Dressing Room Depression

You’d think I’d know better by now.  Even before I was middle aged, shopping for a special occasion was something I dreaded, because none of the stores ever seemed to carry exactly what I needed.  If I was looking for a dress to be worn at an outdoor event on a hot summer day, all I found were long-sleeve dresses, usually made out of wool.  Sure, there might have been one or two sleeveless, summery dresses hanging on the clearance rack, but they were always a size two, which I haven’t been since…well, ever.  But now that I am middle-aged, shopping of any kind has become a chore, and shopping for a special event has become almost impossible.

Even so, yesterday I headed off to the nearby mall in high hopes of quickly and easily finding an appropriate outfit to wear to a wedding I’m attending next weekend.  I don’t know why I was so optimistic about the whole thing, but I cheerfully told my husband I’d be back in a couple of hours.  Maybe the problem is my memory seems to be going the way of my eyesight, but for some strange reason, I really thought I’d find something that I’d like without wasting my whole day shopping.

Needless to say, I was wrong.  It took me quite some time to find any dresses that were even worth trying on, but eventually I grabbed a few and ducked into the nearest dressing room to see if they fit.  The less said about what I looked like in those dresses, the better.  I came out of the dressing room without anything I actually wanted to buy, but with the firm belief that I needed three things as quickly as possible:  a new diet, a gym membership, and an appointment with a really good plastic surgeon.

IMG_1057I tried a few other stores with no more success at  finding a dress, but I did spot a nice blue jacket (on sale, thank goodness) that I thought just might work over an eight-year old, sleeveless black dress I already owned.  At that point, I was far too depressed to keep on shopping, so I bought the jacket, went home and tried it on with my black dress, and decided to believe my husband when he told me it looked just fine.  I know he wouldn’t have told me otherwise no matter how bad it looked, but it still helped to hear him actually say the words.

I have no idea why the people who design clothes insist in believing that all women are tall, thin, and twenty-something, but they do. And its more than a little discouraging to keep trying to stuff my not tall, thin and twenty-something body into the available merchandise.  It’s hard enough to have hit the time in my life when everything’s sagging and bagging without having to try on clothes that seemed designed to emphasize each and every single imperfection.

One of my favorite authors is Rick Bragg, and he wrote a very funny essay regarding his hatred for shopping (good to know it’s not just a female thing), stating that he has decided he’s never going to shop for clothes again. After evaluating his wardrobe and his remaining expected life span, he concluded that he can “be dead and naked at about the same time.”  I don’t think I can quite pull that one off, but I have an awful feeling that I will be wearing that black dress of mine to every special event I am invited to for at least another ten years, with our without a new jacket to go with it.

24 thoughts on “Dressing Room Depression

    • I think a store that was truly targeting middle agers (or boomers) would be very successful, too! Sadly, I don’t know how to design clothes either, and my sewing skills are limited to hemming and sewing on buttons.

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  1. Today I have few dresses in my closet and hate the thought of having to shop for a dress for a special occasion. The jacket is lovely! One cannot go wrong with a sleeveless dress and jacket. For now I have something for funerals but for the next wedding I fear I will have to shop as all of my wedding dresses were outdated so they went to Goodwill.

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    • Yes, that’s the problem! I don’t need “nice” dresses very often, so when special occasion comes up, then I have to go shop…which is not fun at all. I’m hoping that my black dress lasts for a long, long time! Thanks for the comment!


  2. I share your shopping agony. It’s so hard to find nice clothes that fit well at a reasonable price, especially when you’re over 40. I’ve never attempted sewing, but some days I think I should so I can make my own clothes.

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    • I know! I’m really wishing I had paid more attention, all those years ago in my home ec class! Then I could sew the clothes I want to wear, and they’d actually fit!


  3. Like you said, it’s really not just a woman thing. I’ve never much liked buying clothes. I never now what to get, so now base my purchases mainly on color. If it’s dark green, I’ll buy it. I occasionally look at the size label first.

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  4. Ann, you are my kindred spirit when it comes to shopping! haha I hate it too! Nothing, and I do mean, NOTHING depresses me more than to go shopping and not find anything, or not fit into anything. Ugh. My daughter got married three months ago. I had to find a nice dress for the wedding. I thought I looked great in it, even though it was a bigger size than I would have liked, but then I saw the photos. Sigh………….Others say I looked beautiful, but when your mind’s image does not match the photo image, it’s hard to see what others see. As for pants………..leggings, ladies. Leggings! haha

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    • Yes, I think that’s the problem: what we see in the dressing room mirror doesn’t match the internal picture we carry around of how we look. And clothes designed for people who don’t have any curves don’t help either! It can be very discouraging, especially when an event is coming up that we really need to have a nice outfit for!

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