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by Bernadette Yarnot

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Damnable Fashion Industry

I hate clothes shopping.

No, really. I am not one of those females for whom the word shopping lights up the eyes. I do not have good connotations with shopping; understandable, perhaps, as my mom hates shopping (especially with me; she thinks I'm indecisive, which is untrue. I'm picky, not indecisive) and my father takes the engineer's approach to shopping, which is to figure out what you want, go compare values, and get the item.

But more telling than a lack of training is the sheer amount of frustration a shopping trip can lead to in my case. I don't know what clothing designers are thinking. I mean, I'm five foot nine, which isn't uncommon these days. I have hips, which I think is the normal state for women. I'm pretty proportionate, and yet...

And yet it is well-nigh impossible for me to find clothes that fit. Really. Most of the clothing out there is designed for someone I've never met: small, thin, with very little hips and a hefty chest. Every little bit of clothing has a problem in one place or another.

If it fits my hips, the waist is too big. If it fits my torso, the arms aren't long enough... by two inches or more in some cases. Floor-length dresses hit me mid-calf, or have to be taken in or clipped around the body. (Sometimes they're too short even then.) And let's not talk about sizes. I have tried on size 8's that were too big and 12's that were too small. I have to tell people different sizes depending on the particular style of the garment... and then they argue with me! As in, "You can't be a __!" Or, "You don't need a __; you'll be swimming in it. Try this size." And of course, one trip through the wash and the sleeves have crawled halfway up my arms.

No wonder I like summer. T-shirts and shorts eliminate almost all the above problems.

But my tale of woe isn't over yet. You know bras? Those little undergarments that make life a great deal more comfortable for any woman who is even marginally active? The cheapest they come is about $15... which doesn't seem like much, except that you need one for every day, just like underwear and socks. And believe me, this is one area where comfort is of primary concern... so the better you get, the more they cost. I have one friend with an unusual size who has to pay upwards of $100 for a bra that fits. That's absurd! I am not an unusual size, but it seems to be one for which there is every unnecessary addition known to man... and no plain, simple, confortable, inexpensive styles. (I found the perfect style once, at Ross... which meant I bought every one they had and have never found it since.)

Gloves are a particular problem for me. Women's sizes go up to eight and a half inches (spread hand) if you go to a specialty shop; my hands go to nine. Guy's gloves are too wide in all directions to fit. I have to wear knit gloves... which doesn't work in the snow... or too-small gloves. Dress gloves are right out. (I have been told that drag stores might do for the latter.)

My problem with shoes is somewhat different... namely, that I hate the current styles with a passion. You either have to get extremely pointy toes or ones that have been squared off, all on teetering three inch heels... hello? I'm five foot nine, I don't want to tower over people more... or, if they're flat and comfy looking, the back is gone. You know the ones. They're called mules, and it's impossible to keep them on your feet if you walk with anything resembling a regular stride. You have to shuffle, like those chinese women with the bound feet.

And of course, with all clothes, the styles I like aren't available in my size, or the styles that aren't flattering to anyone other than a teeny-bopper are the only ones available, or they're in that one red that I can't wear because a few washes in it will fade to orange (I like red. I like wearing red, but I can't, because "red" almost always means that one orange-based red and I can't wear that. I usually have to go to burgandy, which works fine, but it's not that perfect red which is just a few shades closer to purple than that red) or they're in a style that's going to go out of fashion ten minutes after purchase, or they're out of my price range, or...

Like I said, I'm picky. I won't buy anything that I won't wear. My shoes fell to pieces around my feet this summer because every time I went to the store my reaction was "ick." Most of my long-sleeved shirts are years old because they are the few that are long enough to reach my wrists. Some of them are baggy, but that's what I have to put up with, just like wearing belts.

It is possible, you know, to buy clothing that fits well. You just have to go to the more expensive stores. I would like to be able to purchase jeans that fit around the waist... or that have a waist. I'd like to have the option of longer sleeves on my shirts and not have to buy guys' shirts so they will fit. It would be really cool to try on winter gloves and have them fit for once.

But for now, my pointy elbows are wearing holes in my shirts, and it looks like I'll have to go shopping this winter.

Wish me luck.

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