Why I Hate Dress Shopping

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – Romans 12:2

I’ve spent several weeks now hitting hard on our need for repentance, purity, prayer and sound doctrine. Today I’m taking a brief departure from matters of the heart to focus on how our culture has made it almost impossible to find appropriate, attractive, and functional women’s clothing. I’m so over shopping.

Perhaps I should begin with the disclosure that I am allergic to shopping. It makes me break out in grumpiness. Maybe it’s the whole rampant consumerism thing; maybe it’s the crowds; maybe seeing people at their worst and wallowing in their lostness is just too depressing for me; maybe I still struggle with self-worth enough that I have trouble spending money on myself; or maybe I’m just too cheap.

Every now and then, I will get a wild hair and decide I need something.  Admittedly, it’s usually shoes, but sometimes it will be a top or a skirt or a pair of shorts. This time around, it was a dress. I wear dresses to church and to business meetings, and I’ve grown bored with my aging wardrobe. The one possible remedy is shopping.

Just about the only way I’ll go shopping is with a coupon. I had my favorite one – 30 percent off – so I took myself to a nearby department store. I had tried this a few weeks earlier and came home empty-handed, so I went in with low expectations. This did not help my general attitude about shopping.

Because our outer appearances tend to reflect who we are on the inside, I have a few rules about clothes: I see no need to flaunt bra straps; I avoid low necklines; I don’t wear anything that’s an inch or more above my knees (it’s just silly once you get past a certain age); and I avoid pastels because they make me look like a vampire.

Everywhere I looked I saw maxi dresses – you know, the plunge-neckline, spaghetti-strapped flowing things that prompt you to grab a Coke, bedeck your hair with flowers and sing on a bucolic hillside, “I’d like to teach the world to sing . . . “ (You’ll only get that reference if you survived the ‘60s.) Moving on.

Then I swim through a sea of paisley, and I find myself looking for Jules Verne, who must have put me in one of his time machines. Or perhaps I missed a giant garage sale sign somewhere.

Next I come upon a whole section of black leather mini skirts. So many cows died for so very little. If I were a cow, I’d be tempted to file a class-action lawsuit if only cows weren’t illiterate.

I then find several dresses that were roughly the shape of a refrigerator box with knobby fabric and broad horizontal stripes. But even these rode high above the knee. Until then, I never knew refrigerator boxes could aspire to look sexy.

Finally I found a vintage black-and-white houndstooth dress with capped sleeves, along with a knit red dress with some sophisticated detailing on the back. But when I tried them on, I looked like one of those middle-aged women trying way too hard to look young. If I were to sit down in one of those dresses, I could be giving someone sitting in front of me an eyeful. I’m certainly not wearing that in the choir loft or in Sunday school.

I finally found one, and it manages to be flattering and modest without being boring. Why should this be the exception and not the rule? I used my coupon and went home. Until someone comes out with a line of clothing I wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen in, I’ll stick with buying shoes.

7 thoughts on “Why I Hate Dress Shopping

  1. Cheri Henderson says:

    Yes, there was a time in my early life when I considered becoming a fashion designer. I do draw absolutely terrific horses and dancing Snoopys. If I can tweak my drawing talent just a tad, I can embark on a second career.

  2. I’m with you Cheri. I used to sew a lot but since my machine broke down & we’ve downsized I don’t have a room to sew in. I used to love being creative & do my own thing so my clothes would be modest. I still do a little sewing. I too am picky about what I buy. If it doesn’t come up to standard I rearrange the garment. I’m sharing your blog. I think it’s important to be reminded of how a woman needs to be careful in how she dresses.

  3. tina snyder says:


    Lately, I have noted that NY & CO have upped their game and have offered a more modest line of dress clothing that I would want to wear. Usually I shop Ann Taylor Loft which I like their selections but they tend to be a bit on the spendy side, Also Dress Barn tends to be pretty good as well and on the modest side as well but still trendy without being too trendy.