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Taste, as marketers and demographers well know, is closely tied to geography, socio-economic status, and age. That’s why a name like “Charlotte”, one of my top pics for a girl four years ago, is still uncommon here in Kentucky but is very popular in certain circles on both coasts. The first time I realized exactly how much a “type” I was when I walked through the doors of Cost Plus World Market in San Francisco back in 1997. I liked everything. The food, the table linens, the furniture, it was all exactly my taste. And that of the hundreds of people who also considered their taste “eclectic” sharing the floor space.

So much for being a rugged individual!

Where this gets annoying—or more annoying I should clarify—is when taste and budget are at odds with one another. Now that I’m not working, I have to economize a lot more than I used to. For the most part, adapting to reduced circumstances hasn’t been too bad. I’ve found lots of cute things for Simon on sale racks, at places like Osh Kosh, and on eBay. It takes more time, but I’ve got more time.

My greatest temptation has frankly been buying up the entire Tea Collection catalog, but it’s the dresses I salivate over more than the pants and sweaters. So having a boy makes it easier to toss that one in the recycling bin. My task has also been made easier by the closing of a few of my favorite stores and the relocation to further east than I’m willing to drive of others.

Still, I have my “gotcha” moments, the most recent of which arrived in the form of Star Wars pajamas. I ran across an adorable but pricey pair featuring scenes from The Empire Strikes Back, in, God help me, the Pottery Barn Kids catalog.

I’ve never shopped at Pottery Barn Kids; there is something both aspirational and depressingly homogenous about the place that turns me off. Like we’re all teaching our little Madisons and Emmas the value of not play so much as the aesthetic superiority of stainless KitchenAid appliances. I half expect to find a kiddie Viking stove in the place. I like nearly everything they sell—I’m their “type”—but I don’t want to be and I resent them for it.

But those pajamas… I knew Simon would go crazy for them, and I thought they would be a great part of his Christmas present from me and Matt. “OK,” I told myself, “if Pottery Barn has them, so will someone else. And theirs will be a lot cheaper. I’ll keep looking.”

A quick online search confirmed by suspicion. I found loads of them! For much less money! Places like Kohl’s, and JC Penney, and even Macy’s all had them in stock. But they were all from The Clone Wars, one of the dreadful movies from the new series. None of them were button-front, and they were all printed on a rather violent green or depressing black background. And they were all too busy for me. It just wasn’t the same at all.

Yup, the taste makers figured out that those throwing in a $12 pair of pajamas alongside groceries or small household appliances are happy enough with green Clone Wars pajamas. These folks are getting them for their kids, plain and simple. And Lucas co. and the taste makers were clever enough to also know that those insisting on the old series, those chasing a bit of nostalgia for their own childhoods, are the ones willing to shell out over twice that (before tax) for clothes that never get worn in public.

It’s offensive, no? I don’t spend that much for my own pajamas. But what to do? They had me, and we both knew it. Sometimes when this happens (amazing $70 sweater in Tea Collection catalog) I walk away. This time, I shelled out the money and cursed the marketing team responsible for the devastatingly accurate analysis of my cohort’s taste.

My justification? He can wear them on pajama day at preschool…

2 Responses to “Typecast”

  1. Amanda says:

    Agree with you about the Pottery Barn effect. I’m in that demo too, and worse, the one for Restoration Hardware which has transmorgified from a cool place with cheap retro stuff to a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding dink paradise. I’m saved because 1) I haven’t got the money and 2) I’m waaayyyy too cheap. But the pjs are adorable, and Christmas is for stuff that you would never get normally. He will love them and will look adorable in them.

  2. tlalbaugh says:

    I just sent a link of this post to my sister because I was sending her an e-mail entitled “I hate Pottery Barn.” Yuck, so generic, so boring, so…ATTRACTIVE and somehow JUST RIGHT. Ewwww! I have been looking for a mundane (yet embarrassingly unnecessary) item for my daughter’s room, a plain quilted pillow sham in light pink. OK, so it’s the euro size, which is a little much, I know (raised with hippie parents in a tiny house with no plumbing, I now have a thing for “catalog” beds, though I do it on a budget). I looked and looked and looked in stores and online (including used on eBay), and guess where I found IT. Oh yes, and not only was IT just what I was looking for, IT was even BETTER. IT has that extra little something that made it impossible to look anywhere else: in this case, the embroidery is in a simple flower pattern, and my daughter loves flowers. Of course I ordered it, and not only that, I did so without a coupon. Let the walk of shame commence!

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