When I started this blog, I swore I would steer clear or fashion because I know it’s not my lane. However, I’m fired up a bit and I want to get some of these thoughts out in writing. The kids and I took our first school clothes shopping trip yesterday.
I want to say right off the bat that I, personally, don’t enjoy shopping around for my own clothing. It just seems as though the market is a mix of 80% overpriced garbage clothing, with much of what is affordable not lasting beyond a few washings, and 20% useful clothing interspersed throughout the garbage and very difficult to find. In addition to that, the limited sizing variations of most adult clothing often drive me away (usually back home for a drink). When I do finally find a brand or a style that works for my body type, I become a pretty loyal customer.
What first drove me bat-shit crazy yesterday were the pants in all the great punk prints at Hot Topic. There were so many great patterns and it makes my nostalgic heart so happy to see my kid get interested in them. However, if doesn’t matter how tall you are or how you’re shaped, if you don’t fit into the S, M, L, and XL sizes they have available, you’re out of luck. My 12-year-old is now roughly 5’4” and far more in line with adult sizing, but still very into teen styles. Well, yesterday, they got their first taste of what it’s like to be an adult shopping through 80% garbage. We’re no longer rummaging through the kids’ section of a department store loading up on $10 separates all cut in 30 different sizes.
It’s funny that the clothing industry knows that young kids come in all shapes and sizes and supplies so many different sizes and stretchy materials to meet those sizing needs, but that same clothing industry seems to feel pretty strongly that adults only come in about 3 to 6 different body types. I’m so tired of seeing the S, M, and L cookie cutter type sizes.
My kid definitely still has quite a few years ahead of rummaging through clothing stores until they find what’s useful to them. At my age, on the other hand, I’ve found my groove and, for the most part, I know what I like. I’ll list some categories below and talk about my favorite “go to” pieces in each category that have yet to fail me. I’ll be talking about what clothing industry practices irritate me in each category as well.
CASUAL SHIRTS: band tees
Until yesterday, I’d only been to Hot Topic in the last 5 years for shirts, as I’ve gotten more into band tees in that time. The older I get, the more difficult it is to find a style that isn’t old and dowdy looking but also doesn’t make it seem like I’m trying too hard. So I think at some point I just decided I would make it easy to tell exactly how old I am and started getting into tees from all the bands that shaped my youth. That way, it’s super easy to peg me as a nostalgic af gen Xer and point me in the direction of the blogs that list the best eye creams of 2021.
I like wearing band tees more than plain tees because although I don’t want to be a walking positive affirmation (LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE), I still want to be able to express myself. I also really like that I can find these tees in both loose-fitted and body-hugging cuts. However, it is irritating that the body-hugging cuts are usually labeled “women’s” and the loose-fitted ones are usually labeled “men’s.” I got one of my recent favorite body-hugging tees from my husband as part of a gift he got me for my birthday this year. Most of my loose-fitted band tees have come from Hot Topic. I’ve gotten some from Amazon but I find that the ones from Hot Topic are less restrictive around the neck. What I would really love to see is more of these band tees in V-neck styles.
Now we come to a clothing industry practice that really irks me in relation to band tees… When I came home yesterday and showed my husband the three new band tees I picked up for myself while the kids and I were out, he naturally thought, “that’s a great idea!” and started digging around online to see if he couldn’t pick a couple out for himself. The problem with this though, is that my husband is 6’6” tall and the gatekeepers of the clothing industry decided to charge one price for clothing pieces to fit individuals up to a certain height and another far more exorbitant price for any individuals above that height who need a couple more inches of shirt with their shirt. I got this great Jane’s Addiction shirt from the clearance rack yesterday at Hot Topic for $16.99. The same t-shirt can be found here in tall sizes, starting at the insane price of $58.75. And just to compare apples to apples properly, the S, M, and L sizes of that shirt on that site are all just over $41. Nearly $18 for a couple more inches of cloth is absolutely exorbitant and really irritating.
CASUAL PANTS: jeans, but very specific ones
This is the category, I have had the most contention with over the years, by far. I have tried nearly everything out there. I even bought a pair of mom jeans before and those felt more restrictive around my neck than a crew neck t-shirt does. Several years ago, I think it was 2016, when both the high-rise and the skinny jeans crazes colluded with one another and left nearly every other style out, I was in desperate need for jeans. I went to so many different stores in several different malls. There was about a three-week period where I was either dragging my husband, a friend or my kids or going alone out for jeans shopping every chance I got. I could tell almost immediately upon entering a store whether there was anything aside from high wasted skinny jeans on the shelves. Everything culminated in finding the one style of low-rise jeans the Buckle store at a mall near me had in stock: BKE Stella. To make it even better, they tailor the length in-store, which is great because at only 5 feet tall, my height adds an extra layer of difficulty to finding jeans. My height is the main reason that for a while it seemed I was the only one still rocking the low-rise jeans; high-rise jeans hurt my rib cage.
I made only one more expensive mistake after this, one of the styles I bought had useless metal buttons on the back pockets for a fake fold-over pocket look. Those buttons got caught on everything and were very uncomfortable. Once I knew not to order that look, those Stella style jeans have become my jeans for life!! I’m telling you, I’m a creature of habit. There are many washes, cuts, and hems that this style is available in so, although I’m a creature of habit, I don’t look like I’m always wearing the same thing.
DRESS SHIRTS/TOPS: bodysuits and blazers
I know, my nostalgic age is showing again, but bodysuits are really coming back and I love it. I have discovered that I get the smoothest, most flattering tucked-in look with bodysuits. My favorite ones so far are this V-neck style and this square-neck style from MANGOPOP. They’re so simple and pairing them with these blazers and my favorite dress pants (listed below) gives me a professional look that’s way comfortable and not too stiff looking. Admittedly, I work from home right now and don’t dress up too often but that’s all the more reason I want to feel as comfortable as possible when I have to do so.
I love to spice this look up by wearing this turtleneck bodysuit beneath one of my blazers for when I need that extra professional “turtleneck and blazer” look, so I can be “on point like a laser.”
Dress Pants: yoga style dress pants
When I did dress professionally every weekday while I worked in an office for over ten years, I never really had a super hard time finding comfortable tops. However, I don’t think I ever once felt comfortable in the dress slacks that I wore for work, not a single pair of them. Fast forward several years to when I was in college and I had to speak at a conference on early American writing to read an essay I had written that was chosen by a panel. At that point I hadn’t worked in several years and so I only had dressier attire for weddings and such but had gotten rid of my professional clothing which would have been more appropriate. That’s when I discovered these dress pant yoga pants.
Oh my word, these are a game changer! That conference was the first time I had ever felt so comfortable in such professional attire. Since then, I have even discovered these less expensive, yet equally great looking yoga dress pants. I have also taken the comfort level and greatness of the look even further with bodysuits. Bodysuits lay so smooth and seamlessly under these pants, it should be criminal. But it’s not, it’s professional.
As I said before, I know that I’m out of my lane speaking on fashion but I also know how difficult it is to find what works. I thought maybe if I share what I’ve found to work for me, I may be able to help someone else to find what works for them.
Thanks for reading!
Remember to always make a conscientious effort.