Thursday, May 13, 2010

Forever Young?

Today I did something that no self respecting 35-year-old mother should do: I shopped at Forever 21.

Now, in my defense, I will say that forces conspired against me. I stopped at Flatirons Crossing on my home from work to return a few things I recently bought at Old Navy to fill the gap looming ahead of me for summer clothes (that was back when it looked like summer might someday arrive)only to discover in the comfort of my own home that the items in question made me look fat. Seriously. I'm wondering if Old Navy has installed trick "skinny" mirrors--a smart plan for a store that carries short-shorts in size 20. But I digress. I get to the mall and park by Old Navy and head for the closest entrance, which, as it turns out, is not a general mall entrance but takes me directly into Forever 21. Which begs the question: when did this teeny bopper store get big enough to ANCHOR a mall? And how did it happen in Colorado, home of too much fleece? And when did they start a children's line? Because that's what confronts me as soon as I enter the store: the cutest kids clothes this side of Zara. So naturally I remember that I have a store credit here. Seems impossible, I know, but in fact I have shopped at a Forever 21 once before, when Clio was a baby and I got skinny and must have had this crazy notion that I should try to look young again, being a new mother and all. Plus, my friend Liza made me do it.

I shook myself from the grips of little Clio dresses and made my way to Old Navy and took care of business, all the while trying to convince myself that I was going to go back to Forever 21 to use my credit on Clio (I had to go back through the store to get to my car, after all). But still looming ahead of me is that gap in my summer wardrobe! And while there is snow on the ground, buying summer clothes is aspirational! Upon re-entering the store (which I will mention is about the size of a Target and all decorated with white lacquer walls and floors), I threw my delusions to the wind and started picking things off the miles of racks. Come to think of it, that is probably when my delusions began. 90% of the merchandise can immediately be ruled out for obvious reasons of inappropriateness, but even with the 10% remaining there are some important things to remember if, like me, you are a child of the 70s (or prior) and have a child or two of your own. Just in case you fall prey to the initial delusion that you can shop at this store (or Strawberry, or Hot Topic, etc.), I will share the guidelines that I wrote in my head during my 20-minute shopping excursion. You can thank me later.

1) You wear a size large here. What's that? You normally wear a small? Not at Forever 21, you don't.
2) You can not pull off a skirt that short
3) Or a neckline that low
4) Okay, maybe if you were in the early stages of breastfeeding you could wear a neckline that low, but would you want to?
5) Polyester is not a natural fiber
6) Neither is acrylic. Or elastene. Or rayon, or acetate
7) Breathable fabric is good, right?
8) That rise is waaaaaay too low
9) And that one is way too high
10) Sequins? In Denver? With Children?
11) Okay, you can have sequins
12) I draw the line at sequins on animal print silk (yet: fabulous!)
13) You still wear the large, even in tops with a "loose" cut- get over it
14) It is impossible to distinguish the teens who work here from the teens who shop here, and none of them is interested, so give up on that awesome top hanging out of your reach
15) Stop looking wistfully at that top hanging out of your reach! No one cares that you want it
16) Is the "XXL" line their plus size? Then why is the Large still too small?
17) 8 items is plenty for the humiliation that awaits in the fitting room
18) Beeline to the fitting room! Do not stop at the prom dresses you are forced to walk through!
19) Prom dresses are way cuter now than they were in the early 90s
20) And way shorter. Keep walking, old lady
21) Forever?
22) You are twice the age of the girl in the next fitting room stall. At least. Wait- there are two of them telling each other the small fits! You are their COMBINED age. At least.
23) Speed round: the babydoll style makes you look pregnant, that tunic is supposed to be a mini dress, I said no sequins on animal print silk!
24) Wait. What's this? This little jackety sweater is cute. It fits! It looks GOOD!
25) It's $19.90
26) It's a MEDIUM!!!
27) When the girl at the checkout (half your age) asks for your ID,you may initially panic, but don't worry: she's just doing her job (you didn't sign your credit card)
28) You don't ACTUALLY have to be 21 to shop here.
28) But that would be probably be best. For everyone involved.

OH, one lat thing. I used up my credit, so I never need to subject myself to Forever 21 again.
And, I'm wearing my new sweatery jacket, TOMORROW!

Oh, yeah.


Rebecca said...

1) Kids clothes? I'm tempted.
2) Sweater-y jacket thing? Score! (I do believe I have same such item from F21)
3) Conversations overheard in teen-targeted clothing stores are enough to make me want to flee the country (can't give up shopping).

kwongs said...

hilarious! meanwhile, i've been fighting the thought of getting anything eileen fisher, for the opposite reasons.

Unknown said...

i had a similar experience at h&m about 6 months before getting pregnant with noah! great commentary!

Heather Peterson said...

Christine, love that about Eileen Fisher! They're definitely trying to appeal to a younger generation, but I think we're still not there yet. I do see the appeal, though.

melissa said...

Hilarious. I'm still at a loss for where to shop at this current stage. My standby used to be urban outfitters, but now it also seems too young. So there's the older framed Anthropologie, but damn that can get expensive. I need Stacy and Clinton bad. I will however, never attempt Forever 21 after your post :)

Anonymous said...

funny post, heather. we are definitely in a limbo stage between H&M and, say, talbots.

Salt Chunk Mary said...

Some brilliant marketer should come up with Forever 35. Cheaper, hip but tasteful cotton items that won't disintegrate on the first washing (H & M!) and don't make you feel like your Mom (Ann Taylor!).

Your post was hilarious!