7 May

In February, I spent my day off to celebrate Our Nation’s Presidents by taking every item out of my closet, separating the items into piles, meticulously going through the piles, pulling out items I hadn’t worn since before I moved to Washington over three years ago, putting them in a pile to donate. I reorganized what was left, and carefully put them back in my closet, grouped together by pants, skirts, long sleeves, short sleeves, or whatever category they belonged in. The main result was a gloriously organized closet that I often stared at in wonder in my free moments.

The secondary result was an incredibly pared down wardrobe, which was just fine until I had to go to Houston, the land of Heat and Hot,  last week and realized that I now had only four tops that were appropriate to wear for work in warm weather.

Which means the tertiary result was me spending an afternoon last week wandering around the Queenstown outlets replenishing my spring/summer wardrobe.

I conveniently picked a day that promised coupons for shoppers, and was overjoyed to find out that in addition to the coupons, the stores I shopped were having enormous sales. This was exactly what outlet shopping was supposed to be. (Except for the JCrew outlet, which was incredibly overpriced, just like its regular store.)

Laden down with bags stuffed with short sleeved shirts, summer dresses, a pair of shoes, and the like, I made my way back to my car, confident in my purchases, satisfied that I would not have to go nude to work, and happy to discover that once again I was right, and the best time to go shopping is on a random Thursday afternoon because no one else is there and the stores are fully stocked in time for their weekend rush. And then I walked by a store called “Accents.”

Accents, it seems, is an all accessories, all the time, store. Bracelets, earrings, necklaces, purses, scarves, belts, everything. It’s all there. It’s all displayed on long tables covered in velvet, propped up on racks and stands, grouped by colors, from wall to wall, glittery, sparkly, matte, bold, demure, all of it.

On a good day, I can piece together an outfit that makes sense, that is coordinated and decently ironed. In my dreams I can accessorize said outfit.

I don’t know what it is about accessories, but I find them overwhelming. I very much want to understand them and use them properly, but I can’t seem to get it. After awhile, they all start to look the same to me, even though the accessories that I do own I’m told are very lovely and original looking. (Except for this one silver bracelet that I and every single one of the McIntire sisters own. When we all wear them together we look like we are starting our own new brand of superheroesses.) So I’ve got that going for me, but for the life of me, I can’t remember how I managed to pick out even those accessories.

I stood in Accents and decided I’d start with rings. I’ve been big into rings lately, and by that I mean I’ve been thinking about being into rings lately, chunky, bold rings that make a statement. Except that Accents only had a tray and a half of rings, none of which were very exciting, so I wandered around the tables, peering at the necklaces, the matching bracelets. None of it was very expensive, it was all costume-type jewelry, but even so I didn’t want to spend money on something I wasn’t sure was good or that I really liked. It was just so hard to tell.

And part of me very much wanted some Accents, to go along with all the new clothes I’d just purchased, to make them, as Stacey or Clinton would say, POP. But Christ almighty my head was spinning by this point, the saleswomen were eyeing me suspiciously as I walked around and around and around in circles reaching out a hand here or there to touch something or pick it up for inspection only to put it down quickly when a bag would slip out of my hands. I’m certain they thought I was some sort of shoplifter trying to be inconspicuous and not shifty as I dawdled about, when truthfully I just couldn’t think straight. It probably didn’t help matters when I said distractedly, out loud, to no one in particular, “I have to go. I’ll come back. It’s just…it’s just too much right now. My brain is foggy,” before wobbling out the door. Either that, or they probably thought I was drunk.

Next time, maybe I will make that the first store I stop into, rather than the last. I’m not saying that will help in my accessorizing, but at least the saleswomen will not give me the stink eye, wondering if I’m going to five-finger-discount my way to the beginnings of a chic new outfit.


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