Yesterday, I discovered H&M as my new shopping destination...I found their website, and much to my surprise, I loved most of the outfits I saw. Having lost 64 lbs over the past year, I was feeling a bit adventurous about what exactly I want my style to be. I know I need an update - of this much I am acutely aware. Somehow, despite my best effort to be "fashion-forward" a small but integral part of my closet remains firmly planted in the period between 1988 and 1992. I'm not proud of that, just stating a fact.
So there I was, browsing thru their groovy looks - some girly, some bohemian, some eclectic, but all of them DEFINITELY not circa 1990. My palms itched with anticipation as I mused over wearing such outfits. Would I look like I was trying to hard to revisit my youth? Would my friends look at me as if I had lost my mind? Would my 11 year old daughter disown me? I plugged in my zip code and BAM, there was a store within 2 miles of my home and office. Who knew? Certainly not me, since I had given up mall shopping a decade ago. The closest I had come in recent years was a splurge at TJ Maxx, or ordering from Zappos on the internet. I grabbed my keys and headed home for lunch, which no doubt would consist of a salad.
As I was dribbling fat-free dressing on my three lettuce leaves, the phone rang. It was Bill. He was stuck at work, and wouldn't be home for lunch. Fuck it! I dumped the salad in the trash. I'M GOING TO H&M!
Being on my lunch break, I had approximately 30 minutes left before I was expected back at the office. Timing would be key. I knew what pieces I wanted to try - a ruffled top and a military jacket. I called the store on my way to find out exactly where they were located. As I dashed through the mall to my date with 2010's fall fashion line-up, I could feel my heart pounding. God, this was almost better than sex!
BINGO! The store was huge, but I found the pieces I was looking for almost immediately, along with several other things that I was reasonably sure wouldn't make me look like some 45 year old on a mission to recapture her youth. After a small amount of consideration, I decided to go with the next size up from my current favorite fitting size 4 jeans. (After all, this was a store clearly designed for someone of a "lesser age") Would they have 6's? YESSSS!!! I grabbed the pieces I wanted to try, and looked around frantically for the dressing rooms, which were in the back of the store - ughhh - more time lost to getting where I needed to be in the shortest amount of time. I nearly took out an H&M employee as I sprinted through the racks.
For anyone (guys, I would imagine) who has never experienced the anxious moments trying on clothes in a compartment as small as a bathroom stall, it is truly everything that you imagined - bad mirrors, bad lighting, almost no privacy, and somehow you manage to see every imperfection you have ever noticed about yourself all glaring back at you in unison - indeed MOCKING you - as you try to peel off clothes and try on what you hope to be your next fashion statement. I pulled my sweater off and slipped on the first piece, a multi-layered ruffled top that reached mid-thigh. I stood back (well, as much as I could) and surveyed the damage. Not bad! I probably needed the next size up because it was small enough through the rib cage that it made me actually LOOK as if I had boobs, though anyone who knows me will tell you, I do not. I tried on the other pieces. It was a homerun! I loved everything! I didn't look like some MILF trying to pick up on her kid's teenage friends. I looked trendy, maybe a bit younger, definitely more stylish, and dare I say it...I looked HOT! I raced back to the front of the store, pulled everything in size 8's, then headed to the register. Time check? Ten minutes left before my boss's head explodes. Damages? $199 for a coat, two tops, a jacket and leggings. How cool is that??? I was elated.
In the afternoon I, of course, posted my shopping conquest on Facebook. The comments on the thread rolled in, mostly from friends, old schoolmates, and one from a source that shall remain unnamed, who decided the only appropriate thing to do was deflate my ego by telling me I had to jump a size not because H&M's clothes ran small, but because American stores offer "vanity" sizing to accommodate the ever-growing American derierre. I was crushed. I had worked so hard to fit into a small size. Did it mean I was still overweight? Obviously, I could cut off an arm or a leg to make myself LIGHTER but this would not solve the dreaded "SIZE ISSUE." The comments continued to post, and I was buoyed by my friends' responses...if it bugs you, cut out the damn tags. To my friend, Mr. Nameless Source, I say that it IS only a number. For the FIRST time in my life, I am happy with myself and my body, and I cannot lose sight of that. I have come to the realization that what is really important is that we look in that dreaded mirror and love who we see looking back at us. Otherwise, what is it all for? I probably had the best 30 minutes of my entire female shopping "career" and I don't want to mitigate that as being something less than what it was. To all my female friends who have struggled, and you KNOW who you are...screw the Europeans. Are they really all that happy in their teeny tiny sizes with their 24 inch waists? When was the last time they had a REALLY good dessert, or polished of a cheeseburger with utter abandon? I would hate to be on my death bed and think, "gee, I really should have ordered that chocolate lava cake at Bonefish." How sad would that be. Is life about give and take? Absolutely. I spend my weekdays being VERY good about what I eat and getting in some exercise, so I can spend my weekends pretty much doing as I please. It works for me, and I'm good with it.
I guess what I am tryin to say is...not happy with the size of your clothes? Cut out the damn tag! Trust me, you're fabulous!