Like pretty much every other woman in America, I get a whole bunch of catalogs in the mail. I used to look forward to finding a few minutes in the week to page through some of them, but lately I just find them depressing. That’s because over the last few years it’s become painfully obvious that I have been added to the direct mailing list of “women of a certain age.”
Of course, it wasn’t always this way. A decade ago, my catalog covers all featured long-legged, pouty girls barely out of their teens, clad in edgy, fashion-forward clothing that flaunted their size-two frames. But as the years have passed, those catalogs have slowly been replaced by ones depicting middle-aged women happily dressed in soft, flowing jersey tops and skirts, cozy wraps, and safe, low-heeled shoes. I’m left feeling like America’s retailers are trying to tell me something… something like: This is who you are now. Clear out those sequined skirts and platform stilettos, honey, and put on some Danskos, for heaven’s sake.
What’s more, I’m buying into it. I’ve been hitting Boden, Garnet Hill and Ann Taylor hard these last few years, I won’t deny it. Talbots has seen my credit card a few times and while I blush to admit it, Lands’ End has replaced Victoria’s Secret as my bathing suit seller of choice. I still turn up my nose at J.Jill and Chico’s (I do have some standards), but I get a little thrill now when the latest Sundance catalog arrives.
And then there’s the newest– and so far most egregious– addition to the pile:
Opening the Soft Surroundings catalog for the first time was a bitch slap of cold, hard reality. The fact of the matter is that I am not and never will be Forever 21, and no amount of $12.80 tops will make it so. Instead, I am Currently 37. I am Pushing 40. Soft Surroundings makes these truths abundantly clear. You won’t find any barely legal models in man-catching minidresses or low cut, curve hugging tops in Soft Surroundings. What you will find is an attractively-filtered fantasy world specifically created for middle-aged women who have absolutely zero interest in ever attracting a man again. Also? These broads drink a little. Check it:
I’ve got my glass of wine and my Baroque Topper. Come on, Muffy– Let’s go find ourselves some peanut butter!
Wow. When I wear my Snuggly Pullover, this pillow reminds me of… ME!!
Needlepoint pillow? Check. Pastel blanket? Check. Cuddly lapdog? Check. High-necked Snuggle Gown? Check.
I am now the ULTIMATE man repeller.
Yes, this is the totally surreal world of Soft Surroundings. And the scary thing is…
I kind of like it.
The thought of decorating my house in pastels and wearing comfy caftans while drinking wine all day long– I mean, what’s so bad about that? Sure, I’d miss my husband but I would sooooo not miss the Spanx.
So yes. There may very well be a dog-eared, tattered Soft Surroundings hidden away under the more fashionable items on my nightstand. I think of it as porn for the perimenopausal.
But I also think I’ll keep my sequined skirts and platform stilettos around for just a little while longer … at least until my AARP card arrives.