schooluniformsSt. Pancras reminded Margaret of infinity. “Howards End.” E.M. Forster.

Every so often I feel the need to go to Loehmann’s. This is not simply an impulse to shop, it is much more specific than that. It is an impulse to shop at Loehmann’s.

Loehmann’s allows the possibility of reinvention, infinite possibilities – a jumble of personalities. The possibility that maybe today I will emerge with a whole new persona. Maybe today I will come to understand the batwing sleeve and learn to love color. Maybe…

I blame having to wear school uniform from the age of three for a lot of my obsession with clothes. Yes I know a three year old looks beyond cute in a panama hat, plaid skirt, navy sweater, oversized blazer and ankle socks but take it from me, she doesn’t ‘feel’ cute. She feels like that mushy bit of avocado inside a BLT sandwich; invisible, squashed. Fast -forward fifteen years and picture that same girl decked out in exactly the same outfit, (in a bigger size obviously.) This is a total of eighteen years; approximately four thousand five hundred days of her life wearing navy blue. It’s a criminal thing to do to a kid. It’s an appalling thing to do to a teenager.

And then you are hurled out into the world. Clueless. At this point you may be thinking ‘but didn’t you have weekends? Parties to go to?’ Well first, I allowed for holidays in my calculations; four thousand five hundred days over eighteen years was based on two hundred and fifty days not the three hundred and sixty days that are in a year, which times eighteen years comes out at…well…a lot…which is always the right answer when you have to do a hard mental -arithmetic sum. Second, all of the weekend activities involved wearing other equally predictable uniforms, sometimes made out of even more synthetic materials.

So, flung out into the world with no sense of how to pull it together, you start looking for clues. Nobody escapes your scrutiny and then you realize you can’t afford the ‘look’ and thus, an obsession is born and along the way you discover discount shopping and the rest is history. Would that it were as simple as that. It’s not. You seek out ‘the look,’ you find it, you buy it and then when you put it on it doesn’t feel quite right. It’s not ‘ you.’ Then you go on a very long process and discover that you only feel like ‘ you’ when you’re wearing a blazer and navy blue (go figure.) But you HATE blazers and navy blue and begin to realize that the grown ups who are voluntarily wearing navy blue blazers are not your tribe and so… you seek out the ‘ the look,’ you find it, you buy it and when you put it on it doesn’t feel quite right. It’s not ‘you’ after all and the other people who are wearing skirts with mirrors and fringed handbags and tribal bracelets are not your tribe either…and so you seek out ‘ the look’… I think you know where I’m going with this. Frankly, like any obsession it’s exhausting.

I think I told you that my novel (yes MY NOVEL,) “ India’s Summer” will be published soon (yes PUBLISHED.) I only need a head and shoulders shot for the book jacket. Now you would think that would be simple but not so. I refer you to the words ‘head’ and ‘shoulders.’ This could involve a hat. This could involve a jacket. It may involve a manicured hand, maybe earrings. Infinite possibilities. This will definitely involve Loehmann’s.

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