the three-way mirror retail blues

Up from the dripping curb I dash
wet as a muskrat from tail to nose
no weather will stop me, no lack of cash:
there are three occasions for which I need clothes.
I enter the shop with intentions purest
tho smiles are sunny, the outlook's bleak
the clothes I see are closet tourists
they'll visit but stay not even a week

If I see a pretty color
the hemline's coming down.
If I need it one size smaller
my size is not in town.

If the fabric isnt itchy,
if the buttons aren't tin,
then the lining's pure synthetic,
and leaves red spots on my skin.
I need another jacket
Like I need a rich dessert.
Pricing's such a racket,
I can't even find a shirt.

I won't wear orange, bored with taupe and pink
(but thankful for the shades of green this season)
The jewelry is made of plastic and zinc
And I won't buy more stripes without a good reason.
I don't really buy, it feels more like I borrow
then bring things back with cheeks aflame,
bought today, marked down tomorrow -
This is the Retail Walk of Shame
and why I'm fed up with the shopping game.


  1. Awesome post! I love your poetry Fred and I am with you - I'm fed up too.

  2. Southern Belle Ph.D.October 3, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    Excellent, excellent, excellent!!!!! I wish you would write like this every week! I love it!

    I totally agree with the sentiment expressed. My current disappointment is J Crew. I have shopped there much longer than I care to acknowledge and I have really spent the money there. Now I am down to pencil skirts and some items from the Men's line!! I surely hope your writings will find their way to Dear Leader, as you so well annointed him.

  3. I hear you. Nothing great out there for me lately - unless it is priced out of my budget :-(
    Good luck!

  4. Hi, xoxo, this was partly inspired by your post, what happened to you, J.Crew? I've been thinking for a long time that merchandise generally is less appealing, and of lesser quality, everything from clothing to small appliances to bedding. And the variety of choices has shrunk. Spent today's open time sorting and having soulful discussions with tailor about removing shoulder pads from the ancient but still un-pilled....

  5. Hi, SouthernBellePhD, thank you! I too have turned to menswear, and it's making me wonder: do "they" (whoever they are) think they can get away with putting garbage on the shelves because they're selling to women? Hmph. Oh, and I don't think Dear Leader reads. Or is read to. You need an attention span for those activities.

  6. Hi, JulieStyles, it feels so odd to come home from shopping with money...

  7. Haha! Very funny, WFF! Send a copy to the DL, please. :)

  8. "I don't really buy, it feels more like I borrow
    then bring things back with cheeks aflame,
    bought today, marked down tomorrow - "

    Exellent! So true! It's only missing the shame the SA's (try) to impart on us because we 'dare' to return. :)

  9. Hi, Rose, somehow I don't think Dear Leader would get the point.

  10. Hi, IRL, yes, you'd think it was their (personal) money.

  11. I am picky about fit and quality, but I still find enough to put a severe dint in bank account. However narrowing down my selections isn't as hard as it used to be. I look at everything that catches my eye and pick the few items that aren't synthetic, have no pills or pulls (yet), and look somewhat well made. Usually, a very few wearings tells me if I made good decisions.

    Like I said over on the mothership, I have found a few great skirts, silk blouses, shoes and scarfs this year from J Crew and Madewell. I picked up a tweedy skirt from Nordstrom that I adore and have rediscovered Lucky Brand Jeans for "Sweet and Straight" jeans. I bought an amazing trench at Ann Taylor and an older grey stadium cloth coat from eBay. So I am mostly set.

    What I can't find are tees and sweaters that don't suck. How hard is it to make a merino or cashmere sweater that lasts more than one wearing without major pills or a tee that doesn't end up 3 inches shorter after washing? I did get a couple of the merino J Crew Factory sweaters and they have been great. Several other sweaters arrived from variouse stores pilled and others gave up the ghost after one wearing. I am downright unashamed at this point of returning something that looks years old after one wearing.

    I have said to DH several times in the last couple of years that low and mid level goods aren't worth buying and qualily is spotty even in nicer labels.

    Honestly, I think we have done some of this to ourselves (as a population) in prizing quantity over quality and making selections based mainly on whoever sells at the lowest price. It really is sad the most of what is produced is so disposible.

  12. Kitsmommy, love your comment and I think you've made some excellent points. In complete agreement about tees and sweaters, and I too think we've done it to ourselves by continuing to accept and pay for garbage. One problem is that often it's not worth the time to take something back to a store, and it's not worth the money to return it. When I had to return something really awful to One Kings Lane, I called, explained what the problems were, and requested a prepaid return label. They emailed it to me. This might be more difficult when a tee fails after one laundering, and in cases like that I'm always tempted to mail the thing back directly to Dear Leader Himself at 770, with a brief but to-the-point note.

  13. Fred you are a very talented poet!
    I'm with you. I had a similar experience to xoxo when I visited the JCrew in Atlanta this weekend. Normally very exciting for me as a Canuck! My Dad and my husband couldn't believe I walked out of there with a few hair clips and that's all.
    I'm in the process of organizing all of my clothes so I can see everything and so that I don't have to buy anything new, because new these days is suckage that's for sure.
    And yeah why is the men's stuff still great?

  14. Hi, Dani, welcome back and thanks! I've thought for some time that menswear is generally better made, of better quality materials, than womenswear. And as for the available size ranges? Don't get me started! To me the real mystery is why women put up with it. Legal action was taken some years back to make department stores provide the same free alterations to women as they did to men; and there was another legal action regarding cost of laundering cotton shirts (I don't think that one was as successful). And then - and then - nothing.

  15. WFF, I dearly love your prose. If I was an English teacher I would probably feature your works in my class-much better than anything McGraw Hill has to offer. However, since I am merely the chief cook and yardwoman at the near-empty Woodbridge nest,the young masses continue to roil in the misery of Beowulf. With all the political polarization present in the country, dare I suggest suffrage for the lack of quality in women's clothing? I'm seriously considering returning to my college uniform of jeans, white shirts and (the thrift store special) mens jackets. And don't get me started on all the non-leather shoes out there! If God made Zechariah silent because he did not believe the angel Gabriel when he announced the forthcoming birth of his son, John the Baptist, not allowing him to speak until after his son's birth. Perhaps we can look forward to DL's nose growing every time he puts forth those false utterances about JC's OBSESSION with the bottom line, I mean, quality. Maybe I should start writing back to Mickey on the back of those smarmy little cards he sends in my packages....

  16. Hi, David, and thank you! I discussed the ambiguity of women's sizes in all things but those most directly connected to the male interest in this post, and upon reflection, I think I was absolutely right.

    As far as sending anything to Dear Leader, I think stuff would make more of an impression than words. I suggest cashmere fuzzies, hemline and armhole threads, running tights and hole-y tees. That card would make a nice cover letter with just the words "See enclosed."

  17. WFF, I have a few garments I am considering sending back addressed to Dear Leader. I have a pathetically pilled merino cardi in my closet. Should I toss it (I wouldn't send it to Goodwill) or pin a card to it saying, "This poor thing was worn twice" and drop it in the mail?

  18. I'd drop it in the mail. They can tell from the tags how old it is, so your note is just right. And I'd love to know how this turns out.

    BTW, with you on Goodwill. Just because people are down on their luck doesn't mean they have to dress that way. If you decide not to send the sweater to DL, you can always cut it up for stuffing crafts projects.


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