We are having a heatwave here on the coast, in all honesty it is summer, and it’s barely pushing 80 degrees, but here that constitutes a heat wave. It’s not so bad, except one of the really great things about living here is it’s almost always “sweater weather”, and I like sweaters! I am a cardigan wearing fool! This being said, temperatures at 80+ leaves me with a clothing dilemma, everything I own is black or warmish, or both, and while it is nearly August I haven’t gotten around to ordering some summer clothes of the internet, but you know, stuff happens and I postpone, and the finances aren’t all that right now.
But today, I realized I really needed to get out and get a couple light cotton shirts and maybe some capri pants or a light cotton skirt so I can be comfortable. Certainly the stores in my small community could fulfill such a basic need. I decided to start as local as possible so I headed downtown to our local JC Penney, I arrived at 6:04 pm and they were closed. I walked down the street to one of the local consignment shops, it closed at 5:30. I shouldn’t really be surprised, it’s Astoria after all.
I got in the car and headed for our sister city of Warrenton. When we first moved to this area, Warrenton had a few chain stores, Home Depot, Costco, and Fred Meyer (which for those not in this neck of the woods is our local grocery chain, they also sells clothes, furniture, and what not). In just a few years, Warrenton got on the fast track to becoming “Anywhere USA”, they’ve built strip malls, and more strip malls. The planning of these places it absolutely terrible there are blind turns, empty storefronts, and a nearly inaccessible Walgreens. They chopped down large swatches of the beautiful mossy forests and filled in the wetlands that once made driving along Highway 101 a treat for visitors. They cut down forest to construct a brand new building for a Goodwill store. (Am I the only one to think it preposterous to have a brand new building to sell used toasters and stained shirts?) Behind the new giant Costco was an unfunded and closed jail for bad kids, and behind that were the ugliest square box apartments ever built. It’s a train wreck really, but I digress.
Next, I did something I swore I would not do, I walked into one of the stores in one of the strip malls, a place called “Maurices”. I liked the blue double doors, and the girls behind the counter were polite, but as I searched around, my eyes were assaulted with the ugliest clothes I had ever seen! Tops that looked like rags, hideously designed, and the worst feeling, synthetic fabrics I have ever felt. There was not a piece of cotton in the place! I left and went next door to the TJ Maxx, it was hard to even walk through the door, I recall one by my home when I was a teen and it always looked like a cheap fabric bomb had gone off inside.
This store was cavernous, and the clothes were hideous, and again all weird rayon type stretchy fabrics. Not a single cotton shirt or capri pant in the store. Back in the car, it was on to Fred Meyer. Typically Fred Meyer clothes do not return the same from their first wash/dry cycle, or what I like to call “one-wear clothes”, but I thought, this is an emergency and one wear was good enough. To my dismay yet again, all of the clothes were rayon, plus they were either too casual for me – bicycle shorts, or they were the kind of dresses your mean old neighbor lady wears to church. Even the t-shirts were all ill fitting and unflattering in color. I gave up and went home. I’d make do.
Apparently, Fashion has reached another ugly phase, it’s a cycle I’ve seen numerous times throughout my life. It happens periodically, but the classics are usually still always available.
This experience has happened to me before, one time. It was while living in a remote part of Northern Minnesota. I needed a dress for a special event, every piece of clothing in the entire women’s department of Target was rust, mustard yellow, or brown, nothing dressy, lots of puffy vests. And this, after I’d driven some 70 miles each way for the honor. In my experience today, I would have welcomed rust, mustard yellow and brown!
I want to blame someone, but who is at fault? Is it the stores who build in these rural areas. They dump some giant eyesore of a building down, some steel box, and they stock it with everything that never sold at their other, more important locations, and then they wonder why no one shops there, or why people are angry when they do shop there. They say, “Those rubes, they are so ignorant!” Some up and leave, leaving the giant useless box behind. Or, is it local government’s fault? These small towns roll over for the first guy in a nice suit that shows up with a bag of money. Hold out for more! don’t sell your communities out! Make them pay, demand equivalent stock to all of their locations, demand better building designs and structure, tell them you want the store they build in your town to be the one they use in pictures and ads because it is so beautiful, after all they are cashing in on the natural beauty of the area and lack of competition they have. Or is it our fault? I see plenty of young women walking around in the horrible rayon travesties that sell as clothes around here, they never look comfortable and they never look good, but they wear the clothes. Why? Didn’t their parents teach them to be individuals, not to accept less than what they want or deserve, not to jump into the status quo of mediocrity?
It might be time for me to learn how to make my own clothes.