In less than two months, Esteemed Husband and I will be winging our way to Belgium for a short conference in Leuven. This is a Big Deal, because we almost never travel. Fortunately, we have found someone nice and efficient to stay with the girls, and Eldest Daughter will be a great co-babysitter as well. So we're going.
I wanted another skirt for the conference, and after shopping fruitlessly on-line, I ordered one from Lilies Apparel, which I have mentioned before. The skirt should be pretty, though I've never ordered a skirt from them before, but I won't see it for a few weeks. Ordering a skirt from Lilies is a little like ordering a book from Lulu. They don't start making the physical item until you order it. This is nice, because I got mine customized for length and waist size. I think it will come in time, though.
It's a bit pricey, and after ordering it I was seized with a sudden qualm: What if unbeknownst to me my local Meijer superstore had in the meanwhile started selling nice women's clothes and had a skirt I could have bought for much less?
But I needn't have worried.
I had to go to Meijer for something else and took a gander at the women's clothing section. With the exception of a few shelves of T-shirts, all the clothes there had been made in strict accordance with standards provided by the Federal Bureau of Ugly Clothes. I'm sure there is such a bureau, and if you doubt it, go look at the women's clothes at a local superstore sometime.
They were absolutely hideous. I'll start with the skirts, because that was what I was shopping for. The only ones I really looked at were the super-long ones, because the only other kind were the super-short ones. Nothing in between, of course. The super-long ones were called "peasant skirts," but any self-respecting peasant woman would, I'm sure, rather wear a garment made out of a cornmeal sack. They were made of something that I believe is called "crinkle cloth," and it looks just like you would think something called "crinkle cloth" would look--like the tissue paper that comes out of a gift bag and has been wadded up and then partially smoothed out again. Somehow this "crinkle" appearance made even white look like a dirty color. The other colors were a flat, dusty black and various shades of industrial sludge. And on top of everything else, they were see-through. How nice: A pseudo-modest skirt so long that it places a woman in danger of falling flat on her face when she walks while at the same time making Superman's X-ray vision superfluous for purposes of seeing through her clothes.
(While I was looking at these skirts, a young woman was wailing over the radio overhead, "I get so emotional, baby!" Over and over. Should she maybe see somebody about her problem?)
On the way to the skirts, I caught sight of the tops. I see these on women all the time. Most of them are what I would call the maternity camisole look, only often they are brown, which isn't a usual camisole color: Exceedingly immodest, thin little straps or a halter top, deep cleavage, and an ugly sort of bunched-up bodice-formation, with a maternity-style loose skirt underneath the bodice to form the rest of the top. Or, for the squeamish among us, there is the "wear your underwear on top of your clothes" look: The foregoing maternity camisole with a still rather plungy T-shirt sewn underneath it.
Who thinks of these things? Who would actually want to wear them? I suppose some women wear them because they can't find the T-shirt shelves or perhaps even because they buy their clothes without thinking. But the clothes are so, so ugly. The ugliness is in some ways even more striking than the immodesty.
So, reluctantly, I tore myself away from the women's clothing section, muttered something under my breath about the emotional girl on the radio, and took myself off home.