Let’s Talk Shopping

by HeatherBarmore on June 23, 2011

in Style & Beauty

I cannot think of a single female friend of mine who gets pure joy out of shopping.

That woman with the pearly white smile, her arms adorned with colorful bags from fancy shops down the street? I don’t think she really exists.

Instead it’s the women who get sluggish after three different stores. I want a dress with polka dots but it has to have pockets. Let’s try GAP! Her arms are heavy with bag handle imprints, and her white teeth stained from Grande lattes with a shot of espresso, because the just act of shopping requires an extra oomph of caffeine.

I recently asked one of my more fashionable girlfriends why she enjoys shopping so much. “I don’t,” was her succinct reply.

She, like most of us, would prefer that the clothing just show up on her doorstep without the hassle of driving, traffic, harsh dressing room lighting that showcases every stray hair and dimple, miserable sales people, and the dreaded undressing, dressing, undressing, rinse and repeat, store after store. The reality of the shopping experience tends to be a hatred towards consumerism and H&M.

In my quest to explore why women claim to enjoy shopping, but don’t like the act of shopping, I stumbled upon a friend who wanted to know where I shop. Specifically – and this is why she is now a former friend who now has a voodoo doll named after her – where I would find clothes for “like curvy girls.”

As she backed off after the words fell out of her mouth, I felt somewhat insulted. It’s not a body image thing, it’s that someone thinks that just because my butt is a little large and in charge, that means that I have difficulties shopping. I felt insulted because I shop like everyone else shops. It was as if she, a woman with bones jutting out in places where I had a nice layer of fat, had a predisposition to having a better time in a mall than I ever could.

My response wasn’t that, of course. It was a furrowed brow and telling her that I shop at stores, just like her.

What I would have said, had my mouth been able to catch up with my brain, was that even though fashion magazines still might dictate the standard of a better version of a woman’s body, all bodies are different, therefore many stores carry many different sizes of clothing, because not every woman is a size two with a prominent clavicle.

Therefore I, along with many other women in the world, shop at places where we know we can find things that flatter our individual shapes. And it’s that last part, the part where I, at 27, know what I should and should not be wearing and that perhaps I don’t want to own a dress just because it’s pretty even though it’s in my size and so completely see-thru it requires an extra layer of clothing to go underneath.

It’s not shopping I hate, it’s the moments when I try to pretend that my body is not as it is. I enjoy shopping when I remember what works and what doesn’t. If I’m worried about sucking something in in order to get the right fit then that isn’t for me. What makes shopping enjoyable is knowing where to go, how to wear it and that whatever I’m wearing should allow me to breathe.

I’m always looking for new shops to try, and I want to hear yours as well. On this long, long list are a few of my favorites:

Old Navy, Gap, Anthropologie, Target, Forever 21 (but who really is 21), Banana Republic, Neiman’s, Nordstrom, J. Crew, Ross, TJMaxx/ Marshall’s, H & M, Bloomingdale’s, The Avenue, and Lane Bryant.

Do you find shopping more enjoyable when you’re going to a place that you frequent? Do you like shopping? Is your favorite store on this list?

Heather Barmore writes about the hodgepodge of her life at No Pasa Nada and about politics at Poliogue: The Art of Political Dialogue. She started her personal blog as an early twenty-something with no idea of what she wanted to do in life. She is now a late twenty-something with the same problem! (Who knew?!) She started Poliogue because she loves politics more than anyone you’ve ever met and wanted to share that love (or obsession) with anyone and everyone. She now lives in her hometown of Albany, NY where she works in politics while writing (or as she says, ‘creatively whining’) on the side. You can read more from Heather on her blog, No Pasa Nada.

Mackenzie June 23, 2011 at 7:17 am

I am almost an exclusive online shopper! I live in middle of nowhere NC and its just easier to order everything in 2 sizes and send one back. I’m pretty good at knowing what styles work for me, so I’m keep what I order probably 75% of the time.

Allison Zapata June 23, 2011 at 7:26 am

I hate shopping. It makes me sweaty. But, when I do, I am a huge fan of the stores you listed!

Mishelle Lane June 23, 2011 at 7:35 am

I hate shopping, for the most part, but I love when I find perfect fits. And, that? Takes shopping and fitting rooms!

I would love to visit an H&M, too.

Daisy June 23, 2011 at 7:48 am

I don’t mind shopping when I have a nice amount of money set aside and I’m not looking for something super specific – it takes the pressure off in a lot of ways. I’m a huge fan of the stores you listed (although J.Crew is on my black list lately, I feel like their prices have really gone up and their quality has gone down) and I also like Lands’ End Canvas a lot. Finding something super specific can be miserable though- inevitably I find what I’m looking for only to realize it is twice what I budgeted.

Sara June 23, 2011 at 8:00 am

When I still shopped frequently, Old Navy, Gap and Target were my go-to’s. And they still are when I have the money but when my husband was downsized last September, I had to make some changes to my shopping habits. I re-ignited my high school hobby of thrifting. Now I rarely buy any clothes new (the shirt and skirt I am wearing right now are both thrifted) besides basics (socks, skivvies and bras are always new). At first I didn’t like it, but now I think its fun. You have to go in with no expectations, because some trips are great while others you don’t find anything, but there is always tons of variety. The husband has thankfully found employment once again, but I still thrift shop more often than any thing else.

Brenda June 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

My favorite store is Cato!! I’ve turned a few people on to it. I know I will find something every time I go in & I don’t walk away feeling depressed about my body. Great store! http://www.catofashions.com/index.cfm

Andrea June 24, 2011 at 1:31 am

I love Cato too! I always find something there to love when I can’t find anything anywhere else. I especially love their shoes!

Crystal June 23, 2011 at 8:50 am

I hate shopping. I hate that I can wear a 12 at Old Navy and American Eagle, but I have to get a 16 at Wal Mart. I hate that I have to pay $2 extra to get an XL. I hate tiny little girl asking me what size I wear.

Dac June 23, 2011 at 9:23 am

Most of those and Burlington Outlet and Kohls. And more recently JC Pennies… I went in there out of sheer desperation a few weeks ago and found some cute stuff.

Generally the mall is a last resort for me. I prefer bargain stores and would love to find some good thrift stores around here. I hate paying full price for anything.

Andrea June 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

I am not a fashionable person (I’m a jeans, v-neck t-shirt, hoodie, and converse kinda girl) so I think of shopping as a chore. I usually go into a store with a specific thing in mind and I always leave disappointed. Also, I agree with Crystal, I HATE that I can be one size in one store and then 2-3 sizes larger in another store. That is not good for my self esteem (I wish I could get over the whole size thing and just accept the fact that something looks good on me regardless of the size). My worst shopping experiences usually happen when I’m jean shopping. I wear jeans A LOT (every day in the non-summer months) so you would think I would have a lot of pairs of jeans. WRONG. I usually can only afford about 2 pairs a year and I’ll wear them until I have holes in them (due to thigh rub, yay). To state the obvious, I dread jean shopping.
So when I have the money to shop for clothes and when I’m in the rare mood to shop, I usually hit up H&M, Target, Old Navy, Marshall’s, TJMaxx, or American Eagle.

Christy S. June 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Are we the same person? I too wear jeans every day until the dreaded thigh rub forces me to brave the mall and get another pair!

Andrea June 24, 2011 at 7:32 am

Here I am thinking that I’m the only one that it happens to! lol I even go so far as sewing up the holes to get a few more wears out of the jeans because I HATE jean shopping that much…

Amanda G. June 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

I buy $5 v-neck tshirts from Old Navy like it’s my job. And I love to buy dresses from New York and Company.

Suebob June 23, 2011 at 9:40 am

My fantasy store would never change. You would walk in, year after year, and find the fitted t-shirts in one spot, the flattering jeans in another, the same perfect sandals – always the same spot. You could get in and out in less than half an hour. Just go in and grab what you need.

Nona June 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

I love Macy’s and Land’s End because their plus-size clothes look like non-plus-size clothes that happen to fit plus-size women. I like Target, too.

Sometimes I like to wander my curvy old self into Abercrombie & Fitch just to make the herion-addict-skinny-hipster clerks really nervous.

Mackenzie June 24, 2011 at 9:23 am

I second you the Macy’s! Their plus size clothes are acutally made to be flattering, who’d of thought it? As I almost exclusively online shop, there website is fantastic for searching for just what you want.

Jayme (Random Blogette) June 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

JCPenney is my new favorite place. They almost always have great sales. I am also a fan of Old Navy, but lately I haven’t been able to find anything that I like. My problem is, whenever I am shopping for someone else and don’t have the extra money I can find tons of stuff but when I have money to spend I can’t find anything. I used to love NY & Co but I hate actually going into the mall lately so I haven’t been there in a long time.

KG June 23, 2011 at 10:13 am

We shop in a lot of the same places. I’ve had some luck at Zara recently (after years of going in there and never finding anything). You should have a look there!

Amy June 23, 2011 at 10:40 am

I guess I am in the minority but I love shopping! I’m a 12/14 so it’s not always easy, but I enjoy the hunt. I check my poor body image at the door and have discovered stores and styles that work for my body – namely skirts and dresses and stores like Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Nordstrom, etc. I also love hunting the racks at TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack. I find shopping to be a good stress release and fun. I only like shopping alone though (shopping with others is stressful).

Amanda @ There Are 2 Sides June 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

I really do like to shop. FOR almost anything.
Groceries.
Garbage cans.
Shirts.
Shoes.
Anything.

Denora June 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

My favorite stores are by far Target and Old Navy, but I’m extremely cheap and not at all fashionable (jeans and t-shirts are my daily attire).

It’s funny that you list Forever 21 as a favorite store, as I had my single worst shopping experience there when I was a teenager. I was wearing a size 18 at the time and I walked in looking for a few new shirts. I asked the salesgirl where I could find and she not-even-a-little-subtly gave me the up and down, and announced LOUDLY that she’s pretty sure they didn’t have anything that would fit me. I was mortified and practically ran out of the store. I am more confident and comfortable with myself now (and down a couple sizes!) and still can’t bring myself to shop there.

tena June 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Thank you! I feel like such a weirdo since I don’t like shopping- like I was going to have my “girl” card taken away. And this:
“It’s not shopping I hate, it’s the moments when I try to pretend that my body is not as it is”… is right on and makes me just want to hug you!

Emily June 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I love shopping for the most part these days. I feel like there’s a LOT more variety than there used to be for women my size but the areas I find most frustrating are my height and my shoe size. Finally there are cute clothes to accommodate my curves but the sleeves are still too short. Everything is just barely covering my midriff so I have to buy larger sizes for that reason now.

Also, I hate shopping for shoes. Mainly because I never get to because most stores don’t care a selection of women’s size 12. Usually they have “maybe 1 or 2 but you’ll have to search for it.”

Thankfully that’s changing slowly but surely.

marci June 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I adore shopping – mainly. I have new curves and old curves and sometimes they compete with zippers and buttons but I can spend my days shopping….The fabric usually dictates if/how something will fit and I tend to go for patter over solids on top. Cardis are like seatbelts, they offer the exact amount of protection required. I actually have a *rep* as an awesome shopper, if you ever need a hand….

Nicole G June 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I love to go clothe shopping. The only dislike I have is trying to find the perfect pair of jeans. I hate skinny jeans and I’m def not anywhere near a size 0-14. I am very proud of my hips and (ass)ets. So jeans how I lothe shopping for.

Another Suburban Mom June 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I like Talbots (work clothes) and kiyonna.com. Kiyonna has awesome dresses and shirts and evening wear and it starts at 10-12 =, which is a size 0.

Karen Gass June 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

This is exactly why I sew!!!! I shop online to get ideas and detailing I like, then incorporate into the garments I make myself! It’s the only way to go!! :)

Gemini-Girl June 28, 2011 at 12:43 am

I adore shopping. ADORE.
I oove the rush Iget when I walk into a store filled with colors and patterns.
I’m no skinny girl, but I know how to dress my body- so I look for things that flatter.
I love H&M, F21 (btw they now have plus sizes!), Target, Zara…

Beth June 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

I love shopping, probably too much. My favorite place to shop is a consignment shop called Clothes Mentor (www.clothesmentor.com) they buy brand name clothes and resell and it’s a great place to find cheap clothes for work! It’s clean and nice inside and I love searching their racks!

Deliliah July 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I’m most definitely a curvy girl, and while I have found some cute things at Target in the past, my absolute favorite store is Torrid! I’m surprised no one has mentioned it yet. I’ve been in the actual store once when I was in another state and fell in love. Since then I’ve been shopping online. I’ve had everything I’ve ordered fit perfectly (even an amazing bathing suit!)
A close second for me is Fashion Bug. They had really cute clothes for a while, then got a bit old ladyish. But now they are back to getting trendy clothes. :)

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