I've always been a picky shopper. Even when I have been experimenting and going in the wrong direction I was still picky. I know what I want when I walk into a store. I know what I like. And I have some very strong opinions about colour and colour combinations. I probably irritate the store clerks, particularly those who just want to sell me something and don't understand why I care what the fabric is or actually have a specific colour in mind.
Recently I went into a store in the mall, hoping to find long sleeved tee shirts on sale at the end of the cool season. Usually I prefer to look on my own and my automatic answer to 'Can I help you?' is 'No, thanks.' Often I walk into a store, do a very quick march to the back wall and out again. I can tell at a glance that they are only selling red, black and teal this year or basically whatever the current trends are. I might be looking for skirts and they obviously don't have any, or blouses or sweaters.
If I do request some help the conversation goes something like this.
"Can I help you find anything?"
"Sure, thanks. I'm looking for long sleeved tee shirts."
"Oh, okay we might have some of those." Leads me to back of the store and hauls something off a rack.
"Oh, no thanks I don't wear black."
At this statement I nearly always get an odd stare. Then they haul out something white because if you don't wear black it must mean you want the very opposite.
"No, thanks I don't wear white either but cream would be okay. No wait, actually I want colours but I am looking for warm colours."
I suspect she has no idea what I mean by that so I add, "Earth tones. You know, Autumn colours." I laugh a little. "Yeah, I know they tend to show up in that season. I want them year round." Did I hear a sigh?
She leads me to something in olive green. It's soft and draped looking. Promising. But On feeling it I can tell it will be a rayon-spandex blend. I decided to try it on anyhow. Then she takes me to some of the new Spring items. There is a short sleeved tee shirt, very pretty. It does have warm colours on it in a lovely floral but it's on a pure white background. It's not the salesgirl's fault that this is so but I want to rant. Don't the makers of fabric understand anything about colour? Why put warm colours on a cool background? I know, I know, this will work out okay for the majority of people who are neutral leaning something. The white is not stark, snow white. It's just off white enough for those neutral leaning warm to wear it. This happens with black too. Warm colours on a black background will work for Dark Autumns and some Bright Springs. It doesn't work for me. I've tried and even though I will often fall for these patterns on white or black backgrounds they compete with my face. Too busy, too much contrast, too white, too black.
I try the two tops on. Meh. They are okay. I suit medium olive green well enough but I know what my cat's claws are going to do to this fabric and I don't love it. It's thirty dollars and it's fast fashion and I don't love it. I consider the pattern on white. It's really pretty. I want to love it. I do almost love it on the hanger, if only that background were cream it would be irresistible. But it's not and on me it's meh again. I get out my two True Autumn colour fans from my purse and hold them against the patterned tee shirt. The sales girl calls out to ask if I am doing okay and I call back that I am just fine thanks.
Yes, the colours in the pattern are perfect. No, I cannot convince myself that the background is cream. Maybe off white if I squint. I compare it to the white of another shopping bag I am carrying. Okay, it's not stark white but it's still too white for me. I have discovered that a pale cream reads as white on me, but this is not pale cream.
I put my own shirt back on, struggle into my coat and wrestle with the cross-body strap of my purse. I nearly step on my glasses which have fallen on the floor of the change room. I walk swiftly out into the store and the bored sales girl calls out to me from behind the counter where she is chatting with the other employee. I tell her that while they were almost right they were not right enough for me to purchase. She tells me for a second time how much she personally loves that olive green top, had one herself but lost it and is so bummed about it. I sympathise. I tell her my cat's claws would ruin it. She asks how old my cat is.
Finally I escape. I go to Norther Reflections, a basic Canadian franchise with basic slightly twee often pastel clothing. I kind of hate it but I sometimes find one or two treasures there. No long sleeved tee shirts left but I'd not liked the colours they had this year anyhow. Too pale or too bright. I bought two short sleeved tee shirts because one was in a green I've been looking for and they were two for one so I chose a light orange. I could wish for the neckline to be a bit more scooped but it's reasonable. I try them on. They look good. I buy them. In Spring I can wear short sleeved tees with cardigans and I've at least achieved my much desired dose of green. I want another dose but warm greens are scarce right now. I wash the new shirts as soon as I get home and hang them to dry, eagerly awaiting the day I can wear the green one. Small pleasures are sometimes the best.