Shapong Sprit at Plato’s

So first I should explain . . . once my sister Erica and I shopped.

This was in Bloomington Indiana back in 2006, right before my husband and I moved away to Delaware for three years. We hit up all our favorite stores, and came back laden with bags . . . and this dog.

Just kidding! We did not purchase this dog–we just used him to de-stress at a mid-shopping pet store breather. I held him at arm’s length because I was afraid he would pee on me. Or maybe he already had peed on me. I’ve had 4 years to heal, and have blocked the details from my mind.

Erica had just cut my hair very short. It had gone from this length earlier that year:

To this:

During this shopping spree, we hit what I like to call a historical sugar low. We started laughing, then crying and laughing, and finally I took a hard seat on the sidewalk because I was so weakened by laughter and lack of food and the overwhelmingness of shopping for hours that my legs were no longer supporting me.

Erica uttered the now famous phrase “Quick, where’s your camera, I need to take a picture of you while you’re down!” This was the picture:

In fact, you can even see that we had been to Plato’s Closet (you can see the ‘S’ on the bag).

Somehow during the madness Erica and I provoke in one another, the ‘shopping spree’ became the ‘shapong sprit.’ We dubbed this specific shapong sprit “The Emperor’s Last Stand” because it was to be our last big extravaganza before I moved away.

Last Wednesday, as you know, I had a little shapong sprit of my own since my husband was out of town and I had time to kill. I hit up Plato’s Closet, my hands-down favorite store of all time, amen and amen.

By the end of my excursion and about 10 trips to the dressing room (in which I tried on at least 50 items, no joke–my strategy is to try everything on, though that ‘everything’ really amounted to 0.001% of the total items in the store), I was ready to be home. However, an hour of transit awaited me in which a bus failed to show up, traffic lights kept faking me out and making me think the bus was finally coming when it wasn’t, I walked a lot, and then as I was dashing up the steps to catch the train at the Fullerton El stop, I fell across the stairs and skinned my hand. I immediately felt like I was in 3rd grade and all the kids were about to start laughing. However, this is Chicago, and no one even noticed–or if they did, they kept it to themselves and moved on with their busy and important lives. I picked myself up off the steps, gave a self-deprecating laugh, and continued on my way. And then I felt stupid for even thinking the self-deprecating laugh was necessary.

Then I boarded the train and spent 25 minutes in very close proximity to a homeless woman. And she smelled . . . very bad. Very, very, very. Every time the train doors opened, the breeze blew that scent straight up my nose, and my stomach literally turned over. I thought for a moment I was going to retch. I briefly considered moving to the other end of the train car, but then I thought “would Jesus move to the other end of the train car?” I pondered this question for a while. Surely his stomach wasn’t made of cast iron? Then again, without indoor plumbing, maybe he was used to such smells. By the time we reached my stop, my brain was in a confused muddle of sensations and ideas: BO, respect for others, urine, loving the poor, and also the sneaking suspicion that I was making a mountain out of a mole hill in my frenzied, shopped-out mind.

As soon as I got home, I hit the shower. The scent of unwashed human still clinging to my nasal passages combined with the sweat congealing on my own body (from all that taking on-and-off of clothes in the dressing room) and my hideous hair (too much product in it) sent me running toward that cleansing experience. I briefly considered completely covering myself in Noxzema face wash (a reoccurring dream of mine), but I decided that would be wasteful. And decadent. And maybe kinda weird. But one day! One day, my friends, I will do it, decency be hanged.


One of the things I miss about shopping with my sisters is that there’s no one to review the purchases with. We have a ritual called exactly that: “Review the Purchases.” When we get home from our outing, we each take turns pulling one thing (and one thing only) out of our bags, and holding it up for everyone to see. Then we cut off the tags and place the viewed item in a neat, folded pile. We continue taking turns until the shopping bags are empty. It’s a fun way of revisiting what we bought that makes it feel a little like Christmas. Plus, on a large-ish shopping spree, you tend to forget that awesome camis that you bought at the 2nd store, or that bracelet you picked up at the 85th store, so it feels like a surprise when you pull it out. Not that I ever make it to the 85th store–I’m lucky if I can last through 3 of them. Especially if there’s mall music playing–that stuff turns me into a dehydrated empty brained zombie.

Alas, on Wednesday night there was no one to review the purchases with.

(I realize that if there are any male readers, I am bound to have lost you by now, if not earlier.)

I was also way too tired to review them even by myself, so instead I did exactly as I had threatened to you all in that post; I grabbed a bowl of rice and a bowl of popcorn, a bottle of water to rehydrate, and settled in to watch “Maid to Order” on Netflix. It was a lovely time, even though the 80s were a sad, sad era for female hairdos, and the matching his-and-her mullets of the two main characters had me very confused about gender identity.

Thursday, being my second night alone, I decided that my only alternative was to share my purchases with my sisters . . . via my blog. Oh, and with the rest of you too–I leave nobody out! So I grabbed my camera and took some pictures, which I bring you on this fine October morning (though I realize by now it is almost 2 weeks later). This will probably send you running at a sprint to the nearest Plato’s–because it’s just that awesome. And cheap. And if you happen to find some black leather boots with flat bottoms in a size 10 that come just below the knee, could you please purchase them for me? And I’ll pay you back? See, I’ve been looking for the perfect boots for about a decade now, and it still ain’t happened. I need to get to a place in my life where I’m comfortable spending $100 on a pair, and then I doubt I’ll have any trouble finding something to my liking–but that time has not come.

Anyway, to the fun stuff!

First, there were these shoes–Steve Madden, $10.

I adore them. Since my husband and I are the same height, I can’t do the whole heels scene, so I take great, great joy in a gorgeous pair of flats.

Then again, Nicole Kidman never seemed self-conscious about towering over Tom Cruise, so maybe I need to get over my issues and channel my inner Nicole.

Then, there was this necklace.

I tried it on on a whim, feeling dubious because the dangling pieces are heart-shaped–I thought that might be too teenibopper for me. However, I LOVED it. Here it is paired with a maternity shirt I found.

Maternity schmaternity. It’s long and flowy and I adore it.

I could also talk at length here about the difficulty of photographing clothing that’s not on someone. I had no idea it was so hard to get a flattering shot of a shirt. I draped it over the bed, over a chair, held it up with one arm while holding my camera in the  other, and finally gave up and hung it from a sconce on my bedroom wall.

I briefly wished for one of the many mannequins that populate my grandparent’s living room, until I remembered how much they creep me out.

Then I simply put the shirt on, thinking this would solve the problem. But the difficulties continued. Doing a photographic self-portrait with an external flash that showcases the clothing you’re wearing–it would take decades of hard work to master this skill. I also had to really focus to relax my forehead. Something about shooting a picture of myself in a mirror makes me wrinkle my brow and put on a Yoda face. The picture below was the only useable shot–I like to call it “bimbo face.” And when it’s Yodaface versus Bimboface, I’ll pick Bimbo any day.

And yes, that little grey sweater was also an awesome, awesome find. Express brand, $12.

Though is it bothering anyone else that my necklace appears to be off center? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

This belt is très, très interesting:

I’ve never seen clasps quite like it–they have little hooks that fit into the holes in the leather. Fascinating.

Vvreeerrrry unique.

I’m in love with this little shirt/dress because the color reminds me of . . . Christmas!!!!

Not to speak of the $8 price tag. And whaddya know, it goes with the belt and the necklace . . .

. . . it’s like I bought all these items together, or something!

And this dress. Mmmmm–look at the shimmery fabric.

My cousin-in-law Stephanie wore something like this to my sister Heidi’s wedding. I’ve always remembered it. Now I can be exactly like Stephanie!

OK, minus the cute and petite athletic bod. And the flawless tan skin. And the awesome hair. And the ability to run marathons.

And can you guess what I’m going to say next–

–I’ll give you one guess and one guess only–

–yes! It also goes with the necklace!

AND THE BELT!!! It’s like everything is working together for the greater good.

I can shift the belt clasps to the side (above) or to the center (below) for a different look. Both looks scream “Star Trek” to me somehow. I can totally see this belt over a yellow felt bodysuit with black leather cutouts across one arm.

The belt put me behind a whopping $6.

Oh man . . . but there’s that off-center necklace issue again. Why do you have to be off center? Why are you such a little rebel? I’ve never been anything but good to you!

And for the crowning glory . . . two Guess coats.

They were more than I normally spend on an item at Plato’s, but let me explain.

I’ve been needing a warm winter coat. You see, I’ve been wearing the same felt coat since I was 16 years old. It’s holding up, but it’s not looking very fresh these days–plus it’s not warm enough to wear on its own. This requires layering it with a fleece or sweatshirt, and every item I have to take on and off as I go outside to the train in the morning, then inside to work, then outside to the train, then inside to the grocery store, then outside to head home, (etc. etc.) creates more static in my hair. And static in my hair just makes me crabby. Yes, I was pretty much crabby the entirety of last winter and I blame it on my old coat. Also, the pockets are completely ripped out, there threads are hanging everywhere, and, well, you get the picture. “Coat” has been on my Christmas list for about 5 years. About every other year, my parents give me a little handmade voucher that says I can go buy a coat and put an end to my sufferings. However, I can never find one to my liking, so inevitably they end up financing the purchase of a sweater or a dress instead.

When I saw these coats and tried them on, I knew this was it. They would fulfill the void in my life. They would fit the bill for not one, but two needs:

1) The ‘attractive’ coat that pairs well with work clothes.

2) The ‘sleeping bag’ coat that is necessary when the Chicago winds are trying to murder you as you wait for the bus on a cold and dark morning.

I was about to resign myself and purchase a butt ugly but functional coat from an online retailer whose name will not be mentioned. I was prepared to spend $120 or so. So in my mind, that completely justifies purchasing 2 coats for a lot less. Um, right? OK, fine–for considerably less. OK.



Plus, this coat has this really useful little chain.

What does it do?

Well that’s a great question.

Someone cooler than I am knows the answer.

In the interest of full disclosure, when I tried them on at home again, I discovered a small rip in the lining of the grey coat under the right arm. I beat myself up immediately for not demanding a discount at the register. Then I decided I had no interest in beating myself up and it didn’t matter anyway. So I grabbed my needle and thread and quickly patched it up while watching Episode 11 of Project Runway. Yes, I like to sew while watching people sew on Project Runway, and I like to exercise while watching other people exercise on The Biggest Loser. But is it really so wrong?

And in the interest of full, full disclosure, there was a third coat.

Has she gone hog wild, you ask??

The answer is ‘yes.’

But it was adorable and feminine and had a full skirt. A little snug (so no layering it with really heavy sweaters) but perfect for these fall days we are among.

It was très, très cheap. I’m sorry I keep saying très. But don’t you like to speak fake French when the subject of fashion is at hand?

OK, enough revelations. You’ve heard it all.

See you all tomorrow for more ridiculousness, fun, and the very first guest post in the long and illustrious history of this blog. I’ll give you a hint as to her identity: she’s blonde. I spank her on a regular basis. She coined the name “Explosivo” for one of my future children.

Be there or be square!

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22 Responses to Shapong Sprit at Plato’s

  1. crnnoel says:

    I love love love that grey ensemble…
    And I always wanted a sister. Mostly to go shopping with and to get to that exhausted silly sugar low place :)

  2. thehealthyjunky says:

    That clothes is soo cute and so are you and your sister!!

  3. Erica says:

    AAAAAA!!!! reviewing the purchases through this is so fun! Yay! Haruzziahhhh! I love the cute coats. I love the grey dress. I love that the fat rat coat will keep you warm.

    Now I will stay home to avoid getting sucked away by a tornado. Love you!

  4. Circe says:

    What great finds.

    I can never move away from homeless people on hte subway either, it seems like a kicking a person when they’re already down.

  5. mypajamadays says:

    Those shoes are awesome! I also really love your photography and overall fashion sense. I can’t believe I have been in Michigan for 9 1/2 years and STILL have not been to Chicago. One of these days.

    • Jenna says:

      Oh man–Chicago is such an awesome city! So much to do . . . you should make a trip when the weather gets nice in the spring though. The windy chill makes it not quite as fun to walk around, and in the spring the free music festivals start up again.

  6. And this is why I have always been jealous of the three of you. Why oh why couldn’t ONE of my three brothers have been a sister! Awesome finds by the way, and I hear you on the need for a new coat. I finally gave myself permission this year to own more than one winter coat, seeing as how winter here lasts more than half the year. Love all your finds! Oh, and the off center necklace? I would have broken out in hives. :-) So can’t do off center. :-)

  7. Mary Beth says:

    Oh how I miss reviewing purchases with you ladies! Super excited about tomorrow’s guest blog!

  8. Veronica says:

    Oh, this makes me laugh but also kind of sad in a way b/c I remember fun times, like your shopping trips with my sisters, and it’s been so long since we had that quality time. I think it’s super cool you did your “review the purchases” with us–it was fun seeing all the great deals you got. Never heard of Platos–they apparently sell name brand stuff at steep discounts? I love how it all works together and particularly love that dress. LOL on the maternity shirt–you can only get away with that because you’re thin. Women with some, shall we say “extra padding,” would actually look pregnant in a maternity shirt even if they weren’t pregnant. I may or may not know this from experience. :)

  9. OMG!!! my hair just got chopped too. i havent posted the photos since the other ones where it was shoulder length. now its a little shorter than urs. sometimes i catch myself saying “i feel like a boy” but i shouldnt say that cuz its so freeing. up until 16 i had hair past my bum, like the before picture, but sine experimenting over the years, ive felt more free. short hair makes like feel so much more easier.

    btw i love pet store therapy!! haha thats ADORABLE!! mmm and love fashion/shopping therapy too hehe <3


    • Jenna says:

      I agree about the free feeling with the short hair . . . but I do have to clarify that this was 4 years ago =) . . . so my hair is now medium length, about a palm’s length past my shoulders. I’ve been considering chopping it off again though–it would be fun but also seems a little scary.

  10. Sarah says:

    i have so many comments. i don’t know where to begin.

    1) i love the gray dress and belt! you look so fashionable. i’d look ridiculous. but you look great! (it’s all in my head, the ridiculousness)
    2) now i am inspired to go to platos closet. maybe friday afternoon? special treat for me!
    3) my husband and i were at hobby lobby (which i think is the site of your bloomington photo) last week and they had fun hats like the ones you have in the photo. just sayin’…
    4) i feel like there was something else but i forget. oh yes, my sis & i do the clothing reveal post-shopping trip too! now i make my husband sit through it. :) he enjoys it…. i think. :)

    • Jenna says:

      You would SO not look ridiculous! You’re right, it’s all in your head. =) I should break out some photos of my grandmother and her insane outfits–which she carries off beautifully because she has complete confidence in herself. Seriously–she’ll do miniskirts, Santa hats, pumpkin earrings, and stiletto heals, and she still looks great at 87 years old.
      Say hello to the B-town Plato’s for me! I haven’t been in years and years . . . I quite miss it! It’s hilarious that your husband has to/gets to sit through the clothing reveal. =)

  11. Lisa Campbell says:

    You, my dear, made out like a bandit! The belt is totally awesome and I love the black & white tweed coat.

  12. cca says:

    1. LOVE the gray dress
    2. LOVE the jackets/coats- ESPECIALLY the third one!
    3. How have you all had such great luck at platos?! I might need you all to be my shoppers!

  13. Karenpie says:

    You are darling! Love the checked coat and the grey coat – very cute. I think the little chain is used if you want to hang your coat on a hook – you hang it from the chain instead of your collar and it keeps your collar from getting wonky.

    I lived in Bloomington, IN from 1994 – 1998! Probably before you were born.

    • Jenna says:

      Karenpie! One of my favorite bloggers! Thanks for the clarification on the chain–that immediately puts you in the “cooler than I” category.
      And with regards to Bloomington and my birth, by your estimation I’m . . . 12-16 years old? Right. =) I ain’t that young!

  14. Jessica says:

    Love your new coat! I’m a sucker for all things coat related… *sigh*
    After a long long search for flat black leather boots I found these:
    It’s pretty expensive but SO WORTH IT.
    Busy reading your blog from front to back. You have a great writing style I’m really enjoying it, keep up the good work!

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks Jessica! I’m glad you’re enjoying going through the archives . . . I’m checking out your link to those boots at this very moment. They look awesome–flat (no heel), sturdy, but good-lookin’.

  15. ixult says:

    the dog is cute!

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