Saturday, August 21, 2010

u-n-i-f-o-r-m

I made the mistake of today of heading down to SoHo for a bit of sale shopping. (A while back, I had written about this ultimate, New York summer sport.)

Well, truth be told, the mistake began on Thursday when I headed for the legendary (but perhaps overrated?) Barney's Warehouse Sale. There used to be queues around the block for this. I took a friend with me for support and some tag-team shopping, and so as it turned out we were heading to both the men's and women's sections. The atmosphere inside is brisk and practical, but not aggressive. No two-people-grab-one-item thing going on. But lots of excuse-me's as people slide a little too close behind you.

And no need for false modesty here. Everyone has come with their sculpted abs and well-toned legs, so if you're a man and need to try on a shirt and happen not to be the t-shirt wearing type (and by large, most men here weren't), then you unpack your 6-pack and get on with the task. Women were a little more modest and far-sighted. Some had worn tight fitting outfits (like leggings and t-shirt) that allowed you to try on outfits on top. Some were far-sighted in another sense - wearing underwear that could withstand public scrutiny (shorts were a popular choice). But even the trial room (note, singular) was just a section cordoned off with a curtain that was fluttering open altogether too often.

Not to pretend I was shocked, or even discomfitted. It's just that no matter how much I am used to these things I'm from India -- there was no way I was going to be trying on any clothes here! (As with many such things, the story about when I updated my sense of fitting room etiquette is from Paris. I was at a sample sale of women's stuff, actually at the Place des Vosges. There were enough men wandering around, shopping with or for a woman. But women seem unperturbed trying on tops and bottoms. Let's just say it was a "I'm not in India anymore" moment.)

Getting back to today's blunder, I was wandering SoHo at a few designers I like. Why I chose Saturday when I could have gone mid-week, I don't know. And why I stepped into Topshop with its pounding music I truly don't know. But I realized that I seemed to be drawn to things some version of which I already had. Not surprising -- we like what we like. But what I really mean is that I seemed to be looking for staples: the kind of item that is stylish and well construct and can last you a decade or two at least, because it evokes exactly that kind of style that will never be out of style, even though it may only periodically be truly in. And this reminded me of my other quixotic quest: to have a uniform. An outfit that is so perfect for me that I can own 10 of everything and wear it day after day. An outfit so precisely me, that people will know it's me without knowing who I am.

Actually, it turns out for a few of my student and early work years, I had almost achieved this. A friend would mention me to another friend, and somehow they would be sure they had seen me wandering around. I can't really fess up to the outfit, but I will say that it wasn't bizarre, although a little unusual. They key was uniformity. I would somehow end up wearing some variation of the outfit five days a week, and I did have about 10 of everything. Of course, in those days, I also used to eat the same dinner every night for six months in a row. It's fair to say that post-student life has made (a little) more normal!

xo

bb

7 comments:

If Jane said...

question is...what did you buy? ;))
(love your writing as always! ;)) i can almost hear your voice)

Jude said...

Haha - well, I happen to have the same question as If Jane above :) (And gosh, Soho sales are DANGEROUS, I'm impressed you even tried any willpower)

Bombay Beauty said...

Jane -- many thanks! So kind!

Jude -- sometimes you risk life and limb for a good cause!

And to answer you both, nothing too exciting. If you're not using the fitting rooms, options are limited... shoes were a bust, but did find a very nice sweater!

bb

sample sale siren said...

i always wear leggings and a tank top whenever i hit one of these sales
-tory

Bombay Beauty said...

sample sale siren - that's smart. lesson learned! bb

shopgirl said...

I've heard of those legendary sales. I've never gone to one but it would be terribly interesting I'm sure. And I'm definitely not comfortable taking off clothes like that. I wonder what it's like to be so free and liberated.

Rambles with Reese

Bombay Beauty said...

Reese - I wonder too! When I'm at sample sales I stick with outerwear! xo bb

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