On Long Island, if it’s a weekend, and it’s cloudy, chances are everyone is at the mall. I’m usually much too intimidated by the lack of parking and the overpriced stores to venture there even on a weekday, but this weekend I was looking for something specific, (a dress for an occasion) so I braved the crowds of teenagers wearing midriffs, all riled up from the end of another school year, and I went shopping. Needless to say the mall was a nightmare involving scary parking garages, overpriced clothing, the aforementioned throngs of screaming teens, and of course, no clothes that fit.
I usually love shopping, especially when I have nothing particular to buy. Once I need something specific, however, nothing fits, nothing is affordable, and, like Saturday, all I end up leaving the the store with is low self esteem. Without fail, whether it’s shopping for shoes, bras, a bathing suit (which I’ll get to later in the week), or anything else you really need, suddenly a seemingly simple task turns into a horror of dressing rooms, mirrors, and ill fitting garments. Nothing kills self esteem like a bad shopping trip, frustration comes easy when you’re staring at yourself up-close in a claustrophobic mirrored box when you could be doing something vastly more productive.
My experience Saturday played out like many a shopping trip throughout my life. I walk through the store until I’ve accumulated an armful of 10+ pieces to try on. At first I’m excited, there are pretty patterns, new shapes, and the potential of finding that perfect addition to my wardrobe. Then I enter the tiny dressing room with the oh-so-unflattering florescent lighting and everything goes to hell. Immediately I realize I’m wearing far too many layers. I used to insist on leaving on as much clothing as possible while trying things on, but that’s how you end up with tops that are too big, or skirts that are way too short, so I’ve resigned myself to stripping down before I get dressed up. I always start with something I’m not crazy about, and then work my way up to the things I’m really hoping will look good. There is a desperation in it, as the number of potential items dwindles. This shirt is too baggy, that skirt doesn’t fit over my hips, yikes, is that a balloon hem!? By the time you get down to those last couple pieces, you’re praying that something, just one thing, will look good, and be affordable too. Perhaps like me, once you realize everything looks awful, you go back and try it all again, just to make sure. Then you attempt to justify clothes that make you look terrible, just so the whole trip won’t have been in vain. Of course once you come to your senses and realize you have no money, and like Stacy and Clinton on What Not to Wear tell you, you should buy clothes that fit, you give up.
So, I emerge from the dressing room with nothing, handing back those 10+ beautiful garments that will never look beautiful on me. I look like I’ve been through a war. The sweat has made my make-up a blotchy mess, my hair is in tangles from pulling things over my head, clothes are all askew and rumpled from sitting on the floor, and when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I leave, I feel utterly hopeless. It’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s trivial, but it can ruin the whole day, or even the week, particularly when you remember you have to find something soon and you’re going go through the whole ordeal again.
I wonder if there are women who don’t have this problem, who breeze into a store and everything they pull on looks amazing, but I doubt they exist. Maybe one day stores will implement better lighting, or make clothes that fit more diverse body shapes (no really, who looks good in a balloon hem? I want to know!), but I don’t think that would help anyway, maybe it’s something we do to ourselves, maybe it’s the pressure. I’ve tried shopping online to avoid the whole mess, but I only end up with badly fitting garments that I then have to pay to ship back, or take to the post office or retail location to return, so I guess there is no solution. Actually, my solution on Saturday was to go to Sephora, where I could buy something that I knew would fit. I’m not saying retail therapy is a good thing, but sometimes it is just the thing, especially when it comes in the form of a lip stain you’ve been wanting for months that is finally in stock.
Tarte Lip Stain with LipSurgence™ Technology in Enchanted
See, all better!
More on lipsticks tomorrow, stay tuned!
What does everyone else feel about the nightmare that shopping can be? Is it always fun? Do you have a method to get through it? I’d love to hear from you!