The Unfundamental Conversion

Ex-Fundamental Girl Goes Clothes Shopping

May 27th, 2013 | Posted by Lana Hope in Fundamental/Evangelical | Homeschool


You remember that scene in Tangled where the little girls have to fix Rapunzel’s hair up? That’s totally me in the clothing shop. I’m pretty sure most 8-year-olds know more about women’s clothing to me.

I hate clothes shopping. It’s painfully difficult for me. One would think it’s as simple as trying on clothes, fitting them, coming up with the money, and paying a cashier. Actually its a lot harder than that.

First of all, I never bought clothes at the store as a kid other than the thrift shop. From grade school until high school, I had maybe two or three store-bought dresses that I didn’t actually buy; my aunts/grandma bought them. The rest of my clothes came from thrift shops, garage sales, or were home sewn (the insane part is that some of my garage sale dresses were not only worn by my family for the next six years, but were still being worn by other little girls I knew 15 years later. Classic homeschool). My grandma bought me my first pair of store-bought shoes when I was 16, so I wouldn’t get made fun of while taking driver’s ed at the high school.

Second of all, I wore mostly dresses, or other baggy clothes, and all my clothes were 100% cotten (the Old Testament says don’t wear mixed clothing. :P). So even if all my dresses had come from the store, it wouldn’t have transferred to today very well.

I didn’t learn…..

1) What fits me. I wore baggy clothes. What’s normal size?

2) About undershirts. OMG I had no idea why people wore them until I was in my 20s (I never wore them; I wore baggy T-shifts), and I still wonder what the heck sometimes.

3) Old people’s style verses young people’s style. Technically I was the young person in grandma style.

4) All about pants. When do I need a belt? What’s too low? I didn’t wear belts on pants as a kid. I wore dresses, elastic pants,and skirts that included a belt.

This is why today was particularly painful for me. My clothes are wearing out like crazy because I’m an extreme minimalist, and the few shifts I did have shrunk like crazy when they accidentally got put in the dryer (no dryer in SE Asia = smaller clothes). So I went to the store to buy summer clothes, and stared at the mirror trying to figure out what size is appropriate. I tried on the small, then extra small, then small again.

I did better today than normal. I *think* I figured out which shirts needed an undershirt. I think I found a pair of shorts that won’t show my butt-crack. Being back in the US helps because US sizes do fit me better, but only time will tell whether my new style looks like a 50-year-old instead of a mid-twenties girl.

Perhaps many young adults struggle with sizing and style, and I am one to believe setting they style is more fun than conforming to it anyway. But I think for me, I am sent in frustration upon walking into a clothing store because I remember what it was like to accidently buy shirts too short because I had never bought shirts to go with shorts. And I remember the humility of wearing pants that didn’t fit right because I had never bought pants at the store. Young people take many things for granted, and one of those things is learning how to clothes shop. I didn’t learn it until college.

Anyone else never shopped as a kid? How was learning to buy clothes for you?

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  • Clothing shopping has been difficult for me, albeit for slightly different reasons. After being molested at 8, then hit on by a man in his 50s when I was 11, I decided to wear nothing form-fitting. Though I was a size 6/8, I wore extra-large shirts and guys jeans. My clothes hung on me like curtains. I thought if I dressed that way and still got attention from guys, it meant the guys liked me for me and not my body. (The logic turned out to be slightly faulty.) My upbringing in modesty wasn’t as severe as yours, but I remember the outcry over buying shorts every summer. They had to be knee-length; nothing else was acceptable. To this day, I’ve never worn a pair of short shorts, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to.

    When I got to college and decided to start dressing more feminine, shopping became tougher. Like you, I didn’t know how things should properly fit or even how to wear certain styles. I’m 30 now and know more about what looks good on me. But sometimes it’s still a struggle. It doesn’t help that shirts have become so thin that I can see the hanger through them. 🙁

    • Lana Hope

      You may have done it for different reasons, but you totally get what I’m saying about going from baggy clothes to modern clothes. Another problem is I’ve always lived in really hot, humid places so multiple layers, eek.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        “Another problem is I’ve always lived in really hot, humid places so multiple layers, eek.”

        Reminds me of the New England Puritan missionaries in Hawaii who dressed in Godly black woolens (with beaver-fur hats) just like they did back in those Massachusetts winters. Their Godly stone houses (in Hawaii!) with tiny windows, root-cellar basements, and fireplaces in every room to survive the Massachusetts winters.

        Or the Hasidic Jews in Israel (Middle Eastern tropical desert) dressed in the black woolens and furs for winters in the Warsaw or Krakov ghettos or those Russian winters in the Pale.

        Or the flip side of that, those converts to Islam who insist on “Arabization”, dressing just like tribesmen in the Arabian desert as Islamic, no matter what the local climate.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you April. 🙁

      And yeah, although purity teachers suggest otherwise, that kind of sickening, inappropriate behaviour has NOTHING to do with what the victim is wearing.

      What the heck is with these translucent t-shirts anyway? As silly as the low-rise pant, in my opinion. It’s like making shoes with permeable soles. xD

      • M

        I’m guessing it’s to make more money- you have to buy a camisole or tank top to wear underneath the sheer overshirt. I don’t like it either- I wasn’t raised with any of this, I just suck at fashion (well, aesthetics in general) and can’t layer clothes to look right.

        • Divizna

          Even simpler than that. They just cut their costs by using less material for the thin fabric.

  • Wow, I had no idea anyone actually went with the 100% cotton business. Sheesh.

    • Lana Hope

      ATIA now ATI said we had too. My mom told me just the other day how much superior Cotten is,lol.

      • I vaguely recall one of Gothard’s lectures in which he argues that the mixing of cotton and other weaves produces an unbreathable fabric that can cause a variety of diseases. But I didn’t realize they mandated it.

        Micromanaging FTW.

        • It was at least “strongly encouraged.” Take that how you will…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            I take it as “GOD HATH SAID!” (Leviticus, Leviticus, Leviticus, proof text, proof text, proof text…)

            The “unbreathable fabric causing diseases” is just a handwave to bring GOD HATH SAID up to date for modern (19th Century?) sensibilities.

        • Lana Hope

          No they can’t make you do anything. But you’re never really apart of the group as long as you cut corners. At least in our area people seemed pretty Gothard serious.

      • Dream

        What exactly is 100% cotton supposed to be superior AT I wonder. As a fiber arts enthusiast one of the things that all of my mentors have taught me is that different fibers have different qualities and as a general rule none of them are without drawbacks. Cotton is cool but it hangs on to moisture, linen is cool and dry but takes time to become soft, wool is warm and remains so when wet but can felt, alpaca is even warmer but lacks the elasticity of wool, silk is warm and light but weakens when wet. No single fiber type is a magic bullet that is always what you want to wear and often times the best way to get a garment to have all the qualities you need is to blend fibers together. Anyone claiming otherwise is likely doing so out of severe ignorance.

  • One of the first things I did with my then-girlfriend (now wife) after we started dating, (Yes, I insisted on dating rather than courting.) was to have her get a pair of jeans – her first since before puberty. Fortunately, she has a good eye for fit and style. She has, however, taken some flak occasionally from friends and family who still adhere to “modesty culture.”

    • Oh, my gosh. My husband (then boyfriend) took me shopping for my first pair of jeans, too. I still hate clothes shopping for all the above reasons.

  • Awww. Clothes shopping is difficult enough when you know what you’re doing, let alone when you do not. I’d offer to take you shopping and explain everything, if we were like, making an acquaintance locally.

    Personally, I have trouble buying pants and shorts, even though I grew up shopping for fashion-conscious clothing. The low-rise pants trend is enormously foolish and uncomfortable. Haha. So you aren’t the only one having trouble in that department! I’d recommend looking for “high-waisted” or “mid-rise” pants (but not in the seniors section, of course).

    Maybe Kate would be of inspiration in the style department: If not, there are so many fashion blogs about to explore, when trying to figure out what might appeal to you.

  • Christine

    I used to wear oversized clothing because I was overweight (yeah, I know. It makes things worse). I also (still) like the “unisex” t-shirts and either jeans or a skirt, so I’m still not into dressing nicely. I always find it difficult though.

    One thing that you might not know, since you didn’t shop as a child: more expensive clothing is actually worth (at least some of) the extra money. If you buy a $20 dress it won’t last as long as a $80 one. The challenge is knowing which extra money is for durability and which is for bling or for a brand name.

    • Lana Hope

      ah, good point, and one I don’t think about much. But no, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference without research, lol.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    (Saw the reprint at Homeschoolers Anonymous…)

    Lana, do you have a “native guide” you can bring along when you go clothes-shopping?

    • Lana Hope

      No, but if someone here wants to do a guest post for me, I would totally post it. I’m scared to try to give advice – figuring I still might get it wrong. :p

  • I thought I was the only one in the world who was/is severely fashion challenged. I wasn’t homeschooled and went to an Anglican church (I’m Asian, living in SE Asia) but I internalized a lot of things (really mis-socialized, tomboyish etc) so yup, I can really relate.

    Entering my first office job with a dress code more formal than tshirts and jeans….Ouch…My idea of “formal wear” was a badly fitted button down shirt and baggy work pants. I was and am still the office laughing stock.

  • Anonymous

    Just wear jeans and lumberjack shirts. You can’t go wrong with them. IF somebody asks you why say you’re a fan of Irish rockstar Rory Gallagher.

  • Divizna

    I’m not sure that learning how to buy clothes as a kid helps much. I still tend to forget I need to buy clothes that actually fit instead of slightly big because I’m not growing anymore, and that I can’t wait with it to the point my clothes are too small for me, because they won’t be, they’ll fall apart instead… and also tend to stick to the strategy of having two pairs of trousers and one skirt (it’s not worth it to have more clothes than that, they’ll be small in a few months… except they won’t). In short, learning to buy your clothes as a kid (or, more likely, a teen) gives you habits that are actually counterproductive for an adult.
    The only thing I’ve managed to learn is to squat down when trying on trousers. They have to be comfortable in that position or they’re too small for me to sit.
    By the way, shorts are not compulsory. I haven’t had a pair for fifteen years and don’t miss them. In hot summer, I wear light long skirts. (Yes, long skirts only. It’s a legitimate choice too, and I don’t sunburn the back of my knees.)

    • Lana Hope

      Well to each his own. I have one skirt I like, but I enjoy shorts too.

      • Christine

        I like my skirts because they are so much cooler than most women’s shorts, but I can’t deal with sweaty thighs chafing. So it’s a real toss-up for me.

        • rebekah

          any sports store will carry this stuff called body glide. It’s made for runners, but I use it to prevent the dreaded sweaty thigh chafing. Regular deodorant or baby powder will work as well, although I find that I have to reapply the deodorant more frequently

      • Divizna

        The part about shorts was aimed at one of the commenters who said she doesn’t feel good wearing them. I’m certainly not telling you or anyone else you shouldn’t wear shorts, why would I? It’s your body and your comfort.

  • Rena

    Wow, this post brought back memories alright. Envision baggy shirts and mid calf skirts, or granma dresses with shoulder pads…..and going to public school with your curly hair in a tight french braid to give you a constant “halo” of frizz.

    I still get anxiety shopping for my own clothes sometimes, like I want to hide and cry in my car. Very weird, walking around a store should not send me running for the hills.
    I still feel bitter that after decades of not being allowed to wear pants, or even SHOWER (too sexy, one monitored bath a week only), and feeling like general scum……My mom has suddenly taken to wearing pants and hygiene. Kind of makes me mad!


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