I hate department stores. They remind me of being a chubby 12-year-old with braces being dragged around by her mother to try on bat-mitzvah dresses at the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s located in the heart of Delaware’s Christiana Mall. (We eventually decided on an electric blue sleeveless number, and suffice to say I have vowed to burn the photobook of evidence the first chance I get.)
So sartorially misinformed was I that for many years I associated most department stores with the cheap and gawdy—obviously, I reasoned, most cool clothes come from stores that sold only their own brand, places like Ann Taylor, or Hot Topic. Up until embarrassingly recently, I didn’t understand what my so-called friends were driving at when they offered to take me shopping at Macy’s, Nordstrom’s or Bloomie’s. I just flashed back to Delaware and that blue dress and assumed that they were making some sort of ironic commentary on prom season.
But a girl can’t live in blissful ignorance forever, and by the time I was, oh, say, 28, I found out that, far from being tacky, New York’s haute couture was synonymous with, yes, Madison Avenue designer flagships, but also: Bergdorf’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys. I had never stepped into these hallowed halls of fashion. I had to take a Valium just to step into a Century 21, with its maze-like layouts, dressing room item limits and panic-inducing number of choices.
But I couldn’t wear jeans and sweaters with cat faces on them forever, and no matter how well that kitschy-cute skunk hat I had purchased last summer in South Dakota went over at a recent Broadway after party, I realized that eventually I would have to make peace with the luxury department store. Read More