I have a problem. It is not a life altering conundrum but it is still a struggle. I grew up poor. Definitely below the poverty line. I was the oldest of four children. My mother never worked and my father was a traveling photographer (until he left us when I was seventeen). Most of my clothes came thrift stores, yard sales, and occasionally Wal-Mart. When I was really, truly, lucky my grandmother or aunt would take me on a rare trip to the mall to get some new school clothes. Those exceptional events were magical. I remember being so proud wearing a shirt or a pair jeans that was mine and mine alone.

At the end of my sophomore year, I had enough. I never had any money for anything. I could not go on school trips or school dances. I was still wearing hand-me-down shirts from my baby cousins. I came to my mom with an ultimatum. I was getting a job or I was joining the weightlifting team. Apparently, getting a job seemed more palatable to her and I began my first job working in a restaurant. With my $5.25 hourly income (This was back when making $125 in two weeks was a big check), I saved all of my hard-earned cash to buy the things I needed. This included clothing. It was easy enough choosing tops, jeans, and skirts then. I knew what styles that my friends wore. The store had all of these items in the section labeled junior’s.

Things got a little more complicated when I left high school behind. Time has generally been kind to me. I am still the same 5 foot 6 ½ tall and 135 lb. girl. But I am also a 31-year-old mom. I have managed to ignore the issue fairly well so far. Probably because I spend 5/7th of my life in work mandated, pajama-like, medical scrubs.

If I choose to shop in my small town, I do not have many store options. The main one is a large department store that claims to know all about fancy, current, southern bell style. I tend to start there as it has the biggest selection. When I do need to go buy new clothes, I find myself very confused. I do not know what clothing section I am supposed to shop in. I can still wear the clothing in the junior’s section. But should I? Do I need a screen tee that says I was “Made in the 80’s”. The answer is yes. At least to the “Made in the 80’s” shirt. However, do I need to wear shorts that show off parts of my anatomy that only gynecologists should view? I think not. So then I sadly wander over to the ladies section. Except that the ladies section would be more properly named “grandmotherly section”. Maybe even “great-grandmotherly section”. So many dresses that look like they are repurposed couch covers. Blouses (ick- blouses) that appear to be made from 1960’s curtains. Do I live in a world where I need a business suit in my regular wardrobe? I tended to find myself depressed and confused. I have even been known to walk aimlessly around the large store before giving up

Eventually, I l always leave the fancy department store and I drive myself to a larger, nearby town. There I visit the mall. Target is the best because there is no separate junior’s or women’s department. I just buy what I like regardless of the intended shopper audience. Heck, I might even buy some t-shirts from the men’s department. I buy my jeans not worrying about whether they were intended to be worn by a 16-year-old or a 40-year-old. And then, because Richard and my littlest brother-in-law are correct, I cannot help but go to Hot Topic. (For the record, all you little kids that think you are so cool and you own Hot Topic – some of your parents were shopping there before you were even born!) My inner child is a stubborn, dark, gothic punk that wishes classical Victorian clothing was acceptable as daily attire. This dark part of me must be satiated with some type of item that is not considered ideal for a respectable adult.

So if someone can please explain to me where a 31-year-old, band tee wearing, laid back, causal, slightly lazy, classically elegant, Victorian Goth, sarcastic mom should shop, please let me know. Thanks in advance!