Thursday, July 31, 2014

Newfound Love: H&M

+JMJ+

Let me start by saying that, unfortunately, this is not a sponsored post. I actually wish it was - because that would mean I might have an awesome giveaway for one lucky reader, but alas...no such thing. Instead, I have chosen to write this post entirely from the goodness of my heart because I recently discovered some serious love for this store. But before we get to all of that, let me back up.

For those of you that are women: you know that the clothes-shopping struggle is real. As Matt Walsh once explained it in a letter he wrote to his daughter,

"I guess I’ve learned to take a few things for granted. As a guy, I can walk into any clothing store and find something that A) fits, and B) provides my body with basic coverage, which is the whole reason clothing exists in the first place, according to Wikipedia. As you will eventually discover, women have an entirely different experience. For them, even something as simple as clothes shopping becomes an all out assault on their values, priorities, and body image." -Matt Walsh, Dear Daughter, please believe me that you're beautiful

Preach.

Here's the part where I confess to all of you that I am what people call a "skinny minnie"...and I have never had to work particularly hard to be this way. Sure, I was a serious dancer for years and I have a degree in Kinesiology as a Fitness Specialist so clearly I am passionate about being active. But my dad is/was/has always been rail-thin, my mom is a 5'3" woman with a petite frame, and my body-build is genetic. Please know that I recognize how much of a blessing this often is - and know that I do not aim to take for granted the fact that I haven't necessarily had to personally deal with the same challenges and body-image issues that several of my sisters in Christ have (though I do ask you to please recognize that many thin girls also struggle with body image - often times because of the derogatory and/or thoughtless comments they hear from others who strive to tear them down or make them feel guilty for something they either cannot control or have worked hard to achieve).

As a Fitness Specialist and a dancer, I have encountered plenty of friends, teammates, students, and clients that have struggled with body image, eating disorders, and weight loss, so I know that it's a touchy subject. However, I can't change the fact that I'm the girl who has a hard time building upper body muscle even if I'm lifting weights at the gym every single day (nor should I have to apologize for the way God made me - and neither should you!). I have a crazy-high metabolism and that's just how my body works. It's not easy for me to gain weight - unless I'm pregnant, in which case I can apparently pack on 48 lbs. (true story) as I effectively grow a baby inside me.

At this point, some of you may be sippin' the Haterade and wondering where I'm going with this, so I'll cut to the chase. Just because I'm naturally thin doesn't mean it's easy for me to find clothing.

In fact, I often have a difficult time because I'm small. My size means that I have a hard time fitting into "grown-up" clothes that match my values on modesty (have you seen what is regularly marketed to teenage girls these days?). Often times when I'm in the normal womens' (or petites') section the clothing hangs awkwardly on my frame - or fits in some places but not all. So what do I do? I carefully pick and choose as I go back and forth between the womens' and the juniors' departments. And it's often tedious and frustrating.

Some women have "go-to" stores where they know things will fit their bodies, their style, and their level of desired modesty...but lately I have found myself in a state of flux, constantly searching for such a store. Target is often a safe bet for some items, but it doesn't work for me 100% of the time. In fact, I decided to walk around our local mall a few weeks ago while my husband got his hair cut and I felt so...lost. I had an idea of what wardrobe items I was in search of, but had no clue what stores might have them (where they would also fit me). I looked at display case after display case and walked away from many store fronts feeling discouraged.

Add to the mix that I'm now a mom. Not only do I have a human being to care for, but I have found that much of my "pre-pregnancy" wardrobe no longer "works" for me. Despite the fact that I've long since lost all of the pregnancy weight, my body is different. My clothing needs are different (especially when you add nursing to the mix!).

So far on this motherhood journey it seems that I've had multiple wardrobes: pre-pregnancy, early pregnancy, mid-late pregnancy, early postpartum (and nursing), and later on postpartum once I was my "normal" size again (still nursing). How tiring! At this point I am finally more confident about what clothing items and styles I want to have that would be more versatile and comfortable in future years as my body (hopefully) continues fluctuating with the addition of more babies to our family.

Do I think that having a beautiful, fancy wardrobe is of utmost importance? No. Not at all, actually. But do I notice a difference in how I feel and carry myself depending on how I dress and whether or not I'm literally comfortable (or not) in my clothes? Absolutely. I know it's entirely a "first world problem" that nobody wants to feel like their only clothing options make them feel uncomfortable, but it's a reality within our culture where we have plenty of options in which we can feel comfortable and dress appropriately for different occasions.

Cue H&M.

I now own some of these exact pieces.

My husband and I went to another mall this past weekend and I was on a mission. I knew what kinds of shirts my wardrobe was lacking and I have always had a vision and sense of what styles I like as well. The problem lately has been finding stores that bring all these things together. As we approached the Forever 21 (a store I have a love/hate relationship with), I noticed H&M to my left. I've shopped there occasionally in the past, but it's not typically one of the stores that pops up first on my radar (mainly because I come from a small town in Indiana that's at least 45 minutes to the closest mall - which doesn't even have an H&M). On that particular day I decided to check it out. My husband seemed somewhat surprised, but humored me all the same.

As soon as I entered the store I began seeing pieces that fit all my criteria in regards to style, modesty, fit, comfort, price-tag, and versatility for different stages of pre/post pregnancy. I was legitimately surprised at how easy and pain-free it was for me to quickly find more than 10 pieces to try on. Not only that, but H&M has maternity clothing, y'all. I had already sort of known this (having discovered it very late in my pregnancy with Gabriel) and lamented the fact I hadn't known sooner - but I think I had partially forgotten about it.

I ended up purchasing 4 shirts and a dress - all of which should fit me well regardless of whether or not I'm early on in pregnancy, postpartum (fluctuating both in my chest and stomach/uterus), nursing, or simply not pregnant or nursing at all (Alleluia!). Plus, I got excited about any future pregnancies Michael and I may be blessed with because (aside from the obvious, awesome baby part) have you seen their maternity clothing styles and prices? I love Target, but all too often the only maternity items I could get there were extremely basic cotton pieces. Some pregnant women want to be stylish, too, without spending an arm and a leg at niche pregnancy stores, am I right?

Long story short, H&M's clothing options gave me a much-needed refreshing, pain-free, stress-free shopping experience that actually (as weird as it might sound) makes me want to go shopping again (as the mother of an almost-one-year-old I cannot tell you the last time I wanted to go clothes shopping for myself and had a 100% positive experience). 

Thank you, H&M, for providing goods that met my many clothing needs and standards. Your store (along with IKEA) are making me so proud of my fellow Swedes. Please keep up the awesome work (and if anyone from your company happens to read this, I'd be happy to write sponsored posts for you in the future...wink wink). 

Do any of you have "go-to" clothing stores or brands? Which places have you found to meet your pregnant/not-pregnant/postpartum needs? I'm all ears!


“Women, modesty means you have beauty and power. And you use that to teach men how to love you for the right reasons."
-Jason Evert

6 comments:

  1. I'm perhaps the LAST person to comment on fashion because I'm so abysmally bad at shopping, but I like New York & Co. a lot. I used to buy more things there when I needed "professional" wear, but even their t-shirts and casual dresses are 'nice' looking without being too pricey or too immodest. I think the hardest thing for me in places like Forever 21 and H&M is that they just aren't my style. I want them to be sometimes, but they aren't-- and I think it has taken me far too long to figure that out. I've also found success with the super-duper clearance racks at J. Crew.
    You can tell how often I (don't) shop :) :) :)

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    1. I have seen some nice things from New York & Co, but I never think to check them out. Good suggestion! I know what you mean about the styles of Forever 21 and H&M.... I have some great Forever 21 pieces, but finding them is like finding a needle in a haystack (which is so frustrating for a mom who doesn't have a lot of time to shop). I was pleasantly surprised at how well H&M fit the style I was looking for! I love a lot of J. Crew's style but I rarely venture in there because of the prices. I suppose I should try and hit up their clearance racks more often!

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  2. Ohh boy do I love that store...the prices are really comparable to some of my more favorite, but expensive places to shop! :)

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  3. I will have to check them out more seriously next time I venture in. We went in a couple of weeks ago, but much like Forever 21... I get seriously intimidated with clothing overload. There certainly is versatility galore! Which is definitely a good thing since I like to browse. I guess I just immediately get overwhelmed so I find a smaller store.
    Annnnnd I just checked and their store is finally online now. Score! Thanks for the recommendation. Now I'm off to fuel my shopping ;)

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    1. YES. Forever 21 is so overwhelming to me! It's seriously like searching for a needle in a haystack & as a mom with a baby I don't have much time or patience for that. I'm sure some H&M's are the same way, but the one I was at was very well organized and I didn't feel overwhelmed at all. I'm glad I could help you out with some suggestions. :)

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  4. Good H&M bonus? They're kids clothes are pretty awesome. I bought some of their pants on a whim. They run a bit large, but they have come in handy on some of our recent cool days. I love the quality and the price was so reasonable. I plan on buying more for him. Maybe I'll give them more of a chance for me too.

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