Monday, February 24, 2014

on mall shopping

This weekend was the first weekend in seven weeks where I actually got to have a weekend as I don't have an exam this week. Most of my friends went home or had exams to study for, so I decided to drive up to Buffalo to go shopping by myself. All of last week I was really looking forward to it - just driving for a few hours by myself listening to music, and then shopping as long as my heart desired.

Turns out my heart desired shopping for about an hour. I was just so over the entire experience after going into the fourth store and hating everything offered. I feel like everything is currently neon, cropped, faded, too drapey, too tight, too short. I think I'm too picky now. If it doesn't look exactly like I want it to, I just don't buy it. Part of the problem was that I spent a little bit of time before leaving for the mall going through my closet, and taking out a bunch of items to donate. I was mad at myself for having spent that money on clothes I wasn't wearing, so I was feeling particularly on edge about spending more money on more clothes that (in my head), I wasn't going to like in a few months time.

In addition, I'm at the point where I'm bored with my closet, buying clothes, and finding new ways to wear things. A huge part of that is the dress code - it's just not particularly that fun to wear black pants or pencil skirts with tights all the time. I'm just bored with finding "fun" ways to wear clothes, even though it's still boring in the end. The weather makes it difficult to wear a large portion of the items in my closet so I end up wearing the same 5 pieces over and over again. I feel like I can't step too far out of the conventional way of dressing because of my body shape - everything needs to be a bit more fitted so that I don't lose the shape I have, but I can't go too tight without everything...being too tight. I wish I could pull of the drapey look, the tomboy look, the effortlessly put together look. But I just can't. So I have to have rules for myself when it comes to buying clothes - no sleeveless things unless I know I will wear it with a cardigan, nothing with too round of a neckline, nothing that doesn't go in at the waist, nothing that cuts me off at my widest points. It helps when it comes to narrowing down things to try on, but it also leaves me with a pretty boring and "same same same" kind of wardrobe. It's almost like there isn't any fun left in it - it's just about finding what looks the most flattering, what can be worn as many ways as possible, and what will have the longest shelf life.

So with all of those thoughts in the back of my head, shopping just wasn't going to go well.

I started off at Gap because I almost always find something there to love. I tried on this tee, and while i liked the curved hem and longer sleeves (WHY does every store insist on having little tiny cap sleeves for tees), I wasn't sold on the curved neckline and different stripes on the arms. Plus it was not worth the $26 it was going for. I also tried on these flats that I saw on Jessica, and although I really liked them, I wasn't going to spend $40 on them when I knew I could get them for less during their weekly promotions.

Next was a bunch of returns at Forever 21 where I found nothing I liked, which is not shocking as that store really is just about everything I dislike about mall clothes. I was hoping the Love 21 section would have at least a few cute things to try on, but turns out that long frayed sweaters and mini skirts are what are appropriate for 20-somethings nowadays. So...that's a nope. Then I went to the opposite side of dressing and stopped at Banana Republic to return both this top and this top as they both looked absolutely horrendous on. I did a few laps after the returns, but was bored by the sleeveless work dresses and too short shirts.

I went to Loft next, where I have had a lot of luck the last few times - I wear my striped top and poppy shirt all the time. I was really hoping to love this shirt that I saw in a promotional email last week, but I knew from just looking at it on the rack that it wasn't going to work - it was too sheer, wrinkly, and short. Kind of a bummer as it looks so cute online. I also tried on this scalloped dress just for the hell of it, but...no. Cute in theory, not cute on me.
loft scalloped bodice dress
In the end, I walked out of the mall with this shirt (that I already own in pink) that I know I'll wear all the time, and freshly painted toes. I ended up having more luck at the local Target than I did at the mall when I found these adorable cap-toed flats. I'm not usually a bit Target shoe person, but these were just too dang cute to pass up (see them on instagram here).

I'm at a place now where I feel like I need to branch out more when it comes to buying clothes. I've always been a "mall girl" because that's all I've ever really known. I never grew up around boutiques or was a huge online shopper if I couldn't return it in store. But maybe to branch out of my clothing rut, I need to take a step back from the mall and try other things. Do you have any places you love that I haven't tried? I'm definitely open to suggestions!

71 comments:

  1. Sometimes there just isn't anything that is right. Hopefully it doesn't last all season but better to come away empty handed and disappointed then with a clutch of items you regret in a few days time. No advice re: where to go as UK/USA differences but I'm sure plenty of people will offer up some great ideas!

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  2. Aw I like that scalloped dress on you!

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  3. I'm a first time commenter after lurking and reading for several months. Our styles are very similar, and you inspire me to not be afraid of my body. (I appreciate that you show off the good and bad and aren't ashamed or embarrassed that you aren't a size 0.) However, after this post, I felt like I had to finally comment. I could have written this post. I complained to my husband about all the exact same things this weekend. I'm approaching 30 and work in a business casual (jeans on Friday) mortgage company. I've always been a mall shopper. I live by Jcrew, GAP, Loft and the Banana, but lately, almost everything leaves me "blah". And I don't have an idea how to fix the problem. My town doesn't have many boutiques, and I can't afford to spend $200 on a top. Plus, add the fact that I'm short and extra hippy, and it's just not a good combo. I can't wait to see what you do to try and get out of your rut.

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  4. I've been struggling with similar issues (cap sleeves, pants just not fitting at all) and I'm not gonna lie I've been branching way out. I swear by Coldwater Creek's cropped khakis (which are way more forgiving for people like me with a little more hip action) They aren't dowdy looking or fitting at all, honestly they fit like Gap's khakis used to. I also have been buying boys solid tees in L/XL (depending on brand - I hit Target, CrewCuts and GapKids) because the sleeves fit better - aren't capped. And Lands' End has some really cute things right now (and you can return online purchases at Sears). Here's an Instagram picture of mine where I'm wearing Coldwater Creek crops and a Gap Kids tee. http://instagram.com/p/fnl4UIFc4Y/

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  5. Maurice's is a good place for trendy pieces that still fit a real person's figure. Some of their stuff can be too young for me (I'm 30), but they have a lot of reasonably-priced work clothes. Hope this helps!

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  6. Fran I am feeling your pain of mall shopping. I'm tired of the neon, the crop tops, the cute but sleeves tops, too sheer/wrinkle shirts because they're just not praticle in my wardrobe. And don't even get me started on buying pants. It seems like stores aren't carrying the simpler things of what we like and are just going toward the more trendy things. I love the way to dress and from the looks of it your outfits never scream boring. Have you tried going back to second hand stores? I haven't been big on online shopping where I can't return in stores because I'm scared of losing out on return shipping so I don't have any store suggestions for you.

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  7. I love Target and JCrew Factory, but when I'm really looking for something different I like to stop by websites like ModCloth, ShopRuche, and Piperlime. I also stalk the sales at Anthro like it's my weekend job. In person I like to hit up the outlet stores when I can. I haven't been a fan of anything at Gap in the last two or so years, but Gap Outlet has completely different clothes that are way cuter (and they're usually a bit cheaper, but certainly not rock-bottom "outlet" prices by any means.)

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  8. That scalloped dress looks amazing on you! Maybe you should have tried another size? I have been branching out lately too...it worries me though that I'm buying things that I won't love in a short time. I don't quite understand all the flowy tops that are so popular these days. They are neat looking but really not that flattering, in my opinion. I've bought a couple but who knows how long they will stay with me.

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  9. I so agree... My last trip to the mall was unsuccessful because I'm in almost exact the same situation as you. I'm looking for stuff I will definitely wear and not something that's just 'on sale'. Taking this approach to shopping definitely makes it harder to find good quality, good looking clothes. I have very specific things I look for so I'm in the same boat.
    A lot of stores do free shipping and return these days so you can shop to your heart's content and then return unwanted items without leaving the house

    happymedley.blogspot.com

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  10. I totally feel your pain. I feel like I have approximately 5 items that I can wear that suite my body shape/height/lack of waist and everything I own is a carbon copy of those items. It's so frustrating when trends don't match what you need to put on your body in order to feel good about how you look. I used to be love Gap, but the style and quality of items has not been great for a couple of years. I usually find good things at LOFT, and I like Ann Taylor, too (but it's usually too expensive). I've had a lot of luck at The Limited, which now has petites, which is good for me. That being said, I haven't liked anything there in awhile either.

    My issue is that it is so rare that I can buy right off the rack, but I don't want to spend a ton of money in the store to then turn around and drop cash on tailoring as well. Frustrating!!!

    That being said, I love your style and your outfits, and they never look boring to me. I know that you see your clothes way more than all of us out here in blog-land do, but whenever you post an outfit, it looks SO cute! I really admire the way you dress and style for your body shape because I love seeing people who look REAL and beautiful and stylish. It's inspiring!

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  11. Have you ever shopped at francescas? They are online as well. Another great online shop is lulus.com

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  12. I hate failed shopping trips! But if those same 5 pieces are working for you, why not stick with them for now and try shopping for new accessories and shoes that make each outfit a little different? Necklaces always fit and flatter, right? :)
    By the way, I think that pink scalloped dress looks great on you!

    ~Sarah of Sarah's Real Life

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  13. Another person coming out of blog-lurk here... I've been having the same "meh" feelings towards clothes lately. I shop at many of the same places you do, and lately nothing fits right/grabs my interest. My solution has been lots and lots of thrifting. Every town has at least one or two thrift stores, and I make a point of taking a quick spin through my favorites often. Some days I find nothing, other days I find a lot, but I always end up leaving with pieces that are unique and my money goes WAY further than at the mall. My other go-tos are Lands End, LL Bean, and sometimes Eddie Bauer. These stores take into account how real women are shaped, their sizing is reliable, and the online reviews are always helpful when choosing a size or style. I've found amazing deals in these store's online clearance sections, comparable to Gap's prices at times. My favorite pair of lace up suede booties were on sale for $26 from Land's End, marked down from $150!

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  14. I really like that scalloped dress on you! The colour is so pretty (and perfect for Spring) and I think the fitted top and a-line skirt is really flattering. Sorry to hear about the shopping woes. :(

    xo,
    katrina
    thedemuremuse.com

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  15. Thanks for writing this, Fran - you're not alone! I go through this feeling at least once a season. As I've collected all the essentials in my wardrobe and actually thought about what I wear on a regularly basis, I've realized that certain shapes and fabric types work, and others just don't. So no wonder it's frustrating when a store doesn't conform to my idea of perfect clothing!

    A few things I try to do when I'm stuck in a rut (or winter is just too darn long!): I layer sweaters on top of my summer maxi dresses. I try to buy colorful and patterned pieces that suit my style when I find them, because their cheerfulness brightens my mood in the winter. I've also invited friends to make outfits out of my wardrobe for me - they often find a combination that makes the pieces feel fresh & new. I browse through department store websites or sites like Piperlime & Modcloth because they carry a variety of styles (warning: this sucks up a lot of time!). And when I'm really bored with what I have and what's in the stores, I find interesting fabric and make a skirt or dress myself.

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  16. Old navy! A great for basic tees and cardigans. Doesn't break the bank. Can order online and return online or in person. Great range of sizes too.

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  17. I feel your pain! I've lately had a lot of luck at stores that typically skew "older" but have a lot of separates that can be styled younger. These include Talbots, LL Bean, Land's End, and Boden.

    I also do a TON of shopping on eBay. You can find some awesome quality items (Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Woolrich etc) at great prices.

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  18. I go through periods like this too - especially in spring when everything is sheer and pastel, which is lovely in theory, but not on me. Moreover, it's hard to get excited about anything when I am still in snow boots and parks for the next few weeks...

    I take it as a good time to focus on bags or jewelry. You might also check out stores like Dorothy Perkins, which has a ton of work appropriate dresses. Piperlime's apparel has also been a pleasant surprise for me - plus all of my old navy rewards cards work there, which helps to make it a little more affordable!

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    1. I was going to suggest Dorothy Perkins as well. I've loved everything I've ordered from them.

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  19. I would be interested to see you do a piece on Stich Fix. Look them up, it might help you come out of the clothing funk if someone else styled you (not that you need help).

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  20. I just ordered that stripe T from Gap in a Tall - was hoping the sleeves would be longer but not too long in the torso.

    I loved that pink dress on you - do you think it just was your mood? I get in those moods where I don't like anything for sure.

    Nordstrom Rack is awesome - I love C Wonder too but have to order online. The few items I have I LOVE.

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  21. Okay, I just have to say, the dress looked super cute on you, though.

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  22. You and I have very similar figures (and need to wear the same sort of clothing 5x week) and I'm not having much luck either. Old Navy (talls!) has had some pretty good stuff lately - individual pieces that I can mix with other things I own to be work appropriate.

    Nordstroms is good, although more expensive if you stray from their teenybopper brands, Ann Taylor is more interesting in spring/summer than the colder months, and some of the brands that Anthro carries actually do fit women with curves.

    FWIW, I really do like that dress on you!

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  23. I feel like I go through these phases where I am in the mood to shop and then everything is blah! I haven't been in the mood to shop this month, so I don't even know what is in stores right now. My standard places are Gap, Old Navy, JCF, Loft, and then H&M whenever I am near one. But sometimes I find better things at the department stores, like Macy's or Dillard's (not sure what they have out by you). It seems like the department stores tend to have more standard fitting items. With Gap, it seems like their sizes change drastically from one style to another, so something might look cute online, but then the fit is atrocious when I actually put it on!

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  24. I think the pink dress was flattering (from the photo!)

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  25. First, one thing I've found (and maybe this applies to you with this trip) is that when I'm *ready* to shop, have the time and the money to do so, organize a trip, etc., I find absolutely nothing to buy. When I have no wardrobe needs, don't really have the money but stop at the mall to get 1 tiny thing, I end up finding lots of stuff. Also, when I have a specific gift to buy for someone else, I again fall in love with everything for myself. So, maybe you're in a rut...or maybe it was just a lousy day of shopping for yourself.

    Also, I love boutique shopping. It's a bit harder on my budget, but very much worthwhile for me. Last week I went into a local boutique to try on a dress but they suggested a add on a sweater and leggings and, whatdoyouknow? I ended up nixing the dress but buying the sweater and leggings (total $88, not bad). And I swear the leggings are the best thing ever (M Rena Tummy Tuck). The beauty of a boutique is the salespeople generally know clothes and bodies very (very) well and make awesome recommendations, creative pairings, etc. I have 1 dress from a boutique (Weston Wear) and the cut is perfection. Worth every penny.

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  26. Ug yes! Not even Target really has been wanting to buy anything. I think it may just be that I don't want to buy spring things when spring is so far away for me. I was working on my budget post and I've pretty much only bought jeans this month. And they were replacements for ones I've already had! Hopefully you find inspiration soon!

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  27. I am in love with JC Penney right now. Their Worthington line is dressy and they have lots of nice stuff for really great prices. I like the Joe Fresh line too. My work dress code is business casual and I try to keep it exciting with fun color combos for my tops and accessories. Colored or patterned tights help liven it up too. You can have fun and still be dressy :)

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  28. How about online retailers like Asos? They have free shipping and free returns. The search engine they have is very good and allows for specific searches.

    Also, I hear you on the cap sleeves. I'm fairly slim, but cap sleeves DO NOT flatter my wide shoulders. It looks ridiculous, like the retailer wanted to save some fabric on the sleeves. Even on super-thin people with narrow shoulders cap-sleeves aren't exactly the most flattering thing, so who are they so wide-spread?

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  29. A lot of people have been saying they have been having no lucky shopping lately. The shoe you got are super cute.

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  30. Man, this is such a good post. I love that sometimes you'll do quick outfit posts and other times write these long discussion-inducing text posts. I usually don't click to read comments either, but I'm glad I did it today.

    It's been nearly a year since I've gotten bored of mall clothes as well. I feel like the quality has fallen with the economy and also become overly trendy?? So I haven't done much shopping in the past couple months other than to invest in a coat and a pair of leather boots for the winter. My wardrobe has been null lately, but your post really got me thinking about what I'm looking for and where else I should be looking. Thanks for this!!

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  31. I've totally been bored lately too. I think it's because I don't want to buy anymore winter clothes, but it's too cold for spring. I went in Express a few weeks ago and was not impressed by the crop tops and hot pants. I actually feel JC Penney of all places has some cute things right now.

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  32. Uggh Fran, I feel you. This weather is getting to everyone I think...I'm ready for flats, bare legs, and something that doesn't require a blazer/cardigan every time (though I do love me some blazers). So keep your head up, buttercup! Spring is a-coming!

    I've had a ton of luck with Target and the Merona collection, and we tend to have similar styles. Beware though...there are some neon yellows in there, but lots of classic black and whites and navys.

    Best of luck! Shopping should be fun!

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  33. Anthropologie. Definitely investment pieces, but I still have things I bought almost ten years ago. Because they are so unique, they don't go out of style.

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  34. Boden has a lot of stuff I think you'll like, prices are higher but they do promos, and their quality is top notch. They measure every garment to post specific measurements too, and they carry Long lengths! My Superfluities blog is a terrific resource for sale alerts and product reviews. I think a lot of their pieces aren't super edgy, but they're classic and on trend.

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    1. PS shipping will take up to 2 weeks if they ship from England vs Pittsburgh.

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  35. Fran, I hear you and if you switched weather that's too cold with weather that's too hot, I could have written this post. I also cleaned out my closet recently and was really disappointed in how much low quality stuff I had amassed (a bunch of it for the blog, to be totally honest), but rarely wear now. I'm going on a "classics only" shopping ban - if I'm not 100% sure I'll wear it next year and 100% sure it will last that long, I'm not buying it. It sounds like you're not a huge online shopper, but I've had some recent success with ebay - most sellers have reasonable return policies and I've been able to snag some quality wardrobe staples for a fraction of what they would be in the store. I think that scalloped dress looks fab on you, btw.

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    1. PS - I know eShakti has gotten a bad rap for delivery issues when they first launched, but I've purchased a couple dresses from them recently (you can order everything custom made to your measurements), and the arrived quickly and the quality is impeccable. I am not a brick and mortar store shopper, if you can't tell. It makes me loony. ;)

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  36. So interesting you mention this. I literally was at the mall this Sunday and was so disenchanted. I felt tired and bored and unwilling to try everything on and the whole experience was just not fun. Everything also felt so expensive and I kept thinking that I could find those exact items for cheaper later on when promotions hit, or could search on stores like Poshmark or Amazon and score it for less, later on.

    Regarding branching out, branch out! Take it from someone that has done so in the last few years: it is incredibly rewarding. I feel amazing and sexy in things that I never thought I would. Sometimes new is exciting :)

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  37. After my last deployment to Iraq, the mall started to give me anxiety due to the crowds and lines/waiting. I'm 90% an online shopper now, especially since I can get great deals, more sizes, and promo codes online. I like trying things on at home, and returns are pretty easy. I just don't see myself going back to the mall at my age.

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  38. I love the Loft scalloped dress on you! I feel your pain though.....

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  39. I totally feel your pain. I went mall shopping this weekend as well, which I was really looking forward to. However, nothing really worked for me. Anything I really liked I already had some very similar version already, and most of it I wasn't too enthralled with. I walked away with 3 things: a black pencil skirt (because HOW did I go this long without one/I've been looking for the perfect one for a while), a replacement lace cami, and one "fun" shirt.

    I'm sorry your trip was unsuccessful, but it can be a good thing to be picky--that means you've narrowed down what you love and won't settle!

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  40. I feel the same way. I own tons of the same shirt in the different colors. All the tops and skirts and pants I own tend to be similar shapes. It can be really frustrating when I see all the cute ways drapey tops are styled. Or button-ups (I can't wear button-ups on these boobs).

    I do like that scalloped dress on you. But I understand not getting it. I own a handful of dresses that I love, but don't ever have a reason to wear them. They still have tags.

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  41. I'm bored with everything right now. I even had some extra spending money that I went into the mall to spend on Sunday. Nope. Everything was just so incredibly underwhelming. Underwhelming and overpriced for being underwhelming. I also hate having to walking through a mall full of kiosk salesmen that if you make eye contact with them by accident and suddenly they are harassing you and touching your hair.

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  42. Do you ever shop ASOS? I love that items are shipped for free both ways. I feel much more comfortable ordering when I know that I can send it back free of charge if it doesn't work. Also, the customer service is excellent if you ever need them. I always wait until items go on sale though, as some can be a little pricey, but not bad.

    I have found lately that mall shopping is just not working for me either. It seems that everything looks so "juvenile" that is in style right now. Working in a professional setting, I love to be stylish, but I also have to keep it professional and mini dresses just don't cut it.

    Good luck with your shopping! I hope you find some items you are happy with very soon!

    Anna Beth

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  43. First, I commend you for this post. I love your honesty. I've definitely been feeling disappointed with the selections in stores lately. But it probably also has to do with the fact that I've realized I have way too much. I really do love your mall posts, because it's like you've done the dirty work and scoped out the good, the bad, and the ugly. (I do love those Gap flats, but $40 is ridic.) I've been thinking about branching out beyond the mall stores, but I just can't get over the idea of paying for shipping & returning. Maybe it's time to get a sewing machine and start making your clothes?

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  44. I recently started doing more local boutique shopping myself. While it's been a little more interesting than the mall, I do think you'd be frustrated with their return policies. Most are store credit only, which is such a draggggg. I'm feeling closet boredom lately myself...it must be the winter to spring thing we've got dragging out right now. I can't stand spring clothes either, so it's not anything to look forward to.

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  45. I feel the same way about mall shopping. Do you have any outlets around you? Pretty similar to the whole regular mall scene, but I do love the outlets.

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  46. I love this post because I relate to so much of it. I know every body is different and everyone can have a tricky time shopping, but I feel like mine is tougher than most. My old shopping criteria was literally "If it fits, buy it," but I slimmed down a bit since college so I've been able to be more discerning. Still, I tend to mainly shop online because I'm an XL/16 which isn't always sold in stores. Unfortunately, that size keeps me out of most boutique stores as those sizes usually run smaller. Most of my shopping centers around knowing which items to look for at which stores- jeans at Loft, popovers at J. Crew, dresses at Banana Republic, etc. I've recently been trying ASOS and loved the midi skirt I got there. There's also a new department in Nordstrom that has cheaper yet good-quality options. Of course, now that I've found the stores that work for me I tend to buy too much. (Still in budget for this month though wooo!) Good luck finding some new stuff you're excited about!

    Kaitlin
    www.teaandsequins.com

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  47. Total bummer that nothing caught your eye but I think it's a sign that you are totally dialed into your style and what you need! I saw the scalloped dress at Loft and want to try it on...it's so cute! And those cap toe flats from Target are on my wish list...adorable!
    Valerie
    www.the-style-files.com

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  48. I think we are all tired of our winter wardrobes about this time of year and ready for something different. That pink dress really does look super cute on you!

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  49. Goodwill, Volunteers of America, Salvation Army, etc...They are like shopping for antiques on a lazy afternoon. No pressure, no loud music and no high expectations. Sometimes you can really luck out, sometimes you walk out empty handed. As long as I keep a creative and open mind, I find a trip to a thrift store can be very relaxing.

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  50. I hate shopping at the mall! I rarely do, unless there is something SUPER specific that I need (want) that I can only find there. I maybe go to the mall twice a year... That said, pretty much the only places I shop for clothes are Old Navy, Target, and some local boutiques. I shop online at random places--Nordstroms, etc. if someone is having a really good sale. But yeah, I'm just not a fan of going shopping for clothes, I'd much rather shop online and then return if I need to.

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  51. Aww...it is frustrating when you walk into a mall with tons of stores and can't find anything! But I have to say I think you might be a little to picky - or hard on yourself. I actually love the scalloped dress on you and I don't think there's anything wrong with the striped shirt either. But I totally agree that you have to be in the right mindset to go shopping and if you weren't feeling it then it's better not to buy stuff you aren't sure of.
    I'm a mall shopper so I don't really have any suggestions about stores... I do love JCPenney's Joe Fresh line though. They have a lot of cute stuff and it's really affordable! Or maybe just save up some money and try a boutique store just to see if you like that better. Sometimes I'm more excited to wear my clothes when it feels like a "luxury" item.
    ~Jessica
    Jeans and a Teacup

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  52. Fran! That dress looks better on you than it does on the model on their website!! How, you might ask... Because you have the body to fill it! Go, girl! Flaunt it!

    As for the post itself, very well written. Have you ever tried Catos? They have a great fit and very 'remixable' items. Also, TJMaxx. I think you can even shop online with them now. And, as it was mentioned in the previous comments several times, thrift stores. You never know what you'll find there, so always a good place to go when you're bored with the mall.

    Thanks for all the inspiring you do. :)

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  53. That dress looks amazing on you! The cut and color look made for you.

    I feel the same way about mall fashion right now. I'm hoping for better this summer. Some seasons resonate with me better than others, and I think was the about your age when I started to know what I wanted rather than wanting whatever was new.

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  54. I can totally sympathize with this feeling, but will put in another pitch for JC Penney (surprising amounts of cute things for grown-ups, although you do have to sort through a fair amount of neon and terrible synthetics to find them) and Land's End. They're especially good for length issues--I find that even "professional" brands like Banana republic and Loft just don't offer bottoms that aren't appallingly short in the hem or the rise.

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  55. Outlet malls are my favorite. (I usually like their options better.) But, it's mainly because I hate being stuck in the middle of a mall. It freaks me out. What happens if I need to make a quick exit and there's NO quick exit? I'm neurotic.

    Anyway, I tried on the skirt version of that LOFT dress and liked it MUCH better. Of course, it was an online return that just so happened to be in my size.

    I love little downtown areas. Cool atmosphere and boutiques. I find things that I wouldn't find everywhere else, and I like that.

    I don't think I was any help at all in my comment, but I took time to write it. I'll be damned if I'm not going to hit "publish."

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  56. I've had a lot of the same trouble shopping and have taken to patronizing mostly consignment stores lately. Not only do I get credit for the clothes I wasn't wearing, but the stock changes much more frequently than other kinds of stores, the clothes are generally good to high quality stuff, and the styles tend to be classic instead of overly trendy.

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  57. I'm sorry about your shopping frustrations. I think what we need is a change of season. I am SO OVER my thick sweaters and tights and pants and all of it - all I want is to not have to wear socks!! I don't have a good mall in my town, so it's all online shopping for me. Good luck!!

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  58. I actually think that scalloped dress looked kind of amazing on you. I totally empathize with your mall experience though and am so sick of all the sleeveless tops and super short hemlines. The mall store I have the best luck at is The Limited. I do the majority of my shopping online or find hit and miss things at TJ Maxx and Target.

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  59. I definitely agree with JC Penney. I always have good luck their finding professional clothes for work (I'm a teacher) but the Liz Claiborne and Worthington are great. You really just need to be willing to check out several sections and try everything on. I have walked out of there with tons of really nice pieces for cheap before! Check it out because you have nothing to lose.

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  60. Long-time follower, but first time poster. I identify a lot with your shopping frustrations. Have you heard of Stitch Fix? Like other monthly subscription services, it's a monthly shipment of five items of clothing, picked out by a personal stylist, in a price range you select. I haven't pulled the trigger yet, but maybe this could be a really great thing to try. https://www.stitchfix.com/

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  61. For skirts and dresses, I really like Dorothy Perkins. Being a UK store, the sizes can run a little small. They do have a great tool that allows you to input your measurements and it tells you what size will fit you best. They have a lot of promos so you can usually get a good deal (I try to get free shipping since they are in the UK).

    I used to rarely shop online, and now I hardly ever shop in stores. Online returns are easier and easier these days, and a lot of stores offer free returns (like Asos and Piperlime/Gap/Old Navy). After several go arounds of buying things too small (I think I was in denial that I'm not the same size I was a couple years ago), I force myself to be realistic and get the size that is most likely to fit based on the size charts. Most of the time, they are pretty accurate! Once you get familiar with how a store/brand fits you, it makes it a lot easier to be confident ordering online.

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  62. Have to echo the sentiments of everyone here with Dorothy Perkins and JC Penney's but you may also want to check out Macy's. I have had alot of luck with both their own Style and Co line and INC. I want to say that almost 50% of my wardrobe is Macys and maybe 25% TJ Maxx/Marshalls and the rest a hodge-podge of other online retailers and such. Best of luck. Great blog. Big fan!

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  63. I really, really liked this post. I feel similar to you, in being kind of bored in how I dress. While I'm really starting to figure out what looks good on me and is comfortable, I feel like it's kind of limiting sometimes. I don't really feel like going shopping (aka spending money) right now...so I'm trying to just get dressed every day while I wait for the seasons to change so I can get excited to get dressed again, haha.

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  64. I know exactly how you feel. I think part of it is that everyone owns the same "mall clothes" and it can be uninspiring. On the Gap flats: you're right, they're not worth $40 at all. I used a discount and a $10 reward so I paid $26 after shipping. They're worth about $20-25.

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  65. I have taken to "shopping" in thrift stores almost exclusively. I tend to be very picky and only try on higher end name brands. As with any shopping it can be hit and miss to if I find something. I try every item on since item sizing can vary widely. If an item does need to be altered the alteration cost along with the price still keeps it under the retail cost.

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  66. I find 'extra petite' has great inspiration for clinic appropriate outfits. I wear skirts that are just above the knee too, and no one minds at the hospital/on rotations. Just make sure they're not too short/butt grazers ^-^

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  67. "I feel like everything is currently neon, cropped, faded, too drapey, too tight, too short. I think I'm too picky now." Yep! This is pretty much my exact problem too. At least we know we're not alone?

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  68. Thank you very much to share this information. It is very useful and informative.

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