When I was visiting Moira in New York, she decided to stop by a lingerie store and, while talking to the owner, we got on the topic of plus size lingerie or more specifically why they didn’t carry them. They had a great location, lots of foot traffic, but the owner told us that plus size stuff just didn’t sell.
I wanted to be all indignant and outraged about it, but I started thinking about my own shopping habits and realized that she may have a point. When I go shopping for clothing, I tend to stick with places where I know for a fact that they carry my size. Even if it’s a place where often the majority of the items are not to my liking and I have to dig to find something that I want. (I never set foot into an Old Navy until I saw a woman at a club in this cute outfit my size that I had to have and she informed me that she had gotten it there.)
I very rarely will venture into a new store unless I’ve found out from someone else that they carry my size or a friend drags me in to look. I just want to avoid going in to a store to shop only to have some popsicle-stick look me up and down and then dismiss me with a “We don’t carry anything in YOUR size.” It’s bad enough going into department stores and trying to find a certain style of dress only to have some woman shove me into a back corner where a bunch of shapeless, black “dresses” hang and tell me, “That’s all we got.”
Melissa McCarthy said it best. If you are a plus size woman, your options are limited to flowery grandmother or streetwalker. I’m not big on flowers and I prefer to dress using the Edith Head philosophy – “Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” But the options in my size tend towards sausage or potato sack. If I could afford Marina Rinaldi, I’d buy their fashions in a heartbeat, but I can’t even afford to take all my off-the-rack purchases straight to a tailor to have them fitted, (school loans trump vanity every time) so I can only choose a few key items to be fixed every so often.
Even more disappointing is that the few popular plus size chain stores out there carry very little in the styles that I want to wear. Yes, I do work in post production and I can get away with jeans and a T-shirt or yoga pants and a henley. However, they say dress for the job you want, not the job you have; and I prefer something a little more dressy. Pencil skirts to my knees with button-up blouses, pin striped slacks, a checked dress jacket over a red silk top, knee-high boots and a colourful, geometric patterned dress – these are a few of my favorite things…
At one store where most of the merchandise seemed aim to a more goth crowd, I was able to dig up this amazing pin striped skirt that is one of my prize possessions. At another store which opts to sell clothes in mostly primary colors (I’m more of an autumn palate myself), I found some really nice fitting slacks that I bought in brown and black. And lately I’ve discovered that the colors purple and mauve really suit me, and I’ve been trying to add more into my wardrobe.
But finding all of this takes a lot of time and effort and there are some days when I could just cry because all I want is a simple black dress in a certain style that I see widely available for smaller sizes, yet trolling an entire mall for the day yields nothing in my size.
For now, I can only rely on the tried and true method. If I see a woman my size wearing something amazing then I ask her where she got it. Or else I just pick a weekend, clear my schedule, wear comfy shoes, pack a water bottle and a Powerbar, and start digging through the racks until I find that hidden gem.
I would love to hear what you think. But even more importantly I would love to find out where you’ve found some amazing piece of clothing so I can go get one, too. Let me know about your awesome finds or your own tips for shopping for a plus size figure