Now that we're home... it became time to go shopping for my new suit for the wedding next month.
So, across the bridge we went, shopping - with me wearing a women's polo, women's polyester dress slacks (no stirrup pants or leggings today), black tights, flats, and carrying my purse. No makeup, no lipstick, no jewelry. It's about as masculine as I can be...
First stop over on "the other side" was a branch of a major men's clothing chain. It was the place I'd seen ads for suits costing $149. We walked in and were greeted as "ladies." I inquired (in my male voice) about men's suits. "We can help you, Ma'am." (I glanced over at my wife, but she had turned to look at the suits on the nearby rack...intentionally, I suspect.) I said, "Let's start with the ones advertised for $149. " "Oh, sorry, Ma'am. That sale has ended, and we have nothing in the store for $149. Our suits now start at $200 and go up from there. The $300 ones are very nice for that price." I said "We're not looking to spend that much, sorry." And we left the store.
We had another stop to make (for wedding stuff) in that shopping center. I went in with her, and while I was not "miss-identified," there were no strange looks from any of the women (or young girls) there. When we finished, it was off to another shopping center, this one enclosed, where there was a Macy's.
Enroute down the shopping center's main aisle, vendors were pouncing on us two "ladies," to try to con us into buying things. We both repeatedly said "no thanks" and kept walking, in a couple cases leaving them babbling their spiel to our backs.
Before we knew it, we had reached Macy's. Since I bought a wonderful heavy winter coat there a few years ago, at a fabulous price, we stopped in, hoping to find similar sales on winter suits. There were sales, all right, but sale prices were even higher than those of the first store. (Like upwards of $400, all designer brands. Who needs a (insert designer name here) suit for $400-$500? Not lil' ol' me!) So we started back into the mall. Walking through the makeup section got us a lot of greetings and "miss-identifications" by the sales ladies...from behind their customer-free counters.
Across the mall we trudged, to a major chain retailer (the one in the news for the past couple years for price shenanigans.) There was one clerk in the men's suit area. After waiting for him to check out some other customers' small purchases, he finally greeted us as "Hi Ladies." I asked about suits in my male voice, which changed his form of address for me to "sir." Which was OK, since I wasn't trying to femulate. Good news is: He measured me and we determined my current men's size. Bad news is, he wandered off in the middle of helping me, "to check out a customer."
Turned out that 4 more customers got in line behind the original one. So, after about 10 minutes of waiting, and three more customers getting in his line, I took off the coat he had me try on. I couldn't find pants to go with it anyway - nowadays they sell suits as separates, so they can milk people for more in total - and we left. They're seriously understaffed...not sure why the chain is in financial trouble, with all the money they save by not having enough employees. Could it have something to do with customers not getting service, and just leaving for other stores? In my own case, they lost a nearly $200 sale.
Next we went to the other end of the mall, for a visit to another big chain...also with a staffing problem. There were no clerks at all in the men's department - it was completely "self-service." But thanks to the guy who lost the sale at the other store, I already knew my size, found the appropriate coat, and a pair of pants that fit - except for "needing hemmed." I tried both on to be sure, picked out a belt and tie, and took everything to the centralized check-out clerk. Total with tax came to about $180. Not much more than renting a Tux...or considerably less, if I'd have had to purchase new tux-quality dress shoes. (Incidentally, my wife is OK with my wearing a pair of my flats, as long as I wear a pair of dark trouser socks.) And I get to keep the outfit if I ever need to wear a suit again. Yes, I realize that it's not the finest quality clothing (Macy's had lots of that - at massively-high prices). But for one wedding and as a "closet stuffer," it'll do.
On the way home (no traffic at the bridge at 2 PM) my wife mentioned: "I hope you see why I insist that your hair be pinned into a ponytail for the wedding." "Go on..." "Because wedding pictures will last forever. When the kids write our names on the back, or label the ones on the computer, yours is a girl's name now. I don't want people to always wonder 'who's that big woman standing there with (our son's) mother?'"
To keep the peace, I'm not going to quibble with my wife's logic...particularly since presenting as unambiguously male is a tad difficult. At least she tolerates my long hair and feminine attire the rest of the time...for that I'm eternally grateful.
During our shopping spree, we couldn't find a short sleeve shirt to wear with the suit. The wedding is outside, it's going to be May in the south (probably hot), and I refuse to wear a long sleeve shirt under a dark suit outside, even if short sleeve shirts "aren't proper with suits." Once I find a new short sleeve men's white shirt, I'll try everything on and see how I look with long hair...masculine or feminine. And maybe even, with the ponytail.
But for now, the die is cast, so, "it will be what it will be..."
Till next time...