Even if you’ve read only one fashion magazine in your entire life you know that event-driven, last minute clothes shopping is almost as stressful as forgetting your kid is Star of the Week until the night before. I detest last minute shopping, and yet performing under shopping pressure is a necessary life skill for anyone with…well…a life.
It is not surprising or even all that unusual that I found myself a little sweaty and a lot out of time standing amid the happy shopping chaos at the Nordstrom Rack in Factoria on a recent Saturday. In the days before I had exhausted the options at Bellevue Square and had to take my chances on either sitting in traffic to get to the expanded and hipper selection at the Downtown Nordstrom or risk the complete gamble/luck of the draw, of return/clearance merchandise at The Rack. I chose geographic convenience with the bonus possibility of a bargain. My objective was deceptively simple; pink shoes or a new blouse or top suitable for a dressy event.
I don’t usually consider myself either a clotheshorse or a brand snob, instead I am drawn to the same styles and shapes time and again out of sheer relief that the fit is close to right for my body type. But as hard as it is to admit, I do have my prejudices; I am not a fan of celebrity turned designer labels. And for some reason Jessica Simpson has drawn my greatest ire.
Don’t ask me why. What could Jessica Simpson have possibly done to offend me? I haven’t watched her reality shows, I couldn’t identify her music on a bet and I actually felt very sorry for her when John Mayer, the Jackass King of pillow talk, described her as sexual napalm. For a while I thought maybe I resented that her eponymous brand is marked with her actual signature written in the same script used by cheerleaders the world over, while Justin Timberlake and the Olsen twins have tastefully built brands with refreshingly simple pseudonyms; William Rast, Elizabeth and James. But I have had to rule that rationale out because I don’t hold Diane Von Furstenberg’s signature against her and I have even purchased Tory Burch items (when the logo is smaller than a bread plate) without remorse even though she’s a socialite turned designer!
Standing in the shoe aisle at the Nordstrom Rack I realized that my beef with Jessica Simpson is that I keep picking up her merchandise and putting it back when I see the label because I don’t want anyone to suspect (including myself) that I wish to be like or imitate Jessica Simpson. This means that I am the next worst thing to Jessica Simpson, a multi-millionaire businesswoman leading a fashion empire that offers goods in twenty+ market categories, I am a snob.
Actually no, I take that back, I am a recovering snob, because Jessica Simpson and I had a breakthrough moment thanks to a pair of breakneck shoes at a price that didn’t break the bank. It turns out I can be bought. Jessica Simpson bought my love with a decidedly trendy pair of sky high pink sandals with black heels and blue platforms priced at $59.90. After a brief discussion with my conscience and a pep talk for my ankles I limped over to the shoe counter to pick up the other shoe. As I waited, a voice from above informed me that employees in green shirts are available for “on-the-spot check out.” My time was running low, but sadly the woman behind the shoe counter was wearing a yellow shirt. When she delivered the mate to my new sandals I decided to go ahead and ask if I could pay, right then and there….yes!!! She pulled out a little card swiper, and one minute later I smugly sauntered to the front of the store assuming the retail gods were rewarding me for finally opening my heart and my wallet to Jessica Simpson.
But as I approached the registers at the front of the store a feeling of cold dread took over. There was a line at least fifty people long and I had suddenly remembered the jewelry I put on hold as I entered the store; Alexis Bittar hoops, a Judith Jack necklace and Nadri earrings fit for the Queen’s Jubilee (still waiting for my invite) all at 60percent or more off original prices were still on hold under my name and tucked away in the safe behind the front counter waiting for me to checkout.
Time was ticking away, I considered leaving without the jewelry, really there was no way I could stand in line and still get to my event on time. But leaving a bargain behind is painful stuff. I slowly moped towards the parking lot exit; a flash of green caught my eye. I turned to see a retail angel, an employee in a green shirt, just a few feet in front of me. I reached out and whispered, “If I have jewelry on hold behind the counter, would it be wrong to ask you to get it, and then…and then, um…well…check me out right here?” I glanced nervously at the line; my palms were sticky with guilt as I waited for his reply.
“Of course, I’ll be right back!”
Two minutes later I was taking quick anxious breaths near a pillar in the accessories department as my retail angel scanned my purchases. Before he could announce my total I spied, snagged and snuck in one more item…a Marc by Marc Jacobs “Pretty” nylon makeup bag, Fifty percent off. As he tenderly nestled the goods into the bag, two other women nudged in close enough to whisper…”Can we pay here too? Really?” I nodded and smiled brightly and pointed to the sign that read: On the Spot Checkout happy to have partners in what felt like crime.
At home I unpacked the bag and took a closer look at the receipt noting with some chagrin that a certain style perspective is not the only thing I have in common with Jessica Simpson. Her mother Tina has been quoted as saying that Jessica has a genius level IQ. According to the love note at the bottom of my receipt Nordstrom thinks I am pretty damn smart too: “Congratulations! You saved more than you spent. You’re a shopping genius!”