I just finished reading an article from Vanity Fair titled "J Who?" (Summer 2019). This passage really resonated with me:
"J Crew, at various times in its 36 years, has struck an emotional chord... Today, scratch the surface of many a thirty-or forty something J Crew fan (ahem) and you'll find their inner teenager, waiting for the latest glossy dispatch from a land of just-beyond-reach privilege to arrive in the family mailbox. You couldn't put your finger on it, exactly, but what these people had, you wanted."
This description took me back, immediately, to the summer before my senior year of college. I distinctly remember choosing my first J Crew bikini-- super-simple- plain aquamarine. It represented my hope that I'd be cool enough to fit into those pictures in the catalog. I would have easy-breezy afternoons with friends on the beach. I'd be ready for wherever my day took me in J Crew apparel.
If memory serves, they had free shipping at $80, & the suit was around $50. I have always been a total sucker for free shipping, so I also chose a pair of shorts & a tee, but I labored for days deciding, because I wanted it all but was a poor college student & wasn't often buying J Crew clothing. I wanted to choose the best darn things in that whole catalog.
Obviously, I dedicated a lot of thought to this decision. I still remember it 20 years later. Why?? I was about to start a new adventure-- I was spending the fall of my senior year in Los Angeles, & I needed to choose the perfect J Crew tee shirt that fit my fantasies of what that time would be like. I was single & 20 years old & anything could happen-- & cooler things would happen if I had the right clothes.
As I read that sentence over, it sounds silly, but let's be honest, we've all believed in the power of clothes to create experiences for us. Most of us buy new clothes for job interviews. We treat ourselves to new outfits for vacation. Every summer, kids & their parents head to stores to choose their clothes for the next school year. My kids haven't expressed much of an interest in the past, but this year, I've saved up all of my Gap credit card rewards so that they can buy back to school clothes at the Gap outlet. Since it's kind of free money, I won't feel the need to be practical & tell them what to get. I'm going to let them get whatever feels good to them. I want to see what their fantasies are for the new school year-- is Ginny still all about dresses? Is James going to keep going with the collared-shirt look he's been choosing this summer? What clothes represent their dreams of the next school year? I may not be looking forward to the blood-sport that it finding the last white one-inch binder at Target, but the clothing part of back to school shopping excites me. My kids are starting new chapters, like I was back in 2000, & I'm looking forward to sharing their excitement. Oh, & we might swing by the J Crew Outlet after. Teachers need back to school clothes, too~
In case you didn't know, Michael's craft store offers $5 craft classes on Saturdays. Best idea ever! You don't have to schedule ahead of time, but if you find you have an open Saturday, you can get everyone out of the house. Ginny loves the crafts. James tried it the first time she went. I wandered the store for 20 minutes (you do have to stay in the store while they craft), & came back to find Ginny hard at work & James standing on the chairs lining the wall & carefully walking up & down them. The Michaels' employee was gluing his craft. He was just not ready.
Ginny, however, loved it then and loves it now, so we go, & frankly, I think James & I might actually have even more fun than Gin does. When I look back on James's preschool/pre-d years, I think those mornings will be some of my happiest memories. I don't get a lot of one-on-one time with James. He is my second child, after all. That's why I think he still chooses to not do the craft. Two years have passed since he stood on the chairs in that first class, & now he could totally handle following the directions. He just chooses not to. He appears to prefer time with me, & there's no way I'm discouraging that. The day will come when his favorite thing isn't hanging out with me. Until then, I'll follow his bliss around the store. We check out the holiday decor (Halloween is his favorite), touch all of the beads, & explore the toys. I watch his little face light up. We might just be passing the time while Ginny crafts, but man, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I'm an English teacher, a wife, a dog lover, a bibliophile, & a wanna-be fashionable mom. Well, I'm already a mom. Just trying to get the "fashionable" part going...