How to Never Go to the Mall Again

Fight the power, man.

All my life, I have hated shopping for clothes.

It happens every time. Several days before the dreaded trip, I get nervous. A knot develops in my stomach. My vision gets blurry. My hands go numb. (Okay, not really, but you get the picture.) Why, do you ask? Because nothing fits! Everything is too tight or too baggy, too long or too short, too small in the shoulders, too big in the waist . . . the list goes on and on. Who do clothing manufacturers have in mind, anyway? Whoever it is, I certainly do not fit the pattern.

When I complained to my friends about this problem, a funny thing happened. They all said the same thing! I have friends of all shapes and sizes, surely at least one of them should be able to find clothes that fit correctly, right? Wrong, apparently. I am tired of it. I am also tired of going to the mall and being confronted with rack after rack of flimsy, spaghetti-strapped, see-through, fussy, frilly, and poorly made garments. I tried a few on once. I looked like terminator Barbie. It was not a good look.

Last time I went shopping for jeans, (Warning! Danger ahead!), I tried on four different sizes, and none of them were satisfactory. Since I did not stop at an all-you-can-eat buffet between stores, I find it highly unlikely I grew two sizes in transit. Anyway, shopping at normal stores obviously does not work well for me, and because clothes are obviously necessary, I have had to come up with alternatives. Here are some of my favorites.

  1. Goodwill: I have discovered most of my clothes at second hand stores. There are many advantages to shopping at them. They are less expensive, and tend to have a much wider variety of styles than a conventional clothing store would. You can also donate your old clothing at many locations. Also, stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army give a lot back to the community through employment services and additional programs.
  2. Vintage stores: I grew up near Portland, with a mother that loves retro fashion, and so vintage clothing has been an important part of my wardrobe for many years. Vintage pieces may be an investment, but you can count on the fact that nobody will have what you are wearing! Buffalo Exchange, one of my favorite stores in Portland, offers vintage and new fashion, and you can bring in your gently used clothes to trade for cash or store credit.
  3. Clothing swaps: swaps are a great opportunity to trade clothes you are tired of for new ones. In fact, Western has one of its own once a term. Why would you throw away clothes you no longer want when somebody else might love them? Answer: you wouldn’t!
  4. Estate/garage sales: occasionally, it is possible to find awesome vintage and new clothes at garage sales. I have a pair of boots from the 1960’s that I paid two dollars for. If you’re willing to dig a little, garage sales can be a great resource.
  5. Sewing: this one definitely requires the most work. Sewing is really intimidating. (I speak from experience!) However, if you learn some basic skills, like hemming, you can make your existing clothes fit much better. Also, if you do decide to start collecting vintage, skills like replacing buttons, hemming, shortening sleeves, etc. are very useful.

Now that I have shared my secret stores with you, I expect you to shop them! Stop letting the powers that be tell you what to wear, and wear what you love. As Tim Gunn would say, “Make it work!”

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