Clothes shopping should be one of life’s little pleasures – a simple, straightforward process, stress-free and reasonably effortless. In rl, i’m afraid the reality is that it’s seldom the case: no matter what size is on the label, you can pretty much guarantee it’s just an arbitrary figure – one that’s been made up on a whim. There is actually no such thing as a size 14; similarly, one store’s ‘medium’ is another store’s ‘miniscule’, and yet another’s ‘massive’!
That’s if they’ve got the size, style and colour you wanted in the first place, which of course they haven’t – that would be asking far too much – and consequently, far too often, the rl shopping experience is both a stressful and time-consuming business.
For those reasons alone shopping for clothes in the virtual world used to be far less stressful and a far more enjoyable pursuit than its real world equivalent. However, times – i’m very much afraid – are changing. Layers of complexity have started creeping in to the virtual shopping experience , meaning that the fashionistas among us are facing an ever more confusing state of affairs when it comes to keeping up with the latest fashion trends.
The realisation dawned on me recently as i was enjoying a spot of inworld retail therapy, upon seeing a sign directing me to the mesh items, followed by another sign pointing out the fitted mesh. It struck me that it’s a rare occasion in rl that we’d ever find a store that laid out its stock according to its component material, rather than by type or style – a point that underlines one of the fundamental differences between clothing in the real and virtual worlds. When it comes to virtual apparel, the manner in which clothing is fabricated has far greater import than in rl, where perhaps the only real consideration we might have cause to consider is whether a garment is shot silk or nylon. In sl, deciding between system, sculpted, mesh or one of its variants has far more significant consequences for us, the customer and wearer than choosing between different fabrics in rl.
How we wear our clothing can also be revealing, (often literally), too. Only recently, i found myself transfixed by an avatar sporting a mesh dress that was way too small – how she hadn’t noticed, i’ve no idea – the unfortunate result was exposed knees, butt and boobage every time she took a step. The opposite is also true – bigger is not necessarily better – an oversize mesh leads to us flashing our alphas to all and sundry.
If only our fashion woes ended there, it wouldn’t be quite so depressing, but the dictates of fashion are such that – depending on how we choose to enhance our avatarian body – our choice of clothings can become both severely limited and a veritable minefield of choices, and if we get it wrong, a costly and irritating mistake leading to a wardrobe full of unwearable clothes.
Implants – a term that seems to have supplanted ‘enhancements’ – require us to fiddle around with appliers, assuming we have compatible outfits, otherwise things just look even worse than than if we’d left them alone. Swapping system hands and feet for the smooth lines and tasteful manicures of mesh versions is equally fraught and could mean shelling out on a whole new wardrobe full of accessories and footwear. There are fewer depressing things in the virtual world than seeing an inventory stuffed full of shoes that we will no longer have the opportunity to wear!
Now, with mesh bodies becoming commonplace – even the Linden starter avatars are mesh these days – the whole business of clothes shopping becomes a complete nightmare for those who wish to meshify themselves. Sorting out what you can and can’t wear is an insanely difficult process – chances are that you’e going to be tied to the tastes of a single creator, or an exclusive and horribly expensive range of designers – our choices of what to wear dictated by content creators, rather than our own tastes. Even the simple act of shopping becomes a monster… by the time you’ve figured out which items you want, taught yourself how to use the obligatory HUD and arranged your alphas to suit, you’d think the process would be complicated enough, but no! When you then have to shell out your hard earned cash to buy tokens to swap for clothing, because apparently good old-fashioned lindens are no longer legal tender, you have to wonder why on earth you’re bothering in the first place!
It seems that the days of having an enjoyable time shopping for a new outfit are fast disappearing and will soon become a thing of the past. It’s a shame because, personally, i like my inworld retail therapy to be just that: therapy – an activity that chills me out, and is both enjoyable and an experience that enriches my virtual existence. It would be such a pity if it became so complicated and stressful that i’d need therapy after going shopping.
So, if you’ll excuse me, i’m off to fill a couple more wardrobes before it all becomes too much of a chore!
He flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly.
In matters of the cloth he is as fickle as can be,
‘Cause he’s a dedicated follower of fashion.
The Kinks – Dedicated Follower Of Fashion