General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

How do I get my mother to stop buying me ugly clothes?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) January 3rd, 2011

For my entire life, my mother has been in the habit of buying me clothes. I’m not talking about taking me to a store and letting me pick out a few things, I mean like she’ll find a shirt at one of her stores, buy it, and then ask me if I’d like it. Unfortunately, she has a tendency to pick things that I don’t like. And by tendency, I mean that out of several hundred things she has gotten for me, 90% have been gawd-awful, and the rest have been of the “Well, if I have nothing else to wear, I guess I could put it on” variety. Not once has she gotten me something that is actually my style. Ever. She took me dress shopping last year – of the 100+ dresses she showed me in the store, not one of them was even “try on” material.
I thought that once I was older and not a minor, she’d stop. She hasn’t.

Here’s the really hard part: Every time I tell her that it’s not for me, she looks so hurt and dejected and says in a little kid voice “Oh, ok…”. It’s like I’ve shot Bambi’s mother.

What I’d really like is for her to simply stop buying me clothes so that I don’t have to shoot Bambi’s mother. How do I accomplish this?

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40 Answers

faye's avatar

Can there be a ‘no clothes’ bargain? Or you will pick out what you like in a store or catalogue with her for her to buy?

gailcalled's avatar

How old are you?

Would she give you a clothing allowance?

Or would she give you ½ the clothing allowance and allow you to earn the other half by baby sitting or doing chores for neighbors, etc?

Edit: I see that you are 24. It’s time to take a stand; you can be both loving and courteous. Snip those strings.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@gailcalled 24. I’ve lived on my own for quite some time now. She’ll take me shopping once a year and let me pick out clothes and just buy those, and I’ve got the rest covered – I don’t need any of these clothes. Definitely don’t need a $150 blouse from Nordstroms (I’ll spill stuff on it in no time!)

@faye How would I bring that up?

Blueroses's avatar

I think you have to live with mom’s misguided attempts to show her love with gifts. Her motivation probably comes from a good place, it’s the execution that’s off.

How about just saying “I don’t really need anything right now, but I’d love to go shopping with you. Call me next time you go.”

The offer of time might fill her need to give things to you.

gailcalled's avatar

@papayalily: You have to re-establish your relationship as adult to adult…it is often very difficult, but may get easier once you take the first step.

Be affectionate and factual..“Mom, I love that you wanted to buy me an expensive blouse, but a) it’s not my style, b) I usually don’t wear white blouses c) I do better these days when I pick out my own clothing.

Does she let others choose her wardrobe? If not, why?

And I wonder if that little kid voice is really a way for her to manipulate you. Making a child (adult or not) feel guilty does not lead to loving mature relationships.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Next year well before Christmas discuss cutting back on gift giving with her. Tell her you’d like to pick out some things for her to give to you. If she agrees, pick out the things and send them to her. She gets to wrap them and give them to you. We do that in my family.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@gailcalled Of course it is. She has borderline personality disorder. If she was a normal, reasonable person this issue would have been over long ago. At the very least, she would have picked up on the trend…

zenvelo's avatar

I stopped my mother from buying clothing gifts when I was about your age by telling her that a gift card to a nice store would be more appreciated, and allow me to hit the after Christmas sales. And then I made a big deal about taking them over to my parents house so she could see. Also, every time I wore something around her that had been paid by the gift, I pointed it and said “I bought this with the gift card you gave me.”

gailcalled's avatar

@papayalily: Aha. A horse of a different color.

YOu may have to take off the gloves and be really firm…over and over. Take your stand and don’t let her push you back. As long as she is successful in making you feel guilty and childish, why should she change?

Not easy and not pleasant, I know. Good luck.

JLeslie's avatar

I guess she finds joy in picking these things out or you. And likes the whole gift giving, surprise thing.

Can you give her a list of items you want before your birthday and christmas, so she is more likely to stick to the list, but has some choice on what item to buy for you?

Maybe plan a shopping trip with her for clothes at various times of the year, to fufill her need to buy you clothes?

The thing is some people just like to buy off the list, I will never understand it, I am too practical for that type of thinking, but if it is on of the joys in her life, you might have to live with it.

Can you exchange the item for something you like better?

I predict, eventually, once you have babies, if you ever have some babies, she will shower them with gifts, and you will have less trouble with this.

Cruiser's avatar

Can you go shopping with her or at the very least catalog shop and clip out items for her to pick up at the store for you? Better yet shop on line together.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie I have. And she’ll buy those clothes, too, but then she’ll throw in a few “I saw this and thought of you” outfits as well. I think she’s hoping to find that one outfit that’s perfect and gain approval that way. But she doesn’t take notes on what I like, so much as what she likes… She showed me one last night that (swear to God) I thought she had purchased for my Nana instead. It was also two times too big – not two sizes too big, but you could have fit two of me in there.
Yeah, like I’m gonna let her around my babies. I don’t want them to need therapy!

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily Is she spending herself into the poorhouse? If she is just going to be neurotic like this, but it is only a couple of times a year, and she can afford it, I guess try not to let it bother you. Take it as a funny thing, one of her quirks. Something for a Seinfeld episode.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
pinksnowflake's avatar

It’s hard to buy nice-looking clothes when AT LEAST 95% of what is in stores is absolutely hideous. I have to make my own or rework bought clothes if I want something that looks good.

AZByzantium's avatar

Easy. Taste is something not everyone has, fashion is something not everyone understands. She will not get better at this, so the only thing you can do is take a “moral stance”. Whenever I don’t want to be involved with something I just explain that it is something I try not to engage in no matter who it is with. So if you can pull it off, explain to your mother that you recently have been reflecting on how much you have and how little others have and you no longer wish to have a surplus of clothing. Ask her instead to donate clothing to salvation army or another clothing charity. If she continues to buy you clothing you don’t have to worry about saying “I don’t like that” rather you get to say “Mom, I explained I really have to much and so you can return it or donate it.” You’re not the bad guy and neither is she :)

faye's avatar

I guess you just have to sit her down and talk to her about it all, or continue to take outfits back and get clothes you like, or take the clothes back to her. This last seems kind of mean but might work the best. I bet you wouldn’t have to do it often. My best idea would be to tell her the truth the next time you get something and turn it into a luncheon talk.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie Honestly, I’m not sure. She gives me a few hundred a month for rent (which I greatly appreciate). However, every other month she’ll buy me a new top or a bunch of nice lotion or something – at least 100 bucks worth – and I’ll say “Oh, thanks, but you know, I don’t really need this…” and she’ll say “Oh, I know, I just thought it would be a nice treat for you” but then a couple weeks later when it comes time for monthly money, she’ll tell me how she’s low on money right now and can only afford to give me half that. I’ll offer to let her return to items (I always keep them unopened for at least a month) so that I can pay my rent instead, but she’ll tell me “No, no, that’s a treat for you” and I have to bite back telling her “You know what’s a real treat? My landlord not evicting me”. But I’m honestly not sure if she really is low on money (in which case, given how much she gets in alimony, she has WAY bigger spending problems than this) or if she just tends to freak out and I get the brunt of it.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@pinksnowflake I actually do have stores that I frequently shop in and enjoy most of their clothes. There’s just very little crossover between a 60 year old stick-thin “skinny bitch” tall socialite, and a 24 year old short and has a butt and hips even when she’s thin Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

chyna's avatar

I had this problem years ago. After trying different tactics, I finally said, “Look mom, your tastes and my tastes are totally different. Either shop with me or just stop buying me clothes.”
It worked.

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily In that case I would say don’t “bite back.” You are going to have to be direct with her, she will not read between your lines. This might be a lesson in communication for you. If she is really bad with making money decisions, and generally an unrealistic person, it might turn out that her feelings get hurt and she continues to give you things you don’t need while you can’t pay rent. But, if she thinks you are getting by ok with rent, and that she wants to give you a treat to brighten your day, because you reinforce it, she will go right on thinking it, because that is how she tends to think. She might like those type of surprises, and is projecting herself onto you.

You don’t need to criticize her taste, make it about her being helpful in the best way possible and how you appreciate it. Right now you prefer to not worry about expenses than have a new blouse.

pinksnowflake's avatar

papayalily, I’d sure like to know where you shop if you’re able to find decent clothes. Nothing I see anywhere – in shops, on TV, in magazines, or in catalogs – is worth the cloth they’re cut from.

Facade's avatar

I had the same issue with my mom. I just had to tell her over and over again that I didn’t need her to buy me clothes. Yes, she was hurt, but I needed to stand up for myself. I suggest you just make yourself as clear as possible to her. Maybe ask why she feels rejected when you say you don’t want the clothes.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@chyna Wow, that just sounds so… awesome.
@JLeslie I actually do have a name for the animated adult tv series based upon her
@pinksnowflake What style do you like? Can you pm me some pictures of clothes you do think are cute?

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
mrlaconic's avatar

Have her buy you clothes from as a gift and then you can do a gift swap before the stuff ships :)

JLeslie's avatar

@mrlaconic Huh? What is gift swap? I would not want my mom to buy online if I hate everything she buys. At least if it is a store nearby I can just return here and get what I want.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@mrlaconic Huh? Walk me through that.

mrlaconic's avatar

@JLeslie and @papayalily Amazon is offering a new service for gifts where you can be alerted if someone buys a gift for you and then you can choose to accept a credit instead and then you can choose your own “gift”


MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@mrlaconic Oooo. Great idea. Would not work with her.

JLeslie's avatar

@mrlaconic Interesting service. I can see why it would not work for @papayalily‘s mom though.

Supacase's avatar

Instead of trying to talk her out of giving you gifts, start with telling her over and over and over what your favorite stores are. Maybe that will sink in. It sounds like she feels a need to give you gifts – maybe that is her love language or whatever.

If she gives you a hideous sweater, say, “Hey, you know, I saw a sweater in this color at xyz store that I really liked. Why don’t you come with me so I can try it on and you can help me decide which one looks better on me?”

deni's avatar

Are you a fashionista? Are you really into clothes? I’m not. I wear the same pants pretty much every day. I like to dress up, but my style is kind of eclectic and my mom does not get it and she knows she doesn’t so she never tries, which is what I want. Also, I don’t need a ton of clothes, in fact, the fewer the better. Could you tell her that you just don’t want clothes? It’s just something else to store? It’s a waste to spend money on them? They’re not your thing? There are many other things you’d rather have? It’s nothing personal, but I just don’t want more clothes?

BarnacleBill's avatar

Have the conversation with her when you are not in the middle of a shopping trip. Discuss your difference in taste over a cup of coffee, or go to her house and have it.

Have you tried asking her to buy or find specific things for you? Send her a picture of what you want or like. If she likes to shop, this gives her a mission and a bonding moment with you at the same time.

augustlan's avatar

Oh, man. It’s the Borderline Personality Disorder. There will be no getting through to her, I’m afraid, without being extremely direct. Even then, she’ll slip back into old habits time and again. This is the main reason I no longer speak to my mother. Not over clothes, much bigger stuff, but the principle is the same. She. Just. Won’t. Get. It.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@augustlan OMG, right???? Seriously, there’s just so much headdesk! And I’m afraid of telling her what I don’t like about it, because then it might be seen as dissing her style. Like I don’t wear gold (ever, in the history of Being, except for 2 Halloweens when I was in elementary school) – but she does, all the time. I don’t wear clothes that can be described as “matronly” but I’m afraid if I call them that, a woman who’s spent serious dough on not looking her age will be offended. If she would just stop, it would be so much better.

augustlan's avatar

I think you’re just going to have to tell her: No more clothes. No need to tell her the real reason, go with a benign lie. But be prepared to tell her over and over and over and over…

blackenedbloodred's avatar

LOL!! I have the same problem with my mom! My sisters have the guts to tell her its ugly, but I don’t! I’d hate to hurt her feelings! BUT Maybe she knows she has this power over you so, she can take advantage of that.Does she use those big sorry eyes for anything else besides clothes shopping? Does she use that when she wants you to do something for her? If so, you have been empowered by your mom! lol… She only means well. I guess she wishes she still has her lil princess, instead of an adult daughter! Just tell her gently that you want to pick out the clothes and that this is the style now and you want to live in the NOW! :D

snowberry's avatar

@papayalily Instead of calling the clothes she buys as “matronly”, tell her that you have a different body type than she buys for, and that the clothes she buys are not suitable for your age. See if you can get her to explain to you what you had just said, and you will be closer to getting the problem resolved.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Your mother and mine must shop the same stores and show each other pics of their lovely children. I’m in my 40’s and my mother still shows me clothes I would never take a closer look at on my own. She does the same with my sister. Maybe it’s strong percentage of the mom population thing?

There are times as a teen I my mother cried because of my reaction to clothes she gifted me for very public and high anxiety occasions like birthdays and holidays. They’re kind of sterile but I’m glad gift cards are widely available so people like us can make a fuss over how great they are in hopes of receiving them instead of Laura Ingalls (Little House on The Prairie) pinafore dresses, “artisan sweaters” and Croc type shoes.

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