T-Shirt Windfall

March 28, 2012

Last month, I visited Zara, a clothing store I had never been to before. I had heard good things from a couple friends, and I was curious what the store had to offer and how I looked in their clothes. I wrote a post about how the outing was a complete bust: I’m too broad and big (even with my 163-pound weight loss) for their silhouettes. I was far from distraught about the experience – at the end of the day, knowing where not to shop is just as helpful as knowing where to shop. But I did have a moment of disappointment (just a moment, nothing lingering), because it was another bust in my ongoing quest to find a good, well-fitting, basic t-shirt.

For the past year or so, I’ve been on the lookout for a retailer that sells good quality, basic tees in a variety of colors. My search has always been a back-burner one – I haven’t gone out just to shop for t-shirts, but when I’m in a store for another reason, I’ll check out their offerings and try them on. The perfect t-shirt for me is flattering (duh), made of a heavier fabric, long enough to cover my belly with my arms raised above my head, and priced reasonably. Turns out that’s a tall order to fill! And it turns out the best t-shirt for me was right under my nose the whole time.

One of my favorite t-shirts right now is simple, black, and made by Champion. I wear it about once a week (provided I’m keeping up with my laundry). It is an all-occasion t-shirt: I work out in it, wear it casually with jeans, and wear it under fancier clothes sometimes, too. I’ll even wear it horseback riding, like I did in the Caribbean a few months ago:

That t-shirt came at a sporting goods store (I forget which one) about a year ago, and even though I recognize it as a favorite item in my wardrobe, for some reason, it never occurred to me that I should go and buy more somewhere. Perhaps that’s because I was stuck on the idea that my perfect t-shirt would be a store brand (like Old Navy or American Eagle) or a in-house brand at a bigger store (like Sonoma at Kohl’s or one of Macy’s in-house lines) – and Champion is neither of those. It’s an established brand that’s found at a number of retailers, certainly, but there aren’t Champion stores (except maybe at outlet malls?).

I was driving around recently when I heard a radio commercial for Sports Authority, promoting a sale on Champion basic jersey t-shirts. I had a flurry of epiphanic thoughts:

  • “Hey, I have one of those!”
  • “That’s a really good deal!”
  • “I should go and buy some, since I love the one I already own!”
  • “Ohmigod, Champion makes my perfect t-shirt! Why haven’t I ever realized this? David, go and stock up NOW!”

I made it to Sports Authority the very next day, and walked out of the store with six brand-new t-shirts:

Right now, I have t-shirts in my drawer that are size L, size XL, and one or two XXL – since sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, I fit in all three (these are ridiculously smaller than the t-shirts I was wearing at my heaviest, which you can see here). The Champion t-shirts are size XL, but I know from experience that they’ll shrink a little bit.

Wanna know the best part (excluding, of course, the satisfaction of knowing that I now have a go-to brand for t-shirts that look great on me)? They cost me $6 apiece! The Sports Authority sale price (which is unfortunately over) was 3 for $18. Score!

Keep it up, David!

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My Incredible Shrinking Clothes – Sportcoat Edition

February 8, 2012

A trip to the dry cleaners isn’t usually anything to get excited about, but I was geeked to go to the dry cleaners yesterday. And the dry cleaners didn’t disappoint! I wasn’t there to pick up a piece of clothing that had been cleaned. Nope – I was there to pick up an article of clothing that had been altered for me. To learn the rest of the story, we have to jump in a DeLorean and time travel 14 months into the past. Buckle up!

December 2010. My friend Laura’s wedding is fast approaching, and I have nothing to wear. I’m losing weight at a steady clip, and my one suit no longer fits. Alterations to every seam to make it fit would be costlier than buying new clothes, so I opt for the latter and hit the discount stores. With your input (thanks to a poll on this very blog), I buy a sportcoat (and pants, but this blog is more about the sportcoat). I go to Laura and Chad’s wedding, and have a fabulous time. Here I am with the bride:

Beautiful, right? And Laura looks amazing as well! HEY-O!

(Fun fact about Laura: She was one of the people who, way back in the day, encouraged me to start a blog in the first place, and for that I’ll always be grateful. I can’t wait, when I’m super famous and super wealthy, to screen her calls and pretend I don’t know her. Just kidding! Or am I?)

(Fun fact #2 about Laura: I don’t think she’ll mind me saying, but her weight has been all over the place in the past year, and that’s because a couple months ago she and Chad had a baby! Now she’s reading Keep It Up, David as a tool to help her lose the baby weight, and I have no doubt she’s gonna do it. And their baby, by the way, is adorable.)

January 2011. The ensemble in the above photo gets worn a second time, when I deliver the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral. I’m thankful that Laura’s wedding forced me to go shopping, because there was no time in my grandmother’s final days and during the prepping for the funeral for me to make it to the mall.

February 2011. The ensemble gets worn a third time, at a fundraising gala for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. I’m working the event as a volunteer, and my friend Nicolette walks up to me at the gala, looks me up and down, and says something to the effect of: “You look very nice, David, but I think your jacket may be a little big.” The jacket is two months old at this point, although I have lost weight during those two months. I take the entirety of Nicolette’s comment as a compliment, and smile. A big shit-eating grin. I love shrinking out my clothes!

We’re done time traveling. Back to present day. A full year has gone by, and I’ve had no occasion to wear formal clothes (which is not abnormal in casual Los Angeles). This year’s gala for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is approaching, and I’m volunteering again (I still have community service hours to work off for punching that cop). Last week, I take the sportcoat to my cleaners, which has a slew of tailors on-site. The tailor ends up removing a couple inches of fabric from the sides. Wanna see me in the jacket now?

This is what I’m wearing to the gala, from head to toe.

Let’s talk sizes! I’m not wearing the same pants to the gala this year that I wore last year. Last year’s pants were 40″ around the waist, but I got a great new pair as a Christmas present (thanks, Mom and Dad!), so I’ll be wearing those this year, and they’re 38″ (I fit into both 36″ and 38″ pants right now, depending on brand and cut).

Even more exciting: The jacket is a 48″ Long – although not after it was taken in! My previous suit jacket was a 54″ Long – check it out:

I hate this photo – I look like Kevin on The Office, but with more hair – but it’s the only one with that suit.

And the piece de resistance: The suit I wore at my heaviest, in July 2009, to the wedding of my friends Lisa and Matt in New Jersey. This suit is size 64″ Long, and it was ordered from a catalog – even big and tall stores don’t carry suits that big.

The number in suit sizing refers to the distance, in inches, around the widest part of your chest, doesn’t it? So, my advanced math skills tell me that a drop from 64″ to 48″ in suit size reflects a loss of 16 INCHES around my chest (and now a little bit more than that, thanks to my jacket getting taken in). WHOA!

Keep It Up, David!

Check out My Favorite Posts for all the Incredible Shrinking Clothes blogs – this is the ninth one!


My Incredible Shrinking Clothes – Casual Pants Edition

January 19, 2012

Come see me speak at Whole Foods Pasadena in two weeks! I’ll be there on February 2nd. Click here for details, and tell all your friends in southern California!

Gather ’round, because I have an epic tale involving a pair of pants. This is a post I’ve wanted to write for five months, but there have been delays, due to events both good and not-so-good, my own procrastination, and a good solid stretch where I forgot about this idea completely.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Part 1 – Finding the Pants (Early Sept, 2011). At the end of August, I flew to Michigan for a couple weeks, and on one of my very first days there, I went shopping with my mom at Macy’s. We entered on the opposite side of the store from the Men’s Department, and as we approached, the very first thing I see is a display featuring an awesome pair of pants. I had a feeling this would be fortuitous, so I snapped a crappy picture on my cell phone:

They’re the pants on the mannequin in the front. I made a beeline for them. They were awesome. My mom liked them too. I grabbed a pair in my size. When I got to the dressing room, with an armful of options, I tried on these pants first. Something didn’t seem right, so I went out and showed my mom, who said something that I’ll never tire of hearing: “Well, you’ll just have to see if they have them one size smaller!”

I found them in the smaller size (more on that size later), and they fit. Perfectly. So I took them home with me, along with a pair of jeans I also ended up blogging about.

Part 2 – Wearing the Pants (September 10, 2011). I had the perfect occasion to break in my awesome new pants: Cedar Point. They were the most awesome pants to wear to the world’s most awesome amusement park. Before the big trip to Cedar Point, I called my sister Laura, who was going to come with me, and I said: “I found the best pair of Cedar Point pants ever.” Her reply: “Do they have zippered pockets or something?” Laura knows me pretty well! In addition to zippered pockets (which keep important items from flying out on crazy and super-fast roller coasters), they were lightweight and comfortable.

The first time I wore the pants was at Cedar Point, and, as I predicted, they were perfect. Here I am, in the pants, near the entrance to Millenium Force, Cedar Point’s 310-foot coaster:

The pants have eight pockets total (two on the butt, two on the side, two zipper pockets, and two flap pockets just above the knee), and I made good use of them at Cedar Point. Not ever did I lose my phone, wallet, camera, chapstick, gum, or the jerky that I carried around for 1/2 the day just in case I needed a quick protein fix. It was a long day: 10 hours in the park, and another 5 in the car, and by the end of it, I was more in love with my pants than ever. (You can read more about my Cedar Point adventures here – that day was 10 years in the making!)

The pants were worn frequently during the next few weeks… until disaster struck.

Part 3 – Demise of the Pants (October 2, 2011). This day was supposed to be celebratory, because the night before, at 9:15pm, I set out to accomplish a goal I had set a year earlier: to run past all six strip clubs in my neighborhood without stopping. I completed the run (6.4 miles), and, for this blog, wanted my picture in front of each strip club. So, on October 2, I drove around to all the establishments I ran past the night before, and photographed myself. You can see the photos and read about the run here.

I wore the pants. I was kinda in a rush, because I had a dinner party to go to that night, but I stopped in front of every strip club and snapped away. At about the fourth strip club, as I was getting out of my car, I heard the rip.

I’m very familiar with the sound of pants splitting up the backside. I split more than my fair share of pants when I was heavier (and always pairs that I really liked), and when I heard that sound, I knew exactly what had happened. I reached around and felt, and sure enough, there was a tear. A big tear. CRAP.

There were two more strip clubs to photograph, which I did with ripped pants, and then I went home and changed before the dinner party. Once the pants were off my body, I was able to confirm what I already knew: the rip was bad.

At least the rip wasn’t right up the ass. It was a little off-center, and up the side of the back pocket.

Part 4 – Forgetting About The Pants (October-January). The ripped pants stayed out in the open for about a week, with the intention that I would try to fix them, or have them fixed for me, but that didn’t happen, and soon, they were tossed in the deepest, darkest corner of my closet, where I forgot about them.

Part 5 – Finding The Pants, Again. (January 18, 2012). Yesterday, while rooting through my closet, I found the pants. I held them up, and my fond memories of loving the pants came back. Then I turned them around, saw the rip, and those memories came back. I decided on the spot that it was time to fix the pants.

I wouldn’t say I’m a whiz with a needle and thread, but I know enough to make some simple repairs, like reattaching buttons or stitching up a tear. This was a big tear, too – I had forgotten how big. I could fit my hand through it:

So I got out my sewing supplies.

I picked a brown thread, because I didn’t think I had enough black. It took over an hour, but I was satisfied with my work. It was a two-part process: first, stitching together the base fabric that covers the butt, and then reattaching the pocket. Check this out – you can hardly tell it had ripped! The tear originally extended the entire length of this photograph, but you can only really see the mismatched thread where the pocket ends:

And you can’t see any evidence of my work at all when the pocket flap is down!

Nice work, David!

There’s one other piece of information about these pants that I had forgotten about until I had them inside out yesterday. They’re a size medium. MEDIUM. The first pair I tried on at Macy’s (the pair that was too big) were a size large. When I ran to grab a medium pair, it occurred to me: I had never fit into medium pants before. This was a new experience.

Here’s a photograph to show how far I’ve come in pant sizes:

I lined up these two pairs of pants, so the seam on the right for both pairs are on top of one another. The khaki pair on the bottom are a size 3x. I wore these when I was at my heaviest. I wore pants with drawstrings almost exclusively when I was heavy – they were more forgiving. Not having to worry about buttons was a good thing. I wore these pants most recently as part of my Halloween costume last year – I dressed as Jared, the Subway guy (see pictures here).

From 3x to medium – that’s freakin’ impressive! Now I just gotta prove that I can still wear these pants without ripping them again! I’m a little hesitant to wear them out, so I think I have a dry run where I wear them around my house for an afternoon, and if that goes well, I’ll venture out in public. I’d hate for my pants to split when I’m around other people, but I do love these pants! And I did wear them successfully on many days before they ripped the first time, so I’m confident they’ll continue to serve me well.

Keep it up, David!

Check out the other seven posts in the My Incredible Shrinking Clothes series by clicking on “My Favorite Posts”!