Monday, January 19, 2009

What Not to Wear - Reality Check, anyone?

I will admit that I am not a fashion-conscious person. As a child, I learned pretty quickly that you could get 1 pair of name brand jeans for the entire year or 4 pairs of off-brands that looked just as good. The idea of having to wash a fancy pair of jeans several times a week was more than laughable. My parents had both been raised in situations where money definitely didn't grow on trees. Seeing as how most of my neighbors and friends were in similar situations and clothes, those name brands and fly-by-night fashions were never held to the same lofty heights that someone raised in a city might have experienced.

I live in the Midwest, for crying out loud! The SUBURBS of the Midwest, to be even more blunt.

In the suburbs, jeans and tops are meant for wearing to the grocery store, school, washing the floor, planting flowers.

In the suburbs, our clothing must be able to withstand a jam-packed washing machine after getting finger paints and mac-n-cheese smeared on them.

In the suburbs, our clothing must be found at stores we can actually DRIVE to and afford to not only purchase but also replace in case of red wine and kool-aid stains. (though I don't recommend mixing the wine and kool-aid...)

In the suburbs, "dress clothes" is something you wear OUT, not to do your errands in. And yet, those dressy clothes need to be able to make it through goodbye hugs, frigid weather, and long car rides.

Basically: the typical* Midwest suburban woman needs a wardrobe that is sturdy, affordable and long-lasting.

It is for these reasons that shows such as What Not to Wear really burn my hair.

Let's ignore the fact that most of the time, the crew sneaks into a person's home and TAKES THEIR BELONGINGS. In my book, this is nothing more than breaking and entering with a second charge of burglary. I don't care if my mother let you in! It's not her home!! (I know that sometimes the husband or roommate or someone else who lives in the home lets them in. That's just a case of No Respect for my Privacy and boy are you going to pay the price when the cameras are gone, bucko).

Let's also ignore the fact that the cast is incredibly demeaning and cruel to a person who may have poor fashion sense because, oh, I don't know, they also have a poor self-esteem? Or they don't have $5000 sitting in an account waiting to be spent on only themselves? Perhaps they have things like bills and food and children to pay for? Perhaps they need to buy items on SALE and only 1 at a time, like the rest of the world?? Yeah, let's make fun of someone who isn't as hip and cool as we are, Stacey and Clinton! That doesn't bring me back to my junior high school memories of being teased for not needing a bra or having a weird hairdo! Not at ALL!!

(Like how I "ignored" those facts?)

Instead, let's focus on the actual shopping trip, ok?

Oh joy! The victims always so willing and gung ho to go on a shopping spree. They're always thrilled at the prospect of finding tons and tons of clothing they love. But what kills the show for me Every. Single. Time. is this:

If I don't LIVE in New York City**, and I don't normally SPEND exorbitant amounts of money on clothing for myself, the sticker shock alone would destroy any and ALL fun that a shopping spree would bring.

I don't WANT $100 jeans! I don't WANT fancy pointy-toed shoes that I can't wear to soccer practice without getting my heels stuck in the dirt! I NEED those t-shirts and jeans that I can replace if my children want me to crawl around on the floor in a tent made of sheets. I cannot sit around, refusing to play with my children because I'm worried that my outfit costs more than a week's worth of food does.

You know what I want to see, Stacey and Clinton? I want to see a show where the average person is REALLY helped. Don't bring me to a city to buy clothing that won't fit with my lifestyle. Don't have me purchase things that I have to get dry-cleaned or altered. That doesn't fit in my budget! The reason women have jeans that don't look perfect on them isn't because they can't see the difference. It's because we can't AFFORD to change the inseam/waist/hips/etc. Most of us aren't so vain or wealthy that we spend thousands of dollars on ourselves in 2 YEARS, let alone 2 days.

I would really like to see a REAL What Not To Wear challenge. I'd like to see them outfit a woman such as myself, within means that are truly fathomable. I'm talking $100 for a new wardrobe, not $100 for a new outfit. I need help finding clothing that will flatter me on a daily basis that is PRACTICAL, not ridiculous.

Just to prove that I believe it's possible to outfit a woman with very little money, I present you with my purchases from Saturday. (I had a gift card from Christmas, which is the only reason I went shopping. Hello Budget and 3 Growing Kids!)

Updated with prices even though NO ONE guessed!!

How much did these articles of clothing cost? (the pants are quite nice, actually. My butt rocks in them...)

L - R: $9, $4, $8, $19

And here the dress, shoes and necklace I got for the wedding last October..Any guesses?

Dress: $45 Necklace and matching earrings: $20, Shoes: $15 (but this was a splurge on my part. I spent WAY more than I usually do. So, a dressy outfit that looks FABULOUS
on for $80..)

A spring dress I picked up that same day for no reason other than I didn't have any dresses for casual wear... (You can't see it, but it's a really lovely material...)
Dress: $9.00

Gratuitous cute kid shots. Notice the hat that said kid is wearing. His daddy just bought it (for himself) for a steal...Hat: $5.00 Kid: Priceless

I'm not saying my clothes are quite as fashionable as the ones on the show. But? The idea is that they will last me for quite some time, didn't break the bank (at ALL) and are pieces that make sense for my lifestyle.

*Typical as in, Just Like ME.

** No offense to my NYC friends. I am sure I would stick out like a sore thumb in your neck of the woods just as much as you would in mine...
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