When we moved from New Mexico to Pennsylvania in August of 2010, my entire wardrobe fit in one suitcase and one carry-on— this included two large hats (toppy and floppy) PLUS all my linens. Impressed? I sure was.

That bite-size wardrobe expanded in the following months, mostly with what Imogen calls “it’ll do clothes” from Goodwill. You know, clothes that are almost your style, practically a flattering color, and sorta fit.

Eventually, I reached a breaking point and hurled all my scruples about sweatshops out the window. “Self,” I said, “I’m sick and tired of your walking ragbag getup. You could get written up for this! Buy whatever you need and send me the bill.”

That weekend, I spent three hours at a shopping center, four more at the mall… and emerged completely empty-handed, with not so much as a Cinnabon wrapper to show for my efforts. All the merchandise felt so chintzy, yet cost so much! Nothing came in bearable colors!

Dismayed, I sent out the above photo and following text, written in my rusty Book of Mormon-ese:

Yea, and it came to pass that I, Rebobohah, did gird up my loins and enter the great and spacious mall to seek work clothes, for I knew that the Lord was angered by my shabby appearance. And my soul was saddened by the abundance of sweatshop goods upon the racks, yea, and also upon the floor. Nevertheless, I did seek delightsome work clothes. And forty years did pass. And Jesus wept.”

Ever supportive, my mother replied,

“Trying on shorts at Goodwill with your sister. Baby Jesus cryin’ here, too.”


Retail therapy’s not half so fun as they make it sound.

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  1. I find that retail therapy definitely helps, but only when my problems are not money being in the negatives. Here is how:

    I find something I like that you could potentially buy, try it on, and carry it in my hands as I continue shopping. By the time I’m done browsing, I look at the items I’ve collected and put them all back. It feels as if they walk away with me in spirit. . . either that, or the realization that I didn’t need those things in the first place makes me put them back.


  2. I find retail therapy to be a very mixed experience.
    It’s exhilirating to enter the store or mall with a purse full of dollars and the fortifying thought “I can buy myself anything I want! Yaaaay Me!”
    It is depressing, six hours later, to stagger out empty handed because No One Is Making Anything I Want!

    Part of my problem is my age. I can remember when clothing still existed that was designed to fit actual human bodies and well constructed of quality fabric. I can remember when you could look at the inside of a garment and tell by the construction techniques whether it was a nicely made item that would last or shoddily slapped together and destined to quickly fall apart, and you did not waste your money on shoddy goods.

    Now even higher end clothing is put together using what used to be considered “shortcut” techniques, and rather than proper tailoring the industry leans heavily on knit synthetic fabrics that don’t really fit anyone very well and that are difficult to alter and impossible to mend. Throw-away clothes.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if I was about to offer a solution to all this?


  3. I can soooooo relate.

    Most of my wardrobe is “it’ll do” from clothing swaps or thrift stores. And most of it is on its last legs. Seriously, it’s pretty bad. I want to get some well/ethically-made things from natural fibers that are comfortable, flattering, and not too too expensive but I am at a loss. I even have some money now that I am working but, like you, I can’t bear to spend it on the crap I see. The best I almost did was some “Maggie’s” clothes I found at a fair trade store, but they didn’t have enough selection for me to have the sizes or colors I liked. I’d like to learn to make some of my own clothes but I’m definitely not to that skill level yet. Any suggestions, anyone???

    Also, the same problem goes for shoes.


  4. I empathize and have found myself in similar situations. It’s a bummer. I wouldn’t even know where to look for better quality most times.

    Can you get anything tailored? I have some things where that might be a solution but it’s not a pancea.


  5. This is why I strictly limit my retail therapy to used book stores.

    Shopping for clothing, I still consider to be a retail chore.


  6. I feel your pain. I have lots of clothes and only a few I wear because I’m so fussy about how clothes feel. I have one cheap sweater that feels great and I always get compliments on (like: have you lost weight?) and I’m going to buy a better quality fabric and have another one made. My local seamstress said she’s charge $40 to make it. Not bad if you consider not having to find something else that fits so well ever, ever, ever, ever again.
    However, my son almost threw up in the fabric store the last time I attempted shopping so I’ve been foiled for now. Hilarious post, much better therapy than shopping!


  7. Oh man, I used to love going to the mall and buying cute stuff, but now I feel sick every time I step foot inside a huge shopping center. I wandered a store for an hour recently and came out nauseated by the prices that did not match the quality.


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