Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Decorate yourself

I went to the semi-annual Rhea Lana children's consignment sale this morning to put an initial dent in the kids' cold weather wardrobes. Normally the sale lasts a week, but this time it's only a few days, so I couldn't pursue my normal strategy of waiting until after the first weekend rush is over.

Although I arrived fifteen minutes after the opening bell, hoping that the midweek opening would limit the number of moms who could spare the time to shop, the parking lot was full. Inside, though, there were so many racks jam-packed with clothes that they all but swallowed up the shoppers and the kids they were toting or pulling. As a savvy long-time customer, I knew to bring a Tub-Trug to fill -- the arms tend to get tired holding stacks of pants, shirts, and sweaters for as long as it takes to get through every rack of the appropriate size.

When I got home with my purchases after school, I told Archer that I had gotten 29 items for $128.50. "How much did each item cost?" I asked. "That's going to have a remainder," he announced, before disappearing to tap it out on his calculator. "Each item cost four dollars and forty-three cents," he said when he came back. I confided in Noel that if you took out the red and gold princess dress I got Cady Gray for Halloween, which cost $10, that average would be even less.

It's strange to pick out clothes for your children, particularly when you've quietly discouraged the development of any particular style or color preferences on their parts. You're left with what you would like to see them in. Stripes? (Yes.) Pink? (Acceptable if small doses.) Ponchos? (If Cady Gray wants a poncho, I'll knit her one. Until then, no.) Corduroy? (With some trepidation.)

Essentially, you're decorating your children. This is fairly easy to live with when they're babies. The older they get, the weirder you feel about imposing your taste on them.

A few days ago I bought the justly-celebrated second Mason-Dixon Knitting book, Mason-Dixon Knitting: Outside The Lines. These ladies feel about clothes the way I do: "nothing too out there." Anything that will be wearable fifteen years from now has a place in my closest. A skirt with an interesting silhouette? An asymmetrical top? Too now! Too timely! Better boring and safe than exciting but possibly momentary.

But they, and I, are trying. One chapter is titled "Decorate Yourself." Now there's a concept. Not just cover yourself, not just fade into the background. Open the closet door and think not "what will function?" but "which of my many fabulous looks will adorn me today?"

Luckily, for now I can get Cady Gray excited about the new clothes I got for her just by telling her how much I love them. I wonder when the day will come when she will open her closet and think about how she wants to decorate herself?

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