My love/hate relationship with shopping for clothes

I love to shop.

I recently watched Confessions of a Shopaholic and totally understood the high when purchasing something new.  The main difference: I get a high from finding something extraordinary on special (or scoring a great discovery from Frenchy’s) rather than drooling over the sparkling couture of New York’s finest boutiques.  Probably this has a lot to do with my location.  And wallet.

However, trying on clothes has become a disheartening process since I gained weight.  I hover on the not quite regular size, not quite fat size, border.  It’s an in-between zone where regular clothes nip in a bit too tight at the hips while the plus size garments float on me and nearly make me motion sick.

And don’t get me started on in seams!  We do not all need 34 inch in seams, people!  Some of us are petite.  And plump.

There’s an assumption that if you’re petite, you’re slim.  And if you’re heavy, you’re tall.  Even if you find something that fits around your plumpest part (for me, my hips) it’s apt to be the wrong fit somewhere else.  And let’s be honest: if you’re overweight, clothes that are too big tend to give you the muumuu effect.  Not hot.  Definitely not hot.  Unless you’re in Hawaii.  And even then, not hot.

As much as I adore Frenchy’s, it’s difficult to find clothing that slips around your curves properly.  For one, there’s a proliferation of size four clothing.  I don’t even think I could sport size four pants when I was a kid.  Maybe when I was seven.  Maybe.

Unfortunately, that leaves me with the plus bin.  Usually it’s awash in granny shirts and skirts that haven’t been fashionable since Debbie Gibson had a hit.

Sometimes I’m lucky and find some Old Navy treasures.  These would be clothes cut for someone under the age of 80.  You know: low rise jeans, skirts with panache, and shirts that show a smidgen of cleavage.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to uncover a pair of tweed pants (definitely teacherly), a tweedy skirt with a plaid pattern on it (le sigh), a frilly, silky skirt, and a pair of jean shorts that are soft as a tee shirt.  I have something from Dress Barn, even though though the name of the label makes me feel like I was raised in a barn like a cow.

One of my main complaints is that plus size girls don’t want to dress like their grandmothers, yet many clothing companies think that if you’re plump, you need to wear something that covers you up like a nun.  Or has enough elastic to fit sizes 16 through 30 (otherwise known as active wear.)

What about patterns that are hip?  Cuts that are slimming?

I’ve made it my mission to find clothes that look great on me at any size.  Clothes that are comfortable.  Clothes that don’t make me break out in a cold sweat in a dressing room when I realize I can’t get out of them.  Last week, I briefly considered using my trusty Swiss Army Knife to cut myself out of a shirt I was trapped inside at Winner’s.  I thought of the horror of going to the cashier to pay for a shirt sliced up like someone in a scary movie.  Nooooooo!

As a result of my fashion wars (and a fear of contracting diabetes or heart disease) I’ve determined to pare back my food servings and up my physical activity so instead of lingering in my in-between regular and plus state I can go back into the regular size category.  So that I can find a pair of size 12 pants and be happy ever after.

Of course, I will still have to hem my jeans by hacking off the four inches of extra fabric that drag under my feet because I need about a 28 inch in seam.  #&%*!

Now I know why I get such a high after buying clothes that fit.

It’s a bit like tracking down the Holy Grail.

Worst Things to Try On

1) swimsuits

This is probably every woman’s scariest piece of clothing.  Even if you’re a Size 10, the wrong swimsuit can make you look like you’ve been noshing on too much Haagen Dazs.  I wish they would make nice tankinis for us plump gals.

2) jeans

They should fit like a glove.  But it’s funny that even though gloves are easy to find, jeans are not.  Jessica Simpson can attest that no matter how gorgeous you are, the wrong jeans can make you look terrible.

3) shoes

You’d think they’d be easy, but the wrong style of shoe can make your leg look stumpy or slim.  They need to enhance your shape, not fight it.

4) bras

Even slim women make the mistake of having bands that cut in to their shoulder blades, in effect making them look like they have oodles of back fat.  Plus, a properly fitting bra can slim you by keeping you strapped in properly.  Thank heavens for La Senza.

You could probably make the argument I don't need anything else in my closet.

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