Monday, August 24, 2009

How it all started

I grew up in a middle class family just outside of Dallas. My parents made a comfortable life for us, but by no means did we have the typical regional standard of wealth. So even though I may not have always owned the brand name clothing item, Mom believed there was nothing wrong with just looking. And hence, her favorite term, "wandering," came to be our special time together. We would go to different shops and boutiques with the intention of just wandering around, looking at the window displays, checking out fabrics and current trends, all to acquire what my mom would say, "a great idea!" She rarely would take me out with the intention to buy; it was more about the exploring.

And there it all began. The genesis of my addiction to shopping.
(And don't worry, my older sister got the gene, too. She's has a special affection for finding shoes and handbags!)

And come on folks, no trip to Dallas is worth much without mentioning the words SHOPPING. Those of you who are familiar with Northpark Mall know that this is practically the epicenter of the city. Not to mention the Galleria, Vista Ridge, Prestonwood...I could go on and on. Shopping has become the only way I can survive a summer trip back home. That heat makes me crazy.

So fast forward about 25 years, and I'm now a resident of Boston (although I never deny my true Texas roots). I have made a good professional life for myself in education, but my true love, shopping, is how I maintain hope and joy in a world of chaos and upheaval. It sounds crazy to say that shopping is what makes me happy, but honestly, when I wake up early on weekend mornings with few plans for the day, I exhale knowing that I can find some time to head out to the Atrium, Chestnut Hill or Natick Mall (which has, by the way, dramatically improved since its transformation into "The Collection.") I get a chance to "wander" on my own, often wishing my mom could join me, and peruse the latest trends, colors, and ideas for consumers.

I never claimed to be good at shopping, but it's been evident to me over the years that I am in fact, pretty good at it. It's not even the fact that I can spend money well (and believe me, friends will attest that they DO spend more when I'm around!); it's more that I have a knack for seeing the potential in an item, or coordinating clothing, or finding the best layout for the bedroom furniture. I feel silly even admitting it, but friends and family tell me regularly enough that I have a special gift- so hence, the idea for the blog.

A friend gave me the idea to write about this little talent of mine. We had just been out at the Wrentham outlets shopping for a few key items for her wardrobe, and after successfully finding the PERFECT black dress (and I mean literally perfect...She put it on, and I screamed), she reminded me that I am good at this shopping gig. She often repeats my little tips about fit, styles, colors, or designs to look for- and I feel especially proud when she calls me from Philadelphia to share the story of a recent purchase, all with the appropriate rationale for why it's truly a perfect addition to her wardrobe. I have taught her so well. (sniff, sniff)

So, friends, here's my stab at sharing a few of these tips, ideas, thoughts, or special finds that I discover about shopping. I don't claim them all to be my own, in fact, most are little tidbits I pick up from reading magazines, flipping through catalogs, or watching great shows like What Not to Wear on TLC. But I do think there could be a few people in the world who may like what I say. Or they are at least kind enough to entertain my passions :)

Texas Transplant Tip of the Day:
I find that Lands' End has the BEST cashmere sweaters. My friend Betsy introduced them to me a couple years ago, and I was sold. Great colors, superb quality, reasonably priced (they are on SUPER sale now in their "overstock" category online), and BEST yet: hand washable. I've tried many a brand, and rest assured, you won't regret this. I also find their fit to be slightly larger than standard. So, while I normally would buy a small top, their x-small is better. I recently ordered a lovely clear blue crew one for $39.99!

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