You know that feeling when you put on a new dress for the first time, look in the mirror, and think “Wow! I look smokin’.”
That’s an amazing feeling. Am I right ladies? Except when it’s the only dress you packed in your gym bag and you are now at the gym getting ready for work. And you know that under no circumstances can you walk into your office looking like a wannabe J-Lo. None. If I worked in LA or Miami, sure – in fact, this dress would have looked matronly there. But the legal profession in Chicago is the last bastion of conservative “fashion” – wearing this dress to the office would be the equivalent of wearing Daisy Dukes in Saudi.
As I walked out of the gym towards my office, frantically weighing my nonexistent options, I tried to rationalize – “maybe the mirrors at the gym are skewed to make you look better-” but my worst fears were confirmed when the homeless amputee at the corner screamed “Good morning sexy!” at me and then proceeded to inform all other passersby of my inherent sexiness. Granted, most homeless guys are pretty loose with the compliments and we love them for it, but I pass this guy every day and let’s just say his enthusiasm today was off the charts.
I had never been so desperate for a shapeless cardigan in my life. But the Loop isn’t exactly a shopping destination, and even if it were, retail stores are not typically open at 7:45 am. I looked around to see if I could literally buy the shirt off someone’s back but naturally, the only woman around was a CTA bus driver on a smoke break. I just didn’t know how I could casually sport that uniform all day at the office. I had resigned myself to buying a CHICAGO! sweatshirt from the corner Walgreens when somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, a vague image of an Ann Taylor Loft appeared. A quick Google search revealed the joyous news that yes, there was a store a few blocks from my office AND they opened at 8:00 am!!!!!
I have never shopped there, so perhaps I had an atypical experience when I walked in the door at 8:00 am after waiting on the street corner for it to open (those 5 minutes further confirmed that the look I was sporting was wildly inappropriate for a Tuesday morning at the office – I’m sure most people assumed I was doing a particularly awful walk of shame, corporate version). As I walked in the door with the eager smile plastered on my face that I typically reserve for the gates of Disney World, my euphoria immediately dispersed as the very harried shopkeeper (do people use that term or am I too Dickens today) screamed “We are not open!!!” I steeled myself for the negotiation process that was to follow since I was, under no circumstances, leaving without a cardigan handcrafted in China, but thankfully my fellow shopper who had scooted in behind me screamed back, “It’s 8:00 am!” and just like that, I was in the majority.
I don’t know why, but I had imagined Ann Taylor Loft as a mecca of cardigans, much akin to walking into a Persian rug shop where there are literally stacks and stacks in every size and color. Maybe on the shoulder seasons, this image is real – but in June, there’s nothing but sleeveless as far as the eye can see. While I hadn’t planned on buying a neon floral shift dress, it looked like this was how things were shaping up. Beggars can’t be choosers…And then I saw it – a dusty corner. Extra extra clearance. With one lonely navy and white cardigan. In my size.
Never mind that my shoes were black and I have a thing about black and navy not being friends. Never mind that I have an extreme fear of infestation by little varmints like bed bugs and lice so I never ever wear something from a store without washing it first. I flung that beauty over my shoulders and voila – I was transformed into boxy and boring and it never felt so good.
Although my friend declared when I walked into the office that I looked very Olivia Pope.
Everyone needs friends like that.
While I admit that I am one of those incredibly annoying I-try-to-only-buy-things-made-in-the-USA people, sometimes an import will save the day. And I’m not hating on Ann Taylor Loft – I’m positive that on all other days, it is a lovely and luxe shopping experience where you are greeted with flutes of champagne.
Until next time,