How to really shop for clothes

Close up of jeans

Being not particularly tall and being slightly overweight, buying trousers is just one of the many first world problems an amazing regular Joe like me faces. Nothing seems to go to plan. The waist is right, but the legs are too long; the legs are right, but the waist is too tight… it’s a clothes shopping hell I go through every year.

Forget about Glamour, Elle, Men’s Health, FHM and any other publications you’re getting your fashion advice from. Big ole me is here now to tell you a few things I’ve learned in life (the hard way!) about how to to really shop for clothes that are in style and in your size. Aren’t you glad you came.

Think about clothes as early as Christmas i.e. start dieting!

Unbuckle your belt, let your belly burst out from under your smart new Armani shirt, and release a satisfying belch after the last morsel of turkey on Christmas Day – then start planning how you want to dress next summer! You have plenty of time to ponder it while you wash the Everest of dishes Christmas dinner generates!

The shops start to get their summer stock in around April or May, so get in shape to buy the sizes you want. Seize on the ‘new year, new me’ drivel and slim down bit by bit so you’re in the right shape when the summer collections arrive in the shops.

Since I’m bit of a trifle fiend I’d be a dirty rotten stinking hypocrite if I said skip the trifle. I’ve never been big on Christmas pudding, though, so I’m suggesting you pass on that instead haha.

If you were, however, to bite into a coin hidden in the pudding or the rum sauce, you could chip a tooth, and that would keep you away from those naughty-but-nice treats.

Pretend the last couple of sentences didn’t happen and go with the Christmas pudding (and put any coins you chip your teeth on towards the impending dental bill)!

Close up of a turkey being carved
Enjoy it while it lasts… tomorrow you’re having cereal for lunch!

Buy as soon as the summer collections hit the shops (and ignore the budget)

Maybe you have to budget, maybe it’s been an expensive month, and you think ‘I’ll just buy some next month’ or ‘I’ll wait till I get paid next month’. Or maybe you never managed to slim down in time for the arrival of the collection and are planning on spending the summer evenings in the gym the first few months first.

Take this tip from the School of Irresponsible Financial Management 101 and grab your size while you can, budget or no budget. Otherwise, later in the summer, you’ll regret not doing so. It won’t be there a month later. You’ll be left with only sizes even your 10 year old self would have trouble fitting into!

The only alternative left then would be to get handy with a sewing kit because sometimes you’ll find a pair with a waist that fits but with legs made for an Imperial Walker. But who wants to be taking up trousers while your mates are out sipping Pimm’s on a terrace somewhere! Oh… you do… Whatevs!

Remember the rules of +9 and XL in Zara

As much as I truly love Zara, the European sizes are a puzzle I haven’t really figured out, a bit like the Rubik cube that has been lying unsolved on my bedside table now for about three years! That’s assuming we skip over the one I had when I was about 9 and never solved either (I refuse to resort to YouTube to solve it!).

If you opt for a large in Zara, really you’re picking up a UK small or approximate size to it. When you try it on, your limbs will burst through the clothing like some sort of weird fashionista-Incredible Hulk hybrid. You’ll feel like a titan, true, but Stan Lee would not be impressed. If you want large in a UK size, opt for the XL and you’ll be closer to your fit.

The second trick is to add 9 to the size you pick up. Tried a so-called *ahem* 40 inch waist pair of trousers on today. I abruptly stopped pulling them up half way when I realised I was going to have to use a crowbar to get into them. If I’d have looked at the label properly I’d have seen the size was a EUR 40, but instead I preferred to try cutting off my circulation with them before looking again and seeing it also said UK 31 a little further along.

That’s my bash at the puzzle, anyway. I don’t really have a solution for the labels that indicated just the European , USA and Mexico sizes. Incidentally, Britain has recently voted to leave the EU and I can’t help thinking: were the ‘Leave’ voters secretly just a legion of frustrated fashionistas??

Rubik cube held up close to the camera
A Rubik cube and the clock displaying the probable number of days of my life I’ve spent trying to solve it

Do ‘the Dad test’

This is pretty straightforward and is also a good exercise for honing your powers of the mind.

Pick up a piece of clothing and see if you could see your dad in it. It doesn’t have to be your dad. It can be any older generation in the family, and if you can picture them happily going about their business wearing it, you need to put it back on the hanger. The older the generation you visualise, the more pressing it is you put them back on the hanger because your fashion sense is seriously dated!

There’s nothing wrong with the older generation’s clothing. You just don’t want to be dressing in a way that unwittingly conveys the impression you’re several decades older than you are… unless you’re trying to get in a nightclub under age, in which case you’ll look the absolute bomb in that tweed jacket and those mirror glasses! The nightclub door staff won’t suspect a thing.

So there you go, those are my suggestions on how to really shop for clothes and get yourself looking like a right little Fonzie. Diet a little, get in there early, add 9 and scope your dad’s wardrobe before you descend upon the shopping centre. The rest is happy days, eeeeeeh!


The Fonz, who knew how to really shop for clothes
The Fonz – still cool after all these years!

Images by Daniel Lombrana Gonzalez, Kurmanstaff and Richard Elzey, used under Creative Commons licence




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