shirt tales: the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la, and some new translations

In an earlier post I described my efforts to order and receive a flowered Liberty print shirt from J.Crew. After months of stalking it, pouncing, then losing it, I wound up with six or seven confirmed orders in a variety of sizes. Every single order was wait-listed, although all of the orders were marked "releasable." From this I deduce the meaning of  "released" and "releasable" in Crewlish. These words describe phases of the credit verification that takes place before an order is processed. Or even looked at.
In a dimly-remembered but better economy (in a galaxy far, far away), there were lunches and dinners given by banks, large corporations, and civic or charitable organizations, and an inevitable feature of these was the Door Prizes. You were given a numbered ticket when you arrived, or you found it under your plate or on a program insert. At some point during the festivities, there would be drawings. If your number was called, you'd leave with anything from a bottle of wine to a car. Somehow, I would know when my seat number or ticket number was going to be called, although my winnings were never as astounding as a car. I did win things like these: small crystal ice bucket, carry-on suitcase, upholstered footstool, silver pen, another suitcase, gift certificate for one large pizza... well, I'm going on about this to let you know that there have been a number of times in my life when I've just sensed that I was going to receive something. I did not have that feeling about any of the shirt orders.
Of course there came a point when the stalking and ordering had to stop, for many reasons. I was afraid that I might actually receive more than one, I felt that I was out of shirt karma, I was afraid I'd be out of the country and miss an email asking me if I wanted to keep waiting... and it was just getting too complicated to keep track of these orders. Plus I felt embarrassed.
The "wait-listed until" date was April 6. The day came. The day went. No shirt(s). On April 8 I received two email shipping notifications. Did I mention that I'd wound up ordering a random selection of sizes? The ones that were on their way - well, would be on their way in 3 or 4 days since "Your order has been shipped" is Crewlish for "We have printed a label, and at some point it will be put on a package and picked up by UPS, probably not immediately." Anyway, the ones that were on their way were the two smallest sizes, but that was something I planned to deal with upon arrival. As we know, size tag and actual size are not necessarily the same thing. I figured 7 shirts gave me at least 21 chances of finding one that fit, and one was all I needed. I made a vow that anything that didn't fit would go back immediately, no neurotic holding on, I'd rush to let some other deserving soul pounce on it... but, I must admit, I gave myself an "out" for items that fit but not perfectly.

Another two notifications arrived, then two more. Then the UPS tracking thing showed that they were actually underway, and then the first shirt arrived! The print was just as clear and lovely as I had hoped, the shirt itself was way too small. Now come the part where I explain that on my way to or from - well, almost anything, I pass one J.Crew store or another, sometimes two or three, and so I can return items in person, meaning no shipping charges on returns and the money goes back on the card almost immediately. The young man at the register was pleased to see the shirt and offered sympathy on the fit. "You know," he said, "a lot of people are looking for this shirt." I looked sad. "I know," I said.

Three or four shirts later, I had one that fit very well, and one that fit but was snugger. I opted to keep the one with the looser fit. I returned one to a store near my apartment, and the other two to the Soho store. It occurred to me that I should try to cancel the other orders. This was not possible. Two more arrived. Well, since they're here anyhow, I reasoned, I tried them on. Naturally, one fit even better than the one I had planned to keep. It was a matter of shoulder seam placement and a minimal difference in the location of buttons. The fashionista in me thinks this is a result of mass production computerized cutting, the same reason why in a stack of hats produced offshore that are supposed to be "one size," there will be smaller hats at the bottom and larger hats at the top. Or vice versa. Anyway, in a stack of fabric lengths that are going to be cut by a cutting tool into the pieces for, say, a size 6, the slightest tilt in the stack will result in minimal differences on the edges of each piece. So add 1/64 of an inch on each side of the back and on both sides of each front piece... I learned this from a woman in the fitting room who was making her daughter try on four different size 2s of the same dress.

I stealthily returned the rest of the shirts to different stores, keeping the one that fit best. Loves: the little collar (club collar? I think there's a name for it), the placket, the cuffs, the fabric - nice texture. And of course, the print. Did I mention the fitting in the back? Love it.
The folding and re-wrapping of shirts and coming and going of packages attracted some unwanted attention. "It's spring, I'm getting a flowered shirt," I said.
"Oh," said he. "I thought you had one."
Right, top to bottom: from the Target collaboration; from the Liberty store in London; from Ralph Lauren; and a vintage (late 70's) Cacharel.
Left, the J.Crew Margaret Annie. They're growing like weeds!


  1. Adventure in ordering and returning! I love the "don't you have one?" question asked my confused men around the world. My DH often asks me the same - of course I have a dress, a pair of sandals and a handbag-(keep going) so why do I need another, and another, and perhaps another? He'll never understand.

  2. Too funny! I love this print, but when I received it, I sadly recalled that I look lousy in button-ups (am tiny and busty and the amount of reworking involved is too much/too expensive for me (would need to be a size 10 that would then have shoulders and waist sized down to a size 6. So back it went. I wish there had been a scarf! Or a nightie!

  3. I do believe I like the pattern on your newest one the best.

  4. How exhausting for you! I'm tired just reading about it!
    All the deliveries would cause a commotion which of course we like to avoid.
    Well at least you have one perfectly fitted to add to your gorgeous collection. Interesting information too on the variation of fit within a size due to the machine cutting. This is why tailoring is always an excellent idea!

  5. Hi, JulieStyles, yes, that question is generally asked by the same guys who need help deciding whether a given event or restaurant requires a jacket.

  6. Hi, WMM, maybe one of the shirts that came to me had visited you first?

  7. Hi, Dani! Fortunately the shirts arrived over the course of a week or so, in envelopes not boxes, so the doormen took it in stride. And I don't think I'll be "questing" like this again. Or at least not for a while. The "stealth returning" started to get to me.

  8. Congratulations on receiving your shirt(s), and finding one that fits you perfectly! Was crossing my bloggy fingers for you, that your quest will be fulfilled, and here you are! So, I lost count, how many shirts did you order and receive in total? I think that's hilarious you went to different JC's to return them! :D

  9. Hi, Closet Crisis, thanks! I received a total of 7 shirts. There were 8 orders, one just kind of vanished. I kept one. The returning didn't start out to be a stealth project, but after the first couple, it just happened, and on balance was probably a good idea. Sometimes the staff can be a little suspicious of "serial returners," and what they'd make of a serial returner of the same item... Anyway I have my short and thank goodness I like it. Whew.

  10. darn it- I thought I was about to win a door prize! :)

    I'm so happy this epic tale ended happily! And I always prefer to try on a few of the same size when I'm ready to buy- there are always variances (just like when you buy multiple colours inevitably one never gets worn, because it doesn't fit the same!)

  11. Hi, Rose, yes, it has a better ring than Crewlian, but double-talk ny any other name...

  12. Hi, TDGD, I'm so glad it's not just me!

  13. Not sure I've done 7 but I've certainly ordered multiples trying to find "the one." Hate it when one fits best but prefer the pattern/color placement or the collar construction of another.

  14. Hi, tiffany rose, fortunately those weren't issues for me this time, but yes, I've ordered duplicate items "just to be sure." And yes, sometimes I've loved something so much I've wound up keeping both!

  15. I am so glad you finally got your shirt. Isn't it just gorgeous in person? This one is totally worth the price, IMO.

  16. Thabks, shopalot! and having only recently checked out Liberty's in London, I'm happy that this pattern is only at JC. At least this spring it is.


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