Home > Shopping for Love(3)

Shopping for Love(3)
Author: Renee Carlino


“No. It’s fine.”

“Okay. This’ll be fun. Don’t worry. I’ll come over tomorrow, and if it’s all right with you, I’ll take a look inside your closet and then we can go shop. I’ll put some outfits together for you. We can start out with a few meetings at first, and then get together once or twice a month, whenever you feel like getting some new things. Sound good?”

“Sure, okay. I’ll text you my address. See you around eleven.”

“Perfect. See you then.”

 

 

I arrive at Caroline’s luxury condo in Buckhead at exactly eleven a.m. She must have been waiting, because when I ring her number outside the security gate, she buzzes me in immediately. She meets me on the steps outside her condo.

Before even saying hello, she says, so quietly and quickly I have to lean in to hear her, “The code is five, six, eight, three. It spells LOVE so it’s hard to forget. That way you don’t have to wait for me to buzz you in next time.” She’s already talking about a next time. I hope it’s because she’s admiring my Madewell booties and Anthro scarf.

“Thanks.” I smile and stick out my hand. “Hayden Fox, nice to meet you.”

She shakes my hand. Hers are tiny and pale with soft skin. “Caroline Crompton, and same to you.”

Caroline is pretty in a petite way. She has a small pointy nose and angled chin. Her pale blue eyes are framed by thin reddish eyebrows, which match her short strawberry-blond bob. She’s wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and a long black cotton skirt. It’s a tad shy of a nun’s habit, but at least her haircut is cute.

“Follow me,” she says.

Her condo is sparse. The furnishings look expensive but dated. If there were plastic runners in the hallway, it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s like a time capsule. Maybe she lives with her grandma.

“Do you live alone?” I ask.

“Yes. I’m not here that often. My boyfriend, Blake, is here every once in a while, too.”

Boyfriend? I’m surprised and it’s terrible, but I think the feeling comes with the pang of jealousy that sits in the bottom of my stomach. I couldn’t even get an Uber driver to talk to me on a Friday night. I follow her up the stairs toward her bedroom and into the closet, which is filled with pairs of black flats and dress suits. Mostly pantsuits in gray, black, or beige.

“I guess there isn’t a ton of variety here,” she says, not meeting my eyes.

“We can fix that. Do you work a lot?”

“Yes, but I’m trying to work less. Blake and I both work for my father, and it’s been taking a toll on us lately.”

“I can’t imagine working for my father,” I say, and it’s true, but only because I don’t know my father.

I wonder what Blake’s wardrobe could look like. Do they both dress like this? “Maybe Blake would like some shopping pointers, too?”

“No, Blake has style.” Caroline swallows and looks down at her feet. “He dresses nicely for work, but has his own style outside of work. That’s what I need.”

“I understand that,” I say. “Shall we? I can drive.”

Out on the street, Caroline appraises my ten-year-old Honda before getting in the passenger side. She brushes some lint off her skirt and fidgets in her seat. “Are you from Atlanta?” she asks.

“Born and raised. You?”

“Yep.”

I pause, and then decide to continue the small talk. If I can learn more about who she is, it’ll be easier to tailor a wardrobe to her personal tastes. “Your aunt told me you’re twenty-five. I’m a year younger. Where did you go to school?”

“Oh…” She waves her hand around vaguely. “I went to a bunch of private schools and then Dartmouth for college.”

“Oh. Did you meet your boyfriend there?”

She laughs nervously. “He went to art school in New York.” She nods her head dismissively. It’s strange how Caroline is a combination of insecurity and privilege. I can tell she’s holding something back about her boyfriend.

“Art school? That’s really cool. My brother lives in New York. I can see the draw.”

She shrugs. She’s not too talkative, this one.

I continue. “So now your boyfriend works for your dad?”

“My dad pays well.”

“Ahh, I see.”

And that’s that. The ride is silent once again. A few minutes before we arrive, I tell her, “So, we’re going to take you to my favorite vintage store in Little Five Points.”

She seems to perk up. “I’ve never been down there…to Little Five Points.”

How is that possible? Has she lived in Atlanta her whole life and never ventured to the East side, where the majority of people our age like to hang out? The restaurants, clubs, and stores in that area are like a rite of passage for people growing up in Atlanta. There’s energy and excitement there. I’m getting the picture that Caroline’s sheltered life is pretty much consumed by her father’s company and nothing else.

“You’re gonna love Little Five Points. It’s really cool.” I turn the music up a little and notice that she’s bobbing her head to Band of Horses.

“I like this,” she says. “I’m into the faster, harder stuff usually, but this is good.”

I didn’t peg her for the faster, harder music lover, but I’ve learned in my line of work not to judge a book by its cover. And Caroline is already proving to be one of my most complex clients to date. Most of my clients are older and looking for someone to put together a wardrobe they have in mind, for a lifestyle they already have. That means a lot of “Bloomies.” I still love working with these women, but working with Caroline will be the challenge I’ve been waiting for. Essentially, I get to teach her how to dress like a young woman, and I get to share my own style influences with her. So, we’re going to hit the stores I shop at for myself.

When we arrive at Rag-O-Rama, Caroline says, “Is this a secondhand store?” She scrunches up her nose.

“It’s vintage,” I say. “There’s definitely some junk, but you can also find some really nice 50/50 vintage tees and cool belts and stuff like that. We can get you some denim somewhere else, but this is a good start to see what you’re attracted to.”

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