It was one of those nights where, at 3 a.m., a closet cleaning seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Inspired by a few glasses of wine and a barrage of finals work that needed desperately to be done, but more importantly needed to be avoided, I started tearing through my closet and pulling out anything that caught my eye for the wrong reasons. This one hadn’t been worn in years, that one I just didn’t like, this one didn’t fit.
It was the last pile that grew the quickest. To my left, that tuxedo romper I loved, and bought even though it was only available four sizes too big, foolishly thinking to myself, I can make this work (I couldn’t). To my right, about six pairs of pants of varying washes and wears but with one thing in common: They were inexcusably long. The wheels started to turn that maybe there was something wrong with my closet.
Cue another night, two weeks later, same time, when I found myself sitting on the floor of my apartment, methodically hemming all of my pants. The inspiration came after the recent purchase of a pair of Gap jeans that hit my ankle so perfectly that it opened my eyes to the length that pants should be. It was then that a crushing realization hit me: Have I been wearing poorly-fitting clothing my whole life?
I think it must have begun with one wrongly-sized item bought out of a lack of sizing options, and spiraled from there. The oversized clothing trend in the early 2010s certainly didn’t help. Also filed securely under “Not Helpful” was the trend amongst bloggers to recommend buying clothing from the boy’s section at J.Crew because they allegedly had way better clothing. They did, but there comes a point in every 20-something-year-old’s life when you have to admit to yourself that whatever money saved by shopping in the kids’ section is not worth the judgmental glares.
This closet situation isn’t unique to me. I’ve had a male friend lament to me on several occasions about the difficulty his god-given proportions presented him with when it came to clothes shopping. It seemed part of his torso was convinced it was a small, while the other part felt more at home in a medium.
Whether it be length, an in-between waist, or a torso that can’t quite decide its size, we all have weird workarounds we have to account for while clothes shopping. Sacrifices must be made. The aforementioned friend has created a system of buying smalls and owning the fact that his shirts, in the fit department, will always come up a bit short.
At a certain point, it becomes more about being honest about your body’s proportions. For me, this means making the shift to buying petite jeans, despite a nearly-lifelong campaign against being pegged as a petite. (Can’t we come up with a better name? Like ‘More Badass packed into a smaller size’? Petite just sounds so dainty.) It requires some extra effort, sure, but it’s probably a lot less effort, than, say, spending five hours hemming your own pants.
And so, in the spirit of New Years’ resolutions, I’m offering up my guidelines for shopping for clothing this coming year:
- that a belt will not make it look better. I own very few belts and despise them all, so relying on one to make this item work is not realistic.
- that no matter how cute the idea or fit of the garment is, an XL will always fit me like a trash bag. Always. Except at H&M, and then it fits like small.
- if a pair of pants needs to be rolled more than twice, they are officially too long and not made for me. There are a billion pairs of pants out there, and this is 2015. Find a pair that fits.
- regardless of chicness and general oversizedness, I am not an Olsen twin and never will be. Don’t be fooled by the similarity in stature—they were born with the genetics to make it work. You were not. Put it down.
What about you? Which guidelines have you created for shopping? Do you also find yourself buying clothing more suited for a 300 lb/6 ft tall man? Tell me, let’s commiserate.