Cursed

I am cursed. I actually have a shopping curse. It is 5 weeks until First Born’s barmitzvah and I have all the shopping to do. All the shopping. Let’s just enjoy that sentence and concept for a moment. 

Except that I can’t enjoy all the shopping because whatever I try to buy, I find the complete opposite. I have undertaken a world-wide hunt to find the most fabulous dress. And so far, I have not found one. What I have found is some incredible gowns. Gowns that would only really be appropriate for First Born’s wedding. It seems a bit premature to invest in one now. 

I am also going to be extraordinarily well dressed this summer because I have come across a multitude of fantastic summer day dresses. By the time I’d gone through all the dresses on The Outnet, I’d found nothing suitable as MOBB (mother of barmitzvah boy), and everything suitable as MOG (mother of groom), plus I had three more dresses in my shopping basket that would perfect for EDM (every day mother). But not for MOBB. 

Gown options for First Born’s wedding (in approximately 15 years time):


Every day dresses within my budget that I DON’T need that I came across while MOBB dress hunting:




I also had 5 dresses on my wish list which were perfect as MOBB but clocking in at over $2000, I am financially disabled from procurement. However as all good shoppers know, it’s always worth having them in your wish list because you NEVER know when you’ll receive that email from your favourite store to notify you that an item from your wish list is 75% off (a girl can dream). 

Expensive dresses that I cannot buy



Me trying on expensive Stella McCartney dress that I cannot afford:




Last Sunday, I took First Born shopping. He needs a suit, 2 shirts, pants, shoes and possibly a tie. And socks too, apparently. We discovered that somehow he only owns sports socks and school socks.

We went into Oxford. He tried on a suit. I came across some fantastic toe-less booties. I took him into Witchery Man, but not before I spied a fabulous resort dress (you know for all my resort hanging) on the women’s side. I took him into Zara Man…..where we did find a shirt but not before I’d mentally clocked two tops and a dress to follow up on later. We went back to Oxford to buy the suit. We came home with booties (in my defence they were practically free*). 

I went onto Alex and Alexa to find some special clothes for the other boys to wear to the barmitzvah. It is a kids’ website. I came across this:


My initials (Marc Jacobs had me in mind).  In my size. It turns out the 8 in year old in me is alive and well and still likes things with her name on them.

I even managed to buy shoes when I went to buy not-Baby N shoes (I can’t keep track of what he’s supposed to be called). I went into my favourite kids’ shoe shop in Sydney hoping to find not-Baby N barmitzvah worthy kicks and instead I found me fab new cracked black leather Ugg boots. Size 39. Last pair left so down to $50. 

But I can’t wear Ugg Boots to First Born’s barmitzvah, and so the saga continues……

* they were $50

XOXO Shopping Girl

Advertisements

The Black Hole

First Born is growing. Like a fertilised weed. A very well fertilised weed. Working Boy and I cannot help but notice that every few weeks he has crept a few millimetres closer to that moment where he will be taller than his mother. It could be months away, it could be weeks away, it could be days away, but the moment is coming. They say a watched pot never boils but when your child starts encroaching on your superior height, you can practically see your power slipping away before your eyes. 

With such obvious growth, it somehow still always takes me by surprise when his clothes don’t fit from one year to the next. Or sometimes from one month to the next. As the weather cooled over the last school holidays, it became painfully obvious that First Born needed some new tops. And jumpers. And shirts. And pants. Even undies (Sorry First Born. There was a reason I never told you about my blog). 

First Born’s feet are now a 40. He is a size 16 in clothes. Let me tell you something about these sizes. They are literally the black hole of clothing. They do not exist. Most of the kids shoes finish around a 36. The men’s shoes start at a 41. I am not joking. We have had a good few years now of floating around blindly in shoe no man’s land. Cooking Child is just entering this unenviable phase, as First Born will finally make his entree into men’s shoes. Last year an excellent friend in the same predicament tipped me off that Windsor Smith has some styles starting in a 39. There’s a reason that these days my kids ONLY wear sneakers outside of school and it’s not their sporting prowess. Sneakers seem to be the only shoe form that bridges the gap. Until we emerge firmly in men’s shoes, my kids will live in Nikes. There are worse predicaments in life. 

As for the clothes, some of the brands have TRIED to target the situation, and for a while the gap was bridged – there’s FREE by Cotton On (for 9-14s), Seed Teen, and Pavement. These are my first points of call. But this season…..nothing. There are just so many boringly plain things, or stupidly sloganed. And only Pavement goes to a 16 which means that First Born has grown out of teen sizes but is still not quite ready for men’s.

I have ransacked DJs, where I can generally dress my entire family with ease……nothing fits the bill. Or the boy. I am not stingy when it comes to First Born’s clothing. There are 3 smaller bodies waiting to wear it, so I am more than happy to pay more for something that will last. But I can’t pay for something which does not exist.

I have been to Country Road and the gap between where the boys clothes finish and then Men’s clothes begin is Grand Canyon-esque. 

See that space in between man and child? That space is where all the clothes I need for First Born are hiding. Somewhere between child……and man. I can just see their teen range when it finally emerges (and I’m sure it will)…..County Road: Manchild

So what do I do and where do I go? How do I fill the black hole of shopping?

First, Zara. They opened their kids’ section in WBJ with so little fanfare that even I only realised it was there about 3 months after it opened. Shocking confession, I know. Last year, First Born wanted a white shirt. They had a size 14 shirt which was plain white enough to keep Working Boy happy, with a small twist to keep me happy. Their 13-14 is generously sized so this will keep Cooking Child clothed for a while, at least, though First Born is still in the wasteland. 

I went to Myer. I don’t love shopping at Myer, but their teen boys’ section is reasonably well stocked. I’ve had luck with Mossimo (ha! My autocorrect turned Mossimo into Missoni – who knew the phone had the complexity to make Freudian slips?) and Bauhaus, one of Myer’s in house brands. 

I’ve been trying the smallest size of menswear with mixed results. XXS t-shirt from TopMan? Success. Size 28 chinos from Cotton On? Success. I have bought t-shirts and shirts from Cotton On in size S which First Born tries on and says “It’s a dress”. Interestingly there appear to be size XS and XXS but these options are always blocked out online. I’m not sure if this is because they are not available or whether the more experienced gap mothers snap up all the XXS and XS the second they become available. I’m sure by the time Master T reaches “the gap” I’ll have worked it out. 

The other problem, apart from actual size, with trying to bridge “the gap” by shopping small sizes of menswear is that the styles are often too adult for a twelve year old. And the prices are also too adult (this is why Cotton On’s regular 30% off deals come in handy). 

Speaking of gaps, it occurs to be that one place I have not searched to fill the gap, is, in fact, The GAP. Wouldn’t it be ironic if The GAP actually filled the gap? 

In the meantime, the gap is alive and well, and living in my house. I’m open to suggestions.

XOXO Shopping Girl 

Back to Basics

Life is not an Instagram feed. If it was, this was my life last weekend:

And that was just the conference that I got whisked away to Kingscliff for (The Toddler former known as Baby N – TTFKABN somehow got caught in the whisk too). But the weekend was not over yet….

 Toddler Dance party!
 Giant balloons!
 Playing giant draughts with Master T

 Watching the boats from the Opera House



Except in reality, it did not look like that at all. Well it did for a few minutes at a time but it also looked like…. me selling my tickets for the sold out Clare Bowen concert I had been looking forward to for months because I realised, mere hours before the concert, that there was no possible way to get everything organised for the conference trip the next morning, get my kids organised for their overnighters at friends,  AND attend the concert; 2 children coming down with illnesses on Sunday; TTFKABN Losing His Shit when those giant balls were dropped on the audience; TTFKABN literally shaking in my arms as we approached Duggee – who was the whole reason we went to the toddler rave in the first place; TTFKABN unable to recover from losing sight of me for approximately 5 seconds while he was jumping in bubbles, necessitating him to cry for the rest of the morning (though in retrospect he was actually launching a temperature and ear infection so that might have had something to do with the misery); Master T not wanting to go when I had enough of lugging around the crying TFKABN, because he was actually enjoying the whole kids’ festival, TTFKABN refusing to walk necessitating me to carry all 21.5 kg of him from the Opera House, back to the carpark (this is not a short stroll)…..I could go on but I think you get the picture.   TTFKABN SO excited to meet his favourite character, Duggee. Can’t you tell from the way he’s clinging onto me for dear life?

Conclusion: Life is NOT an Instagram feed. At least mine’s not and I need clothes that are up to the task of daily life (we touched on this last time). When your whole life feels like a Masterchef pressure test, the last thing you need is wardrobe stress. When making the time to shower and get dressed is a strategised event, actual thought going into an outfit is somewhat unlikely and in reality close to impossible. 

One solution I have to this is dresses. Always dresses. They are a complete outfit in one decision. Dress equals less stress. You put it on and boom! You’re dressed! 

We work hard to buy our clothes but once they are bought it’s time for the clothes to work for us. And my clothes have some hard work ahead of them. I have forgotten how to get dressed lately. I think it’s the change of season, which was very sudden in Sydney….it literally went from summer to winter overnight. Which meant I closed my eyes one night wanting to layer as little as possible and woke up the next morning trying to layer as much as possible . Unfortunately I can’t remember how to do this. I keep staring at my wardrobe in confusion, wondering what on earth to do with it, and more to the point did I just wear a dressing gown all of last winter? How on earth did I leave the house clothed 9 months ago when I can’t see any viable winter options. I feel lost in translation.

To layer successfully, you need basics. Really good basics. I am not great at buying basics – I am good at buying dry clean only silk for child-free evenings  but my life demands basics. I am also good at visiting the dry cleaner as my enthusiasm for an outfit outweighs my sense of reason to save dry-clean only for rare child-free occasions. But back to basics and layering, thankfully I have found three labels which are taking the guess work out of it for me. 

***

1. The Style Trinity

The Style Trinity is the 4th baby of my gorgeous friend, Charissa. Her first 3 babies were human, the latter two being born a mere year apart, so she GETS the need to look fabulous with minimal effort and time. Charissa always looks amazing. She has a knack of pulling together an outfit like no other and she is investing that innate style into her label. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook

When my Style Trinity goodies arrived in the post last week, I threw them all on together. And I looked great. Not as great as Charissa, but styled and sorted. I felt good. And it took me 10 seconds to get dressed. These are clothes that are doing the work for me. 

This is Charissa wearing her long Penelope Skirt and brand logo tank:

I bought that skirt. It is actually magic. I am pear shaped. Now I know some people *think* they are pear shaped, but most of the time that is an insult, or perhaps a compliment, to the truly pear shaped amongs us. Straight, tight skirts do not suit me. They cling to my non-straight thighs in a most unflattering way. The Penelope skirt is different. It is tight, yet somehow unbelievably flattering. I’m not sure what black magic Charissa has done to the fabric, but I like it. And speaking of black magic, I’ll have the black too.

I also ordered the ultimate basic – a long sleeve striped tee. It works with everything. It even doubles as pyjamas. I know this because sometimes I fall asleep in my clothes. This was lovely to sleep in and still good to go the next morning. I can’t say the same for all my clothes.  I like a multitasking top.

The quality is there. The cut is there. The style is there. And the clothes are here, hanging in my wardrobe, where all good clothes belong. 

***

2. The Frock NYC

These girls do not need a rap from Shopping Girl. They’ve been feature in Vogue, for goodness sake. The Frock are Simi Polonsky and Chaya Chanin, two Sydney girls making it big in NYC. Chaya and Simi get my wardrobe needs like no-one else can. They grew up in Sydney so they get the weather. They are uber stylish. They are mothers. And most importantly (for me) they are Orthodox Jews (like me), so they get the need to marry stylish, weather & lifestyle appropriate clothing with Jewish modesty laws. Not only do they keep my wardrobe covered, they keep my elbows and knees covered too. 


Their business is, not surprisingly, frocks (and some brilliant belts) which just PROVES what a great customer-slash-brand combo we are. When they came to Sydney last year, I went to check out their threads. I was browsing through the dresses, and picked up a silky T dress to inspect more closely (it was lovely close up too). As I scrutinised it, Simi piped up “It’s a great layering piece”. “This girl’s cuckoo” I said (quietly in my head). “I have 4 kids – i don’t have time to LAYER”. The next morning as I gazed incomprehensibly at my wardrobe, unable to find a thing to wear, I realised she was right. Layering pieces were exactly what I needed. If I just had the dress, I could throw on this jumper or that vest, with a saddle belt, some ankle boots, and I’d be good to go. I called the girls, and bought the dress in blush. And then in olive. Followed by a frockheaven dress, a frockclassic T and a frockfluid. 


Frock silky t in Olive

Simi and Chaya have taught me that layering does not need to be time consuming or scary, and that with the right basic pieces, it’s a cinch. 
***

3. COS

Last year Working Boy and I took the boys overseas. After 3 weeks in Israel, we went to London for 9 days. We showed the boys all the sights and one fantastic afternoon,  Working Boy took the boys sight seeing to allow me some unencumbered shopping time. 


A bit of Zara here….a spot of Massimo Dutti there, but mostly some glorious browsing. At the end of a few hours, Working Boy and the Boyz were ready to be reunited with me and we organised to meet at The Apple Shop. As I approached Apple, I walked past the windows of a COS store. “Interesting,” I thought. Followed by “WB and the Boyz will be FINE in Apple for 5 minutes by themselves” and into COS I went. Well. I was bedazzled. I wanted to try on everything. My phone started beeping. The non-natives were restless. “I’ll be there in 5!” I lied texted. I did a speed perusal, grabbed about 10 things, ran to the change room, resisted the urge to max out the credit card, and limited myself to a dress, and a handbag. 

Joy of all joys a few months later COS opened one of its Australian branches in WBJ, my very local mega mall. I still cannot walk in there without wanting to take half the shop home with me. This is layerable pieces on steroids. Incredible basics, reasonable price point, fabulous, stylish cuts.

COS Bondi Junction: I spy with my little eye the most GORGEOUS rose gold triangular prism bag!

***

And that’s my wrap on basics. Shopping Girl: keeping it real, one outfit at a time.

XOXO Shopping Girl