On the Purchase of Clothing

What do you find to be the most hateful-but-necessary task on your to-do list? Life is full of such errands and duties, but I’m convinced that shopping for clothes is the worst.  At least, it’s the most evil necessity that comes to mind. Shopping for food or household goods?  Not too bad, even if I’m a bit hungry and the shop’s a bit full.  Going to the credit union?  Pretty painless, honestly. Going through voicemails? Takes forever, but I can multitask.  Waiting at the DMV?  A rare occurrence, and you can always take a book.

Shopping for clothes?  I will be exhausted by the end.

It always feels too expensive, considering how cheaply made all the fabric is, and none of it ever looks good.  I increasingly need clothing that does the miraculous, and increasingly find tissue-thin polyester in weird colors and blindingly bizarre designs, assembled into shapeless garments: clothing incapable of achieving even the mundane goal of fitting, much less the miraculous of flattering.

Which means that I take a really careless approach.  If I took a careful approach – hunting for a particular color or style, hemming and hawing over each object as I pull it from the rack, pondering each outfit for several minutes in the mirror – I would never buy anything and, moreover, I would spend so much energy and so many emotions on the attempt.  I don’t have that time, or that energy, so I tell myself “Okay.  Grab stuff theoretically in your size that isn’t black or blue” – sane and generally flattering colors, meaning both fill my closet already – “and hie thee to the dressing room.”

At first I just thought it was a “screw it” approach.  But it’s also a “You won’t know until you try” approach.  Polka dots a size up?  Why not.  A dress that appears to have both splashes of Pepto-Bismol AND the vibrant green of Nyquil?  Sure.  Something virulently salmon?  Trying it.  A dress with the sort of line-based gradient meant to effect an optical illusion of some helpful variety?  Go for it.  Peach lace frock, stripy knit day dress, and a pair of linen pants? For all I know, they’ll work.  Desperation tugs me into a state of open-mindedness like nothing else.


…of course, sometimes you do, in fact, know before trying.  I honestly did know the linen trousers and translucent silk shirts were not going to be winners.  There was a moment where they sort of approached success – grey and salmon were kind of fun and felt daring together! – except for all the spots that neither item fit.  And then there are the garments that are really REALLY long.  This comic? It is the truest thing I have ever seen.  Who exactly are the Amazon giantesses that clothing designers evidently focus on dressing? The fitting room attendant was concerned I’d trip.

All in all, I keep wondering if designers are insane.  Do they not believe in knee-length skirts this year?  Do they not have a full palette of colors to work with?  I hunted for “summer-y” shades, and found white, black, the aforementioned blindingly bizarre patterns, and a few silk shirts in taupe. Are we being punked? Did all the fashion people make a bet about who could get consumers to pay the most for the privilege of looking the stupidest? There are rompers on the racks, for Pete’s sake, and those stupid heavy shoes that look like hooves.

…and then I wandered past the men’s department on my way to the checkout.

There are button-ups in the solid, summery colors I was looking for. There are t-shirts which look to be opaque. The craziest designs in sight were straightforward plaid.

Catch y’all later. I’ll be in the men’s section.


6 thoughts on “On the Purchase of Clothing

  1. I, too, hate clothes shopping. I know what clothes I like but unfortunately nobody seems to make/sell those clothes. I like skirts and dresses, but I also want to sit/bend over/move in those dresses and skirts. I want shirts that fit without looking like a second skin. I’ve completely given up on pants since if they fit my legs they tend to be large enough in the waist to fit a small child inside and if they fit in the waist, well that’s never happened because I can’t get them over my legs. It’s made me realize that I just need to start making all my own clothes but that is rather time consuming.

    • Yes and three times yes. Whoever started the whole skinny pants thing has earned my enmity. Too bad I have not yet learned how to operate a sewing machine…

  2. Yep, this sounds horridly familiar except that I am more or less the height they shoot for. However, none of the designers are apparently prepared for my curves, so getting the right waist or bust is a challenge, and dresses? Forget it.
    I, too, do the “grab things nearly at random and try them on.” There’s usually only one in fifteen successes rate, but at least I have successes. TJMax and thrift stores, as these have a wide variety and are a little closer to my zero-budget, are my go-to places when I have to. I am looking at my worn work slacks and realizing that the miserable time is upon me again. Alas!

    I have a friend who finds it nearly impossible to find pants that have long enough legs for her, as she’s nearly 6′ tall. As a result of that plus hating shopping even more than I do, clothes shopping sends her into fits of despair.

    • I am giggling – this whole post was inspired by a trip to Marshall’s, the adopted child of TJMaxx, and I most certainly took 15 things into the dressing room. And bought the optical illusion grey-striped dress. Gosh.

      Thrift stores are my favorite place to get tank tops, because it makes me a little crazy that a garment worn solely for the sake of opacity costs between 7 and 20 dollars in department stores.

      Alack for the tall ladies! I can always roll up or trim my trousers if they’re too long; how vexing not to have that option 😦

      • Hahaha, wow. That’s a lot of coincidence.
        Tank-tops are one of the banes of my life. Finding one that fits is like finding a pearl in amongst wild oysters. Then I wear the tank-top (not the pearl) to rags.

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