Shopping does not have to make you feel like sh–

I find a shameful amount of joy in shopping.  The thrill of the hunt, the reward in tracking down, acquiring, and rocking that oh-so-fly new item.  Be it a top, a dress, a bag, or a fly pair of boots, I love to score a fashion forward deal.  What I do NOT appreciate, however, is the tragedy of the damn dressing room experience.  I go in an empowered woman of leisure, and I leave a downtrodden shadow of my former self.

There are a couple of reasons.  Let’s start with the lighting. For the love!  Harsh, unforgiving, fluorescent bulbs that magnify, mock, and torment me as I desperately pull on my items as quickly as possible.  Despite my best effort, I always catch a glance of a dimple, new roll, and/or stretch mark that heretofore remained hidden.  That’s stinger #1.  Let’s move on to the modern day demon known as sizing.

“This 12 should really be an 8.”

“This ain’t no damn Large!”

“Who the hell they think can fit this?!”

“Oh, this is not made for anybody with a booty.”

How many times have you heard, or better yet, said these words while donning a potential purchase (assuming you can actually put it on), only to find that the standard by which you measure your body, has yet again been ignored and re-configured by the big bad fashion fiends.  There goes blow #2 to my wavering self-esteem.  At this point, I generally go get a Cinnabon or a Pretzel Dog with tears in my eyes.  Self-medicating? Hell yes.

I’m flipping the script. My size is what it is.  I no longer round down in the hopes that it will fit—I start with that Large or that 12, and go down if I need to, but not the other way around.  As much as I hate to admit it, I’m adopting a more traditionally male point of view when I shop for clothes.  You ever notice that men say their sizes matter of factly, assigning no connotations to it?  If it’s a 42, damn it, it’s a 42.  And I quote:

“Naw, baby, I need a double XL, regular XL won’t fit.”

They do not assign that number any value outside of its sole purpose: to provide a flattering and adequate fit.  As women, we have taken all the hype from the false, always unattainable, white washed, bony is better, magnify your faults, trend driven messages and somehow projected it back onto ourselves in the form of negative self talk and criticism.  Even the feminist movement hasn’t been able to derail this self destructive way of thinking. Pardon my French, but fuck that.

It’s on, ladies.  India Arie said I am not my hair.  Well, I am not my size.  I’m simply a curvy shopaholic, whose lookin’ to score her next fix.  Stores who can’t meet my need, I am no longer patronizing for the sake of a label. This is one instance where entitlement is the name of my game.  I am entitled to a variety of fashionable clothing choices.  I am entitled to never have to choose between food and fashion, so reasonable prices are imperative.  And most importantly, I am entitled to a shopping experience that caters to rather than alienates me (Oh, I know I just said something!).  My favorite stores for flattering, wallet friendly styles:

  • Macy’s – I appreciate Macy’s because you can score some great stuff on clearance, and they have clothes for full figured, tall, and petite women that are tailored, well made and trendy. Love their suits, and work wear!
  • ASOS – great site for both foundational pieces for work and play like this top and dress; and fun accent pieces like this jacket.
  • Forever 21 – I know what you’re thinking.  Forever 21 is for teeny boppers.  I beg to differ! They have unique and flattering tops, jackets as well as cute pants and skirts, all at prices that any budget can handle.  They are also my go-to spot for breezy summer dresses, like this one, or this one.
  • Urban Xchange – I enjoy this thrift shop in downtown Tacoma; I found a beautiful Michael Kors dress (with tags, no less) for $15, and some BCBG black suede platform wedges for a mere $18!  They also have a site on Etsy.

I am owning my power as a consumer, and hoping to inspire my fellow shopaholics in the process. I’m posturing my temple as the blessing it is.  I have my health, and that includes an ample backside and a little pooch in the middle for good measure.  And whatever clothes grace this silhouette better damn well make room for them.

Other tips for a successful shopping trip that leaves your self image in tact:

  • Roll deep – hit the shops with your peeps so they can not only offer feedback in the dressing room, they can help you stick to your guns in supporting stores that honor you as you are.  Not to mention, we look so boss rollin’ thru posse style.  Is there anything sexier than a group of cool ass women strolling through the city demanding the attention of passersby?  Nope…I didn’t think so.
  • Get comfortable with online – I tried out a couple of clearance items on the aforementioned websites, to ensure I know where I fell on their sizing charts.  Now I am confident about what size to order, and have opened the door to options not readily available in my city.  This is also the best options if you just don’t dig the crowds at the mall.
  • Work in a little siesta – there’s nothing like a smart cocktail and a tapas or two to keep you in good spirits AND keep that shopping ju-ju going.  My favorite shopping pit stop is Adriatic Grill.  Please try the sausage and lentil soup, the mozzarella marinara is so fresh and delectable, and the generous pour gives you bang for your buck in the libations department.

Keep marchin’, my pretties.  And hold these damn stores accountable for not loving on you the way Brown Betty does.

So, tell Mama: where do you shop for the most flattering and affordable clothes?