Dressing the Part

Pumpkins started sprouting everywhere. They were joined by ghosts and goblins. It happens every fall, the leaves start to turn brilliant shades and blow around carelessly, the grocers suddenly have carving pumpkins up front, the ladies magazines feature comforting food, and I take stock of my jackets.

The fall jacket, the necessary wardrobe piece designed to wear when chilly but not cold. It can’t be too bright because then it would be appropriate ¬†for spring. Darker tones foreshadow the cloudier skies ahead. I was fascinated with the myriad types of jackets students wore to class. They identified the tribe the student belonged to. Bomber style jackets jackets were still in style but noted the wearer’s allegiance toward an edgier motorcycle look. Men’s suit jackets were more colorful these days and a stylish square poked out of top pockets. For women, swingier styles still covered pencil thin skirts and a useful trenchcoat filled in on rainy days. My variety of jackets didn’t scream student and I felt matronly somedays. I yearned to be a cool kid.

I decided to do some shopping. Generally speaking, most department stores are segmented into areas to help you purchase exactly what you need for each member of the family. Steve didn’t love shopping, so I usually just replaced his shirts, ties and socks with new ones. When he needed a new suit, it was more of an event. The tailor had to measure, pinch, tuck and mark a jacket and pants and after alterations, the suit could be picked up and worn. This took some time, so suits were usually ordered with a longer lead time before an event. I personally loved shopping in the men’s department and spent lots of time considering the options before buying the items I knew Steve would wear. Nothing too flashy was the goal.

I wandered around the men’s department gently touching the fabrics and looking for something to catch my attention. As I turned toward the main aisle, my eyes found two large round displays with jackets. A veritable cornucopia of choices. I looked around to see how many people were in the department, slinging my handbag over my arm and started looking at the jackets one by one. Would I fit into a medium? Maybe a small? There was no way to tell but to be brave and try one on. I found one I liked and dropped my bag on the floor, quickly taking the jacket off the hanger to slip on. I couldn’t use the men’s fitting room and the ladies department was on a different floor. The jacket felt a little awkward but the bottom fell right below my waist. I liked that. I hung that one back up and kept looking. As I was checking out the selection, a salesman came by to ask if I required help. I politely turned him down in too high a voice and spoke so quickly I advertised my discomfort. He gave me a sideways glance and moved to a nearby table to pretend to remove lint from piles of sweaters. I must have kicked his shoplifter radar into gear.

Eventually I found a jacket I really liked in a size that looked right. I quickly held it up in front of me to check it out but felt funny trying it on. Luckily, just at that moment, the salesman was asked to help another customer. I crouched over and slid the jacket on and while adjusting the sleeves, I could feel someone come up behind me. I stood up and turned to see the salesman right in front of me with an elderly customer by his side. The customer looked at me and smiled and I just stood still staring at her. To further make her point, the lady leaned in to tell me that she understood because she preferred to wear men’s boxers because they are cooler than ladies panties. The salesman looked from my face to hers and shook his head. Modern day women must be quite a shock sometimes.

A few minutes later, the salesman kindly and quietly completed my purchase for my new jacket. Cook kids, here I come.

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