I was poking around in a T.J. Maxx the other day (because I only shop at the very finest fashion houses, such as Targét and an exclusive haute couture establishment known as Goodwill Industries) and I came across a shirt that looked sort of strange . . . yet intriguingly so. It was butter-soft, a soothing mauvey-grey-beige tone that promised to be the perfect neutral, and it fell in luxurious drapes. I held it up in front of my body and something inside my heart said yes. Yes, this shirt will be the amazing blend of comfort and glamour I have always wanted. I imagined pairing it with yoga pants for lounging around the house in a laid-back, yet wildly attractive manner; I imagined wearing it with heels and eye-catching jewelry and feeling myself flooded with pure confidence as men and woman alike stopped dead in their tracks and stared, mesmerized by the effortlessly chic vision that stood before them.

I clutched The Shirt—for that it how it came to be known in my mind, as an object worthy of capitalization—to my chest, faintly worried that someone else would be equally drawn in by its charms and take the last size M, and ferried my glorious discovery to the fitting room. I very nearly didn’t bother with this step, as I was so utterly certain it would be like Cinderella’s glass slipper, but I also couldn’t wait to see the transformation take place.

Once I was properly undressed and unpleasantly illuminated under the T.J. Maxx fluorescents, the first creeping doubt set in. The Shirt had all sorts of interesting folds, to be sure, but it also seemed to have more holes than what, strictly speaking, seemed to be necessary. No matter, I thought, it will resolve itself once it’s on, because this is the sort of Shirt that can’t be done justice by some sort of mere hanger. It requires a human body to come to life, and clearly I was meant to be that body.

I slipped it over my head, and that’s when the trouble started. There was an immediate indication that something had gone wrong—my arms were stuck out at strange angles and my face was buried in fabric. When I attempted to backtrack, I found myself pulling yards and yards of cloth around in a fruitless effort to get my head through the right section. Caught in a sea of mauve-grey-beige, I started to panic.

Blindly, I rooted around with the tip of my nose, attempting to push my way facefirst through The Shirt. My arms were trapped and it felt as though sections of cloth were hanging down to the floor while another areas were tightening around my left ear, and I began to flail around and knock into the walls of the fitting room, which were narrowing in some sort of nightmarish horror movie scenario.

I don’t know how long I spent locked in a death grip with The Shirt, but just when I was thinking I’d have to start bellowing for help, my head popped through an opening and my arms were suddenly free. I was panting and faintly sweaty and felt more than a little as though I’d been birthed from the canal of some terrible cotton-beast, but I took a deep breath and turned to face the mirror. After all that, I was surely going to look like a goddamned goddess. Il faut souffrir pour etre belle, no?

This. This is what I saw.

shirt

I can still remember when, as a child, I finally received the Amazing Live Sea Monkeys I’d ordered from the back of a comic book. I was in a frenzy of anticipation to see my little pet family cavorting around in their “bowl of happiness,” swimming and performing stunts and obeying my every command. And oh, the resentful disappointment when I discovered they were nothing more than a pile of dream-killing brine shrimp.

I can now say I have experienced a letdown even worse than Sea Monkeys, friends. I hope whoever designed that Shirt goes straight to hell, where there’s nothing to wear but stupid unflattering outfits festooned with inexplicable holes, and nothing to eat but shrimp brined in the salty sorrow of in bitter, bitter tears.

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elsewise
elsewise
11 years ago

Shirt shmert – your hair looks *fantastic*, and your eyebrow of dubiousness should win some sort of competition. Just sayin’.

ladyloo
11 years ago

Could the shoulder holes be sewn shut?

Michelle M.
Michelle M.
11 years ago

Bwah! OMG, the eyebrow. THE EYEBROW says EVERYTHING.

So…you bought it to wear to BlogHer, right?

Christina
11 years ago

Holy crap, so needed a laugh. And you perfectly captured the whole TJ Maxx dressing room of doom experience (as I like to call it). Once in TJ Maxx I first considering asking for a pair of scissors to cut myself out of an outfit I tried on with equal amounts of hope that it would be Amazing!

JudithNYC
JudithNYC
11 years ago

OMG. I am laughing so hard that I can barely write. I think I have had that experience with a killer shirt. And although I agree that your hair looks fabulous, the shirt hahahahahhahaha. A couple of years ago a houseguest brought me something similar and then insisted I wear it when she took me out to dinner.

PS Now I know where Riley got the look.

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

Maybe, it’s because I live in Los Angeles and
Have been stripped of proper fashion sensibility….maybe… Or that shirt looks amazing on you. Very cool how it shows off your tattoo and it’s fantastic on your figure. Not many could pull that off, YOU can. I say go hunt that shirt down.

Renee from GA
Renee from GA
11 years ago

We can plainly see from whence Riley got his Dubious Eyebrow. Your hair looks terrific!

Kate
Kate
11 years ago

The stingrays “unda da sea” would welcome you! I wonder if you could do free jumping in it?! You know….that guy that wears a flying squirrel like suit and jumps off of cliffs from 1000s of feet in the air?!

MontesMommy
MontesMommy
11 years ago

OMG I have tears in my eyes laughing so hard! The Shirt, the look on your face – priceless!

PinkieBling
PinkieBling
11 years ago

I saw this on Twitter and wondered just how it is that you manage to get hotter as time goes on. What IS that? Please share.

This post was so GD funny. Favorites, a la Swistle: “laid-back, yet wildly attractive manner,” “Blindly, I rooted around with the tip of my nose,” “sections of cloth were hanging down to the floor while another areas were tightening around my left ear,” and the entire last paragraph.

Sorry about The Shirt. I, too, have Been There.

Nik-Nak
11 years ago

I’m actually kind of digging it.

And please, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, do a step by step post on how you get your hair to look so damn a-mah-ZING! I need it. I crave the curls.

chrissy
chrissy
11 years ago

It sort of looks like you have wings. Fly, little birdy, fly.

Kathryn
Kathryn
11 years ago

That is Riley’s face of suspicion and skepticism, right there.

perl
perl
11 years ago

Exquisitely written! I usually like to gloss over words, reading faster than I should, but this story had me paying close attention. As for the shirt – well, I could certainly never pull it off, but as long as you don’t mind a slight breeze, I think you totally could.

Diane
Diane
11 years ago

I haven’t laughed this much in a while…I could so totally identify with this experience…except you ended up looking kinda great in the shirt!!!

Carmen
11 years ago

This is hysterical, but the best part is the expression on your face. And, btw, that shirt DOES look like a Shirt, made of Perfect Fabric. Too bad about the multitude of holes.

Donna
Donna
11 years ago

Like mother like son, now we see where Riley gets it from, lol!
I bet it did look yummy on the hanger, the material looks delish, but that cut? I don’t know..unless you are trying to fly off the roof of a large building. Yeah, that’s it, with some spandex pants, and a helmet! There you go, a complete ensemble, lol!

wockyjabber
11 years ago

It looks like something that would be in Spiegel paired with some black skin tight ankle zipper jeans and pumps. Woot woot! Sorry it didn’t turn out to be “the one”. Your Shirt is out there… You will find it one day and it will be amazing.

Erica
11 years ago

I got some sea monkey pajamas from Amazon delivered yesterday. Those bitches are going back! hilarious.

Rachael
11 years ago

My daughter was watching QVC the other day (long story) and there was a gentleman raving about a similar shirt and its “peep shoulders” or some damn thing. His selling point was that it was great for ladies of a certain age because “THE SHOULDERS ARE THE LAST TO GO.”

Who are the marketing wizards that came up with that tag line?

ssm
ssm
11 years ago

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ah so you bought it right?

Artemisia
11 years ago

This same thing happened when I found what I thought was an AMAZING JACKET at J. Jill. It took forever to put it on properly, and then, then, it was just SO BAD.

My heart broke, but my wallet sure did a happy dance.

Jen
Jen
11 years ago

best post ever!!!!

Kim
Kim
11 years ago

Oh, so funny! It seems like I have a similar experience every time I go clothes shopping. I might have a small problem with idealizing clothes and expecting that they will transform me into Gisele rather than me-with-nice-clothes-on. Oh well…

Kaire
Kaire
11 years ago

But if you ever had a need to jump off a building and soar majestically to the ground, those wings would handle it well!

MRW
MRW
11 years ago

God I hate sea monkey clothing, have had more than my share of similar experiences with blouses, jeans, sweaters, you name it. I am so happy I can give a proper name to the phenomenon now.

Candy
11 years ago

This post is completely awesome. I am glad to know I am not the only one that has had dressing room…troubles. I once tried on a dress at Ross that went on just fine, but I could not get it off. It seemed like I was in there for an hour, sweating, starting to panic. In a final act of desperation I eventually got it off, but not without the distinct sound of seams stretching so far they *may* have even ripped. Needless to say, that dress was *not* The Dress I hoped it would be.

Janet
Janet
11 years ago

Strangely, I get the sea monkey comparison, lol. Also, your hair is pretty :)

Maggie
Maggie
11 years ago

I can totally see how that would look great on the hanger. It’s sooo close….

But most importantly – how do you get your hair to do that???

I am finally trying to learn how to style my hair, which I always thought was completely straight, but now that I have some layers, turns out is actually wavy. But I don’t know how to style it – wah :-(

niki
niki
11 years ago

Brilliant! I laughed until I cried.

Clarabella
Clarabella
11 years ago

Your face is priceless. That said, about the shirt: burn it with fire.
I think TJ Maxx may be the only clothing store on earth where the clothes actually DO look better on the rack than on the body. In all my 33 years, I have only ever had one success, a Ralph Lauren dress hiding on the back of a rack, at TJ Maxx.

gillian
gillian
11 years ago

3 things:
1. your hair looks amazing
2. thank you for finally answering a life-long question about what sea monkeys really are! i never knew :) or bothered to look it up,i guess.
3. i once bought a shirt at old navy that had all these stringy strappy things, and i was utterly in love with it (AND it was on sale) and i just took it home with me knowing it was the ultimate summer shirt. it took me waaaay too long to get it on and only after i had wedged myself in did i realize it was way too small, looked horrible, and i was trapped. my roommate wasn’t home and honestly, i don’t think she could have gotten it off me anyway. i was starting to panic…nearly dislocating my shoulders trying to wrench it off. in a moment of desperation, i cut the damn thing off. jesus.

sooboo
11 years ago

You look dressed for a West L.A. brunch. You will need giant, black sunglasses and expensive looking stripper heels to go with it though.

Kate
Kate
11 years ago

funny i think the shirt looks fine. maybe you worry too much; you can pull it off (maybe not physically over your head, but pull it off in that it would look good) : )

adequatemom
11 years ago

You are so incredibly talented. Look how you just turned a trip to the dressing room into an EPIC TALE OF WOE. You rock my world!

Judy
Judy
11 years ago

At least you tried it on first. I would have snatched it right up and ran, not walked, to the checkout.

I don’t know who designs clothes. I am a large woman. Always the big busted, wide shouldered German Valkyrie type, health problems in these my later years have turned me into a mini Jabba the Hut, after my inability to exercise and all the steroids I ingest and snort daily take their toll. I am just here to tell you, Lane Bryant is evil. Although my shoulders are still good (the guy might be right), there are all sorts of lumps too close to them to ignore. I gave up sleeveless years ago, but my road to ruin has caused me to even consider 86ing short sleeves, in spite of the Florida summers. And I walk in Lane Bryant hoping to find something to wear, and there it all is! Mini skirts, spaghetti straps, short tops that show a band of skin, and SEQUINS on all of it. They do have rather nice underwear, and I am off to Target for some t-shirts.

Faith
Faith
11 years ago

Listen, I know you miss your boys and everything, but it has to be said, your writing definitely benefits from some spare time!! Which is definitely NOT to say that your writing sucked before, cause hey, I’m a fan, but this post is hilarious and ought to be in the hall of sundry blogging fame if such a thing existed. Which it should. Amen.

Faith

ginger
ginger
11 years ago

Your hair looks awesome. (My hair only waves like that when it’s first thing in the morning and I’ve slept on it just so. Which is unfortunate because the effect is ruined by the accompanying tangles and, of course, my morning face.)

Taryn
Taryn
11 years ago

the shirt isn’t awful, but i’m cautious about the bat-wing shirt look. your hair looks great tho!

Taryn
Taryn
11 years ago

oh…and i think it’s smart to shop at target, tj, marshall’s & goodwills. i also frequent yardsales. i have tons of clothes i pay very little for and people are always asking me where i got my outfits. let someone else pay for the retail. besides, i go to ann taylor or bananna republic and never find anything great, i seem to always find cool pieces by these labels at the thrift store. and i’m ok w/ paying $7 for jeans or $5 for a shirt. : )

Jenny
11 years ago

This is exactly why I don’t allow myself to shop online anymore. This has happened to me too many times, and especially after I’ve built up items in my head to an embarrassing degree (oh this shirt will be great for the bbq! Oh I’ll have so many pictures taken in it and I will look fabulous and I’ll be forever recorded in this shirt! Everyone won’t be able to keep their eyes off of me!). It’s what I get for an over-active hopelessly optimistic imagination.

Frannie
Frannie
11 years ago

This is what happens when a designer is torn between LA chic and 1994 goth. No way is this a diss. I would probably pick this out, thinking I’m gonna look something fierce, yet casually cool. I put it on, with difficulty, because TJ Maxx is like the IKEA of clothing stores. But I love a good search when I have time. I would still get this because then I can easily go to the snazzy wine bar and then dance it up at the goth bar (this top has holes AND slits, no mesh though and not black). But. The sleeves are perfect for dances like “reaching for cobwebs” and the “flame throw” -throws forearm down like they’re D&D dice, or well, flames. I went dancing the other night, not goth night, but I would have a lot of fun with this shirt, er, sleeves.

Frannie
Frannie
11 years ago

*…like I’m about to throw D&D dice or flames, I meant. Gah.

chalica
11 years ago

Girl that looks fantastically hot on you! GO BACK AND GET IT.

LOOOVE TJ Maxx.

Heather
11 years ago

ummmmmmm, I think it looks pretty cute.

Cheryl M.
11 years ago

I have had oh so many clothing trials just like that! I am longish of arm and body, so finding clothes that actually fit me like they’re supposed to is an adventure. Love your dubious face! Hubby claims I make faces like that all the time, and gets really mad at me because he can’t manipulate his eyebrows at all, lol. We are a special breed! I think the basic design of The Shirt is nice, but it could use less wing fabric, and maybe some gathers on the shoulders to give it more of a “I just wrapped a swath of fabric around by body, this isn’t really clothes” feel to it.

Cheryl S.
Cheryl S.
11 years ago

I, too, am a clothing enthusiast who shops at the bullseye boutique, La Goodwill, and such. Think if it this way. You may have lost “the Shirt” but if you actually found a dressing room in TJ Maxx that 1. Had a lock so you don’t have to hold it closed with your half clothed ass and 2. Didn’t smell like someone else’s B.O., you’re still ahead of the game!

Sunshyn
11 years ago

I thought it kinda looked cute, too, but I doubt the wrinkles would ever come out, and I can’t tell how it hangs below your waist… Also, you’d never get it on without fighting with it, each and every time. I agree your hair looks amazing. Anyway, what did you expect from TJ Maxx?

Veronica
Veronica
11 years ago

dude i think the shirt looked awesome.

Larissa
Larissa
11 years ago

Hmm, I thought you weren’t going to look good in the monstrosity you described, when in fact I think you looked hot and it’s not awful. Then again, I am no fashion plate. :)