How hard could shopping for 100% natural fiber clothes be? I was at a disadvantage, in that, shopping for clothes is not my idea of a good time. That could be because I haven’t taken the time to really consider what my style might be. At my age I’d say its about time. Now with 85% of my clothes out of my closet and on the floor due to my issue with polyester, I had to find something. I was down to one pair of pants and a couple of flannel shirts. I tucked the rayon things in the back of the closet hoping next spring I could wear them with out a break out of rash. I have yet to solve the underwear without elastic challenge, which is awkward, to say the least. The bra and underwear project would be left for another day.
I left the house brimming with optimism. After all, I was successful with the sewing machine purchase so clothing couldn’t be that hard, right? I walked into Kohl’s not realizing they were in the middle of a big sale. It swarmed with people and the lines at the check out were long. I slipped into my white gloves, which garnered some looks from other shoppers. I energetically went in for the kill. Within minutes it became evident the amount of meticulous and repetitive turning clothes inside out to find the tag with the fabric descriptions this would require. After twenty minutes of getting sideways glances from the other customers, I looked up across the sea of clothing before me and felt my optimism washing away. Getting help from the staff was not an option, they were already over taxed. I realized I was getting good at determine what the fabric was just looking at it. Polyester has a sheen to it and hung in a flowing way. That had the potential for making this go a little more quickly. A few more minutes and I was done. I took one glove off and walked out of the clothing department and into the linen area. I left one on, just in case.
My fighting spirit continued to wane as I read polyester on all of the blanket packages. I couldn’t get over how much of it there is in the world, and how unaware I had been about it. Had I been blind? Then, there it was. 100% cotton blankets. Nearly yelling, “Oh my God they’re cotton!” I startled a woman next to me. They were boring colors but I didn’t care. There they were and they were beautiful just buy their very existence on the shelf.
I was so focused on the fabric content I totally missed a giant sign next to them indicating they were 60% off. I nearly burst into tears right there hugging my package of 100% cotton blankets. “There’s hope for me after all,” I said out loud just as that same woman came around the corner of the shelf with an apprehensive look on her face. I looked at her and smiled innocently debating whether I should explain myself. Gratefully she moved on to the next isle. I grabbed two blanket packages and headed to the check out lines. I felt less like a failure. I consoled my self with the fact that I could sleep better now. One of the blankets is destine for my couch so I could sit and not wonder if the fabric on the couch was an issue.
Lunch gave me the fortitude to take on the Mall. I had not given up on finding some clothes. My first stop was Old Navy, which was swarming with people like it was the week before Christmas. Feeling conspicuous with my white gloves on, I scanned the entire women’s department and located one tee shirt and some lounging pajama bottoms. I headed to the dressing room and was surprised they didn’t fit. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “I lost weight being on a vegan diet for the past two months.” Delighted I had dropped a size I headed out to the clothing rack I had found them on to find my new and improved size only to discover it was sold out. I was so bummed.
Dejected I headed down the mall and walked into another clothing shop. In an effort to save time and not have to check the tags on everything in the place I thought it would be clever of me to ask the young lady behind the counter where I might find 100% cotton or linen. Her eyebrows flew up and she looked at me like I had three heads. She dismissively uttered something about we must have some out there. Then my eyebrows flew up. I imagined seeing one of those cartoon bubbles above her head that read “How should I know that? Geeze she expects a lot. Doesn’t she know I just work here, its not like I own the joint?” I looked around and found myself migrate quickly back out into the hall headed to the next clothing store, where I had the same experience.
After a couple more experiences like that, and without thinking about it, my tactic changed. I’d walk to the doorway of a store, survey my options and quickly assess whether I even wanted to go in. I knew this was a sign that I was giving in to my growing sense of defeat. I nearly turned and headed for the car but stopped in the doorway of Talbots while I debated totaling giving up. I had physically turned away from the doorway when two clerks, near my age, asked if there was something in particular I was looking for. I said I was looking for 100% natural fibers and was wondering if they had any cotton. To my surprise there was no eye rolling or raised eyebrows. Instead I saw their minds genuinely searching for an answer as their eyes scanned the store. I explained I was allergic to polyester and their eyebrows did go up. Their surprise was replaced with compassion that quickly translated to determination to help me.
One of the women stayed to finish the project they were working on and the other one jumped into action. She guided me to the back of the store and stayed with me until we identified all of the cotton clothing options. Between us we found about a dozen. It was all I could do not to grab her, hug her and start crying. Now I wish I had hugged her, but she was called to the check out counter which gave me time to collect myself. The styles weren’t anything I was excited about, but I knew in my new world I could no longer be as choosy. I selected three items, which nearly doubled my wardrobe.
This shopping excursion took the better part of a day. Looking at my three new shirts and two blankets defeat was replaced with satisfaction. I choose to see the day as a good day of hunting and gathering.