I am not a big shopper. Having to find a use for gift cards given to me for Christmas or my birthday, not that I don't appreciate them, bathing suit shopping (UGH! Nightmare all around. I've had the same dadgum suit for four seasons!), or having to find an outfit for a special event, etc. nearly drives me out of my mind. I avoid malls except for our annual Christmas run to buy things we can't find in our small, mountain town, and every few years we "do it right" and go to the Mall of Georgia, making a day of it, like you would a trip to Disney or Universal Studios.
The one time I turn into shopping dawdler is when I am in a kitchen store or specialty food store, I must shamefully admit. And I love quant little towns with little shops and antique stores but still I use my knack for scanning to get myself through each store quickly. I figure that if I have any interest in anything it will pop out at me and it always does.
It was my method of scanning that led me to my quest for the "Prettiest Shirt in the Whole Wide World". It is a running joke in our family that when I spot a blouse or shirt that is just my style I'll say, "Oh look! It's the prettiest shirt in the whole wide world!" If it is of a reasonable price I will buy it to add to the collection of lacy, flowery, crocheted items that fill my closet which I love to layer together over jeans or jeans skirts because it's easy and I don't like to mess around. My wardrobe grows very slowly this way. I don't do seasonal shopping or go on weekend shopping expeditions, just buy a couple of new pieces a year. I have clothes that I still wear from purchases I made ten years ago when, fortunately, the whole Eddie Bauer style started to fade away and you could once again find something slightly decorative in a clothing store. Yes, it's a little fuddy duddy but it's me. :P
Well, this Steampunk convention we just went to had me surrounded by the prettiest things in the whole wide world. Gorgeous handmade, even leather, corsets, flouncy skirts, vests, beautiful layered things, all my style just multiplied in substance and frivolities. Expensive, expensive lavishly decorated pieces of clothing for sale to use as Steampunk costume wear not everyday wear. Still, I was inspired.
Since our hotel was near the Mall of Georgia, we voted as a family to make an afternoon of it on our way out of Atlanta, probably the only trip we would make there for a few years, since it had already been three or four since we had been there as a family.
We totally whimped out, and as always happens when we visit the MOG, we entered the crowded, ridiculously expansive space and remembered that city life and malls just aren't our thing. Give my little family trees, trails, parks, beaches, natural springs and streams, movie theaters even, but you can keep the MOG. It didn't help that since we had just, minutes before, left the hotel filled with "our people" -- fellow Steampunkers, creative thinkers, nerds, astronomy buffs, and sci-fi geeks -- where we had felt very at home in Steampunk and geek clothing and among others dressed the same way, the MOG felt like a foreign country if not the surface of another planet.
Our feet hurt so badly from running around, at least mine did, in Steampunk costumes all weekend that we could barely make it through one tiny section of the mall. I couldn't even do Williams- Sonoma properly, which is usually a rare and appreciated treat for me. We finally went looking for a mall directory so we could stumble to our favorite stores, stop for dinner somewhere, and get our butts back to the mountains where we belonged. We all took what was left of our personal weekend spending allowances and went our seperate ways, me to two stores I like that were blessedly adjacent to each other where I am always able to find "me", and the fellas to GameStop to buy games and gaming equipment, of course.
My goal was to find the Prettiest Shirt in the Whole Wide World like the ones that I had admired for sale at the convention but at a reasonable price, preferably dirt cheap clearance price, in a style I could wear every day. One store had possiblilities but was so crowded with people swarming around that I hobbled out. Another of my favorites was nearby.
Half an hour later, clearance racks scanned through, "me" shirts selected, tried on and laying on the counter in front of the teenaged sales clerk and I was ready to go. A call from my husband let me know that they were finished too. The shirts were so "me" that I had taken a picture in the dressing room of the row of Prettiest Shirts in the Whole Wide World. And aren't they just...the Prettiest Shirts in the Whole Wide World? I thought so. And all for a fraction of just what just one of the Steampunky shirts I loved for sale at the convention would cost, all but one pulled from two ridiculously low priced clearance racks. Woo hoo!
Oh, and the concho belt in the photo was handmade by the partner of my now favorite jeweler, the owner of Throne Jewelry. He made it from old clock parts. I had been wearing it but draped it over the dressing room bar to try on the clothes. I think it looks beautiful with the other, soon to be mine, items on the rack. When I spied it in Throne Jewelry's convention booth, I thought the tag on the belt said, $120 dollars, which to me is a typical boutique, handmade artistic item price, but it was $20. I snagged it and I really love it. This is exactly along the lines of what I used to do, repurposing antique and used items. The fact that she said her partner had been a little disappointed that no one had purchased his belt through the weekend and it still hung beautifully on a towel bar in her booth at the end of the convention, made me even happier to help the local artist. It now hangs in our black and white Steampunky bathroom looking prettier than it ever will tied around my waist.
And this is the silliest, frilliest blog post you will ever read, I guarantee. Giggle.