Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday pet peeve: I just want clothes-type clothes!

I once went to visit a friend in Manchester, and she took me on an epic all-day quest for the perfect pair of shoes. The most frustrating aspect of the day was that she couldn't describe what she was looking for:

"I just want shoe-type shoes", she said. "You know, just a normal pair of shoes. And I can't find any".

"These look fairly normal", I said for about the tenth time that hour.

"No, I don't want that kind of shoe, I want shoe-type shoes!"

Finally, she found what she was looking for.

"OH!", I said, as all became clear. "Shoe-type shoes!"

"Exactly", she sighed happily.

On Saturday, I went looking for clothes-type clothes. You know, just normal clothes. I can't describe to you exactly what I mean, but I'd know them if I saw them. I actually prefer going shopping this way, with nothing particular in mind; looking for something specific is usually a recipe for disappointment.

Unfortunately, all I saw was either

a) boring clothes


b) fugly clothes.

Seriously, I couldn't find a single thing that fell into the happy middle ground. (Well, that's not entirely true. I found a t-shirt that I quite liked. But at $210 it was just ever so slightly out of my price range). Plain black pants, plain grey sweaters, and plain white shirts everywhere, and hideous colours and/or nasty patterns everywhere. No middle ground.

I ended up buying a pair of jeans, a pair of plain black trousers, and a plain charcoal grey sweater. I already have two charcoal grey sweaters (one plain, one patterned), but I really liked the fit and shape of this one. The only other colour options were black (not available in my size*), purple (I can wear some shades of dark purple, but not the brighter purples that dominate this year's offerings), or mustard yellow (with my skin tone I absolutely can NOT wear ANY shade of yellow). In fact, a great number of things in the mall only seemed to come in either bright purple or some kind of yellow, and occasionally a mix of the two (I wish I was kidding).

What is with this year's colours and patterns?! What happened to all the nice blues and greens and chocolate browns and even reds that I can actually wear?! Where did all the nice patterns go?!

I often have a hard time finding clothes that I really like, but this is the second time I've gone shopping in six months, and the second time I've hated (or yawned at) almost every single thing in an entire mall. I even tried all the stores I would never usually consider entering, and it was the same everywhere, at every point on the price and age range.

All hope is not lost; I can usually find some very funky t-shirts (and occasionally dressier tops) in the independent and vintage stores on Main Street. And I haven't been to R&W lately, which is usually a happy hunting ground. But I might just have to wait this season out before trying to find any more work clothes; not good right now, since I've lost a little weight and all but three pairs of pants are literally falling down when I wear them.

I have friends who are much more into fashion than I am and always look very stylish. I might have to recruit one of them as a personal shopper; they might know some places that are off the beaten track (Kyrsten, I am looking at YOU!). Either that or I am going to have to learn how to use a sewing machine.

A plague of moths on the people who design, produce and sell only boring and fugly clothes!


*this is another gripe. I am the first to admit that I am carrying some extra weight, but I am only a size 10-12 (on top, 12-14 on the bottom), it shouldn't be this hard to find something that fits. Some stores had a size 10 (that was really an 8) as their biggest size! Even the Gap only had one (ONE!) pair of size 12, regular length jeans in the style that I like. Although Mr E Man did point out that shopping in our part of town, with its huge Asian population, might put me at the extremely large end of the local size spectrum...


  1. oh... I am right there with you. [shopping with someone interested in stuff canbe very good though. they might even make you try on things you would've otherwise - and find new styles!)

    As in looking for "clothes-clothes"...I have ended up with pin striped trousers or jeans, and then there is some kind of sweaters that I bought last year. This year? I don't know what I will end up wearing (if not only old clothes of course) since the colours and cuts of the spring collections I have seen makes it impossible for me.

    Yes, I admit - I don't like wearing see through material on top, nor do I fancy low cut "let's look at those boobs" at work. And the pastelle and yellow tints? Not my colour scheme. sorry.

    I guess it might be good that I am on a "no buying things until I am down one size"? (which, given the speed currently happening, will keep me until June at least :) )

  2. Yeah, it's a bad year for people who like normal clothes!

    You are right that shopping with other people sometimes results in trying on clothes you wouldn't usually consider, and being pleasantly surprised with how they look! I have a couple of friends in the UK who are good at making me try new things. Unfortunately their idea of a reasonable price is often quite different to mine!

  3. you can't find anything because fashion sucks ass right now. Its all eighties inspired. Everytime I look at people, I think OMG I wore that exact outfit in grade 10 (~15 years old). Sorry but I refuse to dress like I did when I was a young'un.

  4. I'm glad it's not just me. At one point on Saturday I was worried I might just be getting old and grumpy, but then I didn't like anything in the stores for older people either, much to my relief!

    I agree that a return to 80s fashion is Not Good. I remember wearing black cycling shorts (were they huge here too, or was that just in the UK?) with a t-shirt in attractive white and neon orange horizontal stripes and thinking I was soooo cool :)

  5. Are you guys worried that you're starting to sound a bit "get offa my lawn!"?

    Then again living in a gay-friendly suburb full of young tatooed bohemians makes me feel super conservative...


    Woo Hoo! I made comments of the week. Time to update the CV...

  6. I agree! I have some great trousers in my closet that don't fit me anymore, and I recently went looking to replace them. Absolutely nothing of interest out there. And I am actually smaller now, so I should be finding it easier to buy stuff.

    Yes, black cycling shorts with a baggy Tshirt was popular where I was too. I was very funky and actually had black and grey striped shorts. Fortunately, I wasn't brave enough to pair them with high heels and a slinky top :).

  7. Oh man - this happened to me a couple years ago, but with shoes. I did not buy a new pair of shoes for 2 years. Everything was either a 4" heel, or just HUGELY chunky heels. Thank goodness lower, normal looking shoes came back in style last year - I think I bought 10 pairs! LOL

  8. I've been having this trouble but with shoes as well. I just can't find anything I like, or when I do they don't fit right.

    For the record, it's extremely difficult to find things that fit when you are on the low end of the range too. It's awful. Even the petites are often too long. I recently went up about half a size, so that now I'm properly in the size I wear which is great. Unfortunately, I don't really like how the extra weight looks. I wish I could be a little bit bigger without being squishier.

  9. When we went out Saturday night, I remarked that all the (young) girls looked like they had dressed up; ie. it didn't match their age. Then I realised that's because their outfits to me signal "80's dress up party" and not usual 'real' clothes!
    Been there; done that, NEVER again!!

  10. Antipodean, oh you young'uns have no idea. When I were a lass, this were all fields!

    Mermaid, that's a brave outfit to wear in the climate you grew up in - brrrrr!

    Next time I'm in England I'll see if I can liberate some funny 80s photos of myself from my parents' grasp. Most of their photos are stuffed in a drawer, rather than in albums, but they're incredibly reluctant to let them go! I'm not even allowed to have my own birth certificate, my Mum sends me copies whenever I need them.

    Alyssa and EGF, I haven't needed to buy shoes for at least a year, so I haven't looked. I usually find shoes a much easier thing to shop for than clothes - if they don't fit I just think "they're the wrong shape" rather than "waaaaaaaaaaaah, why am I so fat?!" (Well, unless I'm buying knee-high boots and I can't do them up, but I tell myself that that's because of my well-built calf muscles). But yeah, finding the right kind of heel can be a challenge, I don't like anything spiky or over 3 inches max. It took me over a year to find a pair of brown knee-high boots that I actually like.

    EGF, yes, it's hard being an outlier! (Although I'm actually very average for a Caucasian - average height, average build, average shoe size. I never had this problem in the much less diverse cities I lived in in the UK. But I wouldn't give up Vancouver's diversity for anything - I might just have to find a whiter town to do my shopping in...)

    Lisbeth, that's funny! I haven't noticed anyone out and about wearing the kinds of fugly clothes I was ranting about in this post, but then again no-one in Vancouver's worn anything other than Team Canada Olympic gear so far this year, and even when things are normal, it's a very casual place compared to the UK and the East Coast of North America. Lots of jeans, fleece and gore-tex!

  11. Yeah, you can thank the 80's resurgence for the lovely attire hanging in the stores now. I am just sitting this session out. I've already got a set of pics from the 80's that make me cringe every time I look at them, I do NOT need to add to that collection. I will thank myself later. I'm sure about it. On the plus side, I haven't seen acid wash jeans or giant frizzed and teased bangs.

  12. thank your lucky stars MicroXX. Acid wash jeans and the poof have seen a comeback on my campus. As have tasseled boots

  13. I've been living in the "nothing fits!" land this past year, and will probably remain in it for some time; it has made me resign to solid-colored tees and jeans. Call me boring, but I would rather look plain on the cheap than spend money on clothes I don't like anyways! Maybe the gladiators and the 80's will be over by the time I am ready to venture out shopping again?

  14. MXX, when I find some photos of myself I will start an 80s photo meme, just see if I don't!

    SM, nooooooooooooo, say it ain't so!

    SG, I couldn't even find solid-coloured tees in colours / fabrics that I like. The Gap has good colours, but the fabric is so thin and flimsy. I like nice thick cotton!

    You might well have chosen a good time be out of the non-maternity wear stores! I do hope you find some things you like after your wee girl is born.

  15. Cath you don't get to do the "12 miles uphill both ways barefoot in snow to work 28-hour day down mines to come home to cardboard box house in middle of pothole in street to get up 4 hours before I went to sleep to go back down mines" speech to somebody who's only 6 months younger than you.


  16. It's times like these that I am glad I am a man. Jeans, khaki's, and button-down shirts don't usually fall out of style. In terms of colors, white, grey, or a nice solid blue seem to always be in style.

    However, on the days I want to channel Don Johnson, I go with a pastel colored shirt.

  17. Yeah, I'm really quite jealous, having seen lots of guys' clothes in the mall that I really liked. I was even tempted to see if one particularly nice shirt would fit me...

    In the end I spent my money on new panniers for my bike instead. The old ones had holes in them and needed to be replaced. Much like some of my clothes, actually, but they're just gonna have to wait.


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