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Dec 30 2009

Irrational reactions to clothes shopping

I hate clothes shopping. When it comes to my list of Failures at Being a Woman, this probably ranks at number one. I loathe shopping for clothes so much that I will literally put it off for a year or more, continuously coming up with new excuses not to go. Even when I’ve mustered up the strength to go to the mall, I usually only last an hour or so before giving up and leaving.

Why the hatred? To me it’s just one big trip into poor body image land. Even when I was younger I hated it. I was 5’9″ at age 11, and let me tell you, no pants fit freakishly tall girls. Even “long” juniors pants were too short, and grown-up jeans looked like clown pants on my hips since I hadn’t filled out yet – a 11 year old girl look more like a ruler than an hour glass. Thankfully I’ve since developed a womanly figure, and finding pants isn’t such a problem.

But if it’s not one thing, it’s another: now I have boobs. I know, I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right? But finding clothes as a D cup is a pain the ass. One, it happened fairly suddenly so I had to get a new wardrobe – five years as a B, then wham! D cup. Old shirts don’t fit, at least not comfortably. And you’d think in a country where the average cup size is a C that I wouldn’t have such issues, but I feel like Goldilocks. Mediums are too small, with it fitting around my abdomen but my boobs feeling like they’re going to explode out ala Superman or the Hulk (or literally doing so if it’s a button up shirt)*. Larges fit my chest, but are like a tent around the rest of my body. Is it so much to ask for clothing for curvy girls? You’d think that in a society which is obsessed with big boobs, we’d give them a little more respect.

Even though these seem like fairly practical gripes, I’ll admit most of my aversion is irrational. Not being able to find clothes that fit makes me feel inadequate. I can look in the mirror and feel attractive, I can have others tell me I’m attractive**, but the moment I’m in that changing room, society’s opinion is weighing in. I know it’s stupid to care about the standards of the fashion industry or just society in general, but it’s hard when you’re immersed in it. I’m below the average weight and pant size of an American woman, yet if you use models and actresses (women we constantly see) as a standard I look like a freaking elephant.

The worst part is that if something seems fashionable, trendy, or cute, I feel like I’m not allowed to wear it. I feel self conscious wearing nice things because it seems totally out of character for me, like I’m only supposed to wear boring things that will just make me blend into the background. I’m not sure if I can even explain the feeling other than “You’re not one of those pretty girly girls, so just throw on a t shirt and jeans.” The idea of getting dolled up for a night out – doing something other than just brushing my hair, putting on any makeup, donning a cute little dress – is just absolutely alien to me. I’m not judging women who do do that – I just feel like I missed out on the Woman Card that gave me clearance to do such things.

Are there others who feel this way, or am unique in my insanity? I hate being so irrational about my appearance mainly because I know it’s irrational. That’s the hard part about being a skeptic. It’s one thing to believe stupid things, but it really stings to know you’re being stupid.

*And the fanboys chant, “Go with the mediums!”
**The point of this post is not to get pity compliments. Please do not regale me with “Well I think you’re hot”s to make me feel better. Just pondering this line of thinking.

76 comments

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  1. 1
    eight

    Dude, I've got your problem with missing out on the 'woman card'. I'm a t-shirt kind of person, I don't do anything that would take up time in the morning I could use sleeping. One day my little sister decided she wanted to see me wear something else, so she gave me one of her shirts and a really cool scarf to wear to school. I humored her since it wasn't too uncomfortable. When I got to school, one of my friends started acting really weird, refused to talk to me. When I asked her conversationally what she thought of the clothes I was wearing, she said 'I don't like it, it's like it isn't YOU any more.' As if my entire identity is inseparable from my Monty Python T-shirt. I think she thought I was the one being superficial too. I really did like the scarf.

  2. 2
    Jen

    Eight, I think that's definitely part of it. Whenever I *do* dress up or show cleavage my friends give me so much shit and go on and on about my outfit. It's just like…okay, going back to never looking nice, thanks.

  3. 3
    Jen

    Eight, I think that’s definitely part of it. Whenever I *do* dress up or show cleavage my friends give me so much shit and go on and on about my outfit. It’s just like…okay, going back to never looking nice, thanks.

  4. 4
    Julie

    I've tried to crack the impenetrable shell of your insecurity, with no luck. I'm both taller and fatter than you, with the same insecurities growing up tall and rail thin with no boobs, but I can't in any way, shape or form understand your line of thinking on this. It goes beyond mere body image insecurity and into the realm of grossly misproprortional mindfuck.

  5. 5
    Julie

    I’ve tried to crack the impenetrable shell of your insecurity, with no luck. I’m both taller and fatter than you, with the same insecurities growing up tall and rail thin with no boobs, but I can’t in any way, shape or form understand your line of thinking on this. It goes beyond mere body image insecurity and into the realm of grossly misproprortional mindfuck.

  6. 6
    Andy Allen

    Julie said… "grossly misproprortional mindfuck"

    Dibs on the metal-band name!

  7. 7
    Andy Allen

    Julie said… “grossly misproprortional mindfuck”Dibs on the metal-band name!

  8. 8
    Amanda

    Being a D cup truely is awful. As you said, it's nearly impossible to find shirts that aren't popping out at the chest and baggy everywhere else. And forget about finding a zip-up sweatshirt or a nicely fitted coat. Plus I can never decide whether or not to show any cleavage at all. On a day to day basis they are usually pretty well hidden (as well hidden as they can be), but every now and then I get the urge to go out and wear something cute, but then I have to decide if it's worth the awkward boob staring I'll probably get. Gah! Ok ending long rant about boobs now…

  9. 9
    wenscott

    Hate it too, even after XXXXXXXXXXXX decades of similarly irrational thinking. (Hint, if you find the time to sew, knit, etc, well…. no more dressing rooms)

  10. 10
    wenscott

    Hate it too, even after XXXXXXXXXXXX decades of similarly irrational thinking. (Hint, if you find the time to sew, knit, etc, well…. no more dressing rooms)

  11. 11
    Alicia

    I completely understand this line of thinking. I remember having the same shyness toward cute clothing in high school because I felt like I wasn't allowed to dress that way or people would think I was trying to be one of the "popular girls," or that I was dressing above my station so-to-speak. When you're known for dressing a certain way, people tend to stick you into that image so deeply that you can't get out of it.

    For me, the changes were very gradual. I started with a little foundation for makeup, wear a nicer shirt that wasn't emblazoned with some nerdy quip, etc. Eventually it started to grow on me, and it grew on my friends too. Now I love to shop for clothes, and I buy anything cute that I damn well want to wear.

    As far as your difficulty in finding clothes that fit, I think you're approaching the problem the wrong way. Trying to search every store for that "perfect fit" right off the rack just won't work for people who have a large boobs-to-waist ratio, and that's probably why you often leave in frustration. The irrationality in your thought process is to believe that it's somehow your body that is the problem. It's not! Don't blame yourself or your body; it's the clothes that are the problem. Because you have a unique shape, you need to shop differently than girls who can wear things right off the rack.

    The general rule is to buy the clothing that fits the largest part of you (in your case, the clothes that fit your bust), and then have the waist tailored to your size. This will give you a top that fits you perfectly. I encourage you to try this just once and see how it works out.

    Of course not everyone knows a seamstress willing to sew our clothes for us, and going to a tailor is a bit expensive. You could possibly teach yourself to sew, or save up for one special blouse that you really like and are willing to have fitted to you. I highly suggest watching some episodes of "What Not to Wear" if you're interested in learning more about fashion and how to find clothes that fit!

    It also really helps to find some girlie-girl company to give you guidance. You'd be surprised what you can learn just by hanging out with a girl who is really feminine!

  12. 12
    Uncle Bob

    when I was 11 y/o, I was 6 feet tall and wore a size 13 shoe. I was also some 130 pounds soaking wet….I've filled out some since then.

    A bit unrelated, but I have a similar lack of enthusiasm for shopping for close. Thankfully I have relatives that insist on buying me shirts and socks every xmas. at most, I only need to buy pants and shoes ever….mumble….10 years or so to fill in the gap.

    I'm really bad about shopping. It is AMAZING how long you can put it off, if you try as hard as I do…!

  13. 13
    Uncle Bob

    when I was 11 y/o, I was 6 feet tall and wore a size 13 shoe. I was also some 130 pounds soaking wet….I’ve filled out some since then.A bit unrelated, but I have a similar lack of enthusiasm for shopping for close. Thankfully I have relatives that insist on buying me shirts and socks every xmas. at most, I only need to buy pants and shoes ever….mumble….10 years or so to fill in the gap.I’m really bad about shopping. It is AMAZING how long you can put it off, if you try as hard as I do…!

  14. 14
    Richard Howland-Bolton

    Ah! you girls have it easy–try being a guy (see here for details.

  15. 15
    Richard Howland-Bolton

    Ah! you girls have it easy–try being a guy (see here for details.

  16. 16
    Richard Howland-Bolton

    and indeed here.

  17. 17
    Richard Howland-Bolton

    and indeed here.

  18. 18
    Hugo Grinebiter

    @Richard: that is a seriously funny and brilliant essay.

    Even though a man, I resonate with what you say about the card, and with Alicia too. If you move out of T-shirt and jeans territory, people will assume that you are trying to be fashionable, sartorially hot and so forth. And there is nobody human beings like to laugh at more than a deluded person attempting something for which zie is not naturally equipped. Thus "Idol". Oh, people would say, or think, Hugo's trying to look like a cool clubber now; ho ho ho, he thinks he can pull women in that, snigger snigger. Now, some people don't mind making a fool of themselves, but for others it's the worst thing in the world. Since I am stone fashion-blind, and also despise the whole notion, my only option is an ostentatious "I'm not playing". There is, I feel, some dignity in that, at least in the eyes of intelligent people; to those who have no knowledge or values other than clothes I have in any case nothing to say.

  19. 19
    Hugo Grinebiter

    @Richard: that is a seriously funny and brilliant essay. Even though a man, I resonate with what you say about the card, and with Alicia too. If you move out of T-shirt and jeans territory, people will assume that you are trying to be fashionable, sartorially hot and so forth. And there is nobody human beings like to laugh at more than a deluded person attempting something for which zie is not naturally equipped. Thus “Idol”. Oh, people would say, or think, Hugo’s trying to look like a cool clubber now; ho ho ho, he thinks he can pull women in that, snigger snigger. Now, some people don’t mind making a fool of themselves, but for others it’s the worst thing in the world. Since I am stone fashion-blind, and also despise the whole notion, my only option is an ostentatious “I’m not playing”. There is, I feel, some dignity in that, at least in the eyes of intelligent people; to those who have no knowledge or values other than clothes I have in any case nothing to say.

  20. 20
    theVOID

    Seriously Jen, you're damn good looking for a geek, plus kinky and brilliant = very desirable.

  21. 21
    theVOID

    Seriously Jen, you’re damn good looking for a geek, plus kinky and brilliant = very desirable.

  22. 22
    BeamStalk

    Freakishly tall guys have the same problems with jeans. In high school I wore a size 30 36. Just try and find jeans of length 36 with a waist of 30, you won't. Now I wear a 34 36 or 36 36 depending on the style and brand, these are still hard to find but not near as bad.

  23. 23
    BeamStalk

    Freakishly tall guys have the same problems with jeans. In high school I wore a size 30 36. Just try and find jeans of length 36 with a waist of 30, you won’t. Now I wear a 34 36 or 36 36 depending on the style and brand, these are still hard to find but not near as bad.

  24. 24
    Anonymous

    I definitely feel the same way (not about shopping – I love shopping haha), but about wearing nice things. I've been trying to "adultify" my wardrobe (ie – upgrade from jeans and a t-shirt to more lady like things) ever since I finished undergrad (last spring) and have since bought so many nice clothes and dresses and more business casual stuff that, while I feel fine wearing to my office job, I feel like my friends will be like "woah what happened to you?" if I wear them around normally, and always just resort to my old jeans and t-shirts that I've had since high school…

  25. 25
    JD

    this is where nudists have us clothes-wearing folk beat, hands down.

  26. 26
    JD

    this is where nudists have us clothes-wearing folk beat, hands down.

  27. 27
    tsugradstudent

    Can I make a suggestion: As someone who is not freakishly tall, but definitely hour glass shaped: Go to Victoria's Secret and get properly fitted for a bra. A good bra will be A) comfortable and B) do wonders for any sort of hour glass shape, kinda puts the girls where they should be, rather than where they want to be. And find a good seamstress or get someone to teach you how to take in clothes. 90% of people cannot wear clothes straight off the rack, so in this respect you are perfectly average. By getting a seamstress to tailor your clothes, or tailoring them yourself, you can and will look fabulous.

    In addition, look for a book (and I can't remember the name of it, and am too lazy to look it up right now) by Tim Gunn of Project Runway. The man is a fashion guru who can dress ANYONE. He believes that in order to have a decent wardrobe, everyone needs ten essential items (LBD, jeans, button down shirt, etc) and it is perfect for those of us who are fashion challenged.

  28. 28
    tsugradstudent

    Can I make a suggestion: As someone who is not freakishly tall, but definitely hour glass shaped: Go to Victoria’s Secret and get properly fitted for a bra. A good bra will be A) comfortable and B) do wonders for any sort of hour glass shape, kinda puts the girls where they should be, rather than where they want to be. And find a good seamstress or get someone to teach you how to take in clothes. 90% of people cannot wear clothes straight off the rack, so in this respect you are perfectly average. By getting a seamstress to tailor your clothes, or tailoring them yourself, you can and will look fabulous. In addition, look for a book (and I can’t remember the name of it, and am too lazy to look it up right now) by Tim Gunn of Project Runway. The man is a fashion guru who can dress ANYONE. He believes that in order to have a decent wardrobe, everyone needs ten essential items (LBD, jeans, button down shirt, etc) and it is perfect for those of us who are fashion challenged.

  29. 29
    The Jules

    I prefer a reductionist, intellectual and analytical approach to the concept of body image, so can you tell us more about your boobs?

  30. 30
    The Jules

    I prefer a reductionist, intellectual and analytical approach to the concept of body image, so can you tell us more about your boobs?

  31. 31
    Denise

    As a "grown up", I want to say I found this post particularly poignant. And I must admit to you it makes me a little bit sad. I so admire your courage and intelligence and leadership, Jen. Please don’t fall into the whole body image trap. (I was hoping your generation had grown accustom to the whole unattainable image thing due to your better understanding of media manipulation and Photoshop).

    I have a 16 yo daughter, who, as a fit and muscular cheerleader, is very body confident but tends toward believing she is intellectually inferior, and another daughter who is 12 and very intellectually confident but hasn’t really grown up enough to care about image. I was hoping by the time they finished college they would realize they could be both.

  32. 32
    Denise

    As a “grown up”, I want to say I found this post particularly poignant. And I must admit to you it makes me a little bit sad. I so admire your courage and intelligence and leadership, Jen. Please don’t fall into the whole body image trap. (I was hoping your generation had grown accustom to the whole unattainable image thing due to your better understanding of media manipulation and Photoshop). I have a 16 yo daughter, who, as a fit and muscular cheerleader, is very body confident but tends toward believing she is intellectually inferior, and another daughter who is 12 and very intellectually confident but hasn’t really grown up enough to care about image. I was hoping by the time they finished college they would realize they could be both.

  33. 33
    Kat

    This is one of those posts that makes me headdesk just a little bit. It frustrates me that our off-the-rack instant-fullfilment culture leads you to think that because your body type doesn't suit off-the-rack clothing that there is something wrong with you. This is totally wrong… and oddly reinforced by our friends who flip out at any notion of change (as though a different style of shirt makes you a different person).

    I am the "What Not To Wear"/Fashion Guru of my friends/co-workers. I'm not fashionable in the least, but I have an understanding of colour and shape (more from being raised by Engineers than fashionista's) and it takes work to make clothes do what they should. Sad but true.

    The previous advice to you about fitting the largest part of you and having the shirt taken in is good advice. It's a little costly to have every shirt taken in so that it fits the girls and the waist, but that is the price us non-off-the-rack folk have to pay. The notion of having a proper bra fitting and investing in good bras is also very good advice.

    I have some advice myself, but it may seem strange. Shop at plus sized or maternity stores. Yes, you may think that it's awful; you're not fat and you're not pregnant. But you have larger breasts and plus sized or pregnant fashions are designed to accomodate just that! You can be a Size XS or S in either of those stores, find fashionable clothes (pregnancy clothing isn't made of tent anymore; a lot of it is quite beautiful, office-appropriate and DOESNT scream "preggers") you may not have to tailor and, of course, you can always buy your pants elsewhere as you certainly don't need pants with pregnancy panels. I fit off-the-rack clothing sized S or M and I have the occasional maternity shirt in my wardrobe; the clothing is pretty, shows off the girls wonderfully and doesn't make me look pregnant, as clothing for the 1st trimester is designed to grow with you from non-preggo to baby-bump.

    We're told to feel bad when we shop at these stores, because shopping at plus sized locations means that you are fat and therefor less. That's what we have to work to get past. We aren't fat, we are human. We come in different heights and sizes and this can't be helped. It it much better to look well dressed in clothing that fits every part of you than to squeeze into too-small shirts, or swim through larger sizes. Being well dressed is key for interviews, presentations, etc as you give an impression of confidence and capability.

    Clothing sucks, but I promise the effort will be worth it in the end.

  34. 34
    Kat

    This is one of those posts that makes me headdesk just a little bit. It frustrates me that our off-the-rack instant-fullfilment culture leads you to think that because your body type doesn’t suit off-the-rack clothing that there is something wrong with you. This is totally wrong… and oddly reinforced by our friends who flip out at any notion of change (as though a different style of shirt makes you a different person).I am the “What Not To Wear”/Fashion Guru of my friends/co-workers. I’m not fashionable in the least, but I have an understanding of colour and shape (more from being raised by Engineers than fashionista’s) and it takes work to make clothes do what they should. Sad but true.The previous advice to you about fitting the largest part of you and having the shirt taken in is good advice. It’s a little costly to have every shirt taken in so that it fits the girls and the waist, but that is the price us non-off-the-rack folk have to pay. The notion of having a proper bra fitting and investing in good bras is also very good advice.I have some advice myself, but it may seem strange. Shop at plus sized or maternity stores. Yes, you may think that it’s awful; you’re not fat and you’re not pregnant. But you have larger breasts and plus sized or pregnant fashions are designed to accomodate just that! You can be a Size XS or S in either of those stores, find fashionable clothes (pregnancy clothing isn’t made of tent anymore; a lot of it is quite beautiful, office-appropriate and DOESNT scream “preggers”) you may not have to tailor and, of course, you can always buy your pants elsewhere as you certainly don’t need pants with pregnancy panels. I fit off-the-rack clothing sized S or M and I have the occasional maternity shirt in my wardrobe; the clothing is pretty, shows off the girls wonderfully and doesn’t make me look pregnant, as clothing for the 1st trimester is designed to grow with you from non-preggo to baby-bump.We’re told to feel bad when we shop at these stores, because shopping at plus sized locations means that you are fat and therefor less. That’s what we have to work to get past. We aren’t fat, we are human. We come in different heights and sizes and this can’t be helped. It it much better to look well dressed in clothing that fits every part of you than to squeeze into too-small shirts, or swim through larger sizes. Being well dressed is key for interviews, presentations, etc as you give an impression of confidence and capability.Clothing sucks, but I promise the effort will be worth it in the end.

  35. 35
    corvustristis

    As a fellow D cup who actually does enjoy playing with what I wear, and who loses more than 10 inches between bust and waist- this is a big part of why I sew. I've been known to take in the ginormous waist of a button-up shirt which fits my cleavage five minutes before leaving for an interview. Screw the clothing industry deciding what they think I should look like! I make my own look.

    Sometimes that look is weird. At this point, my friends are so used to me pulling off whatever style I want -from t-shirt and jeans to corsetry and skirts to everything in between- that I can barely get them to raise an eyebrow. It's a challenge!

  36. 36
    corvustristis

    As a fellow D cup who actually does enjoy playing with what I wear, and who loses more than 10 inches between bust and waist- this is a big part of why I sew. I’ve been known to take in the ginormous waist of a button-up shirt which fits my cleavage five minutes before leaving for an interview. Screw the clothing industry deciding what they think I should look like! I make my own look.Sometimes that look is weird. At this point, my friends are so used to me pulling off whatever style I want -from t-shirt and jeans to corsetry and skirts to everything in between- that I can barely get them to raise an eyebrow. It’s a challenge!

  37. 37
    PJG

    Another terrible thing about being a woman who needs to buy clothes– it always depresses me than men have two degrees of freedom in their pant sizing, while we only get one. Men need to know their measurements for waist and length. Women choose numbers on a scale that doesn't have any relevant interpretation, varies hugely from store to store, and makes you feel awkward if you don't fall into the "regular" category. Breasts complicate the whole affair of course, as you've mentioned. I'm an E, and constantly feel like I'm about to rip something in the dressing room, and in the end generally look like I'm auditioning to be a corset wench. What's more, online shopping is practically off-limits to girls whose figures are a little skewed.

    I agree with the people here suggesting checking out "What Not to Wear." It will definitely give you confidence that if those people can find good clothes, you can too. Also, just a word of caution with the bra fitting– if you get it done at Victoria's Secret, don't let them force you into a push-up. You clearly don't need it, and it'll probably just make your back hurt and clothes harder to find.

    In conclusion, fuck society, and fuck pants.

  38. 38
    PJG

    Another terrible thing about being a woman who needs to buy clothes– it always depresses me than men have two degrees of freedom in their pant sizing, while we only get one. Men need to know their measurements for waist and length. Women choose numbers on a scale that doesn’t have any relevant interpretation, varies hugely from store to store, and makes you feel awkward if you don’t fall into the “regular” category. Breasts complicate the whole affair of course, as you’ve mentioned. I’m an E, and constantly feel like I’m about to rip something in the dressing room, and in the end generally look like I’m auditioning to be a corset wench. What’s more, online shopping is practically off-limits to girls whose figures are a little skewed. I agree with the people here suggesting checking out “What Not to Wear.” It will definitely give you confidence that if those people can find good clothes, you can too. Also, just a word of caution with the bra fitting– if you get it done at Victoria’s Secret, don’t let them force you into a push-up. You clearly don’t need it, and it’ll probably just make your back hurt and clothes harder to find. In conclusion, fuck society, and fuck pants.

  39. 39
    Cheryl

    Jen, I have been sewing for 46 years and have about the same problem as you. I went from being a tall ruler shape as a pre-teen to a C-cup almost overnight. I'm now double-D and fighting the middle-age spread, but still have those long legs and a long torso to contend with. Nothing off the rack fits so I do a lot of alterations. I'd be happy to do some for you if you are ever in Alabama.

  40. 40
    Cheryl

    Jen, I have been sewing for 46 years and have about the same problem as you. I went from being a tall ruler shape as a pre-teen to a C-cup almost overnight. I’m now double-D and fighting the middle-age spread, but still have those long legs and a long torso to contend with. Nothing off the rack fits so I do a lot of alterations. I’d be happy to do some for you if you are ever in Alabama.

  41. 41
    Jen

    You know, I never realized tailoring is the norm for so many woman. My mom has back issues so she likes her clothes extremely loose fitting, so I've never really been exposed to the idea of taking things in consistently. I always thought it was something you do if you lost a significant amount of weight and didn't want to buy all new clothes, or something like that.

    I actually can sew half way decently, so maybe I'll have to start trying this. That doesn't make it any less of a pain in the ass, though.

  42. 42
    Jen

    You know, I never realized tailoring is the norm for so many woman. My mom has back issues so she likes her clothes extremely loose fitting, so I’ve never really been exposed to the idea of taking things in consistently. I always thought it was something you do if you lost a significant amount of weight and didn’t want to buy all new clothes, or something like that.I actually can sew half way decently, so maybe I’ll have to start trying this. That doesn’t make it any less of a pain in the ass, though.

  43. 43
    Kat

    PJG not sure what you're talking about re: pants. I buy my jeans at Bluenotes. 2 steps: find the cut I like, then select waistxleg length. Easy as anything.

    Fashion stores give random numbers by waist and all of the leg length is the same (usually rather long). This is so that you can have the pants hemmed to fit your shoes. It's hard to measure length in Ladies dress pants when they don't know if you like a flat, a 3" heal or 6" stiletto's. So yeah, you have to try on to find what fits your waist/hips, but length is just impossible.

    Hell, most fashion stores I shop at have descriptions of the pant cut on the tag (low rise, wide-leg, etc) so that all I do is grab cuts I know I want and try on til I find what fits my waist/hips. Usually I can find my number at any given store in one or two attempts.

    It's really not as hard as it seems.

  44. 44
    Kat

    PJG not sure what you’re talking about re: pants. I buy my jeans at Bluenotes. 2 steps: find the cut I like, then select waistxleg length. Easy as anything.Fashion stores give random numbers by waist and all of the leg length is the same (usually rather long). This is so that you can have the pants hemmed to fit your shoes. It’s hard to measure length in Ladies dress pants when they don’t know if you like a flat, a 3″ heal or 6″ stiletto’s. So yeah, you have to try on to find what fits your waist/hips, but length is just impossible. Hell, most fashion stores I shop at have descriptions of the pant cut on the tag (low rise, wide-leg, etc) so that all I do is grab cuts I know I want and try on til I find what fits my waist/hips. Usually I can find my number at any given store in one or two attempts.It’s really not as hard as it seems.

  45. 45
    keelyellenmarie

    –34DD.–Thighs that are pushing a size 10 and a waist that is an 8 on a bad day, a 6 when I've been sticking to my running.–A mother that is a)pretty bad at being girly (make-up, etc) and b) really, really uncomfortable talking about anything body related.–A naturally neurotic mind that despite being pumped full of crazy pills is still a bit… off.

    So yes, I'm entirely with you on this one. I also used to have the height problem… I was a full head taller than all of my friends in my elementary school graduation photos… but I've only grown about an inch since sixth grade, so that's no longer a problem.

    Clothes shopping is horrid, and if I have to do it for any amount of time it's liable to send me spinning off on a brief trip to crazy town. It has been ages since I bought a pair of jeans anywhere but the Gap… not because I have any particular love for that store, but because I discovered back at the beginning of college that size 8 curvy jeans from there fit me perfectly. It means I don't buy new pants often, as I hate spending that kind of money on clothes, but I can order online and never set foot in a goddamn dressing room.

    Shirts are harder, and I generally avoid the problem by sticking to t-shirts and sweaters with some stretch to them. Button up shirts are hell. I have found ONE store that has a curvy fit that *almost* fits (as in my boobs are not bursting out of it) but the fabric still does that annoying puckering thing if I button it all the way.

    I'm with all of the above commenters on the *find a tailor* thing in theory, but we're in college. Who in the hell has both the time and the money to do that? Especially since we spend most of our time in class or the lab, where everyone fully expects us to wear the jeans-and-a-tee uniform? And even out in the "real world" (not that we're really going into real life… yay academia) I can't imagine having the time to tailor everything I buy.

    And all that "most people can't buy stuff off the shelf"…. um, why the hell not? That's retarded… why aren't we DEMANDING of stores that they produce decent stuff that fits a wider variety of women? Why? Because we've some how let them convince us that the problem is our bodies instead of their lousy selection. Fashion's great hoax. Fuckers.

    Oh, and as an aside… Jen, the only way we could share more irrational neuroses is if you were also brought up in a guilt-tripping, anti-sex, catholic family. It's frankly rather scary.

  46. 46
    keelyellenmarie

    –34DD.–Thighs that are pushing a size 10 and a waist that is an 8 on a bad day, a 6 when I’ve been sticking to my running.–A mother that is a)pretty bad at being girly (make-up, etc) and b) really, really uncomfortable talking about anything body related.–A naturally neurotic mind that despite being pumped full of crazy pills is still a bit… off.So yes, I’m entirely with you on this one. I also used to have the height problem… I was a full head taller than all of my friends in my elementary school graduation photos… but I’ve only grown about an inch since sixth grade, so that’s no longer a problem.Clothes shopping is horrid, and if I have to do it for any amount of time it’s liable to send me spinning off on a brief trip to crazy town. It has been ages since I bought a pair of jeans anywhere but the Gap… not because I have any particular love for that store, but because I discovered back at the beginning of college that size 8 curvy jeans from there fit me perfectly. It means I don’t buy new pants often, as I hate spending that kind of money on clothes, but I can order online and never set foot in a goddamn dressing room.Shirts are harder, and I generally avoid the problem by sticking to t-shirts and sweaters with some stretch to them. Button up shirts are hell. I have found ONE store that has a curvy fit that *almost* fits (as in my boobs are not bursting out of it) but the fabric still does that annoying puckering thing if I button it all the way.I’m with all of the above commenters on the *find a tailor* thing in theory, but we’re in college. Who in the hell has both the time and the money to do that? Especially since we spend most of our time in class or the lab, where everyone fully expects us to wear the jeans-and-a-tee uniform? And even out in the “real world” (not that we’re really going into real life… yay academia) I can’t imagine having the time to tailor everything I buy. And all that “most people can’t buy stuff off the shelf”…. um, why the hell not? That’s retarded… why aren’t we DEMANDING of stores that they produce decent stuff that fits a wider variety of women? Why? Because we’ve some how let them convince us that the problem is our bodies instead of their lousy selection. Fashion’s great hoax. Fuckers.Oh, and as an aside… Jen, the only way we could share more irrational neuroses is if you were also brought up in a guilt-tripping, anti-sex, catholic family. It’s frankly rather scary.

  47. 47
    Claire V

    I would say if you don't feel comfortable changing your looks because you get comments from all your friends (that happened to me too at one point), remember that soon you'll be going off to grad school, where few to no one will know you, so you can remake your image without getting comments about it. But if you feel like you can stick out the comments for a while, know that if you consistently dress in a nicer or more fashionable way, people will quickly stop talking about it. The reason people make comments is THEY may not feel comfortable with your new look. Finding out how attractive/fashionable/different your friend can look can be really disconcerting. Try not to let the comments bother you, or just tell your friends to cut it out (after all, all you did was buy some new clothes). Likely, if they see their comments are making you uncomfortable they'll stop.

    As for shopping advice? Don't have a ton, although you might try googling what sort of cuts (v-neck, scoop neck, etc) suit busty women. And what kind of fabrics. Personally I really like the tops they have at Express, because they come in a ton of basic colors and usually are made out of fairly stretch material, so they can accomodate a larger bust size without being totally loose around your nice trim waist :)

  48. 48
    Claire V

    I would say if you don’t feel comfortable changing your looks because you get comments from all your friends (that happened to me too at one point), remember that soon you’ll be going off to grad school, where few to no one will know you, so you can remake your image without getting comments about it. But if you feel like you can stick out the comments for a while, know that if you consistently dress in a nicer or more fashionable way, people will quickly stop talking about it. The reason people make comments is THEY may not feel comfortable with your new look. Finding out how attractive/fashionable/different your friend can look can be really disconcerting. Try not to let the comments bother you, or just tell your friends to cut it out (after all, all you did was buy some new clothes). Likely, if they see their comments are making you uncomfortable they’ll stop.As for shopping advice? Don’t have a ton, although you might try googling what sort of cuts (v-neck, scoop neck, etc) suit busty women. And what kind of fabrics. Personally I really like the tops they have at Express, because they come in a ton of basic colors and usually are made out of fairly stretch material, so they can accomodate a larger bust size without being totally loose around your nice trim waist :)

  49. 49
    krissthesexyatheist

    Your irrational, I'm irrational, we're all irrational…about something. I could be weirdo about sports. It doesn't make sense. those guys are jerks, lawbreakers, woman beaters, but I still have my team.

    About the clothes. I'm 5.2, 125lbs and 41 y/o. Hell if I can find pants that fit me or shoes. do I think that I look good regardless, sure, but do I trip on it, sure. You are not alone.

    Happy New Year.

    Kriss

  50. 50
    kriss the sexy atheist

    Your irrational, I’m irrational, we’re all irrational…about something. I could be weirdo about sports. It doesn’t make sense. those guys are jerks, lawbreakers, woman beaters, but I still have my team.About the clothes. I’m 5.2, 125lbs and 41 y/o. Hell if I can find pants that fit me or shoes. do I think that I look good regardless, sure, but do I trip on it, sure. You are not alone.Happy New Year.Kriss

  51. 51
    Argentum74

    To further back up those commenters that suggested being fitted for a bra, my wife did that for the first time at Vicki's Secret a few years ago, and it was a life-changing experience for her. I noticed the difference in the way the fitted bra made her look instantly.

    And you're not being stupid or irrational, Jen. Caring about how you look to yourself or other people is neither stupid nor irrational in and of itself, though plenty of people have proven that it CAN be taken to that level. I certainly think having a decent amount of concern for your appearance is healthier than having none at all. You're perfectly justified in feeling frustrated about your difficulty in finding clothes that work for you the way you want them to, especially in this society, but please don't let that make you think of yourself as being any less intelligent or sane for it.

    As for fashion industry standards, don't feel like you have to care for them very much in order to look good or feel good about how you look. I've watched enough Project Runway to know how strange and arbitrary those standards can be! ;-)

  52. 52
    Argentum74

    To further back up those commenters that suggested being fitted for a bra, my wife did that for the first time at Vicki’s Secret a few years ago, and it was a life-changing experience for her. I noticed the difference in the way the fitted bra made her look instantly.And you’re not being stupid or irrational, Jen. Caring about how you look to yourself or other people is neither stupid nor irrational in and of itself, though plenty of people have proven that it CAN be taken to that level. I certainly think having a decent amount of concern for your appearance is healthier than having none at all. You’re perfectly justified in feeling frustrated about your difficulty in finding clothes that work for you the way you want them to, especially in this society, but please don’t let that make you think of yourself as being any less intelligent or sane for it.As for fashion industry standards, don’t feel like you have to care for them very much in order to look good or feel good about how you look. I’ve watched enough Project Runway to know how strange and arbitrary those standards can be! ;-)

  53. 53
    Alec

    To be honest, I think the reason your not comfortable wearing "girly" clothes is that you are not used to wearing them and are comfortable blending into the background; it's your "safe place" when it comes to fashion, if you will. And truthfully, there's nothing wrong with that. Be where your most comfortable. However, if that's something you want to change, then the only way to do so is to start dressing more "girly." And take it from someone who used to wear t-shirts and jeans they're entire life and has recently had to start dressing in dress clothes a lot more, which I used to hate; it can be rough, but when you start to feel comfortable and attractive in those clothes, you'll make a new "safe place."

    Personally though, I don't think you need to change a thing. :)

  54. 54
    Anonymous

    I can relate, Jen. I HATE shopping for clothes. I don't do a lot of alterations, but have found some companies that fit me and stick with them. Vicky's Secret is good for bras. If you can find a Nordstrom's, they are even better. Lands' End is great for slacks, since they will hem free of charge. I'm short, curvy and older (not too far in the future is 50…) and had to switch from wearing scrubs at one job to dress clothes at another. My advice: do it in steps and accept the fact that you will make mistakes (I look at pix of me in some of my older outfits and wonder WHAT I was thinking when I bought it…)

    Dawn

  55. 55
    godlizard

    Hi, you don't know me or anything, but you're probably used to random strangers on the internet blathering on in your comments right? So here I go.

    It sounds like you *want* to have fun with fashion, it really does. That uncomfortable feeling you have when you get dressed up, that you described as "like you're not allowed"? It's normal. Getting dressed up and putting on makeup is a habit for some girls most likely because they *feel* different when they do. To them, it's the opposite — take away the cute dress and the cosmetics, and they feel *naked*.

    So it's probably something like being a nudist all your life, and contemplating wearing clothes all the time. So if you try it and you get used to it, it'll start feeling normal – or you'll discover you're just a nudist at heart and go back to blending in.

    But it's probably worth going through the 'feeling uncomfortable' stage a bit, see if you can get comfortable being conspicuous. Because whatever you feel about being tall, below "average" weight, and having boobs, let me assure you the rest of the world views that as awesome.

    Oh, and the boob thing? I totally don't get it either, but I suspect most girls with boobs tend to go the medium route. My daughter had nice normal sized boobs (she didn't inherit my honkin' knockers) and she actually had a *boob job*, going from being able to wear regular clothes to … well, bursting out of mediums :). I think that's the general fashion philosophy — either you go large and baggy, or you go medium and boobacious.

    Sorry to babble on so. At least I'm not going on about *my* clothing issues!

  56. 56
    32H Geek

    Omg, yes I can relate. I'm a 32H, so I can't even try shopping at Victoria's Secret. (They once seriously tried to fit me into 38DD.) My advice is to go at least once to Nordstroms for a good bra-fitting. They even have off-the-rack bras there that fit *me*, so you should have a nice selection of bras that fit you.

    I also feel like I'm not "allowed" to be sexy and feminine, somehow. I've always been the T-shirt and jeans geek, typically the only girl in my group of friends, so it can feel very awkward to be distinctly female in such a crowd. :(

  57. 57
    32H Geek

    Omg, yes I can relate. I’m a 32H, so I can’t even try shopping at Victoria’s Secret. (They once seriously tried to fit me into 38DD.) My advice is to go at least once to Nordstroms for a good bra-fitting. They even have off-the-rack bras there that fit *me*, so you should have a nice selection of bras that fit you.I also feel like I’m not “allowed” to be sexy and feminine, somehow. I’ve always been the T-shirt and jeans geek, typically the only girl in my group of friends, so it can feel very awkward to be distinctly female in such a crowd. :(

  58. 58
    Riayn

    I'm so glad I am not the only girl out there that hates clothes shopping. Judging from the number of comments there are quite a few of us out there. I used to shop for a number of years in the men's department as the women's department seemed to be filled with clothes in pastel colours and several sizes too small. I am now venturing into some sections of the women's department, but still prefer men's clothes as not only do they have styles I like, but they are cheaper. I still buy men's jeans as women's jeans have a non existant crotch length and I don't want to wear my jeans half way down my ass, thank you. Life would be much easier if we didn't have to go clothes shopping.

  59. 59
    Sili

    I hear the getting fitted for a proper bra does a world of good as well.

    Aside from that I can only think of the unhelpful suggestion of a finding a boyfriend who sews …

    Sorry.

  60. 60
    Sili

    I hear the getting fitted for a proper bra does a world of good as well.Aside from that I can only think of the unhelpful suggestion of a finding a boyfriend who sews …Sorry.

  61. 61
    Anonymous

    Most women are not wearing the correct size bra, usually too large in ribs, too small in cup. I was lucky enough to have a fitting for my 32Ds at Harp's Lingerie in Michigan, they're expert there. No luck at Victoria's Secret at all- very few small-rib/large cup choices. The clothing companies clearly don't CARE that many american women have small torsos and bigger boobs. I generally have good body esteem, but standing in a dressing room looking fat and bulky in a large or busting out all over in a medium makes me feel bad. Clothes should cost half as much if you then have to have them tailored! You seem like a VERY smart and cute girl, repeat after me: It's them, not me!

  62. 62
    Anonymous

    Most women are not wearing the correct size bra, usually too large in ribs, too small in cup. I was lucky enough to have a fitting for my 32Ds at Harp’s Lingerie in Michigan, they’re expert there. No luck at Victoria’s Secret at all- very few small-rib/large cup choices. The clothing companies clearly don’t CARE that many american women have small torsos and bigger boobs. I generally have good body esteem, but standing in a dressing room looking fat and bulky in a large or busting out all over in a medium makes me feel bad. Clothes should cost half as much if you then have to have them tailored! You seem like a VERY smart and cute girl, repeat after me: It’s them, not me!

  63. 63
    lra

    I can relate. While I got over the "I'm not a girlish girl, therefore I'm not allowed", I still have quite a few body image issues. The reason I post is the story behind my finally being able to enjoy occasional clothes shopping and dressing up:I've always been very much of a tomboy, and still identify with that part of me a lot. During part of my teenage years I took immense pride in being able to "pass" as a boy, even though I never actually wanted to *be* male. Even at twenty, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing heels, skirts or dresses, because I desperately didn't want to come across as too girlish – especially since, much to my dismay, it turned out that I fitted the female stereotype of being an utterly terrible driver. ;)Then one of my biggest childhood dreams came true when I finally found a club and was able to take up historical western martial arts – and boom!, suddenly I didn't mind looking a bit more feminine anymore (or somehow trying to prove my tomboyishness/non-stereotypical-girlishness) and having some fun with fashion. It's immensely irrational, but that's the way it happened for me. I'm still not a pink flowery dresses/high heels kind of person, but I've definitely become more willing to try things besides jeans and t-shirts. ;)

  64. 64
    lra

    I can relate. While I got over the “I’m not a girlish girl, therefore I’m not allowed”, I still have quite a few body image issues. The reason I post is the story behind my finally being able to enjoy occasional clothes shopping and dressing up:I’ve always been very much of a tomboy, and still identify with that part of me a lot. During part of my teenage years I took immense pride in being able to “pass” as a boy, even though I never actually wanted to *be* male. Even at twenty, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing heels, skirts or dresses, because I desperately didn’t want to come across as too girlish – especially since, much to my dismay, it turned out that I fitted the female stereotype of being an utterly terrible driver. ;)Then one of my biggest childhood dreams came true when I finally found a club and was able to take up historical western martial arts – and boom!, suddenly I didn’t mind looking a bit more feminine anymore (or somehow trying to prove my tomboyishness/non-stereotypical-girlishness) and having some fun with fashion. It’s immensely irrational, but that’s the way it happened for me. I’m still not a pink flowery dresses/high heels kind of person, but I’ve definitely become more willing to try things besides jeans and t-shirts. ;)

  65. 65
    MsThackeray

    oh, i absolutely have the same problem. luckily now i have a sewing machine and shall start making my own blouses, to avoid the boobs vs rest of body problem. in the trouser dept. i am your opposite: somehow fashion thinks there are only slim tall women and fat short ones. slim short ones get no trousers… :/ I also understand the whole missed out on the dressing up card thing. i feel the same way :)

  66. 66
    Lindindin

    oh, i absolutely have the same problem. luckily now i have a sewing machine and shall start making my own blouses, to avoid the boobs vs rest of body problem. in the trouser dept. i am your opposite: somehow fashion thinks there are only slim tall women and fat short ones. slim short ones get no trousers… :/ I also understand the whole missed out on the dressing up card thing. i feel the same way :)

  67. 67
    Anonymous

    http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/man_unable_to_wear_nice

    hahaha exactly.

  68. 68
  69. 69
    Anna N

    Just found your blog from the Pharyngula link to the Greta Christina talk (which is awesome, by the way), so I'm late to this thread, but I really identified with this post, so I just wanted to say: I was never issued a Woman Card either! Something about being nerdy, bookish, good at science and math, and having a mom who almost never wore makeup or dresses or found shopping fun — it all made me not want to be one of "those girly girls" and made me feel like I wasn't allowed to wear fashionable clothes. Resentment that as a female I was supposed to primarily make myself look pretty? Check. Fear that if I did look girly no one would take me seriously? Also check.

    So I'm getting over that, and my favorite ways to do that are shopping at thrift stores (if clothes are cheap I feel better about experimenting with different styles to see if I like them) and going to clothing swaps (I've gotten some clothes there that look great on me but I never would've picked out at a store because they're not my usual style or too trendy).

  70. 70
    Anna N

    Just found your blog from the Pharyngula link to the Greta Christina talk (which is awesome, by the way), so I’m late to this thread, but I really identified with this post, so I just wanted to say: I was never issued a Woman Card either! Something about being nerdy, bookish, good at science and math, and having a mom who almost never wore makeup or dresses or found shopping fun — it all made me not want to be one of “those girly girls” and made me feel like I wasn’t allowed to wear fashionable clothes. Resentment that as a female I was supposed to primarily make myself look pretty? Check. Fear that if I did look girly no one would take me seriously? Also check.So I’m getting over that, and my favorite ways to do that are shopping at thrift stores (if clothes are cheap I feel better about experimenting with different styles to see if I like them) and going to clothing swaps (I’ve gotten some clothes there that look great on me but I never would’ve picked out at a store because they’re not my usual style or too trendy).

  71. 71
    Introbulus

    =( It really is unfair. The one time I remember going bra shopping with my GF *Something I try to avoid because ooohhh man is it awkward*, there was not a single bra in the store that would fit her. =/ Mmn…I think someone in the fashion industry NOT in charge of the “fashion” part needs to instigate a change in the standards for women’s clothing. Make shirts more practical for women, with more easily adjusted bras so that if you can at least find the cup size that fits, you can adjust it to fit your body better. I mean, I can see certain things being somewhat impractical. It would be difficult to stock shirts in every possible size for women because of the nature of curves *for guys, we pretty much have a straight body, so it’s usually just a matter of one size rating, and for pants, just two *leg length and waist**, but there could be at least a slightly better variety in sizes for stock. Dresses…Iiiii think I’ll stay out of any conversation having to do with fitting dresses…Now that I’m thinking about it, I should get more fancy dress pants to wear around. I actually pull that look off pretty well. …Damn I need my own blog. <.<;

  72. 72
    Cat

    I recommend http://www.bravissimo.com for boob-friendly clothes!

  73. 73
    Gneiss_and_a_little_wacke

    I completely and totally and completely agree with you. I’m lucky in that I’m fairly averagedly sized… although I always have a problem with pants gaping at the back… (how hard is it for pants designers to understand that you can have hips and a bum and still have a waist? Much like your having boobs and a waist problem). But my main agreeance (not a word, yet but there is a dedicated following) comes from the not feeling like you are allowed to wear such things. I have that exact problem in a nutshell… I’m supposed to be a tomboyish, unfashionable, practical clothes wearer… so even when I like fashionable or dressy clothes I don’t feel comfortable buying them or wearing them… because that’s not what I am supposed to dress like, right? I mean I’m not supposed to be up on the fashions. I’m supposed to be tank-topping, sweater/hoodying and cargo pantsing my way through life, right? Add to that the fact that many of those clothes don’t go with my leatherman and you have existential angst.But yes… much of my dislike of shopping is equally irrational and unspecified… I step into a mall and feel my energy and peppyness drain out like a glacial lake when its ice dam melts…

  74. 74
    Vedranaster

    Well, thank goodness, I’m NOT alone! ;)I find it fascinating that in today’s world, where everything is driven by profits and bottom lines, the fashion industry has not yet figured out (or simply refuses to acknowledge the fact) that a VERY big chunk of it’s market is made up by regular girls, and even curvy or fat (for the lack of a better word) girls, AND that we do not want to wear just drab tents. Because, even if we are curvy/short/tall/choose_attribute _that_strays_away_from_standards, it does not mean we DO NOT have a figure. It really bugs me to see how most of easily accessible clothes in plus sizes simply do not have any shape to them.Don’t even get me started on the underwear. I’m an F, so when I ask for my size, the most frequent answer (in both high-end and not so high-end stores) is “We don’t carry that size”. Thank heavens that the accompanying disbelieving shop assistant’s stare seems to have become a thing of the past. The question I am almost always asked when choosing a bra is “Do you want a minimiser?” Um, no… I would not like to have my boobs squished down, thank you.And with trousers – if they fit my hips, I swim in the waist like it’s an ocean.So, just like you, I always put off shopping. Actually, I think I was planning to go shopping about a year ago. Maybe next year. ;)

  75. 75
    Lindsay

    Even though I’m almost a year late to the party, I just wanted to extend a hand in commiseration because I’m this way too. Your description of shirt shopping? Verbatim my thoughts when I’m trying on 99% of clothes. (I’m also a D cup, in the interests of full disclosure; I was a DD for a while and ugghh. Just ugh.) I’m not as tall as you are though; in fact, I’m very short, measuring a staggering 5’1″. I’m also bigger, existing somewhere in that weird size-limbo between society’s perception of “skinny” and “fat.” I have no idea what the hell proportion that companies are making shirts for, considering that we both have the same problem despite having two different body types. Even if having big boobs is somehow a blessing like people keep telling me it is, buying clothes sure as hell isn’t when that becomes most apparent.If you’re missing a Woman Card, then I am too, because I often find myself in the same boat — feeling like I can’t wear nice things. However, for me, it’s not necessarily feeling that it doesn’t fit my image or role. I don’t want it to become something that people expect of me (especially make-up, which is why I don’t wear it now as an “adult,” even though I didn’t wear it as a teenager because lulz didn’t like to wake up early). It does feel alien to me though, because I never did it growing up, so I don’t think a leap to feeling excluded is that crazy.

  76. 76
    Karen Wood

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thank you for posting. “Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

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