UK Readers: Did You See this Crap?

So a couple of readers have sent me links to articles about a recent episode of this BBC show, Mary, Queen of Shops, in which host Mary Portas goes to visit struggling shop owners to tell them why their businesses are tanking.

The other night, the subject was a plus-size boutique — like LeeLee’s Valise or Vive la Femme or Maximum Woman or The Voluptuous Vixen. Except really, really, really not.

This week Mary Portas is in Ascot, Berkshire, one of the richest areas in the country with lots of wealthy ladies who lunch and shop.

They just don’t shop in Blinkz, and who the hell can blame them? The boutique caters for the curvier woman, but the size 10 owner Amanda is, says Mary, “size-ist”, referring to her customers as huge, sad, sweaty, misshapen bouncy castles.

Wow.

Says the BBC site:

Mary is shocked by Amanda’s attitude to her plus-size customers, with the shop full of dowdy, baggy, unflattering clothes that most people, whatever their size, wouldn’t be seen dead in. As a result, nothing is selling and the business is in crisis.

Gee, ya think?

I am just fucking dumbfounded by this (and I desperately want to see the episode). I mean, I guess I know there are still sizeist idiots behind a lot of plus-size clothing retailers, given how much frumpy, fugly shit remains available to us, but having experienced LeeLee’s and Vive la Femme (and their lovely owners) firsthand, I just can’t reconcile “fancy fatty boutique” with “crass, idiotic attempt to tap a market you don’t remotely understand or respect.” Those stores are such labors of love for Lisa and Stephanie, respectively, it would never have occurred to me that someone would try a similar business concept without actually giving a damn about her customers.

The only clip I could find online was this little bit where awesome plus-size designer Anna Scholz gives Mary and Amanda a fashion show. It’s not great quality, but check out Amanda’s face when she says, “They actually look… slimmer with the more fitted things.” And again I ask, GEE, YA THINK? I mean, I know a lot of women don’t realize that oversized clothing actually makes them look bigger*, but to own a boutique and not comprehend this basic fact (which, not for nuthin’, applies to women of all sizes)? The hell?

You know, very little in the way of sizeism makes my jaw drop anymore, but for some reason, this totally did. I’m just stunned to see such a blatant example of what other retailers carry off a little more subtly: a business model that purports to serve fat women without treating them as human beings who deserve the same attention, quality, or respect as any other customers. A business model that assumes we poor, pathetic bouncy castles will buy whatever shit they offer us, because we have no self-esteem and few other options.

And frankly, though I’d be happy to see more Anna Scholz dresses out in the world, I hope Amanda Collins learned nothing from this. I hope the publicity she got from being on the show backfires completely, and no fat woman in the UK ever gives her another dime. I hope her business goes under. And I hope she feels like shit about it for the rest of her life. I am just that appalled by her, and just that petty.

*Looking bigger is not, of course, an intrinsically bad thing, and it’s entirely possible to rock the shapeless, if that’s what you’re intending to do. If it’s not what you’re intending to do, however? A fucking plus-size boutique owner ought to be able to help you understand what flatters your shape, for cry-eye.

68 thoughts on “UK Readers: Did You See this Crap?

  1. As a long-time customer of Vive La Femme, to think that a plus-size boutique owner hates her clientele is appalling. Customers can tell when you don’t like or respect them and they won’t come back, even if yours is the only shop around.

    Whenever I leave Vive, even if I haven’t bought anything, Stephanie has always made me feel like I’m a bountiful, sexy goddess, not a pathetic castle. And that’s why I keep going back.

  2. Holy crap. Did you notice how the shop owner can’t even bring herself to say “fat”? It’s like it physically pains her that she has to think about fat people. And they’ve never sold dresses before??? I mean, I know dresses are not everyone’s thing, but I’m kind of stunned by a women’s clothing shop that doesn’t carry a single dress.

    I’m with you — I hope she loses every penny.

  3. I’ve seen it and it wasn’t that bad – the fat-ist woman did not seem to actively harbour any resentment or hatred towards fat women, she was just, um, really dumbfounded that instead of wearing lovely fitting clothes, they did not want to hide their legs with giant ugly pants.

    It was actually nice to see her change the way she was helping her customers through the show, and how her pre-conceived notions went right out of the window. I also think she did try hard to swallow her new lessons, and I can’t really say I want to wish her any ill. On the contrary, it was refreshing seeing someone finally getting it with enthusiasm, regardless of the atrocities she uttered at first (sweaty comments and all).

    On another note, I can’t believe I watched this shit show. Fucking hell, talk about dumbing down such issues.

  4. This is horrifying! I am horrified, although with the usual reality-show feeling that my horror has been carefully constructed.

    BUT I found myself SO distracted by the clothes! I wish someone would give me several thousand pounds (sterling) so I could buy Anna Scholz’s whole line, and then pay for an upgrade to her online store: those dresses look so amazing on bodies, and not so amazing on mannequins.

  5. the fat-ist woman did not seem to actively harbour any resentment or hatred towards fat women

    Yeah, I know that when I call someone misshapen and sad, I mean it as the highest of compliments.

    (“Bouncy castle,” though, I actually love. Hmm, maybe she DOES like fat women after all! I mean, who doesn’t like a bouncy castle?)

  6. Hi Fillyjonk,

    No, what I mean is that the article is typical PR carved to make the show more scandalous than it is. The woman had serious misconceptions and prejudices against fat people, but having seen the show, I can’t help but think that it is not quite as it was described in the excerpt, is all. The woman’s attitude was fucked and she was really reaaalllyyy irritating, yes, but there was a (sad) naive quality to her thinking that didn’t make her an absolute ravenous fat-hating monster.

    Which doesn’t quite mean, of course, that her attitude was excusable in any way.

  7. (”Bouncy castle,” though, I actually love. Hmm, maybe she DOES like fat women after all! I mean, who doesn’t like a bouncy castle?)

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who thought of Doctor Who when she said that. I totally saw Billie Piper playing a possessed-by-Cassandra Rose standing in front of a mirror saying, “It’s like living inside a bouncy castle!” and then bouncing up and down. CLASSIC.

    I’ve thought of myself as a bouncy castle ever since. It’s weird to see someone try to use it as an insult, as it seems so fun!

  8. when she said that.

    And of course by “when she said” I mean “when they read that she said” – because, you know, I haven’t actually seen the episode.

  9. Huh? Jess, were we even watching the same show? That woman was absolutely heinous; she utterly despised fat women! Bouncy castle stomachs? Fat necks? Jocularly referring to your paying, “misshapen” customers as “the bullet” and the “no-hoper”; expressing utmost surprise that a fat woman might actually like the shape of her own thighs? Flaming heck, I hope she goes under too! The only thing the vacuous little pillock learned from the exercise was not to express her evident disgust at fat bodies out loud.

    What I really hope is that the documentary gave others involved in the plus size clothing industry pause for thought – because I’m certain that plenty of fashion designers and shop owners feel the same way Amanda does about us. She was simply crass and ill-advised enough to say it. It’s all very well wheeling out Anna Scholtz yet again, (simply because she’s the only UK-based designer that makes covetable clothes for fat women), but most people can’t afford £300 – £400 for a dress – and what Mary failed to highlight was that, even without her lamentable attitude, the obnoxious Amanda doesn’t have much of a choice herself when it comes to stocking her shop with decent, affordable plus-sized clothes.

  10. In my (admittedly twisted) mind, I thought she just called us castles. Which is RAD! I saw about a billion castles when I lived in Germany, and the castles I saw were brilliant and awe inspiring. They come in all shapes and sizes, small intricate delicate ones, soaring majestic ones, squat strong Gothic ones, the list goes on and on. I think a better comparison could not be found.

  11. I wish the whole “oh, it’s so slimming on you” part of fat fashion would just go away. Forever.

    Having seen the episode, when they took Amanda to another shop catering to larger women and tried to show her their customer service style and then have her assist people, ISTR she did get her hand slapped for suggesting that clothes would make a customer ‘look slimmer’ rather than just look GOOD. Instructed to make the customers feel good about themselves rather than to give them complexes.

    (I checked out the online catalog for the chain they were visiting – Evans.co.uk – but wasn’t terribly impressed with their offerings. But then, I have rather weird taste.)

    Amanda was a horrid troll at the beginning of the episode, her shell seemed to crack a bit when they put her in front of a lingerie-clad curvy girl long enough to recognise that actually, she looks pretty good.

  12. I’m not sure that this will be available to non-UK readers, but the BBC is still showing this episode on iPlayer.

    As to the content, I’m disappointed but not really surprised. English plus size shops are crap, which is why I love to come to New York. And actually I suppose I’m not really disappointed, because to be disappointed, because to be disappointed you have to start out expecting something better than you ended up with. I suppose the phrase I’m really looking for is “My expectations have once again been met”.

  13. Fuck! I’m this far from Ascot (holds fingers not very far apart). Does anyone want me to go to this fucker’s shop and spit phlegm in all the pockets?

    I’m joking of course ha ha ha.

  14. You know what’d be really cool? If someone could put a deflated bouncy castle through her letterbox, then pump it up from the outside so it filled the entire store.

    But failing that, phlegm would do nicely.

  15. I’m going to go watch that episode on iPlayer before I say anything else, but I wanted to say that even my HUSBAND got what the big deal was. He came in here the first time I read this, and wanted to know what it was all about. When I gave him the run-down, even HE was speechless.

    If an UNDERWEIGHT MAN (who, you know, isn’t a woman and sure as hell isn’t a fat woman, so he doesn’t know what it’s like to can figure out what the problem is in less than two minutes, why the hell didn’t this woman figure it out long before the show came around? That’s beyond me.

    Now I’m going to go watch this on iPlayer so I can give some sort of a coherent response.

  16. he doesn’t know what it’s like to can figure out

    That was supposed to be he doesn’t know what it’s like to try and shop for fat women’s clothing) can figure out…

    Daughter came in the room and distracted me.

  17. Ascot’s a shithole anyway. Once a year some drunkards in hats vomit on the pavement after the races, and the rest of the time fuck-all happens.

  18. First of all, wouldn’t most of Weight Watchers look at Ms. Amanda’s size 10 and think she was fat? Not that she is, mind you, or that it really ought to matter. I’m just saying that possibly this is tinged by the slightest bit of self-loathing of the “at least I’m not THAT bad” flavor. Not that you can tell anything from a dress size. A size 0 on someone 5’0″ tall can have a BMI of 21 and be over 100 lbs, but a size 0 on someone even four inches taller makes you bite your tongue to keep from asking when her next chemo treatment is.

    Second, in that shot with her saying they actually looked slimmer when their clothes didn’t take up space their bodies didn’t, she looked like she’d swallowed a live frog. Fer reelz. Like somehow the laws of physics just disappeared and she found out that the Flying Spaghetti Monster died on the cross for her sins as he was achieving Nirvana. Is it really that difficult to grasp that if you don’t make yourself look like you take up more room than you do, you’ll look like you take up only as much room as you actually do?

    And, third, Jess, the sad fact of the matter is that, socially you are right. Unless you are sneering and saying that the fat pigs ought to be shot, she would be interpreted by most as not actively harboring hatred or resentment. Unfortunately, disdain and disgust are seen as perfectly normal, nay, acceptable, attitudes to have towards fact. People think that those things aren’t insulting they’re just a fact of life. Turn it around. If a fat person said it about a thin person, would you think they were showing hatred or resentment? But, you make a point. So far as I can tell, most people who do really nasty things with really ugly attitudes aren’t monsters in the sense that they are trying to hurt people for their own pleasure. Most people who do these things simply aren’t considering how it will affect their target audience and they think that any hurt they cause shouldn’t count because they, personally, didn’t get anything out of it.

  19. I’m another bouncy castle! It reminds me of that line in “Graceland” by Paul Simon:

    There is a girl in New York City who calls herself the human trampoline
    And sometimes when I’m falling, flying, tumbling and turning, well I say, whoa, so this is what she means
    She means we’re bouncing into Graceland

    I always pictured a nice squishy girl who’s a joy in bed. That’s what bouncy castle conjures up to me. So yay for bouncy castles!

  20. First of all, wouldn’t most of Weight Watchers look at Ms. Amanda’s size 10 and think she was fat?

    UK size 10, which would be a 6 or 8 in the US.

  21. I watched the programme and I’m with Jess on this. Initially the shopowner was absolutely horrible – putting fat people down all the time, seeming to think that fat was the worst possible thing anyone can be, calling her customers sweaty… I had her down as a fat-hater of the worst sort. When she insisted that she wasn’t sizeist, I laughed hollowly. She had absolutely no idea about fashion and certainly not about plus-size fashion. However, as the program went on, she started to realise that she was making all sorts of wrong assumptions about her customers. I was really surprised – I thought she’d be one of those people who think fat is disgusting but it seemed like she was just internalising all the crap you hear about fat people all the time.

    By the end she had learned that her customers wanted to feel good about their bodies (not hide their so-called “bad bits”), dress fashionably in fabulous clothes and enjoy shopping – pretty damn obvious, but more people could stand to learn that. She really seemed to enjoy finding great clothes for her customers and was much, much better at the customer service. So I’d give her a break on this – she came from a kneejerk fat-hating position and learned just how wrong she was.

  22. Just re-read my post and wanted to clarify – I don’t mean give her a break on how she behaved initially or give her a cookie for finally learning that Fat People Are People Too. Just that I don’t think she deserves the bouncy-castle-through-the-letterbox treatment (funny though that would be…).

  23. Ahem, Kate, and your point is? If size 0 is the goal . . .? I’m not saying it is a good and worthy goal; I’m asking what the standard perception is.

    thegirlfrommarz: That was actually part of my point. Who doesn’t want to feel good about their bodies? Who doesn’t want to have fabulous clothes? Who wants the need to go shopping to be a miserable ordeal? No one, and if you had asked her, she’d have said so without blinking. And, probably without noticing that that is exactly what she was creating for her customers. Most hurtful people are like that. I can’t see the video, so if, as you say, she got a clue, I’m damned impressed. I’d certainly call her better than run of the mill, because it has been my experience that most won’t get (insert the obvious problem here) if you hit them with the clue-by-four. Most people’s bigotry is knee-jerk, that doens’t make it any less hurtful, and it still counts as hurting people.

  24. Being the lover of great clothing that I am, I had to go look up Anna Scholz. Directed from her site to go to the Neiman-Marcus site for the US selection available.

    Two things leap out at me. One, almost all of the models on the NM plus-size pages look like little girls dressing up in Mom’s clothing. Drowning. Two, EVERY SINGLE thing I clicked on to get a better view, I got “you might also be interested in these” … freaking SPANX. The day I shove myself into Spanx is the day they can cart me off to the sanitarium for good. And three, damn, THREE, our THREE (nobody expects the spanish inquisition!) points are, nothing came in over a size 24 and most were that uncomfortable mash of 22/24.

    And Anna Scholz’ stuff was great, yeah mostly, too much black and holy cow expensive. But that I was expecting.

  25. One, almost all of the models on the NM plus-size pages look like little girls dressing up in Mom’s clothing. Drowning.

    Seriously. I don’t understand why stores don’t realise how absolutely ridiculous thin women look modelling plus sized clothes. It doesn’t make me think: “If I buy this dress I’ll look thin like her”, it makes me think: “If I buy this dress, I’ll look like I’m wearing a tent like she does.”

  26. how does one go about starting their own plus sized boutique with awesome clothes? I would really consider making that one of my goals for the future if I had any idea how to do it. Of course I’d be doing it in a much smaller place than NYC (I am thinking Halifax, NS) but there are many specialty shops there and not many plus sized options at all, so I think it could work.

  27. Oh my god, someone needs to punch that woman. Im in a blind RAGE! Im not even halfway through watching it and I nearly punched my screen. I would have too, if it had done anything useful.

    she’s standing there in front of three women TELLING her what plus sized women want from their clothes and she goes ‘but my clients wouldnt want that’ and ‘well my clients would focus on better parts of their bodies’ when HER POTENTIAL CLIENT says she would like to show the shape of her thighs.

    KILLSTABKILL

  28. gnomeprincess, you should contact Lisa at Lee Lee’s Valise (that’s her email too — lisa at leeleesvalise dot com). She loves giving advice and I bet she could give you lots of useful pointers, plus a reality check if she thinks it’s necessary. (I’m sure it’s hard to make a boutique gain traction, and as with any new business you probably have to figure on at least a year or two in the red.)

  29. she’s standing there in front of three women TELLING her what plus sized women want from their clothes and she goes ‘but my clients wouldnt want that’ and ‘well my clients would focus on better parts of their bodies’ when HER POTENTIAL CLIENT says she would like to show the shape of her thighs.

    Heh heh heh heh. “We know our clients in Ascot”, she said, and that was the point where I shouted at my computer screen, “But you’re only taking £400 a WEEK, love, you don’t HAVE any cocking clients!”

  30. Ascot’s one of the richest places in the whole UK, and only has about 20 shops. If she’s making £400 a week, FAIL.
    ‘Scuse typos. Drunk.

  31. I love the bouncy castle comparison. I saw that episode of Doctor Who and liked the line, but I never took it the step further to say “Hey, I’m more bouncy than Billie! I’m a bouncier bouncy castle!” And the more bounce, the more fun… :)

  32. gnomeprincess, I’m on the other side. I’d like to start a line of plus-size clothing, I just don’t know how to go about doing it. (As well as keep my day job, cause I’m the only breadwinner in the family. Mmm, bread.)

    Hey, I’ll work on the clothing line, and when your boutique is up and running, you can carry my clothes! :)

  33. gnomeprincess, I was going to make the same suggestion — and stephanie at vivelafemme (vivelafemme@hotmail.com) is also super-friendly and helpful, so she might be willing to offer some advice.

  34. Holy cow, she’s clueless and why did she start this business??? I mean you did start it to make some money didn’t you? You need customers to make money don’t you? Customers keep coming if you make them happy, right? I don’t get how she decided to open this store. This is just plain insulting.

    When I worked in retail as a teen, my favorite customers were the larger women (both black and white) because they were usually super nice, open, pleasant, and just fun. I learned a lot from these ladies. I used to have stylish plus size regular customers that used to come regularly to check for new styles and to chat with me all the time. We would be so happy and pleased with a new stylish outfit that we could put together for our ladies. Good times!!!

  35. Hey there Kate…
    ROCKING blog , like everything I find when I stop by here.
    I wrote EXACTLY about the same topic yesterday ( misperceptions of the fashion industry about plus size people and how to design effective sensive PR strategies and how to design plus size clothing that women would actually love and buy) but I had not heard about the UK show.
    I LOVE Anna Scholtz and her stuff. Her and Jess Svoboda are pioneers in the industry. I am trying to do an internship with them.
    I posted the same blog on my myspace and I am getting COOKED by my thin ( and very obviously self hating freind) for how slam weight loss, and the weight loss industry and she is PISSED about how dare I hate on people who embark on weight loss programs to be “healthy”.
    I mean girl…. You are SO positive and I admire the HECK out of you. I see you as the MLK of size acceptance.
    You are nice to thin people.
    I am a bit more like the MalcolmX …. I am pissed and not as nice and kind and inclusive and tactful. I am a bit hmmm not nice to the people who loose weight and even less nice to those who use their fame and weight loss to further the goals of the weight loss industry.
    I freaking love you and wish you would stop by my blog on myspace

    http://www.myspace.com/phdfashionvamp

    or
    on blogspot.
    http://www.fashionsanity.com

    I would love it if you would chime in on the myspace convo because I feel like I have to defend my HAES and the movement all by myself when I may probably have one of the most extreme views in the community.
    You rock and I adore you.
    Hugs,
    Milla

  36. Y’know, there is other sizeism. It’s okay to be big and tall. If you’re tiny and fat, it’s not so good. Plus size clothes don’t fit me because of my height. Either do petites because of my weight. You’re quite tall, as are a lot of your people on the BMI thing. I’m 4ft 11″ and stuck in a clothing wilderness, and an attractiveness one.

  37. I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said; however, I want to say that the new bouncy castle at the top of the screen is MADE OF WIN.

  38. Viv, she bought the business 3 years ago, so she didn’t start the concept herself. Now I don’t understanding buying a business you are not interested in and don’t understand either, mind!

    The show also features the lovely Chelsea, who was a contestant on Project Catwalk (UK version of Project Runway) and is blooming gorgeous.

    I think Mary Portas did a good job here, and she was clearly quite disgusted by the owner’s attitude. What I found interesting was that she had hired an equally thin blond gym bunny type person as her sales assistant. I think both of them would have put me off going in, I think I’d have felt judged even before I set foot in the door!

    What’s nice about Evans (the UK plus size store they visit in the program) is that the assistants there are often of larger size and come across as much less judging than the owner in this programme!

  39. Bouncy castles are awesome. I might take to calling myself one.

    No, really, that woman sounds awful and I wish her all the failure in the world. Perhaps after she’s chased out following bankruptcy a shop that actually serves its patrons needs can take its place. The Mary Queen of Shops sounds like the femme and shoppe version of Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmares, something we’re hopelessly addicted to. Sadly, they are good at detecting us non-UK residents and I’m still hunting for a proxy so I can watch it.

    That said, hubba hubba! Anna Stolz’ site is hella gorgeous, but the runway was even more impressive. She’s a fine designer.

  40. Ha! I didn’t even notice the bouncy castle until my 6-year-old came in the room and said “Um… Mommy… is that a bouncy castle up there?”

    I just started cracking up. The poor girl thinks I’ve finally lost it.

    Love it, Kate! LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT!!!

  41. Okay, so I finally got a chance to go and watch the episode on iPlayer.

    My verdict?

    She definitely started out as an ignorant sizeist. The fact that she could sit there, faced with her own exact words, and say that she’s NOT being sizeist just shows how ignorant she really was. And her insistence! “No, no, I don’t have a problem with larger people!” Then why use terms like “bullet,” “no hoper,” “bouncy castle belly”???

    But, I do have to admit that, as the episode went on, she seemed to have the wool removed from over her eyes. Her shock at realizing that fat women who DON’T dress in burlap sacks actually look better in clothes that FIT didn’t seem so much sizeist to me, but true and honest shock. I seriously think she just had absolutely no idea about what fat women really want to look like. And her comment about the thighs? She said something like “the only women I’ve heard talk about their thighs in that kind of manner were twigs to begin with.” So it seems to me that she’s projecting her own body image issues on every other woman in the world that isn’t smaller than a size 4. Not JUST fat women, but since they’re the ones she’s supposed to be working with, they get it projected onto them, too.

    I do think she made progress, from what she was like in the beginning to what she was like in the end. At the end, she didn’t use any negative language, and sounded like what you’d really want in a fat clothes boutique: somebody that’s going to help you find something that flatters you, not something that’s just going to hide you.

    As to whether or not I would hope she goes under… I honestly don’t know. I got a much better vibe from her at the end than at the beginning, but the key here is whether or not she can manage to keep it up and not let her previous sizeist attitudes creep in again. If she can do that, then I would honestly wish her luck. If not… well, don’t let the door bite you in the ass on the way out.

  42. I saw this and I’m sort of in the middle between the comments above. Although the shop owner was horrific and offensive (there was a telling moment when Mary Portas said ‘well, what is normal?’ and she laughed gaily and trilled ‘I am!’), she was painted as also being totally wrong, narrow-minded, offensive and deserving to fail right the way through the programme until she learned to treat her customers with a bit of respect. And what she learned was to behave with respect, but not really to feel it – she was still, in the ending scenes, referring to her customers rather distastefully as ‘them’, and what she’d learned was to keep her mouth shut, not to respect women of all sizes. She struck me as someone who had body issues of her own, but that’s a snap judgement which might be unfair.

    Mary Portas, the retail expert, was absolutely aghast at her attitude (I think at one point she turned to camera and said, sotto voce, ‘I really want to give her a slap’) and pointed out that the women Amanda was catering to were in fact the average in Britain, where a majority of women are size 14 (US size 10) +. She also pointed out that the fashion industry fails older women of all sizes and disproportionately caters to 16-25-year-olds who are sizes 6-12 (US 2-8).

    It was definitely worth watching for the humour, I think, especially the point when they wheeled a supply of her stock onto the street and asked passing women to comment and Amanda stood there aghast as the women (of all sizes) pissed themselves laughing at the grotesque drab sacks. Particularly the woman who picked out a specially hideous pair of trousers and said ‘Well, they’re shitcatchers, aren’t they?’

  43. @ Viv
    When I worked in retail as a teen, my favorite customers were the larger women (both black and white) because they were usually super nice, open, pleasant, and just fun. I learned a lot from these ladies. I used to have stylish plus size regular customers that used to come regularly to check for new styles and to chat with me all the time. We would be so happy and pleased with a new stylish outfit that we could put together for our ladies. Good times!!!

    That sounds fantastic!

    There isn’t a Torrid near where I live, so when I go home to visit my parents I insist on making a trip to the local Torrid. My mom, out of the blue, announced that she really liked the staff at Torrid. They were nice, friendly and not pushy. She even made some pointed comparisons between them and the staff at Hot Topic (the skinnier sister to Torrid).

  44. Someone might have pointed this out already, but that’s a UK size 10 which is a US6 I believe. A US 10 would be a UK14, which is the top size that many mainstream stores sell here. Some have a 16, few go up to 18 or further.

  45. Actually, you’re slightly off. The sizes are only one size different – a UK 10 is a US 8, etc.

    But yeah, as a (US 18/UK 20), I have to definitely agree with you – most shops stop at 16, if you’re lucky 18. As a 20, I find this very frustrating, because I’m juuuuuuuuust outside the limit.

  46. Julia,
    It was fantastic!!! I loved working with the sassy ladies and I almost went into plus size clothing design and even started fashion design school. But I got side tracked and ended up doing other than fashion design. I am happy to see more people designing for the average and bigger sizes and making them much more attractive. But some of the cute clothes are really expensive.

  47. US sizes tend to be 1- 1 1/2 sizes bigger than UK sizes, in my experience.

    A US plus 12 is too big for me, but im a UK 16. I think a US 12 fits me fine, however, when its not a plus size.

  48. Yeah, that’s because US clothing manufacturers do this weird thing at sizes 16/18. A straight 16 or 18 is completely different to a “plus” 16 or 18. I’ve never really understood what the difference is or why it’s there, but it’s definitely there.

  49. The difference between plus sizing and misses’ sizing is like the difference between juniors and misses. Junior sizing is very straight up and down, not much allowance for curves. Misses sizing allows for some curves, especially at bust and hip. Ostensibly, women’s sizing allows for even more curves at bust and hip although in many cases they’re actually just upsized misses.

    That’s the official explanation of course, YMMV in real-world experience. I think most clothing designers, especially the off-the-rack sort, are just flying blind anyway and do what they want whether it’s practical or not.

    (former clothing store manager/merchandiser who loved the job but hated the pay)

  50. Us sizes are 2 sizes different from Australian sizing, and UK sizing is 1 different – Hence a size 14 in Australia is a size 16 in the UK and size 18 in the US.

    I really don’t think the Australian fashion industry realises the sizing difference sometimes. Plus size models in Australia are usually Australian size 14 (AKA US size 10). I fail to see how that is plus size considering that most clothing ranges go up to size 14 or 16 in Australia.

    Regarding the bouncy castle comment: my fiancee says that some of her customers should come and jump on her like a bouncy castle :)

    I also like this idea: “someone could put a deflated bouncy castle through her letterbox, then pump it up from the outside so it filled the entire store.” Nice Buff! Hilarious.

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