July 6, 2009

Tween Living

For the next two weeks, I'm going to be on the West Coast (Los Angeles and Salt Lake City), eating tacos, serving as a movie body double for A-list celebrities, and visiting family. If you happen to live in either of these two cities, maybe we'll run into one another at the park or on a movie set or something. If you see me, please come say hello! I'll be the albino with the kids in mismatched clothes.
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Thank you for voting for me! You rock, as usual. It appears that voting is still open, apparently through today.
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This week, I'm reposting some of my favorite stories from the early days. Since only five people read this blog for the first six months of its existence, it's pretty safe to say that for most of you, this stuff will be new.

Tween Living

Church is always a place of deep soul searching, inspiration, and personal reflection and revelation. My visit last Sunday was no exception. Before one of the meetings, a woman from my congregation approached me with some exciting news. She had been shopping earlier that week at Dress Barn and had found several outfits that had my name written all over them.

This news concerned me for a number of reasons, the least of which was its source: a woman twice my age. What bothered me most about the woman's comment was the fact that it had the words "Dress Barn" in it. I have seen Dress Barns at the mall and in strip malls across the country, but I have never actually been inside one. I'm sure that the clothing that they sell there is perfectly nice, but on principle I refuse to shop at a store whose title is linked by word association to the terms udder, trough, and manure.

Aside from my personal opinions about a specific clothing store, my conversation with the women at church on Sunday got me thinking: at what point in a woman's life does it become advisable, and even mandatory that she shop at a place like Dress Barn? While I can't imagine how signing a credit card slip with the words "Dress Barn" printed across the top doesn't result in the loss of some personal dignity, I have started to realize that the stores that I frequent may very well signal that I've already lost it. Lured by the promise of its moniker, I went to "Forever 21" the other day looking for some summer blouses. I was extremely disturbed to discover, however, that the shirts that fit and looked the best had "L's" and "XL's" stamped onto their collars. When I complained about the "weird sizing" to the store clerk, she broke the news in as tactful a way as a junior college student could that A) I was not 21 B) I did not have the body of one either. The hipless salesgirl didn't need to tell me where I belonged; the parade of stroller-pushing moms rolling furiously toward the clearance rack at Ann Taylor Loft said it for her.


I have been in Ann Taylor Loft enough times to know that it is magical place where size 8's wear 4's and everyone is "petite." The cleanliness, orderliness, and overall classiness of this store and its relatives (Banana Republic, The Limited, etc) is, however, partly what scares me about them. You are what you wear, and I don't know if I'm ready to commit at this point in my life to being a clean, orderly, classy person.

The day that I lay my Charlotte Russe wardrobe to rest will also be the day, I fear, when I agree to not let my hair grow past my shoulders. Like clothing style, hair-length is an irreversible decision. Once you cut it, there's no going back. In fact, once you join the legion of middle-aged women who "go short," you're on the fast track to the Little Orphan Annie perm sported by every grandmother in America. At least that's what I fear. I'm not looking forward to that day, but fortunately, I don't have to make that decision by myself. I've enlisted the help of my twenty-nine- year-old super stylish hairdresser to tell me when I've pushed the teen envelope too far. She says that I have a year or two at most. By then, though, she'll be my age and most likely will be in the midst of her own mid-life crisis. I may not be able to trust her judgment.

It stinks to be a tween.

Originally published 4/2/08

39 comments

marybt said...

haha!

Try Dress Barn, I'll bet you like it. The saleswomen are actually helpful. They are a throwback to the old personal shoppers. And, as I age, that becomes more and more important to me.

RE: Your experience at Rue 21. I went into a Maurice's last summer for the first time. I thought it was a midget store at first. I finally found some shorts that fit (in a size 15!!! *gasp* ). The little 14 year old salesgirl was trying to come up with the same tactful way of saying a 30 year old woman who has recently had a child isn't gonna get her hips or breasts into those clothes!

I'll have to check out this magical Ann Taylor of which you speak.

Kazzy said...

Hee hee. I totally agree about the "barn" thing. Definitely not named by a woman.

I am a size 10 and almost always end up needing an XL when I try to buy blouses at "those" other kinds of stores you mentioned. They are only prepared for girls with not meat on their arms. It is so debilitating.

I will give Anne a try. Thanks!

Helen said...

Guess I've been around your blog for a while.... read this one before :) It's ok though, I love your writing!

maddiesmom220 said...

I may be Forever 21 but my boobs aren't. It's hard to accept the reality of the situation of aging - I'm still trying to think of ways to outsmart myself.

Mindi D said...

That is great! I just went shopping at rue 21 this weekend actually! And yes, i bought clothing 2 sizes bigger than i usually do! Kind of humbling!

Meagan and John said...

wait, about the hair--tomorrow I am suppose to shave my head bald for $2000, are you saying that will make me final step into "the next stage"

lets see, the facts are:

I talk to more drs on the phone then I do my high school buddies (my list of specialists sould fill a dance card)

I have atleast 5 dress barn labels in my closet (all given to me, I too have never stepped foot into a dress barn--but I have wanted to)

I am dreading my birthday in a month (Aug 11) because it will mark yet another year older (I will be a quarter of a century)

I have to pay a teenager to hang out with me so that I can feel hip and young

And to think i was hoping that shaving my head for money was the hip and young thing to do--I guess that just makes me even older

I should have known I was stepping over at the point I had to stop driving at night (now I can't drive at all)

www.lewis4higher.blogspot.com
www.mommysdashboardconfessions.blogspot.com
www.attheanimalhouse.blogspot.com

Taylor Clan said...

The albino with the kids in mismatched clothes? Now people are going to confuse me with you! I'll be so popular! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Jennifer said...

I love the Dress Barn. They have very cool dresses, even though I don't wear dresses but once every six months. I'll be set for five years with the dresses I've bought. You should really try it.

Fe said...

I've been trying to grow my hair out for years .. and it seems like all of my friends cut their hair short in the last trimester of their pregnancies.. I'm determined not to do that. I can't guarantee that I won't cut some off.. but I will not go back shoulder length! First, I hate to be just like everyone else. Secondly, I love my hair long and I want to keep it that way! *sigh* I hope you have been able to keep your youth since you posted this, STAY STRONG!:)

My Precious Peanut Designs said...

Thank you for a Monday morning laugh! You are fabulous as always Jana!

Deanna said...

I Love it. I'm 25, and already, my sweet husband and darling younger sisters are insisting that I quit wearing clothes like our mom or my mother-in-law...They say just because I have two adorable male monsters, ages 3.5 and 1.5 and are expecting me to announce i'm prego any minute (which I'm not, and not going to be any time soon), doesn't mean I can't still shop at the 'fun stores'. Well, as it appears, my size 2 is now a size 12 and running up...It's heck to get old, and i'm not even old enough to say that yet! :)

Thanks for the laughs today! Dress Barn, here we come!

Connie said...

Have you ever had a hand-me-down from your grandmother when you're 25? I have. The sad thing is, I wore it! I obviously wouldn't be bothered with Dress Barn clothes!

Renny said...

Oh Jana, you are so funny. I haven't been able to buy clothes at stores like Charlotte Russe or Forever 21 for about 10 years, and I'm 23, so don't feel bad. I learned at a very young age that apparently it is not normal for a girl to get hips and a chest before she is in college, and even then its questionable.
Target, Old Navy, those are my places of residence, and if I'm feeling rich, the Gap.
PS, swing by Provo while you're here, then I can run into you.

The Girl Next Door said...

Ah yes every 18 months I "go short" and everyone tells me how much younger, more professional I look. And then I panic and think "noooooooo" and I let it grow. And run to forever 21 and charlotte russe for something, anything, that fits. Because Ann Taylor Loft is a staple store....

Tasha said...

Try starting out at a size 12! I'm 25 and can't even shop those stores anymore! My solution has been to boycott buying clothes all together! I give up, when I hit 30 then I can justifiably wear Mom Clothes!

Jenny Georgio-who said...

I just found your blog thrugh the BlogLuxe Awards :) Hilarious! I can see why you are up for the award. Love your blog!!! :) Def a follower now!

cutiepiescustomcreations said...

Hilarious as always! My husband always makes fun of "Dress Barn" when we pass it in the strip mall for the same reason.

Emily's Bloggin' Out!!!! said...

I have the same struggle of do I go classy or sassy???? and the sad thing is I'm only 25!!!!! Bahhhhh I know right!!!! I guess I feel I should dress classier for a woman who has been married for 5 years.... but I'm not willing to give up the fun and sass of the "junior" wear! I guess it's just about finding your own style! Glad you'll be visiting slc hope to see ya around...obviously as an observer though that would be to much fun to miss!!! lol 80) Thanks for your blog I look foward to motherhood.

Amalie said...

:D
I've always wondered if forever 21 has an age cutoff for their patrons...like there is no way I could pass for 21 anymore but am i still allowed in??

CurlyQuinn said...

This was so funny! I must say that I gave in and walked into a Dress Barn store about 2 years ago and haven't looked back. I'm only 26 with 2 children and I still feel in my mind that I could shop at those "hip" stores, but my body screams for mommy clothes. I have REALLY long hair, something I'm not giving up anytime soon. I don't understand why women go short way before they should.
Enjoy your trip!

CountessLaurie said...

I laughed until I read the comments. Then I cried, because I am apparently skewing the age average of your blog (to the old side).

Jennie @ ModernMamaz said...

Someone should open a store that automatically marks their sizes down at least 2 whole sizes. They wouldn't even have to be nice... the clothes would just fly off the shelf!

Jean said...

I've already gotten a dress at the Dress Barn. I'm 28. I accept my fate.

Any chance you're headed to Pasadena? Any chance you stuffed your suitcase full of Wawa soft pretzels before you left? If either of those answers is "yes," then we should hang out and talk about babies and PA. :-)

Sarah said...

Jana,
I have never left a comment before but had to tell you to give Dress Barn a try! I just love that store...I am 36 though...so maybe I think that I look great when folks are giggling behind my back. :) Oh well.
Come to think of it...it was my Mom's idea to go there the first time I went, maybe she has lead me astray?

Inna said...

Oh no! I wear Ann Taylor and have shorter hair... does that mean I should be a grandmother already? By the way, I'm 26, but very mature for my age (hahaha).

Anonymous said...

Jana - I shopped in the Macy's Juniors department for my early round of maternity clothes. And, yes, I took mediums and larges. I am not normally overweight, so it worked for me, and the clothes did not look like maternity clothes at all. I do not blame you for going to the teeny bopper stores. Sometimes you can find great tees or special occasion pieces that don't break the bank.

Have never been in a Dress barn, but I think you just offended your Dress Barn shoppin' readers!

Early Pregnancy Signs said...

Haha! I love your style of writing. I've often wondered the same things myself. At what point does my style officially change? Will this be a natural occurance or one that happens because it's somehow deemed inappropriate for me to dress the way I do now?

ohio12 said...

I read recently a huge thread on a mom's chat room which was titled, "If you shop at Coldwater Creek or J Jill, you have officially given up." I feel old because I can't stand the loud music at Forever 21.

Pam said...

I must confess, unfortunately, to buying a dress from the Dress Barn about 7 years ago when I was desperate for a navy blue dress to wear to my brother-in-law's wedding. I didn't like the dress at all, but it had to do as it was all I could find. What I disliked most was exactly what you described: the correlation between the dress I was wearing with manure, troughs, and udders! Not exactly the best imagery to make one feel beautiful!

heather said...

I love this post. I'm so glad that you are re-posting your old ones.
oH and I totally get the whole buying a size up or two at those other stores. So true.

WonderousWomanRetreat said...

Dear Jana,

Consider to join us for A Wonderous Woman Retreat
on August 13,14,and 15

The Wonderous Woman retreat program leads and encourages every woman to connect to all facets of her purpose and value. Our approach is to create experiential retreats in beautiful venues where you can connect to your mind, body and spirit.

It's easy to take care of everyone else in our lives, but we tend to forget about ourselves.

Twinlinebackers said...

Is it true? I am contemplating a midlife crisis in which I cut my backlength hair. Should I do it? Last time I chopped it to my shoulders was in 6th grade and I'm afraid to ever do it again. Please advise!!!

girlnblack77 said...

I was just talking to family the other day about the shorter-haircut as-you-age thing. Sometimes I feel silly and wrong by keeping my hair well past my shoulders, but then I remember (1) what a bear it is to grow out length or layers, and (2) the wonderful church ladies of my youth who kept waist-length hair and put it up in elegant buns.
I figure you're never too old or young for a tasteful chignon. :)

Sarah said...

I hate shopping exactly because of that "tween" feeling. In style and body proportions. I'm not a hoochie, a twinset, pearls and creased pants hostess, nor am I 55 years old. It seems like there's enough of a gap in between those that something could fill it in. Without going designer.

MamaOtwins+1 said...

I love that you brave the mall - malls and all their bright lights, spinny things and pretty toys scare the begeezes out of me. I stick to Walmart/Target and Kohls, all of which I still shop the juniors sections. I REFUSE to wear the elastic waist pants and have short blue hair :)

Cathie said...

Ah, I love the Loft. Dress Barn isn't bad (well, I've only been there once, and nothing fit) except that I always expect to find clothes heaped in big bins.

TxDayDreamer said...

I love love love your blog!!! I won't go anywhere near a dress barn. I like to stay with Target and Penney's. I love the clothes Penney's has for "young adults" lol, I've found some really nice but still fashionable clothes there that don't make me look like I'm a mommy (which I am) and flatter my curves. I'm not fat but I'm not as skinny as I was...but I'm getting there! As for the hair, it's short but it's layered and highlighted. I can't stand my hair long, it makes me uncomfortable, plus I have a long face so I really can't pull off long hair no matter how much I want it, and if I do grow my hair long, it always gets limp no matter how much I spend at a salon! I love my hair now, but it's not easy to maintain, it takes a bit of work in the mornings but I don't mind. It's worth it!!!

Tanya said...

Ok, but I walked into a Charlotte Russe this past spring (new store to my eyes) and the oh-so-NICE teenager who asked what I was looking for, looked me up and down and after huffing, told me there probably wasn't much for a person like me. I am 29 and have never been considered overweight by anyone but myself. :P

Annie Macias said...

I just discovered your blog, and this post made my day!

I gave birth to my first baby this year and am consequently adjusting to dressing my "mom body." My, how quickly things change...like the size of my rear end, the number of jeans I own that still fit, my confidence level when entering stores with odd-numbered pant sizes...

I hope my dress barn days are farther away than they seem at this point :/