Please Don’t Make Me Shop

15 Feb

A carefully constructed Hell.

Clothes shopping is the worst.

It makes me angsty in all the normal ways, of course.  All the body-related ways.  I spend a lot of time looking at a garment and wondering how I’ll fit all my jiggly into it.  I do a lot of fatty math – things like “if I get a pair of pants that go really high and a blouse that goes really low, how much pressure per inch does it take for my muffin top to disappear into the nether?’

For the record, I’m still running.  That’s right.  I graduated from Couch to 5K and now I run.  Now it’s just something I do.  I don’t want to talk about it too much because I’m afraid I’ll scare it off.  Like the dodo birds.   But it takes a lot of running to undo the terrible wrongs that are hanging on my hips and when I’m encasing them in clothing, it’s really more a matter of trying to find what doesn’t make me look incredibly awful instead of what makes me look incredibly good.   I have special, nonspecific equations that have to do with the original cost of a garment vs. its clearance cost and how large that number has to be for me to convince myself that it doesn’t matter if I look fat in it.

But those are everywoman things.  The tip of the clothes shopping iceberg, if you will.  Even a casual jaunt through Macy’s gives me palpitations.  This past weekend I went to Nordstrom (yes, I had a gift card, and no I don’t make money off this blog) and quadrupled the Macys effect.  All the sales people were super attentive.  I don’t know where the people are in life who enjoy that.  Who goes shopping and hopes that an associate will ask them if they’re finding everything okay? Not me.  Even if I’m looking for something, I’ll wander around pretending to look at things that I don’t pertain to me at all until I can spot what I need in my peripherals. 

I lead a complicated existence.

I worry a lot about the unspoken rules.  Clothing stores don’t all use the same standards so there’s a gamut of things I have to figure out when I go to a new place.  Do I have to ask for a fitting room or are they unlocked? Do I have hunt someone down or will someone be back there waiting?  Is there someone to help me when I need a new color of the mediocre shirt that I’m hoping doesn’t make me look as fat in black, or do I have to get out of my naked suit and go find it myself?  Do they write my name on the back of the door, do they need me to take a number matching the number of garments I have, should I button and zip everything back up when I’m done? And of course the most angst-inducing: do I leave the clothes in the fitting room or do I put them on a rack outside the fitting room? 

Sometimes the rack has things on it that don’t look like fitting room rejects.  And if I’m not invited to do so, or if there’s no rack at all (bewildering), I have absolutely no idea what to do and to avoid being a self-entitled jerkwad of a person, I take my monstrous heap of rejected clothing back out to the sales floor and put each one back to its rightful home.

Most of what I do in life is motivated by self-imposed guilt.

Because I so often have to carry out the latter practice, shopping requires me to be quite sharp minded.  I can’t just wander in there without purpose or I won’t remember where I got clothing from, won’t intuitively catch on to the wardrobe practices, and may risk being scolded by store personnel for a clothing store faux pas.

Nordstrom has an added sense of danger for me.  Things in that store can be so expensive that they send folks who were raised poor like me to the hospital.  I used to go in there when I was young and play “guess how much this costs” with my friends.   Now that it’s not a game and I actually want to buy some of these things (remember the gift card.  And the fact that there are still clearance sales at Nordstrom) I have to be seriously careful about my public reactions to such atrocities.  One blouse I pick up could be $80, on sale for $40.  The next could be $1200.  The real challenge in that situation is to, of course, not pull the blouse downward when your torso wrenches to the floor in disbelief, thereby making the entire rack of clothes topple over.

After an hour and a half of panic-attack-inducing shopping, I finally wandered out of Nordstrom and into the great white light beyond the mall doors.  By the time I made it out, I had tried on about 40 different things and only bought three.  With no reject rack in sight and far too many clothes to wander out of the dressing room with to return to their homelands, I left about 25 in one fitting room and then went to the complete other side of the store to try on anything else I found.  I thought that by leaving half on one side and half of the other, the sales associates would split their contempt for me down the middle.  I was exhausted, and rightfully so: all that salesperson dodging, fitting room hiding, and body fat encasing is quite the chore.

From now on: online shopping.  My fitting room, my rules, and no one asking me if I’m finding everything okay.  Just a couple of cats awkwardly staring at my jiggle and a box with a return slip ready to be shipped. 


10 Responses to “Please Don’t Make Me Shop”

  1. Anita S February 15, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    You hit the nail on the head, sister! It’s good to know I’m not alone in my clothing store angst. This is why I have such a dilapidated wardrobe.
    I can’t imagine a blouse costing $1200 — they’d have to carry me from the store after I passed out cold.


    • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

      I know, right? I couldn’t wrap my head around the prices. I just couldn’t. I could visit Europe with that money!


  2. Ro February 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    “Most of what I do in life is motivated by self-imposed guilt.”

    I don’t know if one sentence has ever summed up my entire existance so well.


    • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

      Until I saw it said back to me right there, I didn’t realize I had revealed myself. Also, still weird, the whole Ro/Jackie/Twinbots thing.

      Also, squirrel.


  3. pinklea February 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Yes. You have summed up the shopping experience quite succinctly. But on-line shopping brings its own, differenty angst for me: what if stuff doesn’t fit/ is the wrong colour/ simply looks like crap on me? That whole concept of returning makes me tremble – it’ then becomes ONE MORE THING I have to summon up the energy to do! Sometimes it’s easier just to wear dilapidated, holey stuff from 1995. Or to stay in my old bathrobe and not go out.


    • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

      That’s true – I started shopping on modcloth but then had this streak of hating everything once it was on me compared to what I hoped from the pics. I have to remind myself that I’m twice the size of the models 😉


  4. Momma February 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    This is so you……I can see you doing all of this and having fun with you while you do it. I remember some clothing outings with you. Funny but I have a great time with you shopping for
    clothes even when we spend a whole day and don’t find anything that hides all our jiggles.


    • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      I actually tend to find things I like when I’m with you. Maybe that’s because I have a shopping buddy. Or maybe it’s because you’re as awkward as I am. Not sure which 😛


  5. Samantha February 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Totally not even expected of you, but you are a saint for putting stuff back on the sales floor. Technically you only have to put it on the rack, but there’s people who smile to my face and have left a horrendous mess of clothes and hangers and ridiculousness all over the fitting room or strewn all over the rack. :/ People like you make my day better XD

    On the other hand, even though I work retail and get an associate discount, I also get shopping angst. Just because most of the time I don’t feel like trying something on unless I really want it or it’s cheap enough that I’ll buy it without trying on. And most times I’m just tired from work and go straight home.

    That said. The photo of Forever 21 (I think?) I wont even set foot in there anymore. They’ve gotten so big I just look in, get frightened and walk back out.


    • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

      Nice to hear you can connect to the anxiety 🙂 Working in retail didn’t even help me at all – I always wanted to cash in on my Victoria’s Secret discount when I worked there but got all nervous about shopping where I work.

      Thank you for letting me know clothes-return protocol. Rack it is, forevermore. Unless I get a panic attack. Then it’s back on the sales floor they go 😉


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