Why I Don't Shop For Clothes (But am Trying!)

Why I Don’t Shop For Clothes (But am Trying!)

I hate shopping. Especially for clothes. Part of me wishes I was that person that could walk into a store and want ALL THE THINGS! Before moving to Alaska, thrift stores were my jam. Everything I owned was from a thrift store. It was my style, it was cheap, and if it got destroyed, I wasn’t that worried about it. Also, I could walk into the thrift store and look at my size on the rack. When the rack ended, I was done.

Now that I live in Alaska (where the thrift stores are both expensive and terrible), I’ve been forced into buying clothes from stores like regular people. It’s awful.

Clothes are Expensive!

I hear the argument that you should just buy really well made clothes and they’ll last forever. It’s a sane argument. But what if you have 3 crazy kids, you spend most of your year walking through snow, your shirts always manage to get holes in the front, and you are incapable of eating chocolate without having pieces melt into your shirt?* Well, then your argument is crazy. Then I put on said shirt and feel like I can’t live my life. I can’t accidentally rub up against my car (with its inch-thick dirt in the winter and spring). I can’t touch my children. I can’t go outside.

But even things that are “faster fashion” (though not the fastest of fashions) are still crazy. I mean, I can’t justify spending $58 on a shirt that might be covered in greasy peanut butter in a matter of hours!

Who Are These Clothes Made For?

I am a fairly thin individual, but I was recently diagnosed with supercolon (basically the longest, twistiest colon in all the land). This means that I periodically bloat. It’s unpredictable and embarrassing. Clothes that fit when I am thin later look horrible when the bloating hits unexpectedly. It is for this reason that I have been looking to replace my standard long-sleeved shirts I’ve been wearing 70% of the year for the past 7 years.

Going into the clothes stores stresses me out, so I am a fan of doing a big order and trying them all on in the comfort of my home before returning most of them. Last week, I ordered several tops from Nordstrom Rack’s Clear the Rack sale (some shoppers pointed me in that direction). I literally ordered every top in my size that didn’t show skin on the back, the sides, the belly, or down the front. Apparently this is hard to find these days! I tried them all on. It was horrifying. They were so weird. One shirt made me look like that “belly fat” drawn ad you always see on sidebars. And I wasn’t even bloated!

Clothes are Boring

This shirt actually got me a lot of friends.

In the old days, I lived in my X-men t-shirts and my orange pants (or the outfit above – you’ll also be happy to know that I still own those hammer pants. I wear them over my swimsuit in the summertime). Now that I’m in my 30s, sometimes pretending to be a work-at-home professional who has 3 kids (one that is reaching tween age), I feel like I have to move into the adult world. The problem is that I still want to wear exciting, colorful things that also fit into the realm of “grown-up clothes.” This doesn’t seem to exist. All the clothes everywhere are boring. Apparently I can only wear stripes or solids because that’s what’s for sale. (Also, are people aware that the 90s were terrible the first time around?)

Creativity Always Helps

One of my favorite things to do is take clothes people give me and turn them into something else or modify them to work. My cousin used to live in Alaska and she was a shopper (and had a great style). About once a year, she would give me a bag of clothes. For presents, I started a tradition that I would take one item of clothing and gift it back to her as something else. One year, I took her husband’s ugly sweater from a Christmas party and made hats for her, her husband, and baby. Another year, I took an old sundress of hers and made matching aprons for her and her daughter. It was super fun and I loved doing it.

Three years ago, my cousin left the state (which also means my free clothes supply was cut off). This past weekend, I was complaining about all of these problems and another friend of mine offered me to look through a box of her old clothes. She’s not my size, but I was able to modify a few tops that will work for visits to the office. I also whipped up a black shrug from one of her old skirts that worked perfect with another top I really liked. I was reminded that this was my element. I loved doing it. Unfortunately, none worked to replace my long-sleeved tops I’ve had to pass on. And now I’m back to square one on that front…

What’s the Point?

You’re right. This post was nothing but a giant rant about clothes. I actually really like clothes, but apparently it’s hard to find those clothes that I like. I also did an Amazon order (yet to arrive) and tried ThredUp (HOW do you make it through all those options?!) – both were very stressful and overwhelming. I don’t need to purchase clothes all that often, but it turns out for the first time in 6 years, I’m in the market for some major wardrobe replacements. I thought it would be fun to spend money and go shopping. It’s not.

*I get this quality from my mother. We know how to enjoy our chocolate!


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  1. OMG, those pants are AWESOME! I think I’ll hunt for those here in Georgia, that’d shake things up in my Corporate Job, right!!?? (hey, maybe that’d be my trick to get one of those early buyout offers I so desperately desire!!).

    Funny, I’m working on a blog post titled “I’m Not Buying Anymore Clothes”. What is it with us all thinking about clothes all of the sudden? LOVE your idea of converting clothes into other items. My mother-in-law had her wedding dress made into 3 gifts for her 3 kids. My wife got her Mom’s childhood doll, dressed up in a doll sized wedding dress made from the original wedding dress. We treasure that.

    • MaggieBanks

      Thank you on the pants. I do so love them. And awesome idea on the wedding dress front! If my kids don’t want to alter mine to wear for their weddings, I’ll totally cut it up for christening dresses or something!

  2. I hate shopping too. It seems whenever I do find a store where they have a majority of things that fit me well, it tends to be expensive. I just ran into that this weekend. I bought a couple things…it was done…it was over…but it was expensive. But…I won’t have to shop for QUITE some time again. Maybe there is something to be said for well-made stuff? My first stop is usually to Target but it’s hit or miss…usually miss.

    • MaggieBanks

      Expensive. Yes. Also, where does one find this well-made stuff. And does it stain?

  3. The funniest posts are the ones that tap into a common insight! Here’s one thing I have noticed in my 1+ year of early retirement: I am changing my clothes ALL THE TIME. It used to be I would get dressed for work, come home, and change once. Now I change when I get up, after I workout, before I go to meet someone for dinner, etc, etc. I probably change 4x a day!

    • MaggieBanks

      Fascinating observation! As a stay-at-home mom, I’m lucky if I’m showered by lunch! If I don’t have to do anything but drop the kids off at school, I spend a great deal of time in my moose jammies. 🙂

  4. I’ve got monkey arms, so I can’t buy anything off the rack for dress shirts because if it fits in the chest and shoulders the arms are ~2″ short. If the arms fit, it looks like I’ve lost 30 lbs and need to go shirt shopping… Ugh… I can wear those plastic wrapped dress shirts that are sized a little more specific, but then I have to wait until they go on sale because they’re more spendy.

    And what don’t you like about the 90’s? I loved jeans flannel and t shirts. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Well now I have great imagery of you with monkey arms. As for the 90s… men’s fashions were okay I guess (jorts?) but the girls were all mom jeans and crop tops and really dull colors. Terrible. Terrible ideas.

  5. I have sympathy Maggie! I don’t mention it very often as it’s not appreciated but I’m just too slim for so many clothes. People throw me a look like “boo hoo, poor you”. Then there are the compliments and the “wish I could be as thin as you”. Yeah? Well I’ve given up wearing trouser for work cos I ordered some age 12 to 13 school trousers and you could fit 2 of me in there. I wear dresses which are described on the label as tailored but are more potato sack like on my frame.

    Whenever I go clothes shopping, the thing I end up buying is chocolate- might as well try and put some weight on! I’ve tried putting weight on for 15 years. It’s not really happened at all.

    In honesty, real designers would have things to fit me. Things which are hideous and have an astranomical price.

    On the bright side, I don’t have problems buying socks, so that’s always an easy one!

    Sorry, I’ve ranted at your rant rather than present a solution. Perhaps we should be more grateful that we don’t feel the need to spend bucket fulls of cash on clothes every weekend!

    • MaggieBanks

      I’m really picky about my socks for comfort. 🙂 But I feel you. WHO are these clothes even made for?! There should be better sizing. Or better styles. Or better fabric. Ugh. It’s too exhausting!

  6. Maybe this is one of the reasons that you’re in way better financial shape than me – I actually liked to go shopping. It kills me to think about how much money I spent on trendy outfits. I still have a lot of these things because it hurts to donate them or throw them away – and they’re too out of date to resell. My goal is to refashion/upcycle as much of my old clothes as possible. I think you’re on the right track with making something new out of unwanted clothing. If you have enough sewing skills, then you can make custom clothing that will fit you perfectly.

    • MaggieBanks

      Though now I have a major scarcity complex and bought myself some capris in Target the other day that I totally didn’t need, but they had elephants on them and I liked them and for the first time, I said: “I NEVER find clothes I like. I HAVE to buy them.” This could be a problem…

  7. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    I really hate clothes shopping too. Every part of my body is apparently a different size, and every brand fits different. It’s too much work!

  8. ChooseBetterLife

    Oh man, can I empathize! I’m super short with long arms and a short, flat torso, so nothing fits me either. On the bright side, we do have some pretty fantastic thrift stores, so maybe you need to visit!

  9. It’s not fun! I hear you. I have access to some pretty great thrift stores, too, and it’s still not fun. I’ve found that once a year, I can go to Nordstrom Rack and/or TJ Maxx and find three staples (long sleeve gray shirt, some sort of silky flow-y shirt, pair of jeans that fit.) We’ve got a thrift store in town that is practically a Land’s End outlet, so that’s helpful, too. I got a really nice winter coat for $35 that would have been over $100 if I bought it from the brand.

    Usually, when I travel, I like to check out a town’s thrift stores and I was sorely disappointed with what Anchorage had to offer. Seriously, what is the deal?

    ThredUp is overwhelming. I always filter by size and brand. I know what brands work for me, though. Land’s End dresses (they might have long sleeve shirts for you) and Democracy or Lucky jeans. I also stick to a pretty conservative palette of black and gray and navy blue. Anyway, good luck!

    • MaggieBanks

      I like everything you’re saying except “conservative palette.” 🙂 I think it stems from the fact that Anchorage honestly has no fashion. Want to know what is actually “in”? Xtra tuff boots (all the teenagers love them… if you have off-brand, you stink). Carhartts (real deal) and for my age, Danskos. That’s it.

  10. Jacq

    There is a store in the mall by me called Strawberry, that sells long sleeved t shirt 2 for $10. It was their rack of a rainbow display that lured me in. I am not one for patterns, and their shirts were solid colors.
    I am a Van Heusen fan for button down shirts. They have outlets & or sales. I used to go 1x a year, but have been trying to buy less & wear more of what I already own. I’d say their shirts are $20-30. But I’ve had a lot of these since 2010 or earlier, so they last. Most of them go in the dryer, which I love!
    I once dropped oatmeal onto my badge, didn’t realize it and got it all over my shirt. I am prone to leaning on my pollen covered car. I don’t wear button down for every day, but as you mentioned if you go into the office at work, it’s a nice option.
    Best of luck with shopping!

    • MaggieBanks

      Strawberry sounds amazing. My Amazon clothes order arrived today… hopefully there’s SOMETHING in there worth keeping!

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