Once upon a time, I was an apartment manager.
I had already been managing a low-rent building for about a year when I was able to nab a spot in a nicer area of town and far nicer building. Unfortunately, this meant that, despite being broke, I had to dress nicely.
A rush to clothes
I had almost zero nice clothes that fit me due to weight fluctuations, and almost no time to gather an acceptable few pieces of attire. I didn’t have any real time to haunt thrift stores, not to mention that very there was in my size. And what was there tended to be too casual/ugly.
So I built the bullet and hit a few retail stores, knowing that I was going to overpay for at least a couple of items. One of which was a $56 shirt.
“For a SHIRT?!” my aunt exclaimed, when I relayed this information.
A rush to judgment
It was humiliating.
The shirt was quite lovely and nicely hid my relatively substantial amount of pudge, It was perfect for looking nice-but-not-too-formal.
But after that reaction, I was never quite able to look at the shirt the same way.
Not after enduring the embarrassment of feeling I had to justify myself to her. Not after hearing how hollow the justification was as I said it. And definitely not after the fatigue made me lose the job in less than two months.
Incidentally, I still have the shirt. I barely wear it. I’m honestly not sure how flattering it’d be now that I’ve lost weight. But I’ll be damned if that thing won’t be in my dresser or closet until the day I die. In fact, if I weren’t planning on being cremated, I’d be buried in that friggin’ thing.
Because I paid $56. For a shirt.
My style (or lack thereof)
Ever since then, paying anything approaching $50 for clothing has made me shudder. Well, more than it probably would have anyway.
Because when you work from home and don’t go out a lot, clothing is a pretty cheap category. You occasionally hunt for sales if you want a new top, but mainly you can wear scrubby clothes around the house.
I love scrubby clothes. I throw on a t-shirt and jeans for errands but otherwise I happily wear paint-speckled shorts and worn out shirts.
It got so bad that Tim had to put his foot down about my wearing something halfway decent.* Even so, I was able to find some affordable superhero- and video game-themed PJs and loungewear that he found more than acceptable. #NerdLingerie
I poke around Marshall’s and thrift stores from time to time, but I don’t buy a lot of tops. Given how much my weight has fluctuated over the last few years, it really doesn’t make sense to. Things either get too baggy or too tight, and either result is annoying.
But there are times when you can’t put off clothes shopping. For example, you need pants that fit. Well, if you’re a woman anyway.
I don’t do overly loose jeans. And right now my size 12s get ridiculously loose over the course of a day. Actually, within 20 minutes of putting them on, I’m having to yank them up to keep them from sitting under my smaller-but-still-there belly, thereby highlighting the roundness.
So it’s time for new pants.
The waste of a short waist
It’s hard for me to find flattering jeans. Besides the belly, I’ve got wide hips and, even when I’m in shape, my legs are a bit stocky.
But perhaps worst of all — and as I’ve bemoaned on here in the past — I’m short-waisted. Very, very much so.
Low-rise jeans hit me exactly where mid-rise jeans are supposed to fall (right toward the top of the hips, about an inch below the belly button). So if I try to wear anything other than low-rise, it looks like I have almost no waist.
Which wasn’t a problem for the past few years because Old Navy had the Diva line. But the store thoughtlessly discontinued that cut, leaving only mid-rise jeans. Unless I want to wear skinny jeans. Which I do not. Besides my doubts about the effects on my circulatory system, I don’t think my self-esteem could handle looking in the mirror while wearing them.
I checked online in a bunch of places, and it seems that some idiot decided low-rise jeans are out. Which means I’m out of luck.
The only store I could find was Express. If you’ve never looked at an Express price tag, you should know that jeans run $89.90. But hey, if the second pair would be discounted to $29.90.
Spurred on by those ridiculous prices, I kept looking online. Anything remotely promising kept turning out to be online only — or at least not in stock at any store within 50 miles. (Damn you, Kohl’s online inventory!) So I’d have to pay for shipping on something that, very likely, wouldn’t turn out to be flattering.
Express, on the other hand, offers free shipping and returns (via ShopRunner or if your order is more than $75). So at least I had a safety net.
I think you see where this is going
So yeah, I decided to just order two pairs and see how they fit. If I liked them, then I supposed it was worth the money. If not, I’d get the full amount back.
But it still made me sick to see the total. Because even with the deep discount on the second pair and an additional 15% off, I paid $108 after sales tax. (“For JEANS?!”)
I’m still not completely sure I like them enough to have paid $108. They cinch in very, very slightly at the top, which I think creates a slight muffin top (over and above the normal roundness). But both Tim and his mom say they’re very flattering.
And it’s not like I’ve got other options at the moment.
In a last-ditch effort, I went to Old Navy this weekend to try on mid-rise again. But nope, still covers up too much of my already-shallow waist. And we leave in eight days.
My only real other option is to just get a belt for my size 12s, but that’ll still leave the jeans looking kind of baggy in what I think will be a rather unflattering fashion. Though that’s something I’m going to experiment with in the next day or two.
So I think I’m stuck paying an average of $54. For two pairs of jeans. And all I can think of is that damn shirt.
Do any of you have your own (symbolic version) of a $56 shirt? rt?Anyone know of any companies that still make affordable low-rise jeans?
*Which, apparently, does not include shirts with holes large enough to put my arm through, 17-year-old shorts that lost their drawstring and have to be folded over several times to stay on my hips, or anything else I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving the house to run an errand in. (To be fair, he was more worried that it signaled I’d given up on my self-image).