Shop till You Drop


I don’t look like this so why can’t I find clothes that fit?

I am differently shaped. Or, at least, I’m not built in a manner consistent with clothes sold in San Angelo.

I make this confession not to elicit sympathy or suggest I’m treated badly. In fact, my shape is directly related to my consumption of beer, chocolate, and various other other edible foods. (I make it a policy to avoid inedible foods like rutabaga, artichokes, and brussel sprouts. Sushi not real high on my list either.)

I’ll even admit that my size is proportionate to the the deepening indention on my couch. I’m no victim.

But still. While I might not win a best chest contests any time soon and I’m barred by my family from wearing those form fitting compression Under Armor shirts in public (or anywhere), I’m not fat, obese, terribly overweight, or grotesquely out of shape. At 5’10 (and 3/4 no matter what my family says) and 185, I’m the same size as Asante Samuel, CB for the Atlanta Falcons. My 185 might be distributed differently, but I’ll bet my knees hurt less and I don’t get concussions at my job.

My disfigurement became painfully clear Sunday afternoon while shopping for some new shirts. Those who know me will tell you without hesitation that I’m no clothes-horse. Most of the shirts in my closet, and many of the pants and shorts, just appear magically. I reach in the closet and presto-chango there’s a new shirt. For a long time, I imagined there was a little elf-tailor sewing away all night. I could imagine his little sewing machine and a tee-tiny needle. Or, as my wife pointed out, they could come from Goodwill. Yes. She’s the one who told the kids about Santa Claus.

I appreciate good clothes, but I don’t appreciate paying for good clothes. And the whole matching colors, getting the right belt, to pleat or not to pleat–and I can never tell if it’s navy blue or black (reeking havoc on sock selection). If I were rich, I tell my wife, I would buy really nice stuff, but I would also pay the salesperson to make a chart showing which shirt I could wear with which pants. Or I would just buy 5 sets of the same clothes. That’s what Einstein did. At least I could have something in common with him.

But, alas, I had to be a grownup the other day and buy some decent shirts. My Salvation Army specials were showing their age: frayed collars, seams splitting, buttons indiscriminately popping off (and always at such opportune times!), and little mystery holes in very odd places. I’m starting to wonder what my shirts do when I’m not wearing them. It’s time, I told myself, to stop dressing like a graduate student. Dress like your student loans are paid off, I thought.

And so I found myself at the mall on a beautiful Sunday afternoon trailing after a bunch of juvenile delinquents and old people who clearly had nothing better to do than stroll around inside while I listened to my wife, basically, tell me to stop being such a cheap bastard and buy some decent clothes.

Don’t get me wrong–I’ve shopped for clothes before. I refuse to wear used underwear, socks, or shoes. (And I’ve reached a point in my life where used couches and mattresses are a no-no also.) But I know my size. Easy in and easy out. I’ve always been the parent who takes our boys shoe shopping. If you can’t find what you want in 15 minutes, we’ll buy some duct tape and fix the old ones.

When I do shop for clothes, I make a bee-line for the clearance rack. Not only is it cheaper, but I’m assured no one else in town will have the same shirt. It’s on the clearance rack for a reason.

But not this time, my wife said. Be an adult and buy grown-up clothes she told me. For those of you who shop more often than me, which makes up a pretty healthy segment of the population, you probably already know that clothes are expensive and good clothes are really expensive. I tried on a couple of shirts that felt awful nice on my skin, but for the price I should have been smoking a cigarette and getting sleepy after I took them off. And waiting 15 minutes before putting on the next one, if you know what I mean.


I don’t look like this either, much to my wife’s chagrin.

And today I have self-esteem issues. Evidently, my arms are too short for the circumference of my stomach. Or, I guess I could say my stomach is too ample for my arm length? All I know is the wrong parts of my body are shrinking while the other parts grow.

What amazes me, though, is I’m thinner than half the people I saw trying on clothes and I’m as tall (if not a little taller) than the average male in America. So why is am I having a hard time finding clothes?

Admittedly, I like my clothes a little loose fitting (which is probably why I didn’t realize my middle was aging), but l can’t be the only man in America who doesn’t want a form fitting shirt that’s formed like a bowl. As I was pulling shirts off the rack, I found plenty of clothes that would fit me if I was 250 pounds and even more that would work if I ate once a week while jogging 10 miles. But when did they start making “slim fit” shirts? Who thought this was a good idea? Are the shirt people in bed with the Weight Watchers people? And don’t get me started on the colors. When did we start dressing like easter eggs?

Three shirts, a pair of shoes, and three hours later, I finally plopped on to my form fitting couch, happy, at least, that something still fit.


About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

6 Responses to Shop till You Drop

  1. Shoes? I went to buy some running shoes a couple of years ago and it looked like all the designers had been on LSD. I changed the way I run.

    And navy blue vs. black? I lost my grip on that part of the spectrum a couple of years ago. I’m with you – color instructions would be helpful.

  2. Gecko says:

    I’ll never understand why they put mirrors in the dressing rooms because they cause me not to buy clothes once I see how they really look on me- which is different than just looking down at them once you get them on. I usually stick to oversized T-shirts and yardsale blue jeans/

    • John Wegner says:

      Not me. I’m glad they have mirrors. I see it on the rack and think, I’ll look good in that. Then I see it in the mirror and come to my senses. Thanks for the comment. Yard sale clothes are under rated.

  3. Joyce says:

    “Foundation garments” are my best friend. Never understood why they don’t make them for the fellows too. I’ll bet someone could design a line of shapers for the guys and get rich.

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