My Photo
Location: PDX, United States

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

In the Estrogen Sauna

I went to Goodwill’s 22nd annual Glitter Sale last Saturday. Sparkly clothes and holiday attire are saved all year for this event and there are bargains to be found. I have a friend who got a Vera Wang wedding dress at the sale for $10 a few years ago. She turned around and sold it for $200. I’ve acquired an absurd amount of dresses there and once I bought a fur coat made out of a pony.

I had high hopes for this year, since these days, shopping makes me happier than pretty much anything else in my life. I am pleased to report that this year’s sale was a success for me. I walked away with four vintage cocktail dresses, a couple of shirts, and two pairs of shoes.

This is remarkable when you consider the odds I was up against. First, it’s important to get there right when the doors open. This meant getting up really early on a Saturday after going to be bed really late the night before. Since it was both freezing and raining, I bundled up, which later turned out to be a mistake. Busses were against me; the one I needed only ran on weekdays, and I ended up having to take a bus part way and run the remaining distance. I was twenty minutes late.

The place was already so packed it was difficult to walk. Hundreds of women of all ages and sizes were aggressively shopping as fast as they could, grabbing anything of possible interest. It’s important to grab quickly, and to keep up with the pace of other shoppers. One strategy some shoppers employ is to follow the person who grabs the item they want until they put it down. I met a woman who scored a black velvet coat with a rabbit fur hood. She had followed the woman who found it first for over an hour before she decided she didn’t want it.

I quickly swung into a fast paced survivor-shopping mode, and within five minutes spotted the trophy of my purchases, a black beaded Audrey Hepburn style cocktail dress. Shortly afterwards I ran into A., and I was glad to see her not only because I’d been worried we wouldn’t find each other in the crowd, but also because she’s a better shopper than me. It’s really important to have a partner to shop with when you are surrounded by so much glitter and thousands of bridesmaid dresses. It's disorienting and can alter your perspective. It can become difficult to gage what is tacky and what isn’t, or more importantly, what’s tacky but really cool anyway. A. was hoping to find a strapless dress for me and kept passing potential dresses my way.

I had forgotten to bring a shopping bag, so I began to pile the dresses over one arm. I was already so hot from speed shopping and too many people in one room, I had to take off my coat and carry it in addition to all the dresses I was holding.

It was at about this time the heat, speed and intensity of the sale really began to effect people. I rounded a corner, and was pushed by a woman, who told me to get off her clothes. I looked down and realized the clothes she was speaking of were on the floor, in the middle of a crowded aisle. Not stepping on them would have been impossible. A. and I said passive aggressive things about her in really loud voices when we were a safe distance away from her.

By this point, I was starting to slow down. My arms hurt from carrying too many dresses and a heavy coat. It was time to make some decisions about what to keep and what to discard. We looked for a good place to try on our finds. Part of the charm of the Glitter Sale is the total lack of dressing rooms. People try on clothes wherever they can find the room.

I am of the opinion that this is the reason heterosexual men go to the sale. They may go in the guise of helping their wives and partners shop, but the real reason is to watch women try on sexy dresses. I have a friend who told on a guy doing this a few years ago, and he got kicked out.

Sure enough, a gentleman managed to plant himself in front of us while we tried on maybe 20 dresses between the two of us. We chose to ignore him. Since we couldn’t find a mirror, we had to trust each other to be honest about what looked good and make our purchasing decisions accordingly. Sadly, the strapless dresses didn’t fit, but everything else did, and A. looked spectacular in several long swanky backless dresses. She also bought a tutu and some formal wear for her four year old daughter. It's never too early to develop a love of clothes.

We went back to my place for a champagne brunch and played dress up, which we've been doing for the past twenty eight years. We felt really pleased with ourselves. I hope that this year, we find an occasion to wear at least one of the dresses we bought.




Post a Comment

<< Home