Friday, May 10, 2013

Buon Giorno, Big Butt!

That's what my husband said to this me this morning when he saw me heaving myself out of bed. Okay, not really. He'd be dead right now if he did that. He wasn't even in the room when I rolled slowly out of bed, springs protesting mightily. Directly to the right of the bed is a full-length mirror. (You may remember that mirror from my awesome drawing in the post "What Muffin Top, Damnit?")

Having been permanently scarred by the Muffin Top Incident, I studiously avoid looking in that direction. The bathroom, naturally, is my first stop, where I am forced to shield my eyes from the massive mirror that takes up the top half the wall. (Who decided a bathroom that is half-mirror was a good idea? Clearly, some horrible person who wakes up looking lovely with no makeup, has fresh breath, and sleeps in an adorable nightie that showcases a fab set of gams.)

There IS one place you cannot avoid looking in a mirror: the dressing room of a store. (Well, I suppose you can, but that would be rather silly if you're going to pay good money for clothes.) This morning, I trotted out to the mall to buy some clothes. Specifically, I was seeking to trade in my frump-about-town look with a few posh yet casual, alluring but not slutty, pieces. I felt rather excited. I hadn't been clothes shopping in quite a while, and as we're planning a trip to Italy, I decided my high-waisted, ill-fitting capri jeans surely would scream AMERICAN TOURIST IN HIDEOUSLY OUTDATED ATTIRE and I'd be surrounded by those massive gangs of children who are lurking all over Europe waiting to prey on unwitting foreigners. I needed to get items that would allow me to blend in with the locals. Never mind that I don't speak Italian and will be clutching a phrase book and map, while my husband wrestles the camera out of its case to take pictures every 5 minutes. If anyone bothers to look at our clothes, we'll be the picture of European chic. I know, because I stopped in H&M straightaway.

For those not in the know, H&M is a super-cool European store with tons of clothes at inexpensive prices. (At least, it was when my friend from Spain was here...several years ago.) In fact, it has its own Wikipedia entry: "H&M is a Swedish multinational retail-clothing company, known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children." Yes, friends, yours truly is now the owner of FAST FASHION. That means straight off the runway. See if I don't get a modeling contract while I'm overseas. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The mirror. I was talking about the mirror. Ah, crap, so much for the modeling contract fantasy. Back to reality. I strolled into H&M, determined to not let the 20-year-old salesperson slouching near the entrance intimidate me. I gave him a curt, European-looking nod, and casually rifled through a rack of tops, trying to not make it obvious that I was checking prices. I was pleased to note several other women in the store who were even older than I am (and no, they weren't accompanying their teenage daughters). 

It took a little digging: the first few displays featured items that were a bit too, er, exciting for a woman of my advanced years. Think fringe, faux leather, and extremely short shorts. I pushed on, determined that I would find something, anything, and then I struck gold. Here's a secret: they hide the older-lady garments in the back! I began snatching items from shelves and off hangers and into my arms, which were soon full. Slouchy Salesperson didn't offer to help, so I staggered into the dressing room with far more than the 7 Items Per Customer allotment. I hurried out of my embarrassing non-H&M outfit and into the first pair of pants. They were...a bit snug. Damn European sizes. I threw on my embarrassing non-H&M outfit and raced back into the store, grabbing some larger pairs of the same pants. I was horrified to discover that the pair two sizes up fit (TWO SIZES?). Damn European sizing. Everyone knows it's all off. No matter. They were cute and, combined with some fast-fashion baggy tops, I was looking molto bene. 

After hastening back into the embarrassing non-H&M outfit I'd worn into the store, I made a grievous mistake. I glanced in the mirror. Blast! Damn dressing room lighting. Everyone knows it's designed to make you look ghastly. The skirt, in particular, in the harsh overhead light, was showcasing some dimples and crevices I thought, you know, that CLOTHES WOULD COVER PROPERLY. Damn skirt. I knew what I needed, STAT, and the mall was the right place to get it: Spanx. My God, I've heard of these wonders but I had no idea how fantastic they are. In essence, they are skintight underwear that squash into oblivion about 47 bumpy spots on the hips, thighs, bottom, other words, they make you look as if you are toned and fit without the hassle of actually working out. I fell instantly in love. Unfortunately, the effect is temporary. When I wrestled out of the Spanx, my thighs actually made a cartoon "Sproing!" noise as they resumed their former shape. 

Nevertheless, I am buoyed by this miracle of modern science. Watch out, Italy! Ms. CrankyPants in her fast-fashion wardrobe and Spanx is coming to town!  


  1. Fab post! I almost felt like I was shopping with you, bless.
    Here's my handy tips for not looking like an American tourist abroad and adopting that annoying European nonchalance:
    Do not wear your camera round your neck.
    Do not wear a money bag round your waist.
    Do not wear a backpack unless it's made from Italian leather.
    Invest in some crisp white T-shirts and some neck scarves (learn to tie in the European way, natch)
    Keep it simple - no loud patterns and colours. Muted shades are best and more expensive looking.
    Wear a pair of sunglasses at all times, even if it's pushed back on top of your head.
    Keep jewellery understated, chic and simple.
    If you must wear trainers, nothing flashy.
    Do not say in a loud voice 'Right, we've done Italy, where next?'
    Also, most important, cultivate a disdainful, slightly sneery expression. Nothing too eager.
    Believe me, I moved to Austria when it was 18 and went from wearing hippy-ish gear (all the rage in the UK back in 1992) to smart trousers, t shirts and expensive shoes. Don't know what's gone wrong since, lol.
    Best of luck! I'm sure you'll rock it...

    1. Why thank you, SIF! And many thanks for the tips. The disdainful, sneery expression I have down pat (been cultivating for years); may have to Google how to tie a neck scarf the European way. (Alas, crisp white shirts turn into wrinkled, soiled shirts in no time flat, so I may have to skip that item.)

      No bags around the waist (as IF): check!
      No Hawaiian shirts or USA/eagle/flag shirts: check!

      Husband is in charge of the camera, and it came with a case that I've teased him about, saying it resembles a purse. In other words, perfect for Italy!

      One Item of Concern: not sure how to "rock" the cool vest (scarf?!). Oh, dear. The weather probably will be mild enough to not require hauling out that thing. If I do end up wearing it, I'll be sure to bellow things such as, "Right, we've done Italy..." and "Where's the meat lover's pizza in this joint??!"

    2. Hiya!
      Same rules for cool vest - definitely a scarf, tiny stud earrings and sunglasses. But hey, I'm writing this wearing my oldest 'home clothes', meh, so what do I know, lol.
      I have been trying for years to tie my scarves just so. Still failing.
      Have a fabulous time in Europe! It's just the same when us Europeans go to America - we look, well, different. Can spot us a mile away - we have the pasty faces, white legs and a dodgy taste in sunhats, lol.

    3. Well...things might not be as dire as I imagined, because I have all of the following: pasty face, white legs, dodgy sunhat!

  2. Will Italy ever be the same again? And what are you bringing home? Leather I am told is something the Italian's do supremely well. And food of course.
    Mirrors are evil. And none of mine could ever/would ever tell me that I am the fairest of the all. They would be much more likely to laugh themselves into seven years bad luck (for me of course).

    1. Gosh, I hadn't even thought of what to bring home, although I'm sure I'll race around grabbing tacky yet extremely expensive souvenirs along the way. Perhaps some Murano glass, which I'll almost certainly break?

      Mirrors ARE evil. So are shop windows.

  3. The lights are harsh in stores....but hard to avoid mirrors

    1. You are right, Kim. You'd think the retailers would learn about flattering light; it'd be so much more conducive to sales!

  4. I hate shopping for clothes. Hate it. My body doesn't look good in anything they sell anymore.

    I've thought about buying some spanks but have been afraid. I didn't want the disappointment of buying them, tugging them on and finding out that the effects weren't worth it....

    But now after reading this, I think I'm going spanx shopping :)

    1. Sherri, I swear I'm not getting money for this (but Spanx, if you're listening...), but I was so happy with the results. You know those unintentionally clingy fabrics that accentuate every nook and cranny? Those damn spanx made the skirt I was wearing look presentable! (I shudder to think I was strolling around willy-nilly w/o them.) They aren't cheap, though. And it sucks when you take them off!

  5. Glad to hear you found a solution to your fashion problem. Wouldn't want you touring Italy looking like an over-sized cavatelle. Italy will never be the same!

    1. Now I will look like a streamlined linguine (until I take off the miracle thigh-n-butt-fixer, that is).

  6. LOL...Spanx are the best things since sliced bread. i do have one that i can't into by myself tho - hello! it's ridiculous...but once i get in, it's sooooooo worth it.

    1. I know, right?! They are worth every penny.

  7. I posted a witty comment a few days ago! Where is it? MK

  8. Personally, I can't stand anything that tight around me anymore. I just live my fat, dumpy (and, dare I say, braless) life (I wasn't kidding--I'm just too #$%in' uncomfortable these days for things that bind. I've stopped caring.). And, yes, that's not how I'd want to go to Europe! Perhaps you might want to consider not actually shopping too much before you go--it's just more to lug around getting there (well, maybe except for the modern corset thingies). You can always supplement with clothes you get there and visit a laundromat if necessary. At least that's how I did it in England. It's the best way to blend in. And you get to bring back clothes from Italy. But I guess that also depends on how long you're going to be there and how you want to spend your time and limited energy reserves.

    There really is a certain look that Americans have--you know it when you see it. And then, yes, there is that fanny pack thing...

    Reminds me... many years ago we had a radio station here run by an eccentric Englishwoman that rebroadcast the World Service on FM. One day, I came out of the post office here in rural hippy Northern California dressed entirely in clothes I'd bought in England, down to the Clarks on my feet. A guy nervously approached, while looking me up and down, and asked in a British accent, "Um... are you the woman who runs that radio station...?" He seemed very disappointed when I replied in my California accent that, alas, I was not she.

    1. You are SO right! My husband and I got to be experts at pointing out the Americans. Of course, those who would stride into a restaurant and immediately begin speaking English (loudly) to the wait staff were dead giveaways!

      p.s. Am increasingly realizing the joys of going braless. Not like I really NEED one anyway!

  9. FaaaaaaaaaaABulous.

    thank you for the smile today, Miss Crank Pants.

    I loved this and could relate in more ways than one. Xx

    1. Why, thank you, MIC! Happy to make others smile, even (usually) at my expense.

      Incidentally, the Spanx worked out brilliantly. I wore them almost nonstop on the trip and didn't wash them once!

      Not sure why I added that last bit. Oversharing.

    2. Okay, now I feel compelled to add that I *did* wear them OVER underwear, so it's not quite as disgusting as it sounds.

  10. I've actually just posted something, but it hasn't popped up!
    Was saying that H&M is just the bain of my life.
    I like the clothes and it's cheap. Win win.
    But they seem to think it's funny to get sized 14 women to try and wedge themselves into size 14 trousers, only to discover that actually love, you're blatantly too frumpy for this shop, so we're going to make a size 14 an 18 so you feel even more crap and out of place! Ha! How f**king hilarious. :-I
    So yeah, it's not a reflection on european sizes, because everywhere else is fine (regardless of whether they are swedish or not!) and it's always fine. I've decided it's just H&M being nasty. :)

    Gonna have to give Spanx a try this summer! As least I'll just look pasty, rather than flabby AND pasty! :D

    1. Hi Chloe!

      Due to my overwhelming popularity (haha) I've had to start moderating comments. Hideous spammers have invaded my comments, which is why your post had to go through my rigorous screening process.

      H&M is quite special, isn't it? Glad it's not just me! The trick is to wear Spanx INTO the store; then, all of the clothes will look fab when you try them on (and horrendous when you get home, take off the Spanx, and forget, only to try on the same pair of pants later and wonder WHY they look so gross)!