Act 1: We All Want New Clothes
I woke up one day and I knew I needed a new coat. No, I didn’t need one, I wanted one. That one fancy coat I didn’t have because I haven’t been outside to do anything but grocery shopping for almost 12 months. Somehow I’ve managed to go through this pandemic without needing new clothes (except for that one pair of shoes I had to buy, even though there was nowhere to go. They were on sale, I’m sure you all understand). In my mind I thought the day would never come, but let’s face reality: at some point, you’ll need it. We all need it. Either because we physically do, or because we need to satisfy that shopaholic drive.
But I knew that if I wanted to satisfy my craving, online shopping would be a necessary evil I’d have to go through.
It took me two days—and a contemplative look at my sad, unhappy wardrobe—to decide that hell was worth it. And so the online quest for the brand new coat began.
Act 2: Facing the Enemy
Opening a webpage has never been this scary. It was overwhelming: the menu section had more types of clothes than I knew existed. T-shirt dresses? When did that become a thing? Why aren’t we calling them oversized t-shirts? There are 10 different types of dresses categories in the H&M webpage (and I couldn’t find any I liked). I found out about shackets that day as well, and how much I hate them. If you don’t know what they are, I think you’re better off living in ignorance.
Anyways, I was there for a coat, not a dress. The Jackets & Coats section only had 8 extra categories, which I still thought was slightly too overwhelming, but totally approachable.
There were so many coats. Coats you can’t touch to know how they feel because online shopping. Coats that look so fucking pretty but you can’t put on to see if they actually look good on you because online shopping. Coats that seem to be warm but there’s no way you could possibly know how thick they truly are because online shopping. Coats that look wonderful on the gorgeous models—who are 6 ft tall (and I don’t know about you, I’m hardly 5 ft). There are also ugly coats, but what if they only look ugly on that particular model? What if they look good on me? But I’ll never know, because online fucking shopping.
And so I gave up. For two hours.
Act 3: Fuck Clothes
But I needed the coat. Everything was against me: no measure tape, no other coat from the same brand hanging in my wardrobe, and after reducing the options from 10 coats to 1 I realised there were 3 different colours for the same coat, all equally pretty in the 6 ft model. And are those even real colours? What if they are using a specific light that’s making it look like pale pink when it is actually bright pink? And then the temptation to just get it in black is always there. A look in my almost all-black clothes wardrobe quickly solved this issue, but there was still the big question of size.
Here’s the problem: if the coat is too big or too small, you can only return it, not change it. And then you have to wait 30 days for the refund to be placed in your card, and then you can buy the fucking coat again on a different size (and you can still fail for a second time).
How do people solve this problem? No clue. Yes, the H&M webpage has lots of resources to help you with this: they do tell you the real size of the model in most of the items; they also provide a size guide that seems pretty accurate. Plus all the reviews and comments and some sort of “fit” thermometer based on them. Cool cool cool, but you still can’t try the fucking coat on you. No size guide will give you the confidence that your own body can provide you with. And mind me: even when I can try on clothes, it still takes me ages to decide if I should buy the long fluffy coat or the short bomber jacket.
I changed the size three times. Then the colour twice. I was about to pay when I started having second thoughts and emptied the cart. I quit again, for like, an hour or so. Convinced myself I didn’t really need a coat that much.
So, what did I do?
I bought the coat.
On light green, a colour I personally named bluish grey because I don’t see where the green is coming from.
On the same size as most of my clothes.
And added some extra thighs because those I didn’t need to try them on anyways.
Was it worth the almost 6 hours of pure agony in front of the computer? Maybe.
Would I do it again?
I think I’d rather wear the same clothes for a whole new year than buy clothes online again. But let’s hope such extremes won’t be necessary in the near future.
Siham Lee is a Chilean writer living in Glasgow. She’s currently doing a Mlitt in Creative Writing while writing short stories to keep herself alive and mentally stable in the midst of working on her first novel. The rest of the time she’s either rewatching Brooklyn 99 for the ninth time or eating all the cookies in the house.