This sounds like a post about some kind of epic journey. In some ways it was. I was in Phoenix recently for a conference and was determined to take some time off to search for my favourite brand of clothes. I’ve been a big fan of Lands End clothes for a long time. When I was a plus size, I despaired of ever finding clothes to fit me. I live in Singapore, where people look like walking match sticks and clothes in stores are the size of postage stamps. No one has hips or thighs. It’s very demoralising to shop here.
Lands End popped up on my browser during a desperate online search. I was like a kid in a candy store – gripping my credit card in my sweaty hand as I chose from the widest variety of clothes I had ever been able to choose from. And I didn’t have to look like Bloody Mary in South Pacific anymore (not that she isn’t perfectly lovely). It wasn’t just that the clothes fit. The quality was amazing. Fabrics and stitching were strong, designs were flattering, and colours were vibrant.
I’ve lost the weight and can technically buy clothes in my beloved country now. But I am addicted to the Lands End look. At the risk of sounding all whiny, I still don’t think Singapore stores want people like me to shop there. Either you have to dress like an Aunty in loose floral tops and baggy pants, or like a wannabe teenager in skinny jeans and flippy skirts. There seems to be no in-between that is classy, age-appropriate, functional, dignified AND affordable. Also, I’m not a plus size anymore, but no amount of weight loss will change my pear shaped figure. My husband says it’s sexy. I’m glad he likes it, but I’d really rather be able to shop!
Hence my continuing romance with Lands End.
The only problem is that I worry about buying trousers and shoes (since I’m putting it all out here anyway I’ll tell you that I have size 11 feet while the average size here is about 5 or 6) without trying them on first. Apparently Sears stores carry Lands End products. So I had the brilliant idea of visiting one while I was in Phoenix just to try on the trousers and shoes. Once I figured out what my size was I should be able to order online worry-free. Sounds like a brilliant idea, no?
Because this is what actually happened:
The concierge at the hotel where I was staying said that there was a Sears store at a place called Montebello. So I marched to the train station, bought a ticket and got on the train. This part was pretty painless. The shopping area turned out to be huge and sprawling. There was Walmart…Target…JC Penney’s and a whole bunch of other stores. But no Sears. A sweet young cashier at one store cheerfully told me how to get to the Metrocenter Mall where there was a Sears store. 2 buses, she chirped. Thank you, I said, and marched to the bus stop in the blazing heat. You’d think that in that sort of climate they would make the bus shelters a little more friendly for people who needed to escape the heat. Wherever I stood some part of me burned in the sun. I settled for roasted feet. Don’t judge me.
At the bus stop, I chatted with a guy named Rico, who told me his whole life story even though I didn’t ask. And then told me that since it was Memorial Day, the buses would only come every hour on the hour. Which meant that it would take me more than an hour to reach the mall since I had to change buses. I went back to the shopping area, because Rico said that the folks in Target would help me call for a cab. Which they did. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I had to ask the operator to speak slowly when she was telling me about where the cab would pick me up because I just couldn’t figure out her accent. This despite years of watching American TV programs!
The cab driver was a delightful young lady named Deborah, who, when I told her how friendly I thought people in Phoenix were, warned me that they were also crazy, and that I should be careful about whom I spoke to on public transport especially, since most regular people owned cars and only homeless people tended to use the trains and buses. I was a little worried as we pulled up in front of the entrance to the Sears store that I might not be able to find my way back, and Deborah very kindly said she would come back after two hours to pick me up. I didn’t know how far I could trust her, so I was mentally prepared to make other arrangements when I was done. It turned out that she DID come back to get me. And I’m glad she did because I needed to see a friendly face after my huge disappointment.
That particular Sears store did NOT carry Lands End clothes anymore, and they were unsure whether any other outlets did. I had run out of time because I had to fly home the next morning, and it was way too expensive to take a cab anywhere else. In any case, the fight had gone out of me.
I will take up the search again some other time. But I want to end on a high note: I may not have found Lands End this time, but I did meet some interesting people!