Day 24 The days are busily inching toward summer vacation. All the moms know it because even though we have end of the year parties, events, recitals, banquets, field days and field trips. We are all trying to fit in those last few lunches with friends before summer break. As moms we always like to look cute on a lunch date with other moms; it’s our excuse to get out of the yoga pants and shower before afternoon school pick up. It has become so easy for me to wear my static wardrobe; I really don’t miss it. As my friend walked up she was wearing a very similar outfit to mine, just replace the jean skirt with some cute shorts. She looked adorable And commented to me that the static wardrobe would be like dressing up every day. I don’t feel dressed up: I just feel like this is not even a thought.
When I think back on the times when I really could have used a static wardrobe, two in particular jump off the page: certainly when I was a new mom, and also when I was traveling extensively for work. Especially true when I traveled to Asia. I would travel to a different part of Asia every few days, so jumping on and off of planes and trains would have been so much easier if I was not lugging around a ton of clothes.
But that does bring me to a fun memory: I always had to bring or buy an extra suit case for all the gifts. Yes, I said it … gifts! It seemed like every factory owner (or owner’s agent) I would meet would shower me with gifts, especially if it was near my birthday. On one trip in which I was trend shopping with my agent, we were looking for a very specific stitch on a garment to bring back to the factory for them to replicate. I saw a stunning coat with mink trim, and I just couldn’t resist trying it on. Of course, I was like a giant in Korea, so when I tried it on I could not button it and also felt like I was going to bust out of the shoulders like Superman. My agent exclaimed that I should buy it, and I said that 1) it didn’t fit, 2) it was way-way out of my price range and 3) I didn’t want to lug it home. She quietly agreed with me and we went on with our shopping and then onto our fittings at the factory. When I got back to my hotel room the next evening, there it was hanging I got my closet! It even had a box and shipping label for NYC. Very excited I quickly tried it on again, and it was a shopping miracle! It fit perfectly. Like I was Cinderella and the fairy godmother had made a dress just for me. Wow, they were good: they never took my measurements but had the coat altered to fit me perfectly, I was ecstatic.
This was not exactly uncommon for my time in the fashion industry: for years, gifts regularly showed up in my hotel room or at my table in the restaurant where I was dining. When I got home to the US and my box arrived, I was super excited about my coat. This was my first Asia trip I had taken since Tim and I met. When he asked what had arrived, I explained the tale of the mystery coat showing up in my hotel room, Tim said, “Kimberli, that’s graft and it is unethical.” I really was not sure what graft was … all I knew was that for years I had been getting super great mysterious gifts and in the Asian culture it would dishonor the giver to even try to give it back. But they were sneaky, so I would not even know who to give it back to. With the coat, I wanted to thank my agent but she said no that it was not from her. (By the way I still have the coat and love it!)
Many of the factory owners in Asia were men, so as a woman working in Asia I would often be at business dinners with all men. I was glad I was strong in my convictions, because I turned down many propositions. (Now that I think back on it, maybe that was the reason for two of my job losses shortly after Asia trips.) As the honored guest, even being a woman they would make sure I had the seat at the head of the table and got the “best part” of the meal: in that culture, that often meant the brains, the eye balls, the cheeks of the chosen fish or animal of the evening. This was very difficult for me since I was somewhat squeamish. It was not until my third trip to Asia that I realized I could say I was a vegetarian and they would honor that even though they totally did not understand that vegetarians did not eat fish or chicken. I only decided I was a vegetarian after going to a restaurant lined with tanks: you pick your fish and they kill it at the table right in front of you. As I write this, I can plainly recall the dizzy feeling I had watching this happen around the restaurant. That night I turned in early with “stomach issues.”
I was always happy to get back home to life as usual, but work travel for sure had its perks. I guess that is why sometimes I crave travel and the excitement of getting out of the daily grind. I travelled every few months for business. Even though it was hard work, late hours and barely any down time, it was fun and exciting: I liked the go-go-go. It was certainly a very different go-go-go than chasing a toddler or keeping up with all the activities of a preschooler, elementary schooler and middle schooler all at once. The static wardrobe would have come in handy for both times in my life!