All right, I’m having another one of those days where I have zero interest in reading articles about The! Obesity! Crisis! and getting all enraged, so I’m just gonna talk about clothes. But if you’ve found new articles you’re enraged about and wish to discuss, please feel free to use this as an open thread.
So. Al and I are going on a proper vacation soon, our second one ever. (I almost said first, but we went to Vegas over Christmas, which definitely counted.) I have never traveled more in my life than I have in the last year with him, but about 90% of it has been to either Minneapolis or Indianapolis — places we only go to hang out with friends and do work, i.e., the same stuff we do in Chicago. This trip’s actually about getting away and seeing new things.
Because this trip (which was originally going to be to Yellowstone but will now be to northern New Mexico) is going to involve heat, lots of walking, some light hiking (i.e., walking over slightly rougher terrain than sidewalks, not anything that requires, like, gear), and a full week away, I needed an entire new wardrobe, naturally.
I have learned from our umpteen weekend trips that I am the world’s worst packer — I always bring way too many things I never get around to wearing (especially shoes), way too few things I actually want to wear, and at least three items that go with nothing else I brought, because I had a potential outfit in my head but only remembered to pack half of it. So I started strategizing about what to take on this trip before we’d even figured out where we were going. I knew I wanted the following:
- No more than one suitcase
- No more than three pairs of shoes (Okay, I originally wanted no more than 2 pairs of shoes, but come on.)
- No more than one purse
- No more than one color scheme (which in this case equals black + lots of different bright colors), so I wouldn’t end up with the stray garments that don’t match anything else
- Nothing uncomfortable
- Nothing that only sort of fits
- Lots of stuff that can be washed in a sink and dried overnight, so if I fall in love with a particular outfit — as I frequently do on vacation — I can wear it every damn day if I feel like it
I started out looking at sites like Travelsmith and Orvis, but since I’m not 140 years old, those weren’t much help. Sites like R.E.I. weren’t either, since they’re not really in the business of catering to fat girls.
Then it dawned on me : athletic clothing. Plenty of that is made from quick-drying, sweat-friendly, blissfully stretchy unnatural materials, and it’s increasingly available in plus sizes. I’ve always thought the sporty look would be ridiculous on me, given how categorically unsporty I am, but hey, desperate times…
So I’ve been accumulating sporty clothes for a couple months now, and it’s almost enough to make me want to take up a sport. This shit is comfy. And reasonably good-looking, all things considered. Who knew?
Without further ado, here’s my packing list for the New Mexico trip. All items are highly recommended:
- The Balance Spa Pant from Lucy in black, size XL (which, unfortunately, is their limit — though it’s an XL that will accomodate up to an 18, at least). I LOVE THESE PANTS. They’re definitely not the most flattering pants I’ve ever owned, but given how lightweight they are, they’re surprisingly not unflattering. They look fine, which is more than I expected, frankly. I hate the cargo pockets, and I’d like a slightly longer rise, but other than that, pure love. They move with me in every possible direction, they’re so light I can wear them in 90-degree weather and not even be bothered by the fact that they’re black, they come in different lengths, the drawstring waist accommodates vacation eating, and basically, they’re about as close as you can get to wearing sweatpants in public without actually wearing sweatpants in public (which would cause Al to break up with me instantly). They are hands-down my new favorite pants to wear on planes and buses. And for sitting around the house, walking the dogs, etc. Love.
- My trusty old American Apparel Interlock High-Waisted Skirt, in black, size XL, and once again not available any bigger. (Booooo.) I have been crazy about these skirts since I discovered them last summer. Casual, great for hot weather, just heavy enough to create a nice, non-lumpy line, and much cuter on me than shorts.
- Having said that, I also just bought my first pair of shorts in years, Junonia’s Microfiber Walking Shorts. They are not fashionable, youthful, or particularly attractive; no getting around that. But they don’t ride up, they’re super-roomy, long enough not to make me nervous (in fact, they’re a tiny bit too long), lightweight, quick-drying, and on clearance. I like all of those things very much.
- While I was poking around the Junonia clearance section, I also snagged myself a yogatard, something I’ve been flirting with the idea of for ages. This one’s not actually going with me on the trip (’cause I can do yoga in the balance spa pants!), but it is wicked comfortable for its intended purpose, and I just had to share here that Al finds it to be easily the most repugnant article of clothing I own. (And that’s saying something.) He cannot stop shaking his head every time he looks at me in it.
Me: So it’s pretty sexy, huh?
Al: Yeah, totally. In an aggressive-back-up-singer-for-Grace-Jones-circa-1985 kinda way.
Me: For Christ’s sake, IT’S JUST FOR YOGA.
Al: You couldn’t have gotten one with sequins? ‘Cause that would be hot.
- The Shape Tank from Athleta, in sky blue and island red, to go along with the black one I already had. LOVE THESE TOPS, for both yoga and casual summer wear. I am all about the high-neck tanks, so I don’t have to worry about what my boobs are doing, and the princess seams on this one are an awesome touch. Unfortunately, here’s yet another item that only goes up to XL, but Athleta does have a new and growing plus-size line, including this tank, which I think is nearly as cool.
- And now, the piece de resistance (you’ll have to imagine the appropriate accents there)… While looking at all of these athletic clothing sites, I discovered that the skort has evolved from a pair of shorts with a stupid flap on the front to an actually cute wrap skirt with built-in bike shorts underneath. No chub rub, no worries about the wind kicking up the the skirt, and no looking stupid when you stand sideways! I HAD TO HAVE ONE. Unfortunately, most of the ones available, even in plus sizes, are a maximum 16-inch outseam with 3-5-inch inseams on the bike shorts. Not happening. A) I do not wear skirts higher than knee-length, and B) I know from sad experience that even 5-inch-inseam bike shorts hit at the fattest point of my thigh and thus roll up, destroying their value as chub rub protection. But then I read Fat Girl on a Bike’s sporty clothing recommendations and discovered Terry. They make skorts in plus sizes with 9-inch inseams on the bike shorts and 19.5 and 21-inch outseams on the skirts. EEEEEEE! My traveler skort arrived yesterday, and it looks like this:
That’s with the sky blue shape tank. And yeah, the lighting could be much better, and standing right in front of the dark couch was a dumb idea, but you get the concept. The 1X is a tiny bit big on me, but I think the XL would have been too small, and OMFG, THIS IS COMFY. And it looks like just a skirt! But it’s got the shorts underneath! It’s like being a kid and putting shorts on under a skirt for gym class, except they’re not bulky! I AM NEVER TAKING OFF MY SKORT. (Which is good, since it was bloody expensive.)
- This pic shows the skirt a little better and my number one pair of vacay shoes, Mephisto Helens.
I agonized about whether to get a new pair of Helens (I bought some in brown several years ago, which I totally wore into the ground), because again, bloody expensive. But I have simply never ever found another pair of sandals with this kind of arch support. Not Birks, Clarks, Borns, Merrells, nuthin’. These shoes are the shit for walking, and I intend to have them on for about 90% of the trip.
- I’ll also be bringing my Privo Perros for any walking that requires ankle support. I wish I’d bitten the bullet and bought these Keens instead, for the toe coverage — since frankly, it’s not like the Privos are any less fug. But the Privos were half off at the time, which clinched it. Someday, I might take my father’s oft-repeated wisdom — “It’s not a bargain if it’s not what you want or need!” — to heart. But probably not any day soon.
- The third pair of shoes will be some old Indigo by Clarks wedge sandals, which have been discontinued but look a bit like these. Those are for dressing up, insofar as I intend to, which is not much.
- And for dressing up, I will be bringing my Lane Bryant Right Fit flares, at least one Sweet Pea By Stacy Frati mesh top, and my trusty old sleeveless, wrap-front cotton knit Eddie Bauer dress, which is not exactly like this, but close enough. Wait, I actually have a terrible picture of me in that (showing off the cicada that alighted on my skirt):
Add a couple more tank tops, a black cardigan, a light jacket, a bunch of different colored camis, a black purse, underwear, and I’m all set. Better yet, I think I’m all in one bag. (I will not need my hot rollers. I will not need my hot rollers. I will not need my hot rollers.)
What do you think, lovely readers? Am I forgetting anything? Do I need to burn the Junonia shorts if I want to keep my Fatshionista card? Is my mad, passionate love for that skort the saddest thing you’ve ever heard in your life? Do you have other recommendations for plus size athletic/travel clothing? Please do share your thoughts.