“I just want to be able to shop in regular stores!”.
That’s what a client told me. She is a beautiful vivacious woman who loves style and fashion. She loves to shop, and she is sick of being restricted in her choice of clothes.
If you are in a similar position, here are three options that you have:
1. Change where you shop 2. Change your body 3. Change the industry
I think the above are listed in order of difficulty/effort required, and I would personally lean towards the first one.
1. Change where you shop
If a particular label does not serve your body type, the easiest and time-efficient approach would indeed be to take your dollars elsewhere. [The Militant Baker provides a wealth of resources on where to shop for plus size clothing.]
The upside of this approach is that it can be immediate, it provides instant gratification, AND (my favorite) it does not involve changing the shape or size of your ass in order to fit a pair of pants.
The downside is that, no, you still cannot walz into Gap, and find something that fits. To solve this problem, let’s consider the next strategy.
2. Change your body
Public service announcement – There ain’t nothing wrong with your ass now. It may be big, small, enormous, squishy, saggy, bouncy, floppy, flabby, round, and any other adjective that can possibly be applied to an ass. Making it smaller may prove beneficial in some respects (e.g. having an easier time moving around, running faster, etc), but going out of your way to make your ass smaller in order to fit a pair of pants seems ass-backwards (ha!) to me, but that’s just me. Now that I got that off my chest…
While changing your body for the sake of the industry may seem like a horrifying non-feminist thing to do, but that’s definitely your prerogative. It IS your body, after all.
However, if you are hell bent on wearing a high end designer, this may be your only option for the time being. You can buy a Burberry coat in size 16. Michael Kors (which is a favorite of mine) goes up to a non-specific “extra large”.
Above mentioned Burberry coat.
Another client of mine expressed her desire to “just walk into any store, and have their clothes fit”. This, of course, brings up the undeniable accessibility and convenience factor – it IS easier for a size 10 woman than for a size 20 woman to walk into Old Navy and walk out with a tank top that fits.
However, I remind my client that shrinking to a certain size will not guarantee the universal fit and acceptance she is looking for. I am somewhere between size 6 and 8, and there are stores where nothing fits me.
Shopping in Russia and Italy revealed that I am “plus-sized” in most stores. Do not even get me started on sizing. Every time someone mentions that they want to be a certain size, I’d like to give them a tour of my closet which has items varying from “extra small” to “extra large”. Yes, they all fit. And, with wide shouldered frame, long torso, and big quads, many labels that are designed for a different body are not an option.
3. Change the industry
“Designers refuse to make clothes to fit American women. It’s a disgrace.”This was the title of an article that made its rounds on the internetz few weeks ago.
And… here’s the thing. I think it IS fucked up that a size 14 woman cannot buy a pair of Lululemon pants.
The author of the article seems to be baffled by the fact that fashion designers are not designing clothes for an average woman. The mistake here is the assumption that the fashion industry is about dressing an average woman. It never has been.
Go to a restaurant with three Michelin stars. They will serve you cedar flavoured foam on a maple leaf. And charge you $400 for it. The high end fine dining is no more about satisfying an average palette than fashion is about dressing an average woman.
Fashion industry is not about dressing an average woman.
[Should it be? That’s a separate question. Should fine dining be about satisfying an average restaurant goer?]
It is not about dressing you, or me. It is about creating art, which may or may not be practical, or useful in real life. In order to display that art, the industry opts for the most convenient, and the most consistent canvas ever. Just watch any fashion show, and you will see what I mean. The bodies of models are almost identical – tall, thin, small chested with long limbs.
Some designers are very passionate about creating art AND dressing a diverse range of bodies. And if you aim to change the industry, voting with your dollars seems like a best place to start.