Mind The Gap. No, Seriously, Watch Out.

One of the things that's both exciting and dangerous about my walk home from work is that it takes me past an entire minefield of stores, their open doors beckoning me in with the lure of a brand spanking new purchase to distract me from an otherwise humdrum day. In the span of three minutes, for instance, I pass H&M, Zara, and the Gap, and if I veer off just everso slightly to the left or right, it's entirely possible for me to be confronted with DSW, Sephora, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and another (even larger) H&M. This, obviously, is a perilous state of affairs for the weak-willed shopper like me. 

In the last year or so, I've become pretty good at dodging the open doors, forging straight ahead instead and aiming for home. Today, however, I popped in to the Gap to browse the racks for summer-suitable attire---I'm going to be in Orlando next week, where the temperature, according to Weather.com, will be NINETY ONE degrees---and ended up in the dressing room with an armload of stuff I'd somehow collected on my perambulations around the store.

Here is the thing: I've always been a medium at the Gap, a good old average medium---I'm talking about size, obviously, not revealing that I'm clairvoyant when faced with racks of scoop-neck Ts---and really, you know what, I'm fine with that. What's wrong with medium? Nothing, that's what. I've been a medium at the Gap since the early 90s---what up, denim overalls!---and I'm sure that somewhere I've got a bunch of ratty, faded tank tops to prove it.

Naturally, therefore, every item of clothing I brought into the dressing room with me was a medium. It's logic, right? You normally buy a medium, you try on a medium; doesn't take a rocket scientist to work it out.

But every single piece of clothing was too big.

It wasn't me, you understand (I'm thinking I'd probably notice if I suddenly dropped ten pounds overnight, NOTICE AND CELEBRATE, HELLS YEAH); it was the clothes themselves. They were roomier, looser, sneaky and sly in the way that they skimmed my skin and hissed "go down to a small, you need a small."

Now, dude, I watch enough Today show to know what this is: it's vanity sizing. A medium is now a large but it's still labeled a medium, a medium gets labeled a small, and so on, and yes, I realize that the Gap probably does this because they think it's terribly flattering---oh, I need a small at the Gap! the Gap makes me feel skinny! I know what I'm going to do, I'm going to buy eight more floaty skirts!---but seriously, this kind of thing has the exact opposite effect on me. I'm not duped, I'm pissed.

Because now you know what I have? I have a whole dressing room full of mediums that are too big, and hell if I'm going to venture all the way out into the store again and exchange everything for a small. End result? I don't buy anything. Because seriously, Internet, life is too short to ask the dressing room attendant to find you that pair of pants in the next size down, and oh, wait, did I say pair of pants, because I meant pairs of pants; I've got three different versions of the bootcut jean here, would you mind?

Gap! Stop it! You're not fooling anyone! I cannot possibly eat that many Trader Joe's fake Cheetos---even if they are 30% lower in fat than the leading national brand---and still have to downsize from a medium to a small. The laws of physics are against it, I'm afraid. It's science.

 ***************************************************************************

You know another thing the Gap should stop? They should stop having sleazy smarmbuckets working the register, the kind of sleazy smarmbuckets who will likely mess with the wrong person one day and find themselves staring at the business end of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a hotshot attorney who only came in to find some cheap pajama pants.

Because do you know what happened to me today, after I'd thrown down the armfuls of not-really-medium mediums in frustration? What happened to me was this: I decided to buy some underpants.

Fair enough, you're thinking, she decided to buy some underpants. The Gap does have some decent underpants, after all, and at least one doesn't have to try them on.

So yes, I decided to buy some underpants. And here is where things got weird.

The employee who offered to ring me up was a guy. Alright, I thought, not my first choice when buying underpants, but it'll be fine: I'll hand over the underpants, he'll ring them up, I'll give him my credit card, he'll give me my receipt, and then it'll all be over, neither of us having made eye contact with the other, no, no, move along please, nothing to see here.

Perfect in theory, right? Well, in practice, it was nothing like that. For a start, the guy fondled---FONDLED!---my three pairs of knickers as he rang them up. Honestly, there was fondling. He fondled. And then, as if the fondling weren't enough, he broke the cardinal rule of Vaguely Awkward Purchase Buying and started talking to me.

"Doing some necessity shopping?" he said, with a smirk, stroking---I kid you not, stroking---my underwear.

 "Ha," I barked, staring straight ahead.

"Or is it just laundry day?" he continued. "Have you run out?"

"Um," I said. "Is that my receipt? Should I sign here?"

I thought it was over, you see. How wrong I was.

"Are you wearing lipstick right now?" asked Skeezeball Cashier after a brief pause, lovingly tucking my new underpants---my new underpants THAT I WOULD SHORTLY GO HOME AND INCINERATE, FULL PRICE BE DAMNED---into a bag and giving them a pat for good measure. "Because your lips are so pink! Is that your natural color?"

"It's....uh...um.... it's a berry stain," I choked out, wildly eying my exits, trying to decide just how quickly I could be out on the street again where, swear to god, I would have thanked a construction worker for a simple, uncomplicated wolf whistle.

"Well, it's cute," he said, handing me my bag of skivvies and smiling conspiratorially in a way that could only scream one thing: I KNOW WHAT YOUR UNDERWEAR LOOKS LIKE.

Remember those old ads from a while back urging you to "Fall into the Gap?" Well, I swear to god, Internet, I didn't just want to Fall Into The Gap, I wanted to Fall Into The Gap and then have it swallow me whole. Something tells me I'll be taking the long way home from work tomorrow. I'll only pass a few innocuous convenience stores, you see, and I can hardly be systematically duped, patronized, angered, creeped out, and then inappropriately flirted with there.

(Or can I? Who knows? Obviously I haven't been to enough San Francisco convenience stores. I'll leave that up to you.)

1
houseofJules
May 07, 2008

Ugh! That is just THE WORST. Shopping "adventures" like this is reason #1,495 that I do most of mine online.
Jules
House of Jules

2
Annie
May 07, 2008

ew. Ew. EW. Honestly, I think I'M going to need therapy after just READING that post. (shudder...sigh...) There are no words. Really.

I walked through the Gap the other day, too. Although, with my 9-month pregnant body, it was more of a stroll down memory lane (and a desperate hope for the future) than anything else. Oh how I miss the shelves of Khakis and the little cotton tops! It's true, though, there's no turning back once you're already in the dressing room - I wouldn't have gone back to switch sizes either. BUT! If the Gap (or any other store, for that matter) wants to put me in a smaller size than I'm really in...which, right now, is ANY SIZE THAT DOESN'T INVOLVE A TUMMY PANEL....then I'm really okay with that.

Your obvious discomfort throughout the underwear saga reminds me of the time I was in Victoria's Secret making a discreet purchase of my own when I turned around in line to discover two of my high school students directly behind me. It should be noted that I was a RELIGION teacher...in a CATHOLIC school. I guess everyone gets an unfortunate underwear purchasing story at some point or other.

3
Heather B.
May 07, 2008

Promise we'll go shopping when I'm in SF! PROMISE!

4
Ursula
May 07, 2008

I hate vanity sizing. I exercise to fit into smaller sizes, and I don't want the Gap, or any other large store, to tarnish the sense of accomplishment I have about getting into a size four (er, one day). Seriously, when smalls or fours fit me, I think, "am I really deserving of this size, or ARE THEY TRICKING ME into feeling skinnier in these skinny jeans?"

5
Kate
May 07, 2008

I can't deal with the Gap lately because the clothes just don't work for me; if I had to deal with that guy I'd never walk in there again.

Also, while it might be in the low 90s next week, please remember that it's also air conditioning season -- 91 outside, sweater weather inside. I am practically wearing gloves at my desk as I type this.

6
Raven
May 07, 2008

OMG! How completely uncomfortable and inappropriate! UGH.

I have sizing problems. I want all my clothes in my closet to be the same size unless I BUY different sizes. I don't get how you can take clothes into a dressing room that are the same size but all fit differently, it infuriates me!

7
Christina
May 07, 2008

I have had the same sizing issue at the Gap lately! I have also been a medium there my entire life, and nearly every shirt I've purchased there in the last 6 months has been a size small. I will say that I think it has a lot to do with the floaty-ness of a lot of the current stuff... when I buy anything fitted there (basic tee, button down, etc) I still require a medium. Perhaps I'm just getting chubbier and failing to recognize it ;)

Oh, and I would have had nightmares about that creepy dude. I mean, seriously, EYE CONTACT? TALKING? That's just wrong.

8
Mandee
May 07, 2008

That is just gross. And wrong. And disgusting.

Oh, and if you find yourself in Winter Park while visiting Orlando, check out my best friend's boutique. www.gingerstyle.net. Very cute.

9
nancypearlwannabe
May 07, 2008

Thank god! I totally thought I was going crazy in the Gap the other day when absolutely everything was all floaty and weird on me. Or that it was the new style. Now I just need to get a size smaller? This is the kind of news I need to read.

10
metalia
May 07, 2008

My issue with the Gap (at least with their maternity clothes) is that I'll need an XS in one thing, and a medium in another. Depending on the style of maternity pants/skirts, I'll wear anything from a size 1 to a 4 there. And it's just so annoying, considering that I buy most of it online, and need to buy four different sizes in the hopes of finding one thing that fits.GET IT TOGETHER, GAP.

11
geeky
May 07, 2008

Oh thank god, I thought it was just me! I went shopping a few weekends ago (at Gap and other places) and everywhere I went, everything was too big! I was trying on smalls and extra smalls and they were still TOO BIG.

12
Diane
May 07, 2008

Being that I am a lazy ass - the vanity sizing was totally created for people like me. I will say - when I am trying on clothes on what feels like a fat day and I am fitting into a medium with ease and room to spare I am a happy girl.

Nothing makes me happier than a bag full of clothes that are a 'size smaller' than what I normally wear. I know that they are totally snowing me with their sizing and I don't care. I think this is a large part of the reason that most of my casual wardrobe comes from The Gap.

And the skeevy guy - EEEWWW!

13
Tiffany
May 07, 2008

Eeewwwwwww. Icky. Yuck.

14
Moose
May 07, 2008

I love Walgreens. All the male cashiers stare straight ahead - probably thinking about pirated Xbox games - and don't care WHAT you hand them. Too bad you can't buy underwear there. (Well, maybe you can. But I wouldn't want to. Of course, now I don't want to buy underwear at the Gap either. Or even walk in, ever again.)

15
Maya
May 07, 2008

Yeah- Gap really does vanity sizing. It makes most people feel great about themselves.

I am so sorry about your run-in with weirdo. I would be soooooooo uncomfortable. I have a salad guy at my job who breaks the normal code of eye contact. Every time I go get a salad (which is daily, since I need to take off this baby weight after having twins)he stares at me for wayy too long. It makes my skin crawl. And I know he's looking at my chest when he thinks Im not looking. Yuck.

16
A'Dell
May 07, 2008

I ventured back to the Gap recently for the first time in ages as well - the same thing happened to me except I shopped online for some decent maternity clothes.

I was CERTAIN that the sizes I ordered would fit since they have fit me for years.

Everything was gigantic and not just because it was cut for a pregnant lady. It was ridiculous and totally infuriating. I was so pissed.

Banana Republic does it too. It's so annoying.

17
Camels & Chocolate
May 07, 2008

I had that problem in the Gap recently -- well, not the sketch cash wrap dude -- I brought a bunch of mediums into the dressing room (like you, I've been a medium at Gap since I could practically walk) and they all swallowed me whole. So the dressing room attendant had to get me all smalls and even they were all too big, or else didn't have what I wanted in a small (since small is the new medium apparently, and whereas most places are always out of all mediums, apparently it's now the smalls instead).

Also, Gap is where the guy ringing my friend Helle and me up said, "Oh, you're from Denmark? Isn't that in Belgium?" And he had a European accent.

18
Anne in SC
May 07, 2008

Hey - could be he's also the creepy person who "favorited" all your shoe pictures. - yuck -

19
Rebecca Faulkner
May 07, 2008

Was the clerk gay? I mean, why would he be so concerned about your lip color? I hope he was gay. I think that makes it way less creepy.

20
Luisa
May 07, 2008

That same thing has happened to me at the Gap and I am also not amused. I don't care about numbers - just give me a shirt that fits, dammit.

21
NothingButBonfires
May 07, 2008

Rebecca Faulkner -- I don't THINK he was gay. Obviously I don't know one way or the other, but he was...really not giving me that impression.

22
Stephanie
May 07, 2008

It's not just the vanity sizing that bothers me, it's the fact that their clothes no longer are sized to fit actual humans. Or is that just me? I find the sleeves a very strange cut, where the shoulders begin somewhere around my clavicle and the yet the cuff still hangs past my hand. I feel like Theo on the Cosby show (hellooo 80s flashback, please tell me you know the episode of which I speak.)
Anyway, If I were you and I'm not, so allow me to recommend that you write a strongly-worded letter to GAP regarding said skeezie underwear stroker.
There's really no reason one should feel violated when purchasing panties, or knickers or chonies or whatever you wish to call them.
International undergarment purchasing protocol is very clear on this matter, purchaser is to look at the counter, cashier is to look straight ahead, there is to be no eye contact, and the transaction is to be quick and painless. No talking!

23
Georgia
May 07, 2008

Being an XS at the Gap and Old Navy is just ANNOYING! I swear I'm not bragging...I'm a S or M everywhere else.
And speaking of unnecessary flirting...your story sucks! There's a guy who delivers food to my office a couple times a week and while he's waiting for whoever ordered it to come to the front desk (where I sit) and sign for it, he takes like 10 pieces of candy from the candy bowl and give me the creeeepiest "we're in this together" look. It makes me want to crawl out of my skin.

24
Scarlett
May 07, 2008

Mind the Gap, indeed. They will swing wildly back and forth with the vanity sizing. It annoys the heck out of me. Thank goodness Banana Republic doesn't seem to do that as well.

25
Gretchen
May 07, 2008

I've noticed vanity sizing becoming more and more prevalent. I used to wear a lot of DKNY when I was younger and thinner, and it was such a kick to have the size 2s be sort of loose on me. (They don't, or didn't, make a size 0).

Right now I wear Ralph Lauren pants from Costco or somewhere in a 4 when I know damned well I'm probably more like a 6 after three kids. And Victoria's Secret is in on it too now -- I bought a pair of pants from the Pink line in a size S, and they are really big on me. No way am I an XS. Don't know what girls who are REALLY XS do.

26
abbersnail
May 07, 2008

That is hilarious. I have been to this exact gap, and have also experienced having my clothing fondled in front of me. I believe the exact words uttered were, "This must be so SOFT against your skin." Not offensive, true, but still a little awkward.

27
Erica
May 07, 2008

Orlando has a large British population so the local grocery store chain Publix usually has a British foods section - they have Cadbury, wine gums etc.

28
jennifer in sf
May 07, 2008

Ew. I'm suddenly very glad that I didn't see anything I wanted in the Gap last time I was there.

And their vanity sizing is annoying, but nothing beats the insane random sizing of H&M. Seriously I think every piece of clothing I have from them (and there are many) is a different size.

29
Leah
May 07, 2008

Acceptable cashiers for women's clothing stores: (1) women, (2) homosexuals.

30
Chiada
May 07, 2008

It completely astounds me how often people remark to you something about your lipslick!!! For all the comments you get, you should be a CoverGirl and be getting paid to wear it! They could just take a picture of you, blow it up and put it on a giant billboard, and hordes of people would swarm the local drug stores for the stuff. Geeez.

31
angela
May 07, 2008

YUCK!!!!!!

32
chris
May 07, 2008

I know exactly what you mean about the vanity sizing. It is so annoying, no one thinks they are actually thinner. I was shopping and needed an XXXS, which used to me a S just a few years ago because I still have the clothes with those tags in them. Or the fact that I have a size 4 dress from two years ago and at the same exact store I needed a OO this time. What is that? It isn't even a size! hello, I am practically invisible.

33
Todd
May 07, 2008

Yeesh.

On behalf of nice guys and decent human beings everywhere, I feel compelled to say that NOT ALL OF US GUYS ARE LIKE THAT. The vastly overwhelming majority are (sigh), but there is a small-but-strong contingent of us who are saddened by that type of Cro-Magnon behavior.

Sorry you had to deal with that.

In other news, sizing issues are the same with guys' clothes. I was a Medium for my whole adult life, until a few years ago when I suddenly discovered that I had become a Small, despite the fact that I hadn't changed in size. I mean, that's flattering and all, but I haven't forgotten that I'm really a Medium. Or maybe it's due to the fact that more and more Americans every day are becoming XX-Large, and they're ruining it for the rest of us.

34
Northwest Girl
May 07, 2008

Ok, ok, I'm going to go there...since no one else did (you can always delete my comment later)and my mind is often in the gutter. I would have been hard pressed not say anything sick and/or nasty. The laundry day question could have gone in soooo many directions. Skid marks comes to mind. Something good that he could be mulling over for days.

35
Simon
May 08, 2008

Could've been worse. At least he didn't sniff.

I've seen it happen.

36
hipwritermama
May 08, 2008

Eeewwww!

37
Sheila
May 08, 2008

I was going to get myself post-haste to the nearest Gap to load up on Mediums, as I am the customer the marketing mavens were hoping for when choosing to instill vanity sizing, BUT... then I read on, and now I think I'll stand in solidarity with you against smarmy cashiers everywhere by taking myself elsewhere for (large size, reality bites) khakis.

A cashier in Target once made me similarly angered when I was buying a product which my Catholic self should never admit to needing (OK, they um... rhymed with RONDOMS). This punk teenager actually stopped scanning my merchandise, looked up and me with a raised eyebrow and said, "Uh-oh" in a way that made me want to punch him in the face. But I didn't, because my INFANT and TODDLER were with me at the time, and it may have been inappropriate to give that guy a dressing down on the importance of responsible sexual activity and cashier conduct!

38
Susan
May 08, 2008

Your post made me laugh, and then Chris' comment made me laugh harder.

That is all.

39
B2G
May 08, 2008

OMG CREEPER! Ewwwwwwwww!

40
Emily
May 08, 2008

Yes, Ann Taylor LOFT does this to me to. In there, I am a size SIX. Six! Honestly, anyone who has ever seen my rear end knows there is nothing sixxy about it.

GET IT? Instead of SEXY? SIXXY? I hope you're laughing, like, one eighty-seventh as hard as I am right now.

41
Nothing But Bonfires
May 08, 2008

Oh, I am. I am.

42
Manda
May 08, 2008

AWKWARD!
Sorry dude, that sucks.
And I HATE vanity sizing!! Finally someone else out there who hates it!! :)

43
edj
May 09, 2008

Oh I DESPISE vanity sizing. Everytime we come to the States, I'm down a size. Yeah, whatever. I'm not fooled.
I have to admit to not being all that sympathetic to Chris being a size 00 though. Any size below 4 just loses me. Go her, though.
And ick! re: the cashier. Eww.