Catalogs – the fantasy world, the totally useless and the practical

Soft surroundings

I could pull this off if it came with the house and a facelift!

Recently I’ve received dozens of catalogs. Some make sense like the fall bulbs for planting (which I no longer plant) but I also received summer clothes sales catalogs, pet catalogs and ones devoted completely to swimsuits.

By July 4th the summer clothes are on sale or gone. If you need a new swimsuit in August you will have to settle for what they have. (Ok, so it’s two sizes larger and a color that makes you look like vomit. No one will notice!)

It’s not officially summer yet. How can they put summer clothes on sale?

I haven’t worn a swimsuit in at least a decade, maybe more. When I go to the beach I do it in shorts and a tee-shirt. So why do I get a ton of swimsuit catalogs? It’s a conspiracy!


No way I would do this, good swimsuit or not!

The swimsuits of today are nicer than the ones available when I was young. I like the colors and the styles. When I was a young snip, if you were under 50 you wore a two piece and there wasn’t much fabric. You had to be careful. Any strenuous water exercise would find you topless or even with your bottom beyond your bottom. Only competitive swimmers wore the stretchy one piece suits that flattered no one.

Today’s styles have more coverage (some of them). They are designed to make you look good (no small task!). There are tankinis which are like a full suit but in two pieces. There’s boy shorts, skirts and full cut bottoms to hide your…um…bottom.

Those catalogs went directly to recycling (after a short period of longing for the old days).

I linger over the fantasy catalogs. Those are the ones that sell products and clothing for a lifestyle. One that includes sailboats, verandas and delightful cocktail parties. (How often have you been to a delightful cocktail party?)

The clothes are edgy without being skimpy. It’s an avant-garde look. A style middle-aged celebrities (with sailboats) would have. I love it but I rarely wear it. If I showed up to a party in a kaftan, my friends would wonder.

Perhaps I should go back to the fall plant catalogs. Or maybe the pet catalog. I need flea stuff for the cats.

The worst thing about aging is that you get so much more practical. Practical isn’t fun.

First photo courtesy of Soft Surroundings, second from the Athleta catalog.

54 thoughts on “Catalogs – the fantasy world, the totally useless and the practical

  1. You get much fancier catalogue than we do. Even though malls and the big city aren’t that far away, I order a lot on line – with free shipping and returns it is so much easier for the few things I buy now. Going into a store now would mean spending far too much money on all the cute clothes – that I don’t need and would just sit around. Bathing suits are so much better – remember you never bought a white one because it would become trasparent in the water – happened to a cousin who was mortified. We learned there were cute, decorative “pool party” suits that never got wet and then the ones you actually could wear in water. (And since we didn’t live in Hollywood, pool parties were the things of fantasies and movies

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I rarely get catalogs anymore. They’re fun to browse but I seldom order that way. I’m not sure how companies can even afford to send catalogs these days. Maybe their profits are all built into the shipping and handling charges.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorite fantasy catalog is Soft Surroundings–models in flowing pastel-printed tops and white pants with tropical plants and white-sand beaches behind her. They have a new store just across Lake Washington. My sister and I (who have birthdays two weeks apart) went there to buy birthday gifts for ourselves. We thought that was more practical than buying for each other. Maybe we’ll do it again next year.

    My favorite catalog is LL Bean.

    I’m worried about bathing suits. We’re going to Banff in August. I do have a bathing suit, but do I want to wear it? Maybe I’ll wear shorts or something when we visit the hot springs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SS is my favorite fantasy catalog too for all the same reasons. I have to see if we have a store within a reasonable driving range. It would be fun. As for swimsuits so many stores now have a suit and then either soft silky shorts or a skirt that goes over the bottom part. Some even have full coverage on top with sleeves. It all depends on how much you will go in as to what will be most comfortable.


  4. Practical may not be fun but it’s practical and saves lots of angst during those times we choose to be something
    well beyond us. Besides, catalogs are unrealistic. Few people I’ve ever met look like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Soft Surroundings comes to our house, too! They do have some very nice clothes, but I’ve never bought anything. I mostly get gardening and pet catalogues, and not too many clothing options these days, but I occasionally receive one that has the most gorgeous southwestern clothing, very western, but very expensive and unlike anything I’d ever wear. But the models wear the clothes beautifully and it tempts me every time. I’m not nearly that bold, but I fantasize a bit when that catalog arrives. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bought a dress on sale from SS once and a pair of their silk flowy pants (which I did not love because they had to be ironed). The dress I wore once or twice. We just don’t get invited to verandas much. Gardening catalogs are a trap. I love most things in there but I’m cutting back on what I do.


  6. I made the mistake of looking at swimsuits in a store last week while H was with me. He pointed out one on a mannequin and asked if I liked it. I said I did but that didn’t mean it would look like that on ME! He can dream I guess…~Elle

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I actually wish I got more catalogs (although not for swim suits). I love looking through them and fantasizing that I am an amazing hostess (perhaps in a flowy Kaftan) with gorgeous furniture and amazing table settings. Funny, I just received a jacket I ordered online from Nordstrom (I need one for an upcoming trip and can’t find jackets in the stores). It came in a very small box so, before I opened it, I figured they sent me the wrong thing. Turns out, it was right, but the jacket didn’t have nearly the warmth I was looking for. You just can’t tell from a picture in a catalog or on a computer screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Over the years I’ve learned a lot about ordering on line. It’s like on-line dating, you have to carefully interpret the descriptions. Nordstrom’s is a good store so I’m surprised that there wasn’t more clarity in the description.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I buy most of my clothes online (LL Bean and Travelsmith) so I don’t mind catalogs from those two companies. I know my sizes and know their quality. As I don’t buy from any other source the number of catalogs in my mailbox has declined in the past few years…. Now I just hope I haven’t jinxed myself by writing this! As I click the post button I already imagine all those catalogs coming my way…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m a big LL Bean fan. We have a local store which is wonderful and when they don’t have my size, it mail order. I get Travelsmith although I have never bought from them. I think I got 20 catalogs over the last week. It isn’t always like that so I wonder if it’s change of season mailings. Whatever, some went directly to recycling and some fed my fantasies.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My recycling bin is mostly fed with supermarket mailers… I don’t even look at them…. I buy what I buy where I buy it and don’t need to be persuaded… but they keep on a-comin’….

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I try to call when I get a catalog (now that I have the time!) and ask them not to send. As to swimsuits, I am THE last person in the world who should be putting one on, but I decided a long time ago I’m not giving up swimming just because I’m fat. Yes, shield your children’s eyes, but I’m doing it. However, I love the new skirtini style. It’s comfy and offers about as much coverage as I’m going to get without sinking from the weight of it. I found one I loved so much I just ordered the exact same one in two more colors, because believe me, when I go to look for it again it will be gone. I’m ready for the beach next month!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the new suits. They are so much better than the ones available when I was young. When I was a teenager, going to the beach was scary because those old ladies (OMG I am one of those now) wore the same suit I did.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Once you order from any of them, you have a pen pal for life. They exchange mailing lists with other mail order places, which is why you get catalogs from places you’ve never heard of. Catalogs go straight to recycling at my house. I don’t even look less I be tempted to order something that I don’t need. I like the turtleneck shirts from Land’s End, but I can order from their website when I need one and I know exactly what size fits. If you do relent and order from a catalog, do a search on Google for coupons and often you can find a code for a discount.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I get both of those catalogues, too. If all the excess fabric on those Soft Surroundings flow-y styles was trimmed, I’m convinced that fabric could be used to make all of the skimpy clothes in the Athleta catalog. Talk about two different looks…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I know, I see so many gorgeous swimsuits these days. Also yacht wear. Well, I live not too far from the beach and the marina, so I guess if that sort of clothing would be anywhere, it would be here in SoCal. Plus we have gorgeous coat hangers — oops, I meant size 0 aspiring actresses — to show fantasy clothing off properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yacht wear! That’s exactly what it is! I just need a yacht! (Wonder if they could come up our local creek….) There was a time in my younger days when I bounced between a size 0 and a size 2. That was then. Sturdy size 6 these days and happy about that.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I receive numerous catalogs daily and I stop to think every time I flip through one, who really orders this stuff?! Although I do long to be invited to one of those delightful cocktail parties one day!


  14. CH and I were just talking about two piece swim suits yesterday at wine time. I haven’t worn one since my twenties and that is 40+years ago. I don’t swim in pools… no way. We do swim at The Lake… nylon shorts over a one-piece. Catalogs drive me crazy but I love my Mom-in-laws magazines that she passes on to us! Kaftans are in? 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I only ordered clothing from a catalog once. I can’t remember the company, but when I opened the box it was a completely different item than I’d ordered. Enclosed was a note, “The item you order was out of stock, but we thought you might like this.” Ugh…I didn’t and then I had to go through the hassle of returning it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catalog sales have come a long way. It’s best for things you know fit but your local store doesn’t have your size or you color. Shoes are the same. I only order those when I can’t get my size but am able to look at in person to see if I like it. Most returns are easier too. They have a label enclosed (or you download), slap it on and drop off at UPS or FedEx whichever they use. I started with Lands End 30 years ago. They had the best tee and golf shirts in the best colors.

      Liked by 2 people

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