The struggles of a 20-year-old woman trying to dress like a 20-year-old woman

It’s not the first time that this has happened.

It’s more like the 20th time.

I’m rifling through my closet, desperately hoping to find the perfect shirt that says cute, fun and classy. However, all I’m coming up with are favorite T-shirts from my high school days — I’m a senior in college.

Something has to give and in the form of tears, it does. I can’t take this anymore, so I sit on the floor of my closet, crying. I look up at the rack of clothes and try to wish better T-shirts, tank tops and cardigans to be there instead. However, since I’m 20, I’ve lost my belief in magic, so obviously it doesn’t work.

An hour later, I’m digging through displays at Nordstrom Rack. Forget the cost. Forget the time involved. It’s time for a wardrobe overhaul. I need clothes that I didn’t wear to World History class in high school; I need clothes that actually indicate that I’m in my 20s; I need clothes that I can wear on an interview or to a day at an internship; I need clothes that I can wear to bars and clubs (after all, I’ll be 21 soon).

My profound realizations and defeat to the possible costs involved turned out to be the easiest parts of this process; the shopping turns out to be the hardest.

Being a female is horrible.

Ninety percent of the shirts targeted at young professionals are sheer enough to require me to wear three other equally sheer tank tops underneath in order to achieve a mildly modest outfit. Since I don’t wish to be a nesting doll on job interviews — especially since I sweat when nervous — ninety percent of the shirts that I find are not in the running as contenders in my closet.

When I find thicker shirts, most come with built-in tummy control panels. In an effort not to look like I’ve suddenly gone from high school to withdrawing social security, I have to pass on those shirts as well.

Let me regroup here. If I’m young, I’m expected to either layer on up or be okay with a see-through shirt that shows my entire bra to the world. I guess I’m not supposed to be “professional” after all, just young. If I’m older, I’m assumed to need assistance with a supposedly flabby midsection. I look down at my toned core, and I shudder at the fashion industry’s belief of what my future will hold.

An hour later, I have a decently sized pile of shirts to take into the dressing room. But as the current pattern suggests, more problems arise. The sheer chiffon tops that I found in darker colors, making them more realistic options, are vomiting strings from every area. Some of the strings have been ejected far enough that pulls in the fabric show. Oh, and the price tag on such shirts? They run from $20 to $35. What a steal …

Meanwhile, Blake comes to the dressing room with a pile of similarly priced dress shirts. Did I mention that my fiance was involved in my meltdown and resulting shopping spree? The poor guy didn’t know how to handle a woman crying over her closet, so he came along for moral support. I told him that if he could just be a woman for a week, he’d begin to understand.

Anyways, his shirts are quality pieces of clothing. Some of them are folded up and pinned in order to maintain their quality while mine have straps dangling off of their hangers and already look as though they’ve been worn more than a few times.

*   *   *

A few days later, my hunt for new clothes continues. Through all of my frustrations, a few nice shirts were purchased and now proudly hang in my closet. However, it’s still taking me time to build up my wardrobe. I didn’t realize that I would have to sort through so many low quality shirts in order to find one on the rack that was actually worth the price tag.

And, yes, I’ve tried all of the stores that you’re probably thinking of recommending — Macy’s, Marshalls, H&M, Loft, New York & Company.

All of the go-to stores have led me back to my previous conclusion: Being a female is horrible.

And it’s not just being  a 20-year-old female that’s difficult; it’s being a female of any age. The fashion industry is never on your side. No, you don’t want a crop top that prevents you from eating while you’re wearing it, but you also don’t need a tummy control panel. No, you don’t want a shirt so sheer that it’s barely a shirt at all, but you also don’t want a shirt so thick that you need to live in the Arctic tundra in order to wear it.

You don’t want a tank top with a neckline that looks cute on the hanger because when you put it on, you’ll realize that you could never wear a bra with it. But you also don’t want to be confined to blazers and cardigans in the hot summer months because of the necklines on the cute tank tops that you find.

What’s the solution to all of these wardrobe woes?

I still don’t have the answer, but I’m navigating what’s out there. Check me out next time I’m walking down the street. Maybe my outfit will provide some type of solution, but I’m just a 20-year-old woman trying to dress like a 20-year-old woman, and it’s not proving to be an easy thing to do.



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