31 days, fashion tips, mom fashion, shopping

31 Days: Tips for Shopping When Nothing Fits.

Count me among those who dread shopping. I have the hardest time finding clothes that fit me the right way. And I have a very strong feeling I am not alone on this one.

I take pretty good care of myself – I am mindful of what I eat, I exercise pretty regularly – but I’m still not in the shape I’d like to be. I believe I’ve already shared how my middle makes me miserable, and boy howdy does it ever when I have to buy new clothes. I mean, who are these clothes made for anyway? The rise is too low or the thighs are too tight or the chest is too big or the waist is too little. And it all makes me feel really bad about the way I look.

But alas, I still shop. Because I have little rules I use to avoid feeling bad and to help me feel fab. I thought this might be a good time to share those:

1. Never, ever try anything on from the Juniors’ section

They really should have the Juniors’ section much further away from the women’s section (I’m looking at you, Target). It really should always be closer to the girls’ section. How many grown women do you know who can fit into “juniors” clothes? I’m not saying they don’t exist (dammit) but what I am saying is I’m pretty sure there are more of us than there are of them. You see, juniors’ size clothes don’t allow for some of the, ahem, size variations we women have grown into. So stay away. Far away.

2. The weight of the fabric matters

If you are shopping for shirts or dresses and you don’t want anything clingy, familiarize yourself with the fabrics being used right now. I don’t necessarily mean read the tags, but you can if that’s what works for you. For me it’s about touching it and and seeing how it falls on my hand underneath it. If I can see every knuckle plain as day, it is not a shirt for me.

3. Know which stores are aiming for your demographic

As we age our bodies change, as does our personal style. The people who design our clothes know this. Every clothing manufacturer out there has a target demographic. If you know who is targeting you, you may have a better chance of finding clothes that fit your body (and your life) in that store.

You need to know who makes a jean with rise and length you like. Gap was my go-to store for a long time, but our relationship has been a little strained over the last few years. I honestly think it as because they were (are?) targeting a younger demographic. We are doing OK now, by the way, but I’ve found I get a more consistent fit for my body these days with Banana Republic jeans.

4. Shop with a purpose

Don’t just “go shopping” – have a goal in mind. Decide on two or three items you really need so you don’t get distracted by all the other things you like. Have an idea, even a specific picture, of what you are looking for. In order to get dressed on purpose, you must go shopping on purpose.

5. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it

There should be an immediate love connection (at least a like connection) for you when you try on clothes. If you are hem-hawing put it in the maybe pile and try it on again before you put it back. If the reason you aren’t sure is because of the style, maybe it is a good choice  to add some variety to your wardrobe. If you are unsure because of how it fits, put it back. Your clothes should flatter you. If you don’t think you look good as soon as you put it on, you aren’t going to want to wear it later on.


This is a process. It takes time. Just as I encourage you to create a uniform for yourself, I also strongly suggest you figure out two or three go-to clothing stores to take some of the stress out of shopping. And know it is absolutely OK to end your shopping days with no purchases. However, if you need a small win buy an accessory. Earrings, a necklace, a purse, a scarf, something pretty that will fit for a long time no matter what life brings.

I really want you to love how you look right now. You can’t love who you are if you don’t love how you look. Maybe there isn’t a store for you. If that’s the case, find a good tailor or learn to do alterations yourself. And don’t compare yourself to models or celebrities – most of the pics you see of them have nothing to do with real life as we know it.

What is your biggest challenge while shopping? Have you found a “go-to” store or brand?

2 thoughts on “31 Days: Tips for Shopping When Nothing Fits.

  1. I struggle with clothes shopping to the nth degree! I don’t shop very often and I don’t spend much money on clothing these days – life as a ph.d student who is married to a youth minister & mom of 3 = living on a significant budget! When I do shop, I tend to use gift cards that I have received from my lovely mother-in-law & they are usually GAP or Old Navy. I have found recently that Old Navy jeans fit me relatively well, and I can usually find shirts and tees at GAP. I often struggle with sizes, though, b/c my weight has fluctuated a fair amount over the past decade, but, I love these tips & I will definitely keep them in mind whenever I hit the stores again!

    1. When you are on a tight budget, shopping rules are even more important! If you can go just twice a year and get a few items to breath some new life into the mix it is worth it, though. I am such a fan of ON/Gap/BR – they have sales so often and their clothes fit me well. When size fluctuations are an issue, I usually go for tops or cardigans. I find there is more room for forgiveness in those pieces. 🙂

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