This is not the post that was supposed to be here today. You see, I’d been using my free time to dabble at a reflection about recognizing Christ in others in the modern world. It was shaping up to be halfway holy and interesting. But then I had an idea!
My friend Hallie Lord recently started a thriving little personal shopping business, and I had a flash of inspiration to offer her a trade: She could take the time to do a super quick and easy session with me, and in exchange I could mention it in one of my community bulletin board posts or give her some temporary ad space or something to help her promote it. What a nice tradeoff for a short, easy, fun bit of work for her!
“The great thing for you is that I am totally low maintenance, ” I said in my pitch to her. “I’m completely detached about clothes and stuff. I’ll be the easiest client you’ve ever worked with!” [Cue ominous, foreboding music here.]
She agreed to the deal. And the plan couldn’t have been more simple: I wanted her to help me pick a cute but cozy ensemble for me to wear during the three days that I’ll have to be in the hospital after the baby’s born. Since I’m always in a ton of pictures during that time, I wanted something equally comfortable yet cuter than my usual oversized t-shirt and sweats. Those days in the hospital can be stressful, and having a snazzy outfit to look forward to wearing might help boost my spirits.
So we got on the phone for the consultation. It was supposed to take 30 minutes, after which I could get back to writing my post, and Hallie could get back to…not dealing with people like me.
Let me just say: If you ever want to get a gauge of how neurotic, issue-riddled and/or bizarre you really are, schedule a consultation with a personal shopper.
Hallie’s first clue that her day was about to take a turn for the absurd was when I casually threw out the following caveat: “Keep in mind I have a 37-inch inseam, so normal pants won’t fit me. My arms are the length of some circus side show freaks, so sleeveless is out. I wear size 12 shoes. I have a pear-shaped figure and have the complexion of the Pillsbury Doughboy. I need a complete outfit that’s as stylish as it is comfortable and is conducive to nursing. Other than that, I don’t have any specific requirements.”
Hallie was undeterred. In fact, the consummate professional, she thought she might start our session by saying a few words to make her newest client feel good about herself. “Hey, Jen, look at this — Zappos carries women’s shoes up to size 15!” she reported with glee, clearly proud of her discovery. “You always make those comments about having Sasquatch feet, no women have bigger feet than you and all that, but here is proof that you’re wrong! Your feet are downright petite compared to some gals’!”
I wasn’t sure how to break it to her. “Hallie. Did you notice anything about those size 15 shoes in the Women’s department? All the leopard skin, the platform heels, the free Lady Gaga poster with purchase?”
“I’m not sure what you’re saying…”
“Very few ‘women’ with an F in the gender box on their birth certificates wear size 15.”
“I mean it’s me and the drag queens, Hallie. I really do have the biggest, most gargantuan feet of anyone without a Y chromosome.”
Her attempt at cheering me up now officially an epic fail, Hallie changed the subject cheerfully to announce that she’d already gotten the pants out of the way. “Check your email. I managed to find these great yoga pants, in a tall length, exactly your color, and they’re on a 50%-off sale to boot!”
I clicked on the link. Indeed, to the untrained eye, they would appear to be exactly what I was looking for: Ultra-comfortable, polished, and even long enough. But then I saw the problem. “They don’t have pockets.”
“Oh…pockets are…really important to you?”
“I like to wear ear plugs when I sleep, because I don’t like to hear extraneous noise. And I keep my ear plugs in my pockets. The other day I accidentally put on pajama pants without pockets, and at one point I went to slide my ear plugs into my pocket, but it wasn’t there!”
There was a moment of silence in which you could almost hear the realization descending upon Hallie that this consultation was going to be neither short nor easy nor fun. Finally she suggested we approach it from a different angle, and started talking to me about getting a maxi dress. She pointed out that these often work well for tall women with my proportions, since they define the upper half of your body and let the material gracefully flow over the bottom half.
I made the mistake of forwarding the link to my husband. Normally he does a “duck and cover” maneuver when I bring up fashion, but he surprised me by weighing in with a firm opinion on the subject. “That’s a muumuu, ” he wrote.
“Joe says this is a muumuu, ” I reported to Hallie.
“No, it’s a maxi dress. Muumuus aren’t fitted at the top.”
I typed up her reply for Joe, then read his reply aloud to Hallie: “He says: ‘They always say that. I lived through the 70’s, where an entire generation of women was tricked into wearing tents by being told they were the latest style from Hawaii. Don’t be fooled!'”
The three of us then engaged in a lengthy and detailed debate, made a little awkward by me typing and reading emails to and from my husband, about what, exactly, the difference is between muumuus, maxi dresses, and tents. Joe refused to back down on his stance that all three are the same thing, despite reporting that he was laughing so hard he could hardly see to type. We eventually cut him out of the loop when he said that if it were true that these dresses were actually in style, he was going to start a clothing line using nothing more than burlap sacks and a Bedazzler.
“What do you think of the maxi dress I picked out?” Hallie asked.
“I actually think it’s perfect for my figure. It would look great on me.”
“Oh, wonderful! I can send you –”
“Except that it reminds me of hippies. I hate hippies.”
“Well, I guess ‘hate’ is a strong word. It’s just that I’ve had these experiences…” and from there I proceeded to unload all my emotional baggage involving my various negative interactions with Austin’s hippie population, ending with a story about the time at Whole Foods that I got chastised for referring to a type of cookie as Gingerbread Men, when they were in fact Gingerbread People.
“So you don’t want the maxi dress…even though you agree that it looks great and meets all your needs…because it reminds you of bad experiences with hippies?”
“Exactly.” I said, quickly adding, “Normally I just think all of this stuff in my head when I shop.”
We took a break while I went to relieve my babysitter (and Hallie probably went to pour herself something strong to drink). When we resumed, she tried a different angle.
“I found some beautiful earrings. If we get a shirt that –”
“My earrings are stuck in my ears.”
Stunned silence. “What?”
“I got incredibly tight backs to keep my diamond studs from falling out, but now they won’t come off. Do I risk breaking the earrings to get them off with pliers? I haven’t decided what to do about it. I need to analyze it some more.”
“So, umm, wow. How long have the earrings been stuck?”
If Hallie’s Will-to-Live-O-Meter had been waning over the past hour, it now plummeted to zero. If I were to turn my entire blog into a redirect to her business page, it would surely not even come close to being worth it.
Two hours of phone calls later, we’d meandered to the subject of swim suits, and Hallie, perhaps forgetting that it’s no longer Lent, signed herself up for the penitential act of helping me find a swimsuit to my specifications. After pointing out that the only option that technically meets all my requirements is a swim burka, she found an alternative that would bring me a little closer to the 21st century.
“I like it…” I began.
“Oh, great! And at that price –”
“Except that the pattern is too colorful. It might give off the vibe that I’m at the pool to have fun, whereas I only go when my kids get in heated arguments about what the world outside of our living room might look like. When I’m at the pool I try to find the darkest shaded corner and sit really still so nobody will see me. This suit might draw too much attention.”
Oddly enough, Hallie had something come up that demanded that she get off the phone immediately (she said something about the house being on fire and an impending phone-eating zombie attack that required her to hang up immediately and could perhaps mean that she’d never, ever be able to talk on the phone again).
But then, a few hours later, she did it. In my inbox I found the most awesome inspiration board for my “hospital chic” look, complete with links to where I could buy each piece, in my size, at prices I could afford! Check it out:
I’ll post pictures of me wearing the completed look from the hospital!
And so, here is the promised link to Hallie’s personal shopping page. If you would like help finding the perfect style for you, complete with real outfits for specific occasions, you’ve found your gal. She is, without question, the best in the business. As my husband commented (still laughing from the Great Muumuu Debate of 2011), “Hallie has a very special gift that she can work with people like you.”
(If you would like to read of another time I sent Hallie blog traffic as the only possible way to repay her for a horrible situation that I foisted upon her, you can read all about that here.)