Photograph Sarah Brabazon
Do you love shopping for essential underwear? thought not. I am at the point where the wash has to be done twice a week, and my sons complain about not having enough undies. But yesterday, when I tried to go shopping in a local department store for basic underwear for all of us, I lost my nerve.
I know exactly what I want and I don’t need rack after rack of choice. Hipster, trunk, boyleg, black, navy, slate, seam, no-seam, spray-on (not really). Argh!
It is bad enough when shopping just for myself when I know exactly the style and colours that I like to wear, but this morning I received explicit instructions for one style over another, based on a certain flossing sensation 12 year-old Jetsam gets from his least-favourite gruds . Yesterday, I walked to town with a mission to buy some underwear as well as a case to protect my keyboard so it won’t rattle round in my bag between blogging and novelling. Easy. I put it off until 1:30, knowing that I have to leave to pick Flotsam and Jetsam up from school at 2:45 at the latest. Plenty of time, plus I was engrossed in my novel (the only activity that I use writing to procrastinate from is shopping). Nine minutes to walk to town (living close-in has its advantages), two minutes to stop at the GPO and check the mailbox–nothing to collect. Three minutes from the GPO to the shopping hub of Hobart – Collins Street . The electronics store and department store are right next door to each other… and both had fire trucks parked outside. Store workers grabbing an extra cigarette in the same way that cats lick themselves when they don’t know what else to do, confused would-be shoppers milling on the footpath. Security staff preventing me from my first mission (electronics and accessories shopping is slightly more desirable than clothes shopping, and is therefore higher on the list). I stood about for thirty seconds, but eventually the wafting cigarette smoke drove me into the department store (which hadn’t posted a security guy to keep everybody out). Walking through the front part of the store, I passed rack after rack of clothing hung with the care that heavy discounts bring to a display.
By the time I reached the underwear department fifty metres in, eyes swivelling to look for escape routes, heart rate several notches above normal and palms itching, my shopping experience was already doomed.
At the ramp leading up to the lingerie section were dozens of bras: push-up, minimising, strapless, in dozens of colours: chartreuse, turquoise, flesh–who has flesh that colour, anyway? The ramp to Lingerie was as manageable as the foothills of the Himalayas to a latte-quaffing DINK, minus the sherpa. The counter staff, having beaten me into the store by several minutes, were already engrossed in conversations that excluded me and my insignificant needs. Help, I whispered in my mind, followed by eeep as, halfway up the ramp, the rest of the department became visible. Shapers, singlets, socks! I want Bonds Hipster Boyleg, I don’t mind the colour, but they have to be the right price so I can buy a tonne and not have to come back for a year. But the ladies on the counter didn’t hear my mental scream. Hyperventilating, I ran to the front door and out into the blessed sunlight.
Descending the stairs, I shared a smile with the electronics store security guard. He thought I was saying hello but actually, I meant: Finally, shopping without an emotional overburden!
The electronics store didn’t have a case for my bluetooth keyboard, and neither did the Apple resellers a five minute walk away, but I didn’t mind. I raced home, jumped online, googled the name I’d seen on an online forum and found it somewhere with free shipping.
Add to Cart.
2:45, time to get Flotsam and Jetsam from school.
I still haven’t bought the underwear.
My questions for all you super shoppers out there are: What items do you shop for online, and which do you always try on? Do you ‘showroom’ (try on clothes in a store and then buy them online – this seems to me to combine the worst of two worlds)? What are your favourite places to shop for basics, online and in person? I really need to know, because I still haven’t made that purchase, and things are getting desperate, if you know what I mean.