Thursday, August 20, 2009

crazies at the mall...

I work freelance for a prominent upscale haberdashery.

They just happen to be located in a downtown mall. And the main display window is on an aisle that is fairly packed non-stop from people going from the train to the bus and beyond. Or visa versa.

When I do the windows this puts me in a precarious situation.

I'm in a fishbowl. A double wide double paned window just dressing the windows. No big deal. Who really cares? I like what I do. It's a creative outlet for me and I'm good at it. Without sounding braggy, I'm great at it.

It's all in the details.

And I see details. All the time. No matter where I go.

Like yesterday. While at the mall, I was following behind a group of ladies. They were obviously headed for the Caribou Coffee for a little mid morning java. Dressed in the typical, pointed shoes, trouser slacks and french cuff fitted shirts they 'thought' they had it going on. They walked like they thought they had it going on. They talked like they had it going on. Little did they know that I was walking behind them.

Contestant #1. Her shirt didn't fit properly. A cheap knock-off of a classic, it buckled in the back and the buttons were popping. Plus her heels were worn down and had that clickclickclick that worn out shoes make when the nail head from the heels are wearing through. Lose about 40 pounds sweetheart and your shoes will last longer.

Contestant #2. Pants too tight that had that grab across her ass. Not a bad thing in certain situations, but at work, at an office, during the day without a film crew isn't one of them. Pant hems dragging about 2" too long as well. She tried hard with the platforms to make up the extra length...but just go see a tailor. He (or she) can help you with the fit of the pants across your ass cheeks AND the length.

Contestant #3. She had previously had a blazer on, but with the humidity she took it off and slung it over her arm for her coffee run. Also, it was rather obvious she was flirting up a storm with the java dude, so she thought the extra cleavage would work to her advantage. Yeah. Hello. He's damn good looking, but he's gay, sista. But even with that faux pas, your tag is still hanging out the back of your cami and your hair is a total mess.

Do these people have mirrors? Have they heard of tailors? I can see that they are religiously buying fashion magazines and trying like hell to scream sensual that only confidence can project. That AND good fabrics and good tailoring. Trends? Sure. Use some of them...but don't become a whore and sell your individual style out. But you girls? You are a couple of dollars and buttons short of making this work for you. Trust me. I'm a professional.

But pardon me...I digress.

When working in the window you would be surprised by the amount of people that feel it necessary to knock, wave and lean on the window to watch me work. Now, I don't dress the mannequins IN the window, they are already dressed when I bring them in. So there aren't going to be any naked body forms. Ooohhhh. I'm just the arranging of the props, the extras, the banners...and these people watch me doing it. Like it some sort of live art. It's weird.

Visual display IS art, in a form. What I do directly impacts the traffic in the store and increases sales. It also makes a 'Brand' statement for the store. People recognize the clothing by the brand, the look, and the lifestyle that it exudes.

So when I was working, I decided to tape old banners to the windows so no one could see in. I was painting. I wanted to change the background of the window itself. There was about an inch or two on each side of the window that the banner didn't cover. I thought I was pretty well hidden. I was wrong.

When I knelt down to paint the lower edging, as I dipped my paintbrush into the can I happened to look over at the window. There was a guy purportedly tying his shoe and staring right at me. He was peering right under the 2 inches that the banner didn't cover. Staring at me. Painting. In the window. Kneeling on the floor.

And then he smiled. At me. And waved.

This totally creeped me out.

Maybe he thought he was being friendly. I thought it odd. No bizarre. I went to all this trouble to conceal myself behind a barricade; to protect myself from the voyeurism when I work in a fishbowl and here this guy is blatantly staring at me while I paint?! How long has he been watching? Did he notice when I pulled my jeans out of my crack? When I corrected my shirt? Please God, did I do anything I didn't want anyone to see while he was watching?

I kept the questions running in my head, and then thought. F*ck. Can't I even work in private? I Put up BANNERS! Leave me alone!

Just then, one of the associates came to say someone was there to see me. I thought, "Oh please." Would be this weirdo who's been watching me? I was afraid to leave the display area. But when I came out, it was just an old friend stopping by to say "Hi". She said, "I saw the banners taped in the window and thought you were working today".

What a relief.
So we left for a coffee.

That's when I saw those three girls.
Please someone...reach out. Tuck their tags in and give them a business card of a tailor.

How much more of this can one visual gal take.


  1. I didn't know that's what you did for a living. That is so cool. I've always like staring at window displays (well, only the good ones), especially during the holidays.

    I agree, done right, they are like art. Is window display you have in this post one that you did? If so, it's beautiful.

    Oh yeah, I hope to God, you never happen to walk behind me. I'm a mess when it comes to fashion. Just jeans, tennis shoes, and a shirt covering a tank top. Ugh!

  2. Oh, you poor dear. The fashion faux pas you must endure just to get from point A to point B. Had you shared your wisdom with these women, do you think it would have mattered? I mean, really? Maybe if you walked them into the tailor and pre-paid the bill, then maybe. But, they'd prob take the cash and use it to go buy a smoothie. As Clinton Kelly has often mentioned, you just have to learn to "flip the switch", sweetie...if you don't your eyes will eventually burn themselves right out.
    As for the fishbowl window display. Well, you ARE a form of live art. I would prob stop and watch you for a few...just out of curiosity, having never seen a window decorated before. But if you scowled at me I'd run away, crying. The shoe-tying guy was determined to see what was any expense. Hopefully, he wasn't there long (the same fears wud've swept thru my mind) or his face would have been all red from leaning upside-down for 15-20, you're golden.

  3. Ha! That's a great story. Hilarious too!!! Hope you enjoyed your coffee break!!

  4. I would probably watch too. But not out of a tiny taped over hole. I better rethink this after hearing how it feels to you.

  5. @Theresa - Oh, I'm not prefect, or perfectly dressed for that matter. So please don't think me a fashion snob or anything. But these girls...ugh. They strutted like hot stuff. And THAT annoys the hell out of me. (Especially when they are so NOT)

    I'm sure your jeans and tennies would've blown them away darlin'!Oh...and yes, that was a fall one from last year. I forgot my camera yesterday and havn't taken the current photo yet, so that will have to suffice until I get the current window. (It's very collegiate)

    @ Kathryn - It really IS the oddest thing. And a weird feeling, having people WATCH you. I just kept thinking, did Ijust rub or pick my nose. Did that guy see it? Ha!

    @K13 - Thanks for stopping by! (and leaving a comment)Once the girls left, yes, my coffee was quite enjoyable!


  6. "I work freelance for a prominent upscale haberdashery" sounds like the best thing ever and something you could just throw out over cocktails that would make people (like me) wildly jealous. I should be saying that over cocktails, damn it! Me, you hear, me!

    Sorry for the outburst. Excellent breakdown of the three ladies' fashion flubs, though I'm only guessing since I know eff-all about women's fashion. Men's fashion, though, I do know a smidge about: never wear an ascot to a modern baseball game unless you've got a thick skin.

    Wonderful post as always.

  7. I feel so bad for the my-tag-is-sticking/hanging-out-while-I-strut-my-stuff-for-all-to-see-people; I never know how to approach or just save them from the fashion police. So I don't. I use them as inspiration and check my mirror twice before leaving the house or the car ;)

  8. Where to begin, lets see, those girls, would just crack me up if I saw them.

    I totally understand you on "watching yourself" while in front others. I used to own a Window Cleaning Company, I had several Mall jobs. People would stop and stare at me, watching me work. It always bugged me. (plus them saying "you missed a spot")

    I know all about what you are saying. I mean I see folks like yourself putting things up so that you can have privacy. And then people try to peak. Its the human nature to look where you shouldn't be looking.

    You do however have one of the most beautiful displays I have ever seen.


  9. I love your observations and attention to detail. I was quite amused reading your contestant descriptions. They sound like things that might go through my mind too. ;o)

  10. Next time I try to chat up someone who's patently not into me, I will increase my chances of success by doing my hair and tucking my tags in. Thanks for the heads-up.... and welcome back! :)

  11. I think these same things on the bus -- it's amazing how many spandex-pants-tube-top outfits there are out there. They've left the house without looking in mirrors? Or perhaps they have a SPECIAL mirror?

  12. We've all seen gals like this in the mall or on the just verbalized what we all think - only in a succinct, biting, badass-not-bitchy delivery. And don't you just want to turn to the Freaky Fred when you catch him staring and pick your nose or smell your armpit just to get a reaction?! (I realize this mite not be appropriate at an up-scale store, but it would be kinda fun...)

  13. @ Chris - Thanks Chris for the complement! (blush) Working there I also know more about mens fashion (classic of course) than most men do. I can tie a bow tie ON a form. Sexy, huh? Just like in the old movies...

    @ladytruth- Good girl. People SHOULD look to make sure. Just in case. I once tucked a lady's tag in while on an elevator, out of habit, she was thankful yet a little hit off guard. I've made sure I don't do THAT again. It was habit!!!

    @Allen - Thank you Allen for the compliment on the windows. It's hard NOT to make the stuff look good with such great fabircs/clothes. But I like all the little details that go into a window. I wonder sometimes if people notice the little stuff, but I enjoy it. :-)

    @Will - I was amused yet annoyed watching those girls. Argh. Sometimes I wish I could turn it off. It'd save my brain cells.

    @Matthew - Thanks Matthew! It was a good little repreive. And you are welcome. Any tips I can give you will come free of charge, I promise. I'll bill my company instead. :-)

    @Pearl - I want one of those special mirrors that reflect what I WANT to project, not what I DO project. I'm sure the image would be positively...well probably the same. Spandex should be outlawed.

    @DreamChaser- ooohhh yeah, I'm badass. Love it. Watch out, ya'll! (oh....and I did probably both of those things, that's why his watching me upset me so much! teehee!)

    Thanks you guys! Love the comments!

  14. Dear Nancy, Your post was wonderful. I think you are amazing. I love your writing.

    It's so hard to believe that it's been four weeks since you said good bye to your dear sweet Mama. Time doesn't make sense right now.
    Thanks so much for keeping in touch.

    I love hearing from you, and I truly enjoy wonderful personality.


  15. Hey Everyone,
    Don't let Nancy kid you. She ALWAYS looks like flawless and it seems to come effortless to her. She's so talented, I had her put choose my paint colors, arrange my furniture and put all the finishing touches on my house when I bought it. Everytime someone walks in, they say, "Wow. This looks like something out of a magazine!." Nope, it's just my friend Nancy doin' her thing. :-)

  16. Wow...nice job!

    Enjoyed reading about the three girls :)

  17. I am so jealous of your profession - sounds like a lot of fun, minus the creepers of course.

  18. Actually you would be surprised at how many people don't even think about using a tailor! It is like tailors are something of the past and not available anymore. I think it would have been perfectly acceptable to tell the ladies to go to a tailor. Sure they would have thought it rude at the time, but it would have planted the seed of using a tailor and maybe they would have tried it. Just a thought.

  19. Absolutely hysterical.

    I can't tell you enough how often I find myself thinking the same things!! How do some of these people walk out of the house? I mean, COME ON. It's a mix of laziness and bravado and it's nothing but fake.

    Buy the pants, tailor the pants, and then OWN the pants and not in the possessive sense. I might even excuse the worn down heel if the big girl threw in the extra $30 to get her stuff personally form fitted.

    Your sense of humor is totally jiving with mine. LOVE your posts!! :)

  20. People watching (and critiquing) is so much fun. Though, I'm reminded why I don't visit malls, don't dress up, and never walk like I think I look good. I KNOW I have no fashion sense. A friend once submitted me to "What Not To Wear".

  21. @Lisa (LPC) - Thanks! A compliment from you ALWAYS makes my day!

    @Donna - Thanks Donna for your kind words. About the blog AND my mom! You're awesome.

    @Chrissy - People! Don't believe what she says about me! She's biased! :-)
    Love you Chrissy...

    @kasabiangirl - I wish I'd had a video camera with me...the video combined with my naration would've been the new viral web sensation! :-)

    @Travel & Amp - It IS a fun job! That's one reason I've stayed in the profession so long. Sometimes you wonder if anyone notices, but every day IS different!

    @Mr. Glob - Thanks for stopping by AND leaving a comment! I'm afraid that if I'd have told them to see a tailor, the big girl might have sat on me...or worse! :-)

    @ Handsome - I know that YOU wouldn't go out in public like that. ON behalf of all the visual people and those with taste...THANK YOU! :-)

    @ Bran - How funny! I like the idea of making a "What Not to Wear" list. I might steal that and make posters and place them randomly around high Fashion Faux Pas areas!

    Thanks again for the comments! They definitely make me smile!


  22. Pants too tight that had that grab across her ass. Not a bad thing in certain situations....

    LOL! Too funny. People watching can fill a blog can't it?

    And I have something for you Misses. Pop over to the Awards party.

  23. Very funny! I could just picture those girls as you described the visual! I would be creeped out too if someone was watching me do my work, especially when I had most of the view blocked! You sound like you are very good....sorry....excellent with detail!

  24. I want you to come and make my cake counter look fabulous. Awesome job you have I didn't know but now I know. As for those women very funny stuff and you got a great eye for the details.

    I always stand behind my cake counter staring at the women who stop by looking at what they're wearing and most of the time if not all the time they need a tailor hahahah!!!tags hanging out hahaha!!! your amazing. Take good care and thanks for leaving a comment on my blog love.


  25. Did the perv have mirrors attached to his shoes? That is very pervy!

    I love display windows! It is an art in my opinion because it is very difficult to create something that people will be attracted to. i tried my hand at it a couple of times when I worked in a retail store and it was difficult. I had a few outfits that did work and we sold quite a bit of those shirts and sweaters but pulling together a good window is comprised of lots of talent!
    Maybe next time you can place a sign in the window that says, "Do not wave at employees or tap on glass. They bite."

  26. I just saw a comment you put on Rae's blog and was enchanted with your name. And other than Weather Vane, there's not one other blog on your list that I follow! Oh no! Another black hole! Your writing is superb, I enjoyed it immensely, so I guess I'll be here again. Glad I found you!

  27. I've been thinking about this post for DAYS now, and had to come back and comment.

    What is it with people? Seriously? I might not be dressed to the nines every day, but I know what works and what doesn't. It's called BEING A GROWN UP.

    And the "lose 40 pounds" bit? brilliant. I've been saying it to people in my head all week.

  28. LOL... this had me laughing out loud. Thankfully, though, I'm a guy. We really don't worry about this kind of thing. Well... unless you're gay like the guy in the coffee shop.


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