Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Shop til you drop…from humiliation

British clothing and shoe sizes are different from American ones. No big deal, right? Well it actually is, because the sizes for clothes here are similar enough to American ones to be familiar, yet I wear a much bigger size here. I know that a clothing size is just a number and it doesn’t mean anything, but I had it in my head that my American size 6 would be a size 8 here. Okay, fine; I don’t want to wear a size 8, but that’s they way it goes. Then I looked at a pair of British trousers (apparently “pants” means boys’ underwear here; it’s got to be trousers) I already owned, and they said size 10. Now that made me feel a little bit weirder about it, but I was able to deal. I went to a local store to try on some jeans because I needed a nicer pair, and tried a size 10. Well I couldn’t even get them up past my knees. I tried a 12, and they were too small, too, so I held on to my composure with every ounce of strength I had and marched right out.

It didn’t help that that morning I had read an article in the newspaper about how clothing sizes are variable from store to store. There have been a lot of articles like that over the last couple weeks. It’s fall fashion season, and everyone’s talking about sizes and body shapes and all that. It’s infuriating. They showed photos of a woman who was size 10, and I thought she looked like she was around my size, but apparently not. It also doesn’t help that I’m used to being on the thinner end of the population, whereas here people are generally thinner. Not that you don’t see a fair number of large people like in the States, but the “normal” people are often thinner than at home. So here I’m just sort of average. Great.

I think the first store I went to was geared to a younger crowd, so the clothes just weren’t going to fit right anyways, so, with Andrew’s support and encouragement, I went to another store. I don’t know any of the brands, so I have to go in and look around and listen to the music and see the other shoppers to tell if I’m even really supposed to be in there. I tried on pair after pair (forget bathing suits; jeans are the worst) and finally found some that I liked, in a size 12. Cross an ocean; double your pant size – sorry, trouser size. Wow.

A couple days later, I started looking for shoes. Due to some miscalculations on my part during our hectic packing stateside, most of my autumny clothes and shoes are still in Tallahassee, so all I have here are flip flops, interview shoes, and sneakers (they call them trainers). I needed some normal shoes to wear because my toes were freezing, so Andrew and I set out with another mission. I thought I would look for some brown ballet flats, because I already had them in other colours, waiting to ship over here, but apparently you can’t get normal shoes here. They’re all polka dots and sequins and metallic sparkles. I ended up resorting to a shoe store where I must have been the youngest customer ever to find some nice, sensible shoes, but they’re not really what I was looking for, either. I nearly killed myself walking around London in them on Sunday. They’re really good shoes that will eventually be very comfortable, but not right off the bat. One good thing, though, is that I figured out my British shoe size, and it’s smaller than at home. Go figure. I decided to look for more casual shoes this past weekend, with no luck, although Andrew found a perfect pair. Oh bother. The search continues.

Here I am in my sensible shoes and size-ginormous jeans.

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