The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Women’s Fashion

I’m picky about what I wear. I have a long list of “no”s that would confound even the savviest shopper, including

  • No bright colors.
  • No white.
  • No sparkles.
  • No words. A brand name is fine, but I don’t do messages, inspirational or otherwise, and especially not across my ass.
  • Nothing that comes from or looks like it came from a thrift store.
  • Nothing that requires pantyhose, because pantyhose are either constantly falling down or mercilessly constricting my lady parts, and they cause excessive sweating. Put in place by the patriarchy, pantyhose are responsible for domestic violence, rape culture, Tucker Max books, and the wage gap. In case you can’t tell, I fucking hate them.
  • No socks made out of polyester or nylon. Cotton only, please. I don’t enjoy swimming in my own foot sweat.
  • No short skirts. I’m too old.
  • No collared shirts. They look weird on me.
  • No crewneck t-shirts. Feels like I’m being strangled, for chrissakes. Scoop neck! I need breathing room!
  • No khakis. If it’s a casual occasion and I can’t wear yoga pants or jeans, I’m not going.
  • No thong underwear. I don’t like undergarments that insist upon themselves. Similarly, I don’t need a pair of briefs that comes up to my eyeballs.
  • No high-rise pants of any kind. Constricting.
  • Nothing too risky like jumpsuits, rompers, or gaucho pants. The fashionista can pull these off. I, the Oscar the Grouch of fashion, cannot.
  • No cap sleeves. They cut off my circulation and I can’t move my arms to gesture wildly when I need to.
  • No underwire bras. I have a strict policy of not allowing wires in my clothing.
  • No bras without padding. Why pay $30-40 for something that doesn’t put a barrier between my nipples and other people?
  • Patterns are discouraged. I can do dots. That’s about it. Occasionally I will accept a bird or a flower—but singly, not in a pattern.
  • No dolman sleeves. Not flattering.
  • No skinny jeans. They make me feel like a sausage, and the tapered legs give the illusion that my feet are boats.
  • No pencil skirts. It’s not my goal in life to look like a pencil.
  • If you’re a piece of clothing and your label says “Dry Clean Only,” you can go fuck yourself.
Yeah, bitches. Check out that unibrow. Always in style.

Clothes shopping for a person like me can be overwhelming, and out of all the places to shop, department stores are the worst. Why all the different sections of women’s clothes? I understand I no longer belong in the juniors section, but who the fuck are “misses”? Are they different from women? Is “women” a nice way of saying “old”? Or “fat,” like boys’ jeans used to be labeled “husky”? And “petite” pants fit 5’ 4 and under, so where am I supposed to shop given that I’m 5’ 4½? Not only am I not short enough to shop in petites, but I have a serious moral quandary picking up anything petite when the internet claims my hip-to-waist ratio is in the “moderately dangerous” category. “Petites” is clearly no place for a pre-diabetic, apple-shaped behemoth.

Yeah, I’m a little bigger around the midsection than I used to be. I’m fairly sure the weight gain can be attributed to Zoloft, aging, and ice cream. Regardless, now I’m shopping for jeans and dress pants with elastic waistbands and wondering where the time went. Wasn’t I was buying jeans at American Eagle Outfitters just last year? Much like my first menstrual period, I always knew this day would come; I just didn’t know when. It’s here, everyone. I have officially crossed over into The Time of Elastic Waistbands. I am now a Woman.

I managed to find a pair of pants—along with two dresses, a tank top, and some yoga capris—but it felt like I wandered through the displays for hours. When I passed another woman, I’d give her a polite smile to disguise my mounting sense of terror. One made eye contact with me and I thought I saw her mouth, “Please, I’m lost in here. Help me get back home to my family.” But I don’t know. I was delirious from hunger, thirst, and/or exhaustion by that point, so I probably imagined it. Anyway, after several hours of being lost in a haze, I finally came to in front of a poster of a ten-foot-tall Jennifer Lopez whose boob exceeded my head in size. I was jolted out of my fugue-like shopping state by the realization that I can never wear Jennifer Lopez-brand clothes because the voices in my head won’t stop saying “Hennifer Lopez” and “taco-flavored kisses.” Also, I remembered I needed underwear.

The underwear should have been easy: cotton bikinis, size M, gray or black. Gray and black are very practical. They go under all the shades of Storm Cloud that make up my wardrobe, and unlike white ones, they keep their color in the wash. Well, today was a shit day for finding my favorite underwear. I looked through ten shelves of underwear to find the right pack, and not one of those fuckers were medium bikinis in shades of gray. There were plenty of mediums, but they weren’t gray or bikinis. Once I caught a glimpse of a package of gray ones that said “M/6,” but they turned out to be briefs. I was overjoyed when I turned around to see another giant display of the same brand. Again, I fished through, but nothing. I refused to buy the navy/white/white with navy dots pack simply because it was the right style and size. I would find another brand!

“Ooooh! My ass has flowers all over it!”

I checked the Hanes display, but wasn’t faring too well there either. Once I got excited when I saw a swath of black…then pink…then white with weird pink and black boxes, all retro-looking like my grandmother’s kitchen floor. Boxes? On underwear? What do you think this is, Hanes, a bordello? Wait, I saw black…and black and black! Success! I’d managed to snag the least interesting pack of underwear in the store. Ahahahha! I let out a laugh of triumph as I threw the pack of underwear in my cart. The sign said “Buy 1, Get 1 50% Off,” so I reluctantly tossed in another pack, this one black/pink/pink with black dots. You’ll be pleased to know that the dots are demure and orderly, four to a group.

Why do lingerie manufacturers keep trying to force my underwear to make a statement? I don’t get it. Unless you’re in a new relationship where these things matter, no one else sees or cares about your underwear. I’ve heard women say that fun underwear makes them feel empowered and sexy, like they have a little secret. This seems weird to me. I don’t want to be aware of my underwear as I’m going about my daily routine. I can’t imagine getting frustrated at work and thinking, “Go ahead and chastise me, boss! I give no fucks, for my vulva is covered in minions!” I mean, do men do this kind of thing? “Haha, joke’s on you, fuckers! You can’t see my dick minions!”

I want to retreat to a simple world, a world uncluttered with choices, where the underwear is unassuming and free of decoration. Where pantyhose have been outlawed, all waistbands are elastic, and a dirty naked puppet in a trash can is celebrated as a fashion icon.

I usually get my photos from, but this one came from Please don't sue me.
I usually get my photos from, but this one came from Please don’t sue me.

What’s on your list of clothes-buying demands? Leave a comment on this post on my Facebook page. (If you didn’t find the post through Facebook, click here.)

4 thoughts on “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Women’s Fashion

  1. Abby, you are my spirit animal. I am not overweight but I have worn elastic waisted pants for years. I have worn a thong exactly once in my life and that was for about 5 minutes. I live in a suburban area where the closest mall is about 30 miles away and the only place to get a decent bra is at Victoria’s Secret. A couple of times a year I go in and ask a sales person to please show me the one bra they have without an underwire. After looking perplexed and consulting with a few other sales people, she is usually able to take me to a dark corner of the store where a small drawer holds the offending bras. Why do I have to feel ashamed for asking for a wireless bra?

    1. YES! I have never been a spirit animal before! I hope this means I will get a tail. I’ve always wanted one.

      I think everybody should wear elastic waistbands! I think when it’s time to buy jeans, I’m going to get the Levi “jeggings.” All stretch, no buttons. Bliss for my fat roll.

  2. I am with you on almost everything except the underwear and the bright colours. When you write it out like a list though, I feel a bit too particular. Maybe I’ll just get some ice cream in my yoga pants and mull that over.

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