How to Survive... Shopping for Clothes

Expand your options and make it fun

by Nicole Chia | Mon, April 17, 2017

When you’re on the more generous side of the sizing spectrum, clothes shopping can be less like fun and more like a waking nightmare. Living in a country where size 00 was invented can be hard when you’re looking for the perfect fit. Sometimes you just want to go to the store, buy something off the rack and wear it to dinner! Here’s how to cope.

1. Start big. If you’ve had no luck at the more familiar places like Gap, Zara or H&M (and let’s face it, the prices are ridiculous) then it’s time to put on your game face, grab a buddy for emotional and honest pants-sizing support and head to Qipu Lu Clothing Market. Be prepared for total sensory overload. Throw caution to the wind and dive head first into the giant pile of jeans hoping that something in there will have enough stretch to fit over your Western-sized thighs! And don’t lose hope even when you’re shooed away from your third rack of pants. Instead, take heart that on one of the multiple floors of this market there are stretchy leggings calling your name.


2. Taobao is a fashion dream – if you can manage to wade through the tackiness. Let your fingers do the shopping and see if you can find the perfect summer dress, bathing suit, jacket, or whatever. Make sure to check the sizing charts carefully or don’t be surprised if that cute pencil skirt you just bought can barely fit over one leg. If you’re still not having any luck, check your ego at the door and add choice keywords such as “big size” or “fat clothes” or “fatty fat” in Chinese (oh, how we wish that was a joke) and see your fashion options expand. Eat extra chocolate while doing this to pull through. That “fatty-so-fat skirt with extra high-trend fashion” will be so worth it.


3. Don’t give up hope. Even when physical and virtual shopping fails you there is still a world of tailors here ready to help make your wardrobe into something wondrous! Go to the nearest fake or fabric market tailor and let them have their way with you (if you’ve never been measured by a tailor before, you’ll soon know what we mean). And remember: it’s always best to bring in some sort of item you already have. Unless it’s a pair of jeans; for some reason those just never come out right. Never. Better to go to Uniqlo and get yourself some fashionable jeggings. Extra stretch = extra good!

No matter what, never lose faith that by shopping enough you will eventually find SOMETHING to fit you. Even if that means wearing fake Lululemon yoga pants or “oversized” sweaters as “regular fit” for the rest of your Shanghai life.