Spent a good part of Saturday at Abercrombie and Fitch for a promised shopping spree with Chloe (12th birthday, upcoming solo trip back east for a best friend’s bat mitzvah) and though the A&F experience has been written about extensively among my FB family and friends and has been much maligned by bloggers I’ve read in the past, I have some new tips to help make your next trip to A&F a more pleasant one.
1. TAKE AN ALLERGY PILL to ward against a full-out allergy or asthma attack brought on by the A&F perfume that hangs heavy in the air. (I think the perfume may be invisibly released through the central air vents as the perfume clings to all the clothes you are about to purchase and the bag and tissue paper your just-purchased-clothes are put in and then it follows you out the store as it has successfully permeated your hair, your skin and the clothes you are wearing.)
2. NEVER, EVER BRING ANOTHER CHILD (especially if that younger child is still at stroller age) as was thoughtlessly suggested by my husband. Scott, fearful about how long this shopping spree would last, did not want to be left alone for a long Saturday afternoon stretch to manage Princess Genevieve without reinforcements – reinforcements being Chloe, the very capable and reliable “second mother.”
I stood my ground, though, and G did not accompany us. On this particular A&F trip, we would NOT experience the past trauma of having Gigi deftly topple an entire rack of jeans from her stroller seat vantage point. During that particular A&F shopping event, I meandered too slowly down a too-narrow jeans hallway, giving Gigi ample time to tightly grab a pair of jeans in her chubby fist, yank them this way and that, bringing the rack of jeans to the teetering point and sending many teenaged store attendants rushing over to us in a perfumed wave and giggling en masse, “Oh my Gosh (hee, hee, hee), are you okay?!” (I, of course, couldn’t answer because I was too busy trying to keep their jeans rack from crashing to the floor.)
3. ALWAYS WEAR SUNGLASSES – No it’s not sunny in the dark, caverns of A&F. In fact, it’s so dark in the store that it matters not whether you wear sunglasses or reading lenses. YOU CANNOT SEE in A&F. You cannot see the price tags, you cannot see the sizes, you cannot see whether you are in the men’s section or the women’s.
Sunglasses afford you the best cover for rolling your eyes, which I tend to do constantly at A&F…I roll my eyes about the prices, about the length (or absence of length) of the skirts and shorts, about the toothy, giggly, lip-glossy sales help and their boyfriends (who may actually be part of the sales staff since they’re always huddled together behind the cash register or in the corner re-hanging a shirt together…moving like a heavily perfumed amoeba).
I don’t want to be caught in a heavy eye roll by my daughter who is having the time of her life and who’s pinpoint vision catches my every expression and the judgment it conveys. I must wear the sunglasses so that all remains sunny and light during this A&F outing.
4. KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS LOW – If you expect that you will be able to walk away with one complete outfit for your daughter for $50, you will be sorely disappointed. If you expect that the perfumed sales amoeba will be helpful in securing other sizes for you or otherwise assisting you and your daughter, you will be sorely disappointed. If you expect that your suggestion to your daughter that we might shop elsewhere to get more shirts, jeans, sweatshirts for our money will inspire her to run with you from the store into the fresh clean air that awaits outside the A&F cave, you will be sorely disappointed.
5. WEAR SNEAKERS AND YOGA WEAR because you will break a sweat returning many times over to the racks to find another size or style. YOU DON’T EVER LEAVE A DRESSING ROOM ONCE YOU HAVE ONE because the lines for the TWO dressing rooms are unending and you must get as much fitting, changing, re-sizing done as you can each time you are in a fitting room. The mother must be the runner for the daughter, who stays in the dressing room, awaiting the next armload of try-ons. Ignore the other mothers waiting in line with their daughters, as they huff and puff more loudly with each hurried trip you make. You dodge their clothes-laden arms and yell over the blaring techno music, “Excuse me, excuse me, just one more size to try on here, then we’ll be done…” Those mothers know exactly how the game is played and they know full well that they will be forced to do make the same marathon trips when it’s their turn in the dressing room.
6. SMILE – Remember this is a true bonding moment with your daughter. In between all the changes and re-changes of clothing, you might have a moment to catch a glimpse of your almost grown-up teenager’s reflection in the dressing room mirror, as she stands in her sports ankle socks and underwear, and you’ll realize that your littlest beauty is growing up to be quite the big beauty. All too soon, she’s not going to want her mother to assist her in these monotonous clothes hunts at A&F or anywhere, but rather her girl friends… causing you to catch your breath and smile. You might even tear up a bit. Who cares?! You’ve got your sunglasses on for cover and you power on…back to the racks so your beautiful daughter can see if she likes the blue shirt with stripes better than the gray one.