Kayla Manjarrez, Senior
In my latest go at retail therapy, it was brought to my attention that my oldest retail therapist, my dearest friend, is going out of business. Dear, dear Delia’s: the outfitter we all knew and loved. It has been years since I can honestly say I got a punch in my Delia’s rewards card, but I remember the very first time I ever stepped foot into Delia’s, the chain-store which outfitted my greater middle school years. The coolest fellow-sixth-grader I knew, Katie Gigler (now the coolest fellow-senior I know, and Beauty writer) rocked awesome graphic tees and super unique accoutrements daily. I was green with envy, paying $70 for a pair of low-rise medium-wash skinny jeans from Hollister on my non-existent income wasn’t cutting it anymore, and I wanted in.
“OMG I love your style! WHERE do you shop?” I probably asked.
“Delia’s, in the mall! It’s my favorite store,” she probably responded.
And so a love was born.
Being 12-years-old, I wasn’t very mobile and my mother hated making the 20-minute commute down 78, so even though I had no means of getting to Delia's, or subsequently actually shopping there, I knew it was my favorite store. Months passed and the sixth grade came to a close. I still hadn’t met my star-crossed love of a store, but the hope remained. Summer came and went, as it does, and finally, my time had come.
My best friend Lily and I scurried into the tween-centric, yet at the time so sophisticated Limited Too-esque store, with her mom trailing closely behind. We had waited for this moment, and it was here.
Where do I even start? I remember thinking. To my right, jeans on jeans on jeans. To my left, the infamous Graphic Tee Wall. We were amazed at all the cool, trendy, quirky screenprints across the chests of so many fluorescent tops. We kindly accepted coupons from the employees promoting their jeans sale (of which we would take advantage), looked around in amazement at the floral dresses and tanks towards the middle of the store, and (seeing as I only had the $25 my mother gave me--not very generous considering how big an event this was, and a few coins from my personal savings) my favorite-- the clearance corner hidden past the dressing rooms, next to the sock display. That corner was where I purchased some of my most prized possessions.
"Hope" shirt - one of my dearest Delia's purchases circa 2010, featuring one of my dearest cousins, Colleen, kissing my cheek at Dorney Park.
Courtesy of Kayla McGovern
We left that day with two fraternally matching t-shirts, blue and green tie-dyes respectively featuring a giant panda, benefitting the World Wildlife Fund. Not only were we stylish, we were environmentally friendly.
But more than that, we left with a newfound sense of individuality. It’s funny how someone else’s originality can somehow make you feel as though you yourself have forged a path in the world, but hey, it’s seventh grade, you’ll take what you can get. This voyage was the first of many.
Seventh and eighth grade came and went, as they also do, and Forever 21 filled the Delia’s-shaped hole in my heart I thought would forever be occupied by $6 socks and shirts that read dramatic phrases like “I love you, that’s my secret.” We grew up, and it is with great dismay I acknowledge that our subsequent tweens did not follow in our footsteps. They never knew the excited suspicion of that one cashier maybe, just maybe being Lady Gaga (in retrospect, that was likely just me). (She wasn’t, but had she borrowed the meat dress I am certain she could’ve fooled many-a-grandmas.)
The 2000-ers will never know that perfect fit of the Delia’s jean, the satisfaction of saying “I’m a size three at Hollister,” and them responding, “They size SO tiny, you’re a one here!” Totally relieving, because a 3 seemed massive at the time. Ha!
I made my final excursion to my beloved Delia’s just last week, with two of my closest friends, one of which was Katie Gigler, herself. The very girl who introduced me to the shop. We looked around with theoretical tears in our eyes at all the yellow signs with bold red and black lettering saying things like “SALE” and “STORE CLOSING” and “EVERYTHING MUST GO.” She purchased some tights and a striped tee, paying her last respects. The Graphic Tee Wall had apparently been torn down long ago. I inquired about the dress forms they have for sale ($85 for a half, $145 for a full... but don’t quote me on that) and glanced up at the bright chandeliers, also for sale, one last time before we said thank you and were on our way.
Farewell Delia’s. It is the end of an era, but the tweens of the mid-to-late 2000s will always remember you... even if it’s just thanks to those excruciating photobooth pictures we have with your garments clothing our pubescent bodies in every picture.