| For The Times
“Um, you’re not wearing those in public, are you?”
This was my husband’s gentle way of telling me that my jeans were, um, wearing through at the bottom.
I shrugged. “What does ‘in public’ even mean?” I said. “Walking onto the porch to get the mail? Going to Starbucks with a long coat and mask on? Who would even recognize me?”
“I’m just saying it might be time to freshen your wardrobe.”
He had a point. And I had a department store gift card leftover from Christmas. And truth be told, I’ve worn nothing but the same three sweatshirts, jeans and pajama bottoms for the past year.
When you hate shopping (it’s in my top five, just behind violent political arguments and raisins), you wear your jeans ’til they have holes. ‘Til suddenly, you can’t anymore.
Online shopping is also terrible — in a different way. Because I’m a very poor judge of what will look good on me. Or come close to fitting.
I need to try things on. (I also need to have eaten a decent breakfast, gotten a good night’s sleep and given myself a rousing “once more into the breach!” speech before venturing into a mall.)
But we have a pesky pandemic, so online it was.
A few clicks in, I realized that whole fashion trends have come and gone in the year (Years? Time has no meaning anymore) since I’ve ventured into a mall, virtual or not.
I randomly searched “Clearance.” If I was going to buy ill-fitting clothes, I might as well get them on sale.
But everything was so … confusing. Are peasant skirts frumpy or trendy? Why are shirts with cutouts in the top of the sleeves still a thing?
Why in this age of body inclusivity are all the models still 5-foot-10-inches, 20-year-old beanpoles?
I’ll start with jeans, I thought. I can’t go wrong because I’ve been wearing the same style for the last decade.
Wrong. The jeans I used to wear were called “boyfriend jeans.” Now, boyfriend jeans are nowhere to be seen. But there are plenty of “girlfriend jeans.”
What does it mean? I feel like Tarzan, living among humans for the first time. I don’t understand their complicated and mysterious ways.
So what should I buy? What’s my late pandemic 2021 style?
Is it — on sale through Thursday only — a glittery sweatshirt emblazoned “Martini Lady?” A sweater with faux fur cuffs? A pink off-the-shoulder puff sleeve top?
(The off-the-shoulder look seems unfathomably popular. My aesthetic is more 1980s, when we protected our shoulders from the human gaze by covering them with neon jackets and sturdy shoulder pads.)
But I digress. And it’s 2021, not 1985.
I dug in. I shopped by process of elimination.
No bell sleeves.
Nothing with the word “skinny,” “performance” or “faux” in the description.
Do you know what I ended up with? Three pairs of jeans, a sweatshirt and two pajama bottoms.
That should see me through the end of COVID.
Charlotte Latvala is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at [email protected]