6 Things to Do When Shopping Makes You Insecure

When we feel insecure about our own bodies, a simple visit to the mall can feel like judgment day. Shopping for clothes is hard when your mind’s flooded with worries like “I wish I had more chest for to fit into this blouse” or “I was a medium a week ago, but now I’m a large”. 

Everyone, no matter their size, faces insecurities when they shop for clothes. Most of the worries stem from toxic ideas of the “perfect body,”  but we shouldn’t let those unrealistic standards control the way we feel about our own bodies. So here are the six things you should do when you shop to help you overcome your body insecurities and make shopping a much more enjoyable experience! 

1. Shop with someone who makes you feel good

Trying on clothes while shopping can seem scary when you don’t feel good about yourself to begin with. If you walk into a store already thinking you won’t look good in the clothes there, it’s going to be hard to convince yourself otherwise. Sometimes some moral support is what you need to make shopping more fun and less daunting. Try to take a close friend or family member who will not only hype you up when you look gorgeous but honestly let you know when something doesn’t look that nice on you too.  

Jana Brzovski, a sophomore at Marist College, tries to take her most loved ones along when she goes shopping. “I’m super close with my mom, so whenever I go shopping I always go with her. She makes me feel better about my body and gives me confidence that I look good in whatever I’m buying. Or I go with my sister, my aunt, or my friends. I’d say the best way to shop if it makes you feel insecure is to go with other people that you trust and know will be honest with you and boost up your esteem if you find things that make you look amazing,” Jana says.

2. Don’t be afraid to try new pieces

If it isn’t the size, sometimes certain styles of clothes make you feel a little self-conscious. We’re always worried about how a certain jacket or style of pant will look on us, but those thoughts could keep us away from our best piece of clothing!

You’ll never know what looks good on you until you try it on. When shopping, don’t assume something will definitely look bad on you. Try on new things and see how certain styles fit. Carlee Nilphai, a student at Millersville University, always tries on new things to see what looks best. “I try on everything I think looks even remotely cute (you never know what is going to make you feel beautiful or sexy if you don't try new things!),” Carlee says.

A common problem there is when shopping for clothes is “categorizing” certain pieces as unwearable for a certain body type. Don’t place rules on yourself and be open-minded! Just because you’re petite that doesn’t mean you can’t rock a jumpsuit, and just because you’re curvier doesn’t mean you can’t rock wide flare pants. Try pieces on that you like and make your judgments after you see them on you. Maybe you steered clear of a certain article of clothing, but the second you try a particular one from a particular store, it’ll become your new favorite! Your body, no matter its size, is the perfect model for new trends you can discover as you shop! 

3. Don’t focus so much on the “size” you’re trying on

The size of clothes can have a huge impact on how we feel about our bodies. However, size doesn’t matter as much you think. Every store you shop in has different brands, and each brand has their own set of measurements for each “size”. One brand may run their smalls with one set of measurements, and another brand may run pieces in those same measurements and call it a “medium”. Carlee doesn’t even go to one size when she tries on clothes. “I always try something in multiple sizes, because sometimes things don't look great in one size (even if that is what you think your size is) but they look amazing in another size,” Carlee says.

When you feel insecure, just remember that all these sizes are basically constructed by clothing brands. If you feel insecure for always being a certain size, remember that clothes are made for you and not the other way around. Clothing companies are still behind in making more sizes for different body types; if anything, they're the ones falling short, not you.

Victoria Hammond, a junior at Regent University, tries not to concern herself too much with size. “Don’t get caught up on what size you are and what size the clothes are. Don’t even worry about if it’s from the kids' section, men’s section, or plus size section. I’ll often just look at my favorite pair of jeans, figuring out how big they look and then that’s what I look for in other pants, regardless of what size they say they are,” Victoria says. After trying out clothes from different brands, you can get a better idea of what sizes and fits look best on you.

4. Don’t over-browse or go to too many stores

Shopping is stressful in itself and visiting too many stores at once can make it even more draining. When you stop at a few stores and run into trouble fitting into the clothes at every single store, it can feel pretty discouraging. Try to not to overdo your mall trips and stress yourself out if you’re not fitting or looking good in the clothes you try. Shopping is a selective practice after all, maybe the pieces you chose this time aren’t meant for your body type or they don’t speak to your fashion sense. [Again, it’s not you, it’s the clothes.] 

Makena Gera, a sophomore at Marist College, keeps her mall trips brief so she doesn’t overstress herself. “One tip I have is to keep your trips short, and not to overwhelm yourself with trying to go to too many stores in one day. If you spend a long time shopping, you're bound to find a lot more things that don't work/don't look good on you, making you feel a lot worse about your body. But if you keep the trip short (maybe one or two stores) the number of things that don't work (because there are bound to be some) is going to comparatively be a lot less,” Makena says. Of course, the more you try on, the more clothes there will be that aren’t to your liking. Try on new things, but keep it balanced so you’re not overwhelmed.

5. Know what looks good on you

Once you try on a variety of clothes, you can figure out what looks good on you. When you have an idea of what typically looks best, then you can look out for those pieces on your next shopping trip. Sometimes referring to social media like Instagram or YouTube videos with styling tips can provide you with some insight on what kinds of pieces look good for your body type and skin tone.

Marisa Pieper, a junior at Arizona State University, always tries to research fashion looks before shopping. “You should definitely try to figure out what your body type is and then check out what type of looks are going to be the most flattering on your body. Doing some background research before you shop can be super helpful for you and your wallet,” Marisa says.

We all dread trying something on and it looks hideous on us, but if you have an idea beforehand, you’ll avoid picking out things that make you feel a little less pretty. Sierra Clair, a graduate from Loyola Marymount University, tries to find brands that work well for her body type and then proceeds to look at their items. “I deal with this a lot! First thing is to go to your favorite brands that you know fit your body well. That always makes me feel better. Second thing is to remember that if something doesn’t fit right it’s not you, it’s the clothes! Some brands are just more geared towards different body types,” Sierra says.

6. Remind yourself of how well you care for your body

Don’t be so hard on yourself for how you look. Every body is beautiful, even if mass media tries to convince you otherwise. Sometimes you feel worse about your body not just because of how you look, but because of how you’ve been taking care of it. You feel worse about not fitting into a nice pair of jeans when you remember how badly you ate the weekend before. Remember that your body can always change for the better and focus on that. In the meantime, find clothes that flatter the body you have right now. Take care of your body first as slowly as you need to and by the end, you’ll feel good in whatever you try on.

Feeling insecure when trying on clothes is more common than we may realize. Everyone has some “quirks” about their bodies that they have to confront when shopping for clothes. Overall, though, it’s so important not to place too much importance on the clothes and instead focus on what clothes are made for you specifically. You should never feel like you need to change yourself drastically just to fit a certain size or style.

As brands begin to realize how narrow their sizes and styling recommendations are, stores will include more options for all body types. But, there’s nothing wrong with feeling insecure while shopping, and sometimes it’s just a necessary feeling to put our own body image into perspective. However, we hope you take away these tips as ways to not “cope” with your body, but dress your body up in all its natural beauty.