Today marks the first time I’ve gone to a department store to try on, then purchase an item of women’s clothing. An auspicious occasion to be certain. The story, however, begins not there, but at the racks of the Kensington Army Surplus Store. I’d been rifling through the racks looking for a military flight suit to set up my Halloween costume. My companions were an older woman and a creepy sales rep who wouldn’t quit (it dawns on me that with his uneven gait, bloodshot eyes and seemingly vacant expression he was most likely a returned serviceman. The respect I had for him didn’t diminish is overwhelming creepitude). I flicked between flight suits, $80, $80, $80, $70, $60. A $50 XXL suit came up, trampling my hopes further into the ground. The twin pressures of sleep-deprivation induced fatigue and the overly insistent sales rep didn’t help my frustration. After 4 or 5 attempts to ask me if I needed help (I must’ve looked as inept as I felt), “Igor” slunk off, leaving the woman and I alone to contemplate the selection in front of us.
“Well he was determined.” I muttered quietly to the woman next to me.
“Yeah.” She replied. “If only he could do something about these prices.”
“Halloween?” I enquired.
“Halloween.” She echoed. “The worst part” she continued “is that this isn’t even for me. I’m already sorted, my husband is the one who needs it.”
I let out a short snort. She whipped her head around to look me up and down.
“Wait, weird question. How big are you?”
She was right. It was a weird question. Had I just met Buffalo Belle?
“That is a weird question. Small to medium I think, depends on the cut.”
I didn’t dare ask why.
“Okay, this could work.”
I gulped, despite myself. I did so enjoy my skin remaining attached to the rest of my frame.
“This didn’t make any sense to me, but flight suits are actually in right now. H&M sells them for $19.95.”
“Oh?” My eyes widened.
“Yeah. The catch is that they’re only in for women. You look like you’d be small enough to fit into women’s clothing.
I smirked. “Thanks, I guess?”
“Well if you could save $60 on a Halloween costume, wouldn’t you?”
I would. I did.
Which is how I found myself outside H&M in Yonge and Dundas square, looking up at a large poster for a flight suit garbed model mid-stride on an air strip.
I went to the racks and found a sales attendant who, thankfully, gave off a more normal vibe. She said they were in stock, but the largest size they had was an 8. She said I could use either the men’s changing rooms downstairs or the women’s on the same floor. A changing room by any other gender would look the same, I figured. I was right.
Putting on women’s clothing is a strange affair. There are some parts that fit well enough, others didn’t. I didn’t expect the foot holes to be so much tighter. I had to finagle my heel through, but once it was in it wasn’t going anywhere. The legs were fine, hips were easy, roomy, comfortable even. The waist wasn’t. The suit was crimped around the waist, I assume to show off some kind of hourglass I don’t have. Thankfully it was elasticated. The chest was super roomy, for obvious reasons. My mannories didn’t have quite the bust to fill it out. The shoulders were tight, leading to taught arms, but that’s workable. The strangest part was doing up the buttons. Given that men and women’s buttons are on opposing sides of shirts, I was fumbling as if it was my first time. It didn’t help that this thing had a million (minus 999988 or so) buttons and they were tiny. Still, it fit and despite the awkward tightness in some parts (I might need to find something to wear over my pelvis. Camel tail is a thing), it’s exactly what I need to make the costume work.
And now I know that I’m roughly a women’s size 8, which is not something I thought I’d learn before arriving back home this evening. Life is magical and full of surprises sometimes.