Notes from the outside world
I took the tram a few stops
A convergence of events was such that I went outside entirely alone, no stroller, no toddler, no wild 11-year-old poodle even, for what was it two? three? hours this afternoon. This being an unusual occurrence, I wanted to make the absolute most of the time. Every second had to be spectacular. This is, I realize as I type, a recipe for disappointment. Nothing can live up to that. Even the perfectly lovely afternoon I had.
First stop was a special appointment-only Japanese (as in the owner is from/is frequently in Japan) vintage store. You have to book an hour-long slot. I could see it was pretty near where I live but thought when am I going to have time to do this? It’s down a flight of stairs so definitely not with a stroller and trying clothes on when you have a baby in a carrier (not that I haven’t tried) doesn’t work. But on Instagram it looked so promising.
Close-reading the reruns with Phoebe Maltz Bovy is a reader-supported publication. To further the cause of my purchasing garbage clothes, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Well. I booked. I waited until my time slot. I entered an otherwise empty store, apart from the shopkeeper. The moment had come!
And… I’m not sure which I noticed first, that the stuff was incredibly expensive, or that it was altogether ordinary. Just kidding, it was the upwards of $100 (CAD but still) prices on many items. Items from such haute couture establishments as Express, Talbots, American Apparel. A bunch of American Apparel. The same assortment as any middling North American thrift or vintage store but priced rather differently. What was I expecting? Japanese clothes, maybe. Not, like, traditional garb, but the sort of high-end minimalist Eileen Fisher-ish stuff that Muji is a cheaper version of. Or just, anything compelling. (Lots of good vintage clothes are label-less, but still, American Apparel?) I wanted to want something. I wanted none of it.
But I felt terrible. I’d booked an hour to look at clothes. No other customers. The shopkeeper told me to feel free to try something on and I knew I was going to have to do this. But what? The floral romper with slight potential except for the fact that it was clear even on the hanger it would be a bad idea at $20 let alone the $80 it was? A Laura Ashley dress not unlike one I recently purchased secondhand but $130 rather than $50?
Minutes were passing. Precious minutes. I had to do something here or I was never going to leave.
I narrowed it down to a pair of jeans. Was I able to get them onto my body? I was not. A bad outcome for vanity maybe but it did mean I had a socially acceptable reason for leaving without a purchase. I had been there for 25 minutes.
Next stop was an Italian café where, I cannot stress this enough, I did work on a laptop inside. Between lockdowns and lifestyle this had not happened in 3,000 years.
Then on my way home I passed the warehouse-type vintage place that charges by the pound. It’s like City Bakery but instead of a high-end 1996 buffet in New York it’s old clothes in 2022 Toronto. The floral-dresses section probably has something but everything was a bit too stained/polyester/wrong size to be appealing. The denim jacket and leather jacket sections would have been perfect if I were looking for those. But I kept digging and found a pair of surprisingly well-fitting (once I cut them to the right length at home) Wrangler all-cotton (men’s?) jeans and a jacket along these lines but $8 and, fine, missing a button. I have looked up where to get buttons and it would seem there’s a store on Queen West that specializes in these. (“Spoons, eh?” but for buttons.) When will the button outing happen? Unclear but it will, it will!
Like this sort of thing? Please subscribe!