Friday, March 29, 2013

The Shell Game

No lace please, we're basic

I swore I had a black shell hanging in my closet. You know the kind I mean— black, sleeveless, u-neck— maybe part of a twin-set once upon a time. Not a t-shirt tank from Gap/Target, not a camisole (lacy or otherwise). A stand-alone piece except there may not have been a reason to wear it alone. Alas! It hadn't even fallen to the floor or turned into a nest for the cat who uses an open door for an invitation. Well, black and white clothing both tend to show age, so I must have chucked it in a flurry of closet renewal.

I set off to the mall for a quick in-and-out shell replacement. Or so I thought. I didn't go into my favorite fashion stores as this trip wasn't meant for inspiration. I was looking for a nice double-knit, perhaps, (once again not a t-shirt). Not a wool sweater knit (for year-round wearability). Maybe one of those nice silk-and-something mixes that are such staples in the marketplace. I thought, How hard could it be?

Following is a list of all the stores I searched, with no luck, for a simple black shell:
Ann Taylor
J Jill
Banana Republic
Coldwater Creek (yes I even snuck in there)
Black House White Market
Brooks Brothers
Ann Taylor Loft
J Crew

There were t-shirt shells— too clingy and stretchy and casual. They were lace embellished, lace in total, ruched, draped and beribboned black shells. There were shells as part of twin-sets in every color of the rainbow— except black (not in the rainbow I know). When asked if I could be helped, it was interesting that sales associates didn't take me at my word, and showed me all these variations on a black shell, including sleeves. Were they that desperate to make a sale or just not listening or caring? The one salesperson who didn't waste my time was the one person on the floor at J Jill. She commiserated that basics are so hard to find (and said she liked my hair).

I'd run out of time, and it was getting to be rush hour. We had movie tickets and nothing for dinner in the house. The car was parked near Macy's, one of my least favorite places in the world to shop. As I bee-lined through to the parking garage, guess what I saw? A four-way (as we say in the trade) of shells and cardigans in a silk blend by that venerable brand, August Silk. Every color in the rainbow PLUS black. The shell fit well and was a decent price. I also bought the cardigan, out of gratitude and fear that one day I might need that too.

August, if you are reading, thank you. And may I send you my list of other basics that have disappeared as well?
Will be worn all months including August


  1. ah yes shells and twin sets--for reasons known only to themselves, Talbots refuses to sell shells that go with the cardis in the store--web purchase only..aggravating in the extreme--alas I have writtent to Talbont, my once go-to-store for basics--with no response. Good for you for finding what you needed!!