I shopped at the Gap yesterday for the first time in over a decade.
I remember shopping at Gap pretty much my entire childhood. I remember going to Gap (then called The Gap) at Maple and Telegraph in Birmingham, Michigan with my mom and older siblings when I was too little to fit in the clothes (I don’t recall there being GapKids in our area at that time). I remember shopping there when I could fit in the clothes. I remember when I started getting too big for Gap, in high school and college, and suggesting to my mom that we not shop there, so I could avoid the embarrassment of taking things into the dressing room and not fitting in any of them. My mom has a really good friend who used to work at Gap, and I remember in college when she would set aside for me the one or two XXL shirts her location would receive in a shipment. I appreciated her thinking of me – it was really very sweet of her – and at the same time was a little mortified that I could barely be accommodated by a mass retailer that sold clothes that I liked.
Soon, I couldn’t fit in the XXLs anyway.
Ever since my college days, my clothes shopping has been limited to Big & Tall stores and Big & Tall catalogs. I bought everything from Big & Tall companies, from underwear to suits. Now that I’m 147 pounds lighter, though, I can shop in many many MANY more retailers – the whole mall is pretty much available to me. It’s too bad that, due to being unemployed at the moment, I can’t really afford to do a lot of shopping!
Some visual aids: You can see the difference between the clothes I was wearing at my heaviest and the clothes I’m wearing now here and here. And here’s the link to one of my favorite posts – my final visit EVER to my local Casual Male XL big & tall store.
This bring us to the present. Right now, I’m in the market for new pants. The last time I got new pants was over Labor Day weekend, and they were waist size 42. Now they’re saggy and baggy on me, which means I can probably fit in size 40 pants. For those unfamiliar with buying men’s pants, that marks a pretty big milestone, because size 40 is the largest waist size that many mass retailers, including Gap, carry in their stores. They may carry larger sizes online or in catalogs, but I’m not going to shop anymore without trying stuff on, because now I can.
Yesterday I went to a really fun event at Second City in the heart of Hollywood, and I was coming from the suburbs, where I had gone to see my cousin race in his cross-country meet. I got back to Hollywood about 45 minutes before the Second City thing started, and about 4 blocks away is a Gap, so I headed over there, and for the first time since I don’t know when, walked inside.
I headed over towards the men’s jeans, and soon encountered a decision-making process I haven’t encountered in a while… what type of cut? When you’re buying pants with a 58″ waist (as I was at my heaviest), you don’t get the pleasure of deciding between cuts. You buy the pair that’s 58″. Now I’m staring a wall that’s divided up in sections marked Straight, Boot, Authentic (whatever that means), Easy, and more. I ruled out Skinny, as I have no intention of dressing like a Jonas Brother, and settled on Standard, because, well, it sounds like a good, standard pair of jeans. I also grabbed a 40″ pair of Straight leg jeans, just to try something different.
Then, off to the dressing room! They fit! I took a couple pictures. You’ll have to ignore my doofy expressions in them – it was challenge framing the pics on my crappy Blackberry camera to get as much of a head-to-toe shot as possible in the tiny dressing room space, and I thinking about that while snapping away.
First, me in the Straight jeans:
These were pre-distressed for my convenience, which I liked, but a little snug down the legs. Turns out, according to the Gap website, Straight leg is only 1 up from Skinny on the Skinny-to-Loose scale of different cuts.
Here’s the Standard pair:
I liked these more, and they fit better through the leg, but even though they fit at the waist, they was a little extra room in the butt (I tried to get a picture with me turned around, but I couldn’t make it work).
I headed back into the store to investigate a few more cuts, but got distracted by a lot of the other merchandise. Turns out, I didn’t really care for a lot of it. They have a lot of basics, but I was kinda thinking as I walked from my car that I would be really excited about their clothes, due to my history of liking them, and I just wasn’t. Nothing really screamed ‘you would look great in this’ or ‘you have to buy that’. Not to mention that the jeans I tried on were $54.50 and $69.50. That’s not outrageous for jeans, I don’t think, but it is outrageous for transition jeans. I will be losing more weight, and going down in waist size, and I’m not spending that much money on jeans I’ll wear for just a few months!
It was then that I checked my watch and realized I should start heading back to Second City. As I walked out, not haven’t purchased anything, I thought, ‘Nice to be back, Gap. But you’ve changed, and so have I. I’ll give you another chance when I get to my final goal weight, but until then, I’ll just remain excited at the fact that I could shop here, even though I don’t want to. Smell ya later!’ And down the sidewalk I went.
Keep it up, David!