I left my self-esteem in Anthropologie

It was my birthday, and the professor kindly gifted me with an Anthropologie gift card. As consolation for the large number of years I’ve amassed in this game of life.

So I took advantage of his birthday goodwill and went to the mall toute seule. Mentally salivating at the prospect of the beauty and hipness that would soon be mine. If you’ve ever walked past an Anthropologie store, or listened to other people talk about Anthropologie, you will know that their marketing team is simply genius. Genius! They are masters of all things merchandising and presentation and creating enviable spaces. Miraculously appealing to a very broad cross-section of women ranging from tweens to their grandmothers, corporates to creatives.

Textures and fabrics are intertwined to create a feast for the eye. Everything looks cool and beautiful.

Until you walk inside and realize you’re standing in the clothing store equivalent of the Rainforest Cafe. The lush tropical setting…..is actually hollow limb shapes intertwined with timed misters. And, that gorgeous tunic…..is actually a strange-fitting mumu.

I was on a mission to spend my gift card, to find something fun and hip to wear. And many of their items happened to be on sale. I had hit the jackpot, I thought.

I browsed through a rack containing jeans. For whatever reason, I dislike jeans that are sized the ‘European?’ way – 26, 27, 28 etc. Because, in a sale rack, there are only ever 26’s and 27’s. Which tend to look like something I might have been able to fit into…..in the third grade.

I grabbed the largest pair I could find. I was surprised to see a large couple of ‘bells’ hanging on to the bottom of each leg. Apparently the skinny jean has made way for the ultra-flare jean? I’m entirely clueless about what’s hip where denim is concerned. I’m still wearing the jeans my sister and I bought at an Urban Outfitters in Boston….in 2002….or 2003. They are unfashionable and unflattering but they still fit-ish and there are no holes in the knees; a fate that has befallen every other pair of jeans I’ve owned since.

I blame the boys.

Thirty minutes later, I walked into a dressing room with twenty items of clothing. ‘Are you looking for anything in particular?’ the salesgirl asked as she surveyed my potential bounty. Certain I was in the process of a major wardrobe overhaul and about to make her commission-dreams come true.

I started with the jeans. I considered it a bad omen when the button flew off….before I’d even tried on the pair of ultra flairs. But I kept going. After all, I was in a dressing room, and there were no kids hanging on me, insisting they were bored or tired or hungry…

After squeezing myself into the too-small jeans, I concluded I looked….like a shetland pony. Or like a chunky extra in the Mamma Mia version of Dancing Queen. Perhaps if one had Gisele Bundchen-esque thighs, this would have been a perfectly fine look. But alas…..not for me.

And then I tried on some tops: one was a good fit, but I worried people would think I’d snipped up a pair of lace curtains; the other looked like something an old lady would wear at the beach over her swimsuit. With a large straw hat.

There was a cute green skirt and a lovely blue dress. But I have to confess I couldn’t justify the price tags….just because I’d found the items in Anthropologie. I bought a similar dress at Target, once, for $20. Same rayon-polyester blend. Same quality.

I left two and a half hours later with two shirts wrapped carefully in tissue paper, held aloft in a simple white bag with silver lettering.

I skipped the cupcake store and walked directly, briskly, back to the car.

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