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The fashion industry hates us.

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
4 min read

Boys – you can just stop reading, this one isn’t going to interest you in the slightest.

I’ve had a busy, less-climbing-than-I’d-like few weeks. The last two weeks, I’ve spent Thursday, Friday *and* Saturday in training … learning conflict management and how to mediate disputes between parties. The training was absolutely grueling, and Saturday was my “final exam” day. I could have been out climbing at Index, and instead I was stuck in a room all day. It took a great deal of discipline to not “get sick” that morning, but I did the right thing and showed up and finished the thing out.

Anyway – after that, I felt I needed a reward. I headed to the local mall for a little retail therapy. It was one of the most awful shopping trips ever. Let’s just say, this season’s styles are Not For Climbergirls…

After shopping hard, I walked away completely empty handed. Partly, I don’t shop, so I haven’t tried on clothes in a long time. I’m used to the gradual climbing-induced changes in my body and how those gradual changes look in my existing clothes. Um, mostly, those changes are just well covered by my existing clothes. So, I had to choose springtime to try to go shopping… springtime, with all of its flutter sleeves, hippy dippy prints, halter tops and bare shoulders/necklines. My friends who aren’t climbers have absolutely no sympathy — they imagine that clothes are *made* for people my size, and I should be thankful for that.

The clothes may be vaguely made for people my size; but they are not made for girls my size with muscles. I genuinely tried to shop, even though I hate shopping… but after awhile I just couldn’t take it any more. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the Old Navy tropical halter. It looked cute, had all sorts of colors I like, and I figured, if anything’s going to look decent on a climbergirl, it’s going to be a halter top, right? Wrong. The top showed off my pecs in a way that climberboys might like, but I swear, when I look in the mirror, I just see a man in a halter top. The halters also exposed a new figure flaw I’d never noticed before… my traps are RIDICULOUSLY uneven. My right trapezius is way more developed than my left… perhaps, belaying? I’m not exactly sure why, but there are many things about my body that are asymmetrical … add traps to the list. I stood in the dressing room trying to get the stupid tank to fit for I don’t know how long, and finally decided I was just wasting my time. Out of the mall I went, as quickly as I could.

On my way out of Tacoma I thought I should stop and hit the REI Anniversary sale since they have Eagle Creek Pack-it Sacs on sale. I don’t usually shop clothes at REI because they’re so expensive, but I did hit the little upstairs womens clothing area and ended up occupying a dressing room long enough that the other women waiting got a little… well… bitchy. I found a ton of clothes that ACTUALLY fit, that looked nice and flattering instead of making me look like a freak of nature, and that felt good on. The pile of things I loved far exceeded my meager shopping budget so I had to edit the pile down to only those items that were on sale and that I knew I’d wear to death — but it was a good learning experience. I now know to not even bother going to the mall unless my shopping target is a suit … unfortunately, no suits at REI. But even for a lawyer, suits are a once or twice a year shopping trip, so I can survive that. For comfortable casual clothes, the brands that fit and flattered my climbergirl shape the best were Lole, Kuhl, Patagonia, Royal Robbins and even some of the REI brand casual tops. Sizing across the brands was pretty consistent (the REI clothes run a tad small on me) so the shopping and trying-on was very efficient. Everything is machine washable and easy care, so that’s even better. And, most of these brands are available on closeout on Sierra Trading Post, so now that I know my size, I can hit STP for sales and I don’t even have to set foot in a store.

So, that’s it. Another stupid non-climbing post… hopefully, I’ll get outside this weekend and then have something more interesting to talk about…

Edit: Total bummer. Nau, an incredibly cool, fashion-forward outdoor clothing company formed “to demonstrate the highest levels of citizenship in everything [they] do: product creation, production, labor practices, the way we treat each other, environmental practices and philanthropy” is going under. Nau was, in my opinion, one to watch … and I’m disappointed that now — when “green is in” even in mainstream fashion — they’re going to fall off the radar because of challenges in the current investment environment. The upside is that their entire catalog is 50% off for their closing sale; the downside is that the website seems to be having a terrible time today — I’m getting errors as I try to look around.

Not Climbing

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.