My Obsession with the Fit of Shirts Deserves Its Own Article

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One of my favorite lyrics in a song is from “Country Feedback” by REM:

“These clothes don’t fit us right
I’m to blame”

Now, note that the true meaning of the song resonates with me—at least as far as I interpret it. But that’s not the reason I’m mentioning this lyric here—I often interpret lyrics multiple ways. The song itself is about a relationship of some sort1. That means something powerful, but then I extrapolate just these words and apply them to a completely different, personal situation.

One of my obsessions is with the fit of my shirt. The rest of my clothes aren’t as big of a deal—as long as they do fit close enough. But shirts, especially t-shirts2 have to fit in a very exact manner. I don’t have measurements to give, but the sleeves have to hit a very specific spot, and the bottom of the shirt can’t ever ride up over my waste even when moving.

This is probably a shocking revelation in that you’re reading about my OCD. Probably common. Heck, you probably already thought I would have such an obsession. I take it to the extreme of compulsion as well, which—as someone with Pure-O or a variance of—isn’t that common to me. Yes, I will throw out fairly new t-shirts if they’ve shrunk mere fractions of inches. And I don’t have the money to do this! But I’m not going to wear them. Ok, I may put them in the special place in my closet for clothes I’ll never wear again. That exists. So, basically, I throw them out but Goodwill doesn’t get them.

Now the observation I’ve made recently about this whole obsession is that it actually isn’t merely a matter of physical measurements. Oh, it is true that some shirts are just too small for me and wearing them would ruin my day. Ruin until I retired the shirt forever, so let’s go with ruin a few hours. No, I’ve noticed something that relates to my OCD on a deeper level.

My OCD is tied to anxiety and my mood swings. I have OCD episodes where my OCD is heightened as compared to what is normal for me. OCD can do that! Now, when this happens—when my anxiety and all that bad stuff turns up a few notches—I will notice shirts that did not bother me at all before and have just sat in the closet not at all shrinking, now feel as if they don’t fit right. Oh, and I am positive of this not fitting right.

It is as if my mood caused the shirt to shrink the few fractions of an inch necessary to ruin my time wearing such. This will depress me, as I now feel I need to shop for new shirts again.

I’m sitting here right now in a fairly good mood. My shirt fits just right. However, for most of the day, my mood was foul. Life was terrible. During that time, my shirt absolutely—in my mind—did not fit right.

Oh, and it cannot be said enough—this ruins the day. The only reason I muscled through this was that the shirt is new, it is the exact same brand and size I always buy (thus ensuring a predictable fit even after washing), and therefore I knew this was in my mind. Well, I knew this but my other brain still felt all the horrible things an ill-fit shirt brings.

So this is something I deal with. I’ve learned to push through it hoping a better mood will prove the shirt hasn’t shrunk. However, during that time the lyric above loops through my head: “These clothes don’t fit us right…”


1 Though I don’t think at this point Michael Stipe had written about love other than “Losing My Religion” up to that point.  [BACK]

2 I wear t-shirts almost exclusively as they’re just easier, generally have one color, and if we’re talking sleeves fitting right—button up shirts I can cheat with by rolling up the sleeves.  [BACK]