain shopping, I'd be a PhD" as my facebook status. I had just come in from scoring some amazing deals. Since I've lost weight most of my clothes don't fit very well and I've had to get some new stuff. But here's the deal, I don't have unlimited funds and I am incredibly cheap. Yeah, it's true. Although I will give you the shirt off my back, it is usually one I found on sale.

On Friday I went for a walk and decided not to take a purse. Just my debit card so I could buy a summer purse at the Goodwill boutique. I am not joking, they really do have a special shop, called Second Debut where they sell the Ferragamos and other fancy brands. On the way I stopped at a shop called Guild. It is a collective of artisans and others where they sell their goods. Everything from dishes with tattoo art to vintage clothing to jewelry. As if by magic I found the 90% off rack of new expensive clothing. I tried on a U2 shirt. It is brown and hand beaded to read 'I STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR'. ($140. reduced to $14.) I also tried on jeans/leggings/I don't know what to call them, in brown stretch ultra suede. They were $262. reduced to $131. and then to $26! Holy moly! They fit and looked good, only they were made for someone with very long legs and had zippers down by the ankles. I was able to turn them up without even going near the zippers. The sales lady told me to just scrunch them. Uh, no.

Today I cut about six inches off the bottom of the pants and hand hemmed them. Those pants look fine and I am very pleased. But now I have these cut off parts to deal with. Nice ultra suede tubes with zippers. I feel like I should do something with them. Maybe save the zippers... And suddenly I wished I could talk to Harriet. She would have some good ideas.

When she was in the nursing home we didn't have much to talk about so I would bring up stories she told in the past. Her father was a tailor and one day a lady came into his shop to have beaded cuffs taken off a suit. Harriet asked if she could have them and made her dolly a beaded outfit. When the woman came back to pick up her suit, Harriet's father called her into the shop. He told her to bring her doll. When the woman saw what she had done, she picked her up and kissed her. These were in the days they lived behind the store, and she was small enough that a fancy lady could pick her up.

I may have heard that story twenty times. Each time she told it her eyes would light up with remembered pleasure. She never did well in school and was held back. I think she was made fun of and school was torture. But she taught herself to knit using her mother's hair pins and could sew at a very young age. By the time she was seventeen she was the top earner at a beauty parlor because they would wait in line for her. She was good and she was quick. It made her feel good to support her family during the Depression. Her father, in his later years looked at her, a career woman, and at his other daughters, who were all champion cleaners, and said that maybe she was the smartest one. After being told she was a dummy for years, those words of recognition were soothing balm. In my opinion it was too little too late but she basked in the memory.

A few things come to mind. Have we told our children they weren't good enough? Have we told them how talented they are? Have we celebrated their differences? Can we recognize our own talents? I'm a terrific shopper. Sure that won't get me very far, or as they used to say in Brooklyn, that and a token will get you on the bus. But it is a talent. It allowed my children to go to school in an upscale suburb looking as well dressed as the rich kids. Now I just wish I knew what to do with these zippered cuffs. Mom, send me some inspiration. (I know this is heresy, maybe I will just throw them away. Shh, don't tell my conscience.)

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