Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Long & The Short of it

Today I went shopping. Part of my job is shopping. I work as a costumer. I call myself a costumer rather than a costume designer out of respect for all of those designers who have gone to school and received their degrees in theater and paid their dues. I fell into costuming because my skill set crosses into many arenas. I adapt. My degree is in fine art with an emphasis in ceramics. Go figure.

But really, when I was in junior high the girls had to take sewing while the boys took wood shop. In sewing I made an apron & a gym bag out of gingham (that checkered material, usually white & another color.) Moving on to high school I continued to take sewing because I could make my own clothes. Fabric and patterns were cheap then... The rest is history.

Anyway I went shopping today. The local theater called me in to coordinate the costumes for their next show: a one woman play. They gave me a wad of money and sent me out to find a professional pant suit for the second act. Did I mention they wanted the suit in the color teal? or green. Oh and the actor is tall with an inseam of 34".

My inseam is 28". I'm 5' tall. I can't even reach the top shelf of the kitchen cubbards. What do I know about the Tall section. Well, today I found out how hard it is to shop for a tall woman. Even if there isn't a Petite section I can buy a Regular size pant & cut 12" off the leg and they'll fit. It's not so easy the other way around. Off the rack pants only have about 1.5 inches in the hem to let out.

I started my search at "Avenue", a store over in the "Ross Dress for Less" shopping center. Everything there is casual, nothing professional. Next the"Old Target": nada. Not even jackets. Lots for me but no professional wear. Then "JC Penney" in the Pacific Mall. Here I found a lot of things. There was an actual suit section but nothing in the right size. Oh I did find a jacket in the right size but the pants were missing.

Now I should say I knew perfectly well that I would not find a teal or even a green suit so I was going for something in the ball park. I'm creative not crazy. Maybe a turquoise or green jacket paired with black pant. But almost all the suits were black or navy. The suits with a color jacket were mostly pink or red with a skirt. And most of the suits were petites. Did I mention I'm shopping for a redhead...

JC Penney had the largest selection of blazer jackets and pretty short sleeve or sleeveless blouses. Did I mention that the actress doesn't like to wear short sleeve or sleeveless?

So I ended up with a gray blazer, gray pants that don't match the jacket, black pants both 32". 4 blouses in the blue green range. All short sleeve. It was a start.

I moved on to Sears: nothing. Macy's: this is the land of the petite suit set in nothing over size 10. I found a pair of black pants in a Tall at Lane Bryant. And a tan blazer at Ann Taylor. Both stores had very good customer service. (Having worked in customer service for 6 years in a previous life, I like to give credit where credit is due.)

I want to know where Hilary Clinton gets all those colorful suits!

I had a meeting in Santa Barbara in the evening so I went early so I could stop by Nordstroms. Nordie's has everything! They are so sophisticated. Surely I will find what I need there! They had the smallest suit section and the only colors were black & brown. (FYI: They did have the classic button up blouses with 3/4 length sleeve in white & colors. I couldn't find a one in Ventura)

Then I had a moment of inspiration: Talbots! There's a Talbots at La Cumbre Plaza right on my way to my meeting. Surely they would have professional wear. Appropriate garments!!

It's been a while since I have been up to La Cumbre Plaza and they have seriously upgraded the place. There is even a Louis Vitton store?! At "Talbots" I found a lovely selection of clothes: talls & petites. And much to my surprise when I asked the salesclerk (who was very helpful) if they had any blazers in turquoise she said yes! I was able to find a pair of green pants too.

Tomorrow we have our fitting session. I have a slew of garments to try on the actor. We'll see what fits, what matches the director's vision and what I get to return!

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