While I’m Handing out Advice to Plus-Size Clothing Retailers

Dear Ashley Stewart,

Thank you for existing.

Thank you for starting to offer size 12s, because seriously, your shit runs big.

Thank you for making me giggle every time I drive past one of your locations, because one of the Perfect Skinny Blondes I went to high school with was named Ashley Stewart*, so the idea of a fat girl store named after her pleases me.

Now please, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, start selling shit online. I know I was just complaining about Old Navy forcing people to shop online, and I know this request makes me sound like the mother of all stereotypical lazy fat chicks, since you actually have a location three el stops away from my apartment, which even means walking distance when the weather doesn’t suck. But seriously, you guys, it’s 2007. You need to be selling online. I constantly forget you exist, except when I go to the grocery store right across the parking lot from your nearby location, because I do about 85% of my clothes shopping online these days. I would happily send you some money if you would make it possible for me to do that while sitting at my computer at 1 a.m., after I’ve had enough cocktails to convince myself I need new clothes.

As it is, you’re missing out. And that’s not even taking into consideration the 87 gazillion fat girls who don’t live within walking distance of an Ashley Stewart store.

Love,

Kate

*One of my best friends ended up rooming with her at nerd camp, and it turned out she was really nice, but still, the symbolic value there is precious.

26 thoughts on “While I’m Handing out Advice to Plus-Size Clothing Retailers

  1. Ashley Stewart is the hotness. I agree: they should have an online shop. If only because of convenience (sp?), cause great fashion should be avaliable for all, not just those in the general vicinity of the store.

    And LOL…Flying Spaghetti Monster? Totes stealing that phrase. :lol:

  2. Our city just got its first Ashley Stewart but I haven’t checked it out yet. Frankly, I’ve been a little afraid to because of the area in which it opened. It’s right next to a WalMart that has recently had a rash of broad-daylight muggings and carjackings, and right across the street from the hat shop where the little old lady owner was shot to death last month. So I’m right there with ya on wishing they had an online shop. But I guess I’ll have to brave it and run like hell to and from my car.

  3. I would happily send you some money if you would make it possible for me to do that while sitting at my computer at 1 a.m., after I’ve had enough cocktails to convince myself I need new clothes.

    *snort* That’s totally how I end up with new clothes!

    I really wish Ashley Stewart would get on the ball, too. I’ve never been to the store (I know!) because I like to take a peek online before uh leaving my apartment. I’m a WELL INFORMED lazy fat girl.

  4. Oh my God!! Okay. I am 26 years old and live in Philadelphia. I remember passing by AS (Ashley Stewart) to get to Lane Bryant because they were so, so, so flashy. I mean stuff my mom used to wear….in the 70’s. Sequins and a lot of loud stuff you assumed blind, senile, street-walking woman wear.

    But low and behold one day about um…let’s say 2 months ago, I walked in because Lane Bryant did not have a top I envisioned wearing for a 26 year old outing type event.

    Well AS took my heart and has since not let my azz go! I have a ritual now…Every Friday after work, I go and get my eyebrows arched along with a pedicure and manicure, a light snack, a bottle of water and hit the local mall. I have on flat shoes, light clothing (easy to take off to try on clothes) and a mental visual of what I could use and what I want. The mall I go to has a large AS in it that gets shipment at least 4 TIMES A WEEK (I tell you I am truly blessed) and when I walk into AS I exhale. I am home.

    Also, every Friday night I go out. No matter where or even if its taking myself to dinner (very trendy in Philly as long as you have a knife, tazer, pepper spray, your cell phone an extra cell phone battery and a GPS transmitter). But usually me and one of my now-thinner-size 10-but-used-to-be-a-size-20-back-in-the-day-loves-my-guts-skinny-bitch-friends and I hit the club in one of my fabulously orchestrated AS ensembles.

    People come up to me and say Notis*, OMG r u losing weight? I toss my head back (circa Marilyn Monroe – sane Marilyn that is) and toss my well manicured hands in their general direction and tell them no! I am just dressing my ass off!!! And its true! I mean, I might have lost pound or 2 every Friday from all the walking up and down the store, but not really. I feel so good in their clothes. The designs are ageless. I can wear a piece to work and then to the club and then next week to lunch with family… Everything I imagine I might want, they produce. And did you hear? Beyonce’s House of Dereon line is coming to AS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But back to the point, I don’t mind that AS doent have online shopping. 1) I love the exercise 2) The longer they wait, the longer other plus sized women dont know about AS (I know so evil of me) and then 3) I continue to look fabulous and ORIGINAL!!

    P.S. I am just glad that they finally starting doing the e-coupon thing and having more in store sales. I applied for a part time job there because I love them so much. Last thought, last thought: 2 weeks ago, I was in the store for 2 1/2 hours. No, not for me. There was this 21 yr old plus size girl (5’4″, 250lbs or so) who had a semi-formal affair to go to and she was used to dressing in Old Navy misses sizes (not even the plus) and she was a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I helped her the entire time find an outfit that not only looked good on her, but one that she loved!!!
    The associates there gave me 20%off of my purchase that day! Things like that only happen at AS.

    (This has not been a paid advertisement-but could be for the right price!! lol)

    *Not my real name : )

  5. I like to take a peek online before uh leaving my apartment. I’m a WELL INFORMED lazy fat girl.

    Hee! Me too! I’ll go into stores to try on things I’ve been wondering about online, or to try on things I later order online.

    And in fact, one of my only objections to Vive La Femme is that they mark shit up SO much, and since I spend my whole life online shopping, I know exactly how much any given item is selling for at the retailer’s site. I mean, the stellar customer service, lack of shipping fees, and opportunity to try things on are all worth a premium, sure — not to mention they sometimes have things you can’t get online — but still, $65 for a B& Lu skirt I know costs $40 online? Nuh-uh. I would go there more often, and spend more money there, if not for that. Because frankly, I feel guilty letting them fawn all over me for half an hour, and then really not wanting to buy something there that I know I can get online much cheaper.

    Um, that was a tangent. Anyway, Colleen, maybe we need to make a trip to AS together one of these days.

  6. Our city just got its first Ashley Stewart but I haven’t checked it out yet. Frankly, I’ve been a little afraid to because of the area in which it opened. It’s right next to a WalMart that has recently had a rash of broad-daylight muggings and carjackings…

    Christine, I hear you — the neighborhood where my local one is isn’t awesome, either, but then, I live in that neighborhood, so I’m a little more inured to it.

    I assume the reason for this is that AS is definitely going for the urban, African-American market — which means going into predominantly African-American neighborhoods which, sadly, often have higher crime, etc. I think it’s awesome that they’re going right to their core customers, and bringing a nice store into neighborhoods that don’t have so many, BUT I do wonder about it, from a business standpoint.

    They’re not a discount store, or particularly low-end — I think they’re roughly on a par with Lane Bryant in terms of quality. (Especially since, as Notis points out, they’ve moved away from spangles and sequins and whatnot.) Slightly lower prices, so maybe Avenue’s the better comparison. But they seem to always be alongside Wal-Mart, Payless, etc., which reinforces an image of them as a cheap brand. And then, when people walk in and find that they’re really not that cheap, do they lose sales because people shopping in those neighborhoods are expecting something else? Or are their price points close enough to discount brands that people can be persuaded to splurge a little? And is it worth it in any case because they’re committed to bringing the goods to their customers, instead of forcing their customers to travel — which is actually really cool?

    Questions like these fascinate me, because I am a huge dork.

  7. I usually need to try AS stuff on — their pants fit me ABSURDLY, for instance. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to be informed of what they’re stocking. It would be great to (given unlimited money of course) buy things from AS when AS has something I love, rather than on the very rare occasions when I go to the mall.

    Also, it’s 2007. Seriously.

  8. I have just discovered one reason to be happy to live in Sin City. I can go see this AS phenomenon myself. Perhaps I will fall in lust with their clothes?

  9. I have never even heard if Ashley Stewart but I’m always looking for stores that have larger sizes. After one of my friends informed me that Torrid was selling shirts with Twiggy on them, I lost my appetite for that retailer. And it’s not like there are soooooo many to choose from!

  10. i hope i don’t come across as raining on your parade but when i hear people talk about ashley stewart, i reflect that there was a time when i also shopped at ashley stewart type stores because i honestly didn’t know better — i.e. didn’t know there were many places i could buy better quality for the same price. i think ashley stewart’s prices do not reflect their quality, but the fact lots of women dont know what other options they have…

  11. M, it’s great that you found better places, but not everyone can afford higher end stuff. Ashley Stewart has some nice looking clothes (and they really have gotten better recently) at much more affordable prices than a lot of plus-size stores.

  12. I live where on-line shopping is vitaly necessary. Not a single plus sizes store within 750 miles of my front door — and at that no road out of here so I have to fly. The only places in my community that carry my size also carry food and motor oil and snow tires and computers and . . .

    I would love if AS had on-line shopping. So would many, many other women here in Alaska.

  13. Kate–according to their website it’s in the Boulevard Mall on Maryland Parkway. A little out of my way, but if I’m in the mood I will go and see.

  14. There’s an Ashley Stewart on the southwest corner of State and Madison in the Loop. It’s on the second floor so it’s kind of hidden. And there’s something in the Ogilvie Transportation Building but I can never remember if it’s an AS or an Avenue.

  15. Er, in Chicago, I should say. Sometimes I forget that not everybody lives in Chicago, IL, USA. And they say NYers are the ones who think they live in the center of the universe…

  16. If you’re in NJ, Jersey Gardens is a mostly-outlet mall that actually has a “women’s” listing for stores on their directory. Lane Bryant Outlet, Fashion to Figure (wacky sizing, but inexpensive), AS, and at least one other store I discovered whose name I canNOT remember. Anyway, that mall is also a good source. Bonus: Ikea is right nearby. :)

  17. They actually just put an Ashley Stewart in the new strip (I mean, “outdoor”) snobby mall near me. I really need to stop in there. I had no idea how many decently priced, nice-looking clothes they had until I stopped into the Jefferson Ave. Detroit store in desperation after work one day–I had looked for a particular thing, I don’t even recall what now, at every plus size store I could think of and I had the ’70s sequin impression of the store that Notis describes, but figured what the heck. So much nice stuff! Their (I believe it is called) “Perfect Pant” really did fit me perfectly (though obviously YMMV, see fillyjonk’s comment :) ) and was ideal for work, and I see it is $19.99 right now. I also bought some other work clothes and a flattering skirt, tank top, and denim jacket outfit that would have been What Not to Wear approved. If you have an AS near you, I recommend checking it out. Their prices are somewhat better than LB and it’s just nice to have an alternative to the usual suspects.

  18. I haven’t shopped at Ashley Stewart since I left Norfolk, Virginia in 1999. Of course, I’m almost 9 years older, but I loved their stuff. They seriously need to get online, because Lane Bryant is expensive as hell, and I’m an almost 44 year old college sophomore with two teenage sons still at home, so I’m always having a lot of month at the end of my money (i.e. broke).
    I’ll buy stuff from Ashley Stewart in a heartbeat if there were one near me (I’m in Oklahoma City, anyone know if there is one in OK?).

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