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What It's Like To Shop For Women's Clothing

What It's Like To Shop For Women's Clothing

Despite my love for fashion, I do not particularly enjoy the in-person shopping aspect. Spending hours rifling through racks, hopping from one store to the next, and then staring at myself in a completely unflattering mirror that is somehow strategically created to give me an unfiltered view of parts of my body that I have never seen…yeah. No thank you. I enjoy my shopping when it is done from my couch, in sweats, with a free shipping and free return policy. That way I can try on my new purchases from the comfort of my own home, in perfect lighting, using my skinny mirror.

However, every once in a while I have to venture into a department store and endure a few hours of torture. This usually happens when I need something last minute and when the article of clothing needs to be specific. In this case, it was to shop for several dresses (one being a formal dress) for my business convention in Las Vegas. And well, if you have ever gone shopping for something very specific, you know that it’s usually a mission of epic proportions where you find the exact opposite of what you actually need.

Every woman should have at least one friend that they can take along with them into a dressing room. This friend must meet the following criteria:

1. They must be willing to hand you each article of clothing, re-hang it, and then categorize them based on what you are keeping, what you might keep depending on your budget, and what you will never be caught dead in.

2. They must be an honest friend. Not in a “no you don’t look fat” kind of way, but in a brutally honest, “that dress makes you look like you’re six months pregnant” kind of way.

3. While their opinion of clothing needs to be honest, they have to be comfortable seeing all your lady parts in all their glory. Without giving you judgy eyes.

4. They have to be willing to drink champagne and eat beforehand. (I refuse to look at myself naked for 3 hours in the aforementioned mirror without a little champagne courage).

5. They have to make you laugh. And then laugh some more. Like, hysterical, pee your pants laugh.

I am very lucky to have several of these friends. On this particular occasion, I was with my friend Rachel. Rachel meets all the criteria above and so she endured the long battle of finding the perfect dresses to take to Vegas.

For starters, I want to know who on this Earth is in charge of women’s sizing? After 35 years on this Earth, I still don’t understand. I’m an 8 at one store, a 10 in the “U.S.” size of H&M, a 12 in most dresses, a medium in women’s t-shirts that have stretch, an XL when there is no stretch, a size “not in this lifetime” from Bebe and Abercrombie, and a freaking 16 in anything from the cute side of Target clothing. If you shop at Target you know what I mean. That clothing section goes from tween to unflattering mom pants in 1.5 steps. Stores literally have the power to make you go from supermodel status to crying in the corner eating donuts at the drop of a hat. Can we all just get together and create a general size, please? And can they not be in numbers? I’m thinking of colors. I’d love to go to a store and be like, “Hey grab, me a size pink, please. Oh, it doesn’t fit? Ok, I’ll take a light blue instead.”

Ok back to it. Looking for the perfect dresses for Vegas meant that Rachel handed me over twenty options of sparkle, lace, and stretch. She won the friend of the year award on this one because my attempts to squeeze into dresses that were too small meant her having to Houdini my ass out of them when they got stuck over my head. She zipped, unzipped, replaced sizes, found new color options, tied straps, untied straps, and gave honest opinions without ever complaining.

I think my favorite part of the entire shopping experience was moving from formal wear to Spanx wear. I mean, did you know that you can buy Spanx to suck in or smooth literally ANY part of your body other than your face? Thighs, butt, tummy, boobs, and even arms can be tailored and tucked in nude or black fabric if you’re willing to pay the price. I own a corset with actual metal in between each pleat that takes me from a size 12 waist to a solid 8 in about five minutes.

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While Rachel tried on cute and comfy Hudson jeans, I was in the other corner crying in fits of laughter because I couldn’t figure out how to get those damned things onto my body. I get it, they stretch. But there’s something very intimidating about trying to force your gut into a piece of fabric the width of your two-year-old toddler. $75 Spanx in the form of a thong was a whole new experience for me. Somehow I couldn’t imagine myself dressed in a formal gown and then unhooking metal clips that were millimeters away from my VAGINA every time I had to pee. I feel like the black and white gingham bodysuit I wore to my 6th-grade dance in ‘94 had better mechanics than some of the things I tried on. But thong Spanx? That’s where I drew the line. I opted for the stretchy gown that felt like pajamas in lieu of a flat tummy and four hours of pure misery.

And while Spanx does make me appear slim and smooth for photos, there is nothing in the world like taking those things off and allowing my body to morph back into its “I have three children” status.

Next time I’m bringing the champagne INSIDE the dressing room. That is until major department stores get their act together and start putting it inside a vending machine in each room.

That way I can cheers my bestie for being a trooper. And to the

Spanx that help me go from a size pink to a size blue.

By: Megan Rix

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