Misadventures in Shopping

January 2, 2009 at 2:45 am 12 comments

So, I had this hilariously stupid moment the other day.

I was out with Mr. Thornacious and the kids, shopping some of the crazy-ass post-Christmas sales with our gifts from the Treasury Santa. And so we were at the Lands’ End Inlet nearby, and there were a ton of just GREAT sweaters on sale. And I found a bunch in my size, and scurried off to the changing room to try them on, and realized… while they all fit, they also all looked like crap on me.


It’s a weird thing, for me – for all that I feel like I’m doing fairly well at the whole accepting my body and coming to peace with it, I’ve never had a real sense of what my body actually LOOKS like, and so every so often, it’s like I get all stupid and forget important little details.

Like, I have no neck.

No, really. I have big tits, broad shoulders, and no freakin’ neck to speak of. I look like a really short, bosomy linebacker.

And I’m cool with that, generally speaking. And over the past few years, I’ve kind of figured out what works on me and what doesn’t. But every so often I get all stupid, and decide to try on three sweaters in a row with turtlenecks or mock-turtlenecks, and then I wonder why these sweaters that fit nicely and are in “my” colors and were totally discounted look like crap on me.

Shockingly, it turns out my neck hasn’t grown a couple inches in the past few years.

So now I’m wondering – does everyone sometimes just get all lost in the excitement of a good sale and cute stuff in their size, and forget that Look ABC or Style XYZ just. Does. Not. Work. on them?

Really, I’m asking here. Because unlike a lot of parents, my mom spent a lot of my teen years trying to convince me TO wear makeup, and trying to convince me to do MORE with my hair. And so, because of course I had to rebel, I went the other way – no makeup, hair that got combed out of the shower and ignored, and a wardrobe made up of four shades of black (and not cool gothy black, either – that was after my time).

So now I’m a 35-year-old woman who is still figuring out how to dress herself, and I just want to know – is it like this for everyone else? Or is it just me?

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pauli  |  January 2, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Sure, I get that a lot – here in Poland we have no good plus-size stores to begin with, so whenever I actually see something that might fit me in terms of size, I get excited and try it on. Then, it looks BAD.
    I guess everyone experiences such a moment from time to time, not only because of size, but also, sometimes you see an item that looks so great and the urge to try it on because of its awesomeness causes you to forget, that this style does not really flatter you, never had and never will.

  • 2. The Bald Soprano  |  January 2, 2009 at 8:20 am

    It’s not just you. (although my mother supported me in the teenage rebelling-against-my-grandmother’s-ideas-of-makeup-etc. stage)

    Hm. I also have a short, wide neck and broad shoulders… maybe it’s something to do with that? 😀

  • 3. puellapiscea  |  January 2, 2009 at 9:34 am

    OOOh. I am totally a 35 year old woman who can’t dress herself. I have been working really hard on that this year and actually have a really nice wardrobe of very plain pieces that are definitely my style but a little boring. I am having problems when I try to put anything bolder in the mix so I am trying to go slow with that. I was the coolest little alternative kid in high school and college and I can deal with kinda plain clothese (aka lane bryant) but can’t handle the concept of dressing like a middle aged lady. I totally stood at in front of the mirrors at Kohl’s yesterday trying on this navy blue tunic top with beading around the top trying to figure out if it looked bohemian and hippie like or like I was a little old lady playing the slots in Vegas. I was very proud of myself for deciding that if I have to ask I already know the answer. But I totally understand that feeling. Also, I sometime, like you said, really forget what I look like and manage to pick up things that just don’t fit my current body style. It is a work in progress.

  • 4. Amanda  |  January 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

    You are definitely not alone! I do usually remember to avoid turtlenecks, but since I only go shopping about twice a year I have a hard time actually remembering how to translate the way a top or dress looks on the rack to the way it will look on me – so often something looks like it will be perfect, but then turns out to be just completely the wrong length or cut. I just remember what they say on What Not To Wear – the only way to find clothes that fit right is to try on a lot of things!

  • 5. Piffle  |  January 2, 2009 at 10:12 am

    The young and rebellious have always worn black, so it can’t be since your time! I’m ten years older and they did it in my youth, after all!

    And yes, I have no sense of style either; and also had a mom who tried to get me to be more feminine in the teen years. It’s strange, because my younger sister is almost my twin for features, though not coloring, and she can dress herself stupendously on a small budget. I think it takes an artist’s eye.

  • 6. Stephanie  |  January 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Heck, I’m twenty-six and I still strike out most of the time. I have an inability to look at a pair of pants and decide whether it has the Rise from Hell or not, and I absolutely can’t tell if a skirt will even look OK on me or not. Ain’t gonna happen, so I just try 50 things on and find 1 that looks okay.

    Sale racks are sometimes evil.

  • 7. Twistie  |  January 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Oh honey, it’s not just you…it’s not even just the fashion-challenged. I write about fashion and lifestyle for a living, and I still sometimes get carried away and carry the wrong thing into the dressing room with me.

    In the longrun, though, I think it’s infinitely better to take something in and try it on – even if you wind up looking insanely bad in it – than it is to pass up something you think might look good in case it might look bad. No, your neck won’t miraculously grow any more than I’m suddenly going to develop shoulders or longer legs. All the same, there are clothes that will both fit and flatter you, and you could be surprised at some of them. Some of the best looking, most flattering clothes I’ve ever owned were ones that all the experts said would look like deep-fried crap on a stick on me.

    And no, getting a paycheck for knowing about clothes doesn’t automatically mean we have infallible sight of our own bodies. That’s why the ‘What was she thinking’ page and Go Fug Yourself exist.

  • 8. Pegkitty  |  January 2, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Not just you, and not to be discouraging, but I’m an almost-43-y.o. woman doing the same thing! Although maybe that would be ENcouraging, since you’re cluing in eariler than me. My particular downfall is stripes of any direction – vertical, horizontal, diagonal – yet I still seem to zone out and grab stripey on-sale sweaters and get mystified when I don’t like how any of them look on me.

  • 9. TropicalChrome  |  January 2, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I share your pain on the turtleneck sweater, being similarly underendowed when it comes to neck length. They look so cosy on the shelves; they look so terrible on my body. The last time I wore a turtleneck was during our visit to the Salt Lake City Olympics, at which point I didn’t give a rat’s patoot about what I looked like, I wanted to be WARM. (Some of those venues were beyond cold.)

    I’m 44, and still working on developing my own style. Actually, I think it will always be a work in progress, because I’m watching my body continue to change as I age, so what looked great 10 years ago is perhaps not the best choice now. It’s annoying and frustrating and time consuming, but it’s also reality.

    One thing I do is try to try on at least a couple of garments each trip that catch my eye, but aren’t really “something I’d wear”. Most of the time they are only good for a laugh, but this is how I ended up with the two dresses I own. I tried them on, prepared to giggle and move on, but they ended up looking fantastic.

  • 10. Thorn  |  January 2, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Y’all are the best! I’m so glad to know it’s not just me.

    Piffle – My sister is the same way! Somehow she just throws together these outfits and looks great in them. Meanwhile I’m feeling like I’m doing well if I manage to get out of the house in clothes that aren’t stained! (Ah, the joys of life as an at-home mom!)

  • 11. Thorn  |  January 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    A bunch of you have said, and I have to admit it’s totally true, that sometimes you try something on that’s a bit outside your comfort zone and it winds up working great.

    Mr. Thornacious has a strange knack for doing that for me. I’ll make him go shopping with me (he’s willing in small doses, which is about all I can stomach anyway), and he’ll wind up picking out items that leave me going, “Eh,” but I try them on, usually to humor him, and they wind up working great. One of the best dresses I’ve ever owned was like that, actually.

  • 12. PurpleGirl  |  January 2, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I was the same way in high school; my mom literally backed me into a corner once and held my head still to put mascara on me! Which, of course, just irritated me. 🙂 It took me a long time to give a damn about how I looked, and a long time to figure out what looks good on me. And sometimes, when I find something on sale, I’ll try it on even though I know it’s not going to work. It’s just hard to resist the double-whammy of “SALE!” and “PURDY!” 🙂


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