I hated clothes shopping when I was 400 pounds. I hated how much I had to look in mirrors, I hated the shame I felt every time I was bigger than the largest size available, I hated every step of the process. It was the worst.
At the time, I wore size 56 pants and either 3XL or 4XL shirts. Because of my size, and if I didn’t want to shop via catalog (which I did often), I was limited to shopping at exactly two stores: Casual Male XL and one JCPenney location near me. I liked Casual Male XL more: better selection, better staff, and it was its own store, so it was more private than JCPenney, where I had to walk through other departments to get to dressing rooms.
I felt so triumphant, back in September 2010, after I had lost over 125 pounds (and was still losing) when I realized that I no longer needed to shop at big and tall stores. I was fitting into size XL clothing for the first time in decades, and a whole new clothes shopping experience opened up for me. Now, all of a sudden, I could shop almost anywhere, and that felt great.
I decided I’d never go back to Casual Male XL – and my blog post about this decision remains one of my all-time favorites. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with them – on the contrary, I was ecstatic. They had made a miserable experience somewhat tolerable for so long, but I was ready to shed the unpleasant memories I had associated with clothes shopping and begin new, happier ones. Ones where I didn’t fight back tears in dressing rooms or say unkind things to myself under my breath.
So… guess where I went the other day? Back to the big & tall store!
Casual Male XL has been rebranding itself DXL (Destination XL) over the past year or two, and they were opening a new location in southern California. Apparently the years the loyalty I gave them (I was in their rewards program and everything!) pinged something in their computer, because they announced the new opening by sending me a $50 gift card. Cool!
I rarely pass up free money. So, for the first time in eight years, I stepped into a big and tall store. It was a different location than the one I used to go to (which has subsequently closed and been torn down), but it still felt very familiar. They had the same brands I used to shop, plus a lot more, because DXL is a much bigger store.
RELATED CONTENT: I wrote a series of blog posts showing how my weight loss resulted in me buying much smaller clothes. Check ’em out here!
The strangest part was when I started looking for my size. After a lifetime of wearing one of the largest sizes on the rack, I now could only wear the smallest size: XL. The store also carries XLT (the T stands for ‘tall’), but in a big and tall store, ‘tall’ refers to guys that are pushing seven feet. At 6’4″, I wasn’t tall enough. (A sentence that I rarely get to type!)
In order to use the $50 gift card, I had to spend $50. I was in the market for polos, and they had about 20 different colors, so I picked out one in blue…
…and another in magenta.
These were on sale for $24.99 each when you bought two, for a total of $49.98. I could have gone and grabbed a pair of socks or something cheap to push me over the $50 minimum, but I found a t-shirt that I liked, with a fun floral print that was both busy and subtle.
The t-shirt was $30, so I bought it, and because of the gift card, I basically got the two polos for free. Not a bad deal!
The other nice moment that happened during this outing occurred in the dressing room. I spent way too many years beating myself up (metaphorically) when clothing didn’t fit, and I realized that I just don’t do that anymore. There are so many factors that help determine if a piece of clothing is flattering: that brand, the cut, the color, the fabric. Somewhere along the way, my attitude shifted. Before, I would take out poorly-fitting clothes on me – I was too fat, too hopeless. Now, if it doesn’t look good, oh well, on to the next one. There will always be a next one, and it can be fun finding the brands and styles that make me look good. And I enjoy looking good.
Keep it up, David!
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