I had a panic attack in the dressing room of American Apparel yesterday when I became convinced that I was going to be murdered.
Perhaps I need to explain.
I've been completely obsessed with t-shirt dresses ever since I was introduced to the idea (basically a long t-shirt that society accepts as a dress) in a fashion magazine awhile ago. It sounded like the epitome of comfort and casual cool. Ideally, such a garment would cost $10, max, but sadly my search had only turned up $200 versions as I got antsy to begin spring and summer and forsake my pants.
I had a hunch that American Apparel would have just what I was looking for, but I usually try to boycott companies with crappy advertising (You won't see me buying Dove "Women are beautiful just as they are! Now buy our cellulite cream to fix your disgusting thighs" soap, for example). American Apparel ads, as I discussed here, creep me the hell out, but they have cute things, damnit, and soon I found myself on their website, staring at a "tunique" that matched my specifications exactly.
Ultimately, the urge for a t-shirt dress, my generally weak will, and the glimpse of what seemed like a perfect one on the AA website drew me into their Portland store. I was greeted by an appropriately sulky, skinny, primary-colored young man who wasn't helpful at all. I asked him where to find this, the dress I'd ogled online the night before:
He said, "Ummm....over there?" and pointed to the huge women's section.
I finally found it on the rack and picked out a navy blue one. The product was not living up to my high hopes--the material was really thin and a couple of the ones on the rack already looked old and beat up, the result of just being tried on a few times. Did I really want to spend $34 on a t-shirt dress that would last for probably two days until, oh, I don't know, an especially strong breeze blew the seams open or something? No, I didn't. But I'd come in this store, ignored my moral compass, and been treated like shit by an employee--I had to make it worth it. I marched into the dressing room to try it on.
The dressing rooms at American Apparel are like the dressing rooms at many hip places nowadays--dimly lit cement mini-dungeons (yes, as opposed to regular sized dungeons or the always preferable mega-dungeons) with only a thin, transparent curtain for privacy. I put the dress on, which was both extremely unflattering and, despite its "dress" status, failed to cover my chocha. I threw it on the floor in rage (I'm always a bit dramatic in dressing rooms), started to put my clothes back on, and that's when I noticed the pictures on the walls.
There were four or five black and white polaroid-style photos of young women in trademark AA borderline-porno poses. They were all wearing next to nothing and looked like they were suffering. Suddenly I felt like I'd stumbled into the den of a twisted serial killer with a penchant for twenty-something hipsters, and I had to escape immediately. The only thing stopping me from running screaming out of the store was the fact that I was basically naked and surrounded by equally naked women with flatter stomachs than mine. An intense battle ensued between my survival instincts and my need to avoid junior high locker room flashbacks at all costs. In the end, junior high avoidance won out, and I ended up sitting in the dressing room hyperventilating and staring at the picture of American Apparel's (or Dov Charney's?) previous victims, preparing for my inevitable bloody end.
So maybe I'm more than a "bit dramatic" in dressing rooms. But don't tell me you've never done the same thing. Right?
And my search for a t-shirt dress continues...