T-shirt season

October 1, 2016

I used to be a big clothes shopper. Before I had kids it was kind of my hobby. I was never a follower of designer brands. I prided myself on good deals from discount chains and fun finds at second-hand vintage.

Even if something didn’t fit quite right, if it was a bargain I’d buy it and take it to a tailor named Nu I’d discovered in the Midwestern city where I spent my twenties.

I loved the challenge of making something awkward look beautiful, something inexpensive look custom made just for me.

When my friends complained that an article of clothing didn’t fit right, I’d nod reassuringly and say, “Don’t worry. I know a guy.”

Nu the tailor wasn’t a guy. She was a lovely elderly woman. But I wasn’t going to miss my chance to say, “I know a guy.”

It’s the only time in my life when I had that kind of insider information.

I am not such a clothes hound anymore. I don’t spend hours searching the racks for deals. If I spend any time at all on shopping, it’s searching for a deal on clothes for my kids.

Most of my own clothes are several years old. I buy neutral things that will go with everything and stay in style for years, because who knows when I’ll get back to the store to shop for myself?

Usually I’m satisfied with this arrangement. My priorities have changed, and I no longer find the pleasure in shopping for myself that I once did.

But every now and then, when my t-shirts start running a bit thin and my sweaters all have snags, I am overcome by the urge to replace them.

This is how I ended up in a large discount chain several weeks back, filling my cart to the brim with season close-out deals.

The changing room attendant gave me a quizzical look as I rolled my teeming cart to the counter.

“How many?” she asked.

“I have no idea,” I said.

She shrugged and said, “Go ahead.”

I didn’t buy everything I tried on, but I admit it was fun to consider my options.

I finished my other shopping and hurried to the checkout. I couldn’t wait to show off my purchases.

My mother-in-law was the first to greet me when I walked in the door. As I hauled my swelling shopping bag full of clothes into the house she said, “Oh my! You’ve been busy!”

I excitedly began pulling out shirt after shirt.

She nodded approvingly, saying things like, “That looks very comfortable!” and “Oh, that looks like you.”

I’d respond, “It really does, doesn’t it!”

When all my purchases were draped over a chair in front of me, my mother-in-law began to giggle.

“Is that it?” She asked.

“That’s it!” I said with a satisfied sigh. But what was so funny?

“It’s just that…”

“What?” I asked, suspicious.

“I’ve never seen someone so excited about a giant stack of t-shirts.”

I looked down at my pile of bargains and laughed. She was right.

There were t-shirts of all colors and styles. There were boat necks and v-necks and scoop necks; short sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, and long sleeves.

There were stripes and embroidery and solids.

And one beige cardigan sweater for good measure, because I’m wild like that.

Maybe someday I’ll once again appreciate a custom vintage jacket or pleated skirt. But at this stage of my life, it’s t-shirt season.

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus and the Sidney (Mont.) Herald on October 1, 2016.