There was a time when shopping for clothes was one of my favorite things to do. I could spend an entire day browsing in store after store. No purchase was necessary. I enjoyed exploring the latest styles and colors, occasionally trying on a new fad to see how it looked on me.
Over the years, I turned to shopping online instead. It was sad to give up an activity I enjoyed, but my energy supply had become limited to doing the necessities, such as buying food or walking the dog. Clothes shopping at any price became a luxury I could no longer afford.
I chose a catalog retailer whose pieces fit me and remained in style year after year. I’ve mostly worn this retailer’s clothes for nearly a decade — buying replacement pieces when my current ones became stained or damaged. Who knows how long I would have continued to dress the same if age hadn’t interfered. Although I haven’t gained weight (well, maybe a little), my shape has changed. Thanks to gravity, my body parts are migrating south.
At first, I blamed the manufacturer. Such a shame that their clothing is skimpier than it used to be. I switched to another brand. Then another. I finally had to admit that the problem was not with their waistbands — it was with my waist!
My solution to leave my top button undone and cover my midsection with a loose shirt didn’t last long. In addition to being sensitive to smells, sounds, chemicals, and temperatures, I’m also aggravated by tightfitting clothes. Anything elastic is so annoying as to become painful by the end of the day — not only in the waist but at the top of socks and sleeve cuffs as well.
Eventually, I tired of returning every pair of pants I purchased online. With each brand cut a little differently, I wasn’t even sure what size to order anymore. My only option was to go on a shopping trip so I could try on clothes before buying.
Shopping wasn’t the pleasant experience I remembered and had once felt sad to give up. For one thing, there were no sales clerks to help me find a different size or color. Instead, each heavy armload of possible choices took much time and effort on my part to locate — not to mention having to undress and redress to try them on.
Today’s department stores are divided into brands. Trying on a variety of pants requires walking through each brand’s area to search among the items scattered throughout the store.
According to my phone’s Stepz app, I walked more than two miles during my recent shopping trip. I’d worn slip-on sneakers rather than my walking shoes to save myself from having to untie and retie laces. My hips were not pleased with my choice of footwear. After gathering several armloads of clothing and trying them all on, every step was agonizing.
Finally, I had to admit defeat. I had covered only half the store, and I began questioning my ability to walk back to my car located in an adjacent lot. I prayed there would be a chair along my return route.
Clearly, department stores were not designed for the “mature” or physically challenged shopper. I, for one, must focus on finding clothing that fits my needs, both functionally and financially. Fashion is a distant consideration, and brand selection doesn’t even count. Yes, some boutiques offer the service I desire and would likely result in success. Sadly, my budget does not allow me to pay boutique prices.
Perhaps I’ll write a letter of complaint to my local department store on behalf of the fibromyalgia community. But not today. Yesterday’s shopping experience was so exhausting that I can barely function. And I still don’t have a pair of pants that fit. My energy expired long before the store ran out of brands to try on.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.