I am trying to wrap my head around the hate-on for inexpensive clothing.
I get it, okay? The things I can afford are not what you find beautiful and bloggable. To be honest, I don’t always find them beautiful and bloggable. If anyone among us has the right to bitch about Payless, goddamnit, it is not you, it is I, I who can never find a decent range of shoes in my size that I get to try on. Not, that is, unless I buy kids’ shoes. I guess it’s for the best, as the disability that is currently limiting my purchasing power also prevents me from being able to walk in your coveted heels.
(Who decided kids’ sizes needed to go up to six and a half, anyway? Especially at the expense of the women’s size five section?)
“Inexpensive” does not automatically equal “cheap”.
Let me slam that one home for you. The usage is imprecise in American English, I know, but I grew up hearing that “cheap” was a dig. One says “inexpensive” when one means only to discuss price. Even my foreign-born mother knows this. In German, she tells me, there is no distinction. So if she gets it, and this is a woman who for years mixed “steer” and “stir”, by God so can you.
Unless you don’t want to get it. And then I have to ask why.
I know it’s a crapshoot, finding genuinely inexpensive clothes — not “inexpensive on $100,000 a year”, truly affordable, recession-proof. My mother taught me at a young age where to look for defects: in the armpits. Along all the seams, really. Is a button dangling already? Loose threads? (Clip, don’t tug, unless you want to unravel a whole run of stitching.) Is it wearable without major alterations? If a hem needs taking, can I take it on my own? Well, not these days; in the long, slow recovery from this latest total breakdown, I’ve lost a few of the finer motor functions. Whoops.
I make it do or I do without. I covet, okay? Like any other woman, I covet. My best gown is still my prom dress, the color of the sky right after the sun fades into the horizon, pale blues shading into cerulean, beading, fine black net overlay. This was the one we chased all the way to Syracuse and had taken in to fit me because for this one occasion, this last dance I ever danced in formal wear, I deserved not to trip on my finery.
You know I almost let Darling buy me clothes for my birthday. I almost caved and went for something fun and frivolous, that I actually wanted. But I don’t get fun and frivolous anymore, so I go with what lasts, and honestly, what I need most is a good white shirt. I don’t want a good white shirt from the man I love. Better we go ahead and fix up my shower so I can use it. Why not? It means he can shampoo my hair, and he gives good shampoo.
So I don’t splurge on eighty-dollar casual separates. So I don’t actually have a full interview suit in my current size. So I just don’t get why I’m supposed to hate on a star for possibly having saved a little money on her shoes. Does she, in fact, shop at Payless? Good for her. I respect people who live within, not above, their means. There is nothing wrong with inexpensive.
But there’s something exceptionally cheap about brand snobbery.