Kitsgals love shopping for clothes. They know how to mix and match them. They seem to intuitively know not to put plaid, dots and stripes together in the same outfit. They know when you can and can’t wear white pants. They know how to wear a scarf so they don’t look like they are about to stage a robbery. I, however, have always failed miserably at anything connected to the acquiring and the wearing of clothes.
To me, if it is warm and most of the elastic is still there to hold the item somewhat on my body, it is fair game for wearing. Layers are good. Fleece is better. Co-ordination of colours is irrelevant. My lack of fashion sense became very apparent when I agreed to escort a friend’s fourteen year old daughter, Amber, to the mall to go shopping for clothes recently. I had promised my young friend that I would treat her to an outfit as it was her birthday and I was in a generous “I’m helping the youth of Canada” mood.
So last Saturday, we arrived at what I can only describe as nirvana for any teenager – Metrotown. This place is truly consumerism on acid. Two huge malls have been connected together to make Visa balances escalate as soon as you pull into the parking lot.
It had been a long time since I had been to the “teen stores” in a mall. Usually, their blaring music and intense graffiti signage work as a warning to anyone over the age of 17 to stay out. But today, I had an “in” – I had Amber with me which made it okay that I was in those stores. It also appeared that she was my daughter. (Although in my mind, I created a whole back story that I was a obviously a former virginal cheerleader who got knocked up at age 14 by the high school’s hot star football player. After he got the news of my pregnancy, he ran off so that he could get a football scholarship and I was raising my daughter in a trailer by myself. Somehow, this thinking made it all okay.)
This day, Amber and I hit all the hip, young, teen gal stores – Off the Wall, Mariposa, Aritzia, Le Chateau, Jacob, La Senza Girl etc etc. I must admit. I was overwhelmed by the clothes. When did they become so…so…suggestive? And expensive? And skimpy?
When I was growing up in Burns Lake, we would always get our clothes from the local Fields or SAANS stores. Tan Jay wasn’t just a brand for ladies in Phoenix over the age of 60. No, in Burns Lake it was considered designer wear and, as a teen, you wore your fully elasticized purple stretch polyester pants with pride. If we were lucky, once a year my parents would drive my sister and myself to Prince George to buy some jeans from Bootlegger. But those jeans would be our good jeans – appropriate for weddings and funerals only.
Amber begged me to buy her a pair of jeans with the word Juicy written across the butt. I said that would be false advertising as she, at the moment, had nothing juicy going on back there. Next, she saw a t-shirt with two cherries on the front in what I can only describe as unfortunate placement. Didn’t the designer consider that those cherries would land right on a young girl’s nipple area? After that, she swooned over a scrap of fabric that marketed itself as a baby T-shirt. The baby T had an adult price tag of $75. The thought of paying that amount gave me labour pains.
By my negative comments, it soon became apparent to poor Amber that she had made a huge error in her choice of shopping benefactors. I began to feel stressed. I didn’t want Amber returning home with a pile of clothing that made her look like either a lady of the evening or a homeless meth addict…but I did want to her to have a fun day. I tried to make things better by suggesting that we get some jeans at Costco. (I had seen a great deal at Costco the last time I was there – you could buy a three pack of jeans in blue, black and green for only $22.) Unfortunately, this suggestion made Amber cry. Apparently, in the world of teen kitsgals you can’t wear clothing from Costco.
Finally, I gave in. I didn’t want to be uncool Maggie. I wanted to be hip Maggie. And so I agreed that I wouldn’t judge the clothes any more. Whatever she saw next, I would buy. Unfortunately, for me, she saw a Coach wallet. One hundred plus dollars later we left the mall. Amber was thrilled. I was poor and in shock. Life in the teen kitsgal world is very expensive.