Story time, sort of a NSV. Wall of text warning.
My whole life I’ve been using clothing to hide the shape of my body. In high school it was just strategically wearing a button down open over a dark shirt to break up lines. Recently it had become just wearing the biggest, thickest damn thing I could find.
Clothes shopping sucked. Looking desperately for the 4XL(T) that didn’t grab my sides in too many places. Hunting for the 54″ waist (too small for my actual waistline, but I had major dunlop’s disease, so my real waistline was unclear) that isn’t absurdly expensive or long in the leg. For the last decade, whenever I had to bite the bullet and go clothes shopping I always knew: if a pant leg was a little tight on the thigh or if the shoulders of a shirt were a little snug that it was already over, I didn’t even have to finish pulling on that article of clothing to know that it would not hang in a suitably concealing way. And so I had to shuttle back and forth to the fitting room, a strange walk of shame. Until I gave up and took whatever few pieces I’d found that kind of worked (never enough) to the checkout, so I could flee.
Recently a very helpful (if nosy) aunt pointed out that the clothing I was buying during my weight loss project was always ill fitting, even before I shrank out of them. As she put it: “You’re a nice looking young man”
(I’m 31 auntie …)
“But look at this baggy shirt! And Suspenders!”
(I’ve been dropping pant sizes too quickly to replace them.)
“No nephew of mine is going to walk around looking like an 80 year old dork”
(grandpa’s standing right there you know…)
“Give me your measurements, I’m going to thrift you some things and you’re going to try them”
That’s a novel thought, the sizes I’ve always worn aren’t generally available at thrift stores, or most stores for that matter … and before I could argue the conversation was over.
She showed up at a family gathering a week later with several pants and polo shirts. I immediately flashed back to clothes shopping nightmares. None of this could possibly work, the shirts were just XL they were going to be tight in the shoulders, which meant that they’d actually touch my torso, a lot. They wouldn’t be any good for hiding anything. But I had a very overbearing, well meaning aunt to appease. So I slumped off to the bathroom to find whatever combination from the bags would be least embarrassing to wear briefly, so I could take the whole lot home and jam it into my closet to never actually use.
I had trouble pulling the first polo over my head … the ratios of the height to the diameter of the tube were all wrong. By the time I’d reached my arms all the way to the arm holes there was no way I would be able to thread my head past them all the way to the head hole … standing there like an idiot with my arms stuffed into the bottom of a fully expanded shirt I realized for the first time the reason why well proportioned people wad up their shirts to pull them over their heads: their shirts aren’t any bigger than they are, so they’re hard to get into. This was going to be worse than I thought.
I wadded up the trunk of the shirt, pulled it over my head and arms, feeling like an actor over-selling the act of dressing … and the wadded trunk stayed wadded. Up under my armpits, above my man boobs (rapidly disappearing as I lose weight but still definitely there). Any useful, properly concealing shirt would have draped of it’s own accord, tenting over the shoulders and coming in very little contact with the torso until the waistline. But this one was tight enough it would have to be pulled down. This heinous shirt (and each of the others in the bag no doubt) was going to actually fit snugly to me and hide essentially nothing of my basic outline.
I decided that this was funny, because it was either funny or very sad, and if it was sad I would have to leave the party (because fucking 31 year old men simply do not blubber over a shirt at grandpas birthday) and everyone would know why.
So I laughed to myself and pulled the shirt down. I looked up at the mirror to see: a dude wearing a shirt. Not an r/trashy picture in the making, not a “People of Walmart” specimen, not me in a fucking tent. Just me in a well fitting shirt. Turns out that makers of XL shirts actually know who’s wearing them and how to cut them. The typical XL shirt wearer has a little moob going on, the shirt mitigates that. The typical XL shirt wearer has a bit of a gut, the shirt allows for that. And it does it without an extra yard of fabric flapping in the breeze announcing to all and sundry: “This guy really doesn’t want you to see what shape he’s in!” And with a pair of 38” pants from the other bag, snug but not tight to my actual waistline (not tucked under my rapidly shrinking spare tire). Wait, do I look good? Error, no reference frame. I mean it’s not showing anything off, there’s nothing to show off yet, I’m still 35 pounds away from actually healthy but … I think I look pretty good…
31 year old men simply DO NOT blubber over a shirt at grandpas birthday party.
For me clothes have always been about concealing a disease. For the first time ever they’re just about modesty, or even possibly about dressing to impress. Maybe one day soon they can even be about dressing to show off. Somehow I managed, barely, not to blubber. So the point is, I need a really good Christmas gift for an aunt who has everything and likes to thrift shop in her spare time. Suggestions?