Talk Amongst Yourselves

Y’all, Sweet Machine’s moving tomorrow, Fillyjonk’s off to the beach, and I’ve got 85 things on my plate. (No wonder I’m fat. HAW!) Sadly, the harassment thread is still going strong with over 400 comments, but I thought I’d give you a few new things to discuss while we’re more-or-less away.

1) A WSJ article on plus-size fashion, featuring the very old news that some designers are pretentious assholes about the thought of fatties wearing their “art,” and some designers are savvy businesspeople who recognize that fat folks have money, too. I should probably hate Tadashi Shoji for admitting flat out that he knows he has us over a barrel and can therefore charge more for plus sizes, but I just can’t. I admire people who recognize business opportunities that should bloody well be obvious, so anyone who looks at the plus-size market and says, “It’s money dangling in front of your eyes” gets a thumbs-up from me. Also, I really, really want this dress and an occasion to wear it.

He would, of course, get a much bigger thumbs-up from me if his plus sizes went above 24.

2) Tara Parker-Pope really seems to be catching on.

3) Lesley has an excellent response to a surprisingly not awful article about WLS.

Okay, discuss away. We’ll be back when we can.

75 thoughts on “Talk Amongst Yourselves”

  1. I’ve had a life-long fascination with fashion and the way people decorate their bodies. One of my favorite designers for a while was Charles James. He made exquisite, lavish evening gowns that were so structured many could actually stand on their own (no surprise that James, like Christian Dior, started out in architecture before taking up fashion design). One day I found a book about James and his designs, so I eagerly picked it up.

    At first I just drooled over the pictures, but eventually I started reading the text, as well. I will never forget the ‘charming’ story told in the introduction about how ‘gracious’ Charles James was as a human being.

    It seems a society lady of some standing decided she would like a Charles James evening gown and approached him about getting one. The author was impressed with how Charles James basically told this woman to her face that she was too old, too ugly, and too fat for his gowns, AND MADE HER THANK HIM FOR IT!

    My sixteen-year-old, pretty-faced, size-eight-wearing self hurled the book with great force across the room.

    I’m still amazed at the artistry and construction of his gowns, but I now consider Charles James a complete douchebag. It taints the gowns for me.

    I work for a designer called Steven Overstreet at the Dicken’s Christmas fair each winter. His attitude is awesome. He always says that every woman is beautiful in her own way, and every woman deserves clothes that make her feel beautiful. His job, he says, isn’t to make women beautiful, but to help each woman see how beautiful she already is.

    Every time I put on something he has made, I feel not only beautiful, but strong, as well. For three years now, I’ve watched women come in slumped or timid and walk out standing three inches taller than they walked in. I’ve watched women discover themselves in a new light. Women leave his booth feeling better about themselves. That’s what fashion should do for each and every woman.

    We need more Steven Overstreets in the world, and less Charles Jameses.

  2. y’know….it totally baffles me as to why designers who are well-known for making high-quality garments and actually care about their craft DON’T make stuff for us…..

  3. Diosa: don’t you know that all fat people are piss-poor and can’t afford to pay for designer clothing???

    (Actually, I AM too poor to pay for designer clothing, but I’m not sure I would, anyway.)

  4. @ bald soprano:

    yea…..pardon me whilst i adjust my burlap sack! LOL

    i feel you about the affordability factor….that’s what knock-offs are for! ;^D

    i recently broke down and bought a copy of the fall ELLE….i was in bed with a cold…..well….after checking it out, i discovered: that the style i’ve been rocking for the last 5 years…..has now been declared “in”…..LOL

    my style: cowboy boots, funky scarves, leather, tribal patterns…..

    go figure….

  5. Does the term “queen size” rub anyone else the wrong way? It might be left over from my annoyance at pantyhose sizing where, for some reason, they insist on having “A,” “B,” and “Q,” instead of, you know, “A,” “B,” and “C.”

  6. Okay, I’m glad that this dude is out there rocking the fat girl dresses and all, but this bit:

    Mr. Shoji adjusts the garments to offer more coverage for wide bra straps, less plunging necklines and extra coverage for the upper arms. Shoulder pads are often wider to de-emphasize hips.

    …sucks. I don’t need to cover my upper arms, de-emphasize my hips, or plunge my neckline less than any other woman. I’m glad that even the dude who wants my money is selling me a dress *and* a side order of body shame.

    Blah blah blah baby steps grrrrrrr.

  7. It seems to depend on whether the designer views himself as an artist whose art is beautiful clothing, which should only be displayed on the most pristine of canvases (I.e. models so tiny their shape in no way disturbs the artists vision), or an artist whose given canvas is the woman herself and that his job is to adorn her in the most beautiful way possible.

    In my opinion, the people with the first attitude need to do sculpture, or some other medium where they’re not trying to make people’s bodies their own personal coathangers.

  8. I’m annoyed by this:

    But Ms. Brown-Wright says she now relishes working with women who devour pizza during fashion shoots. “They smile!” she says.

    Because of course those “real-sized” models can’t do anything without stuffing their face.

  9. I heart Jane Bonbon, who I first learned about on this blog! She makes affordable dresses for ladies — and she, herself, rocks.
    She can be found on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5315387
    but she also sells at the Portobello West market here in Vancouver, BC.
    I have two of her dresses and one of her tops and I feel fabulous whenever I wear them. And strangers tell me how nice I look. (strangers in a good way)

  10. …sucks. I don’t need to cover my upper arms, de-emphasize my hips, or plunge my neckline less than any other woman.

    Totally with you on the arms and hips. I will say, though, that for me, the less-plunging neckline goes along with the wider straps — it’s all part of being able to wear a bra.

    And to play devil’s advocate, even around here, a whole lot of women talk about wanting arm coverage — and the reality is, most fat women still hate their bodies. So from a business perspective, I can see that as responding to existing body shame, not trying to promote it. And since Tadashi makes a hell of a lot of sexy plus-size dresses, I definitely don’t see him as one of those “Fat women just want to hide in tents, as they should” designers.

    “Queen-sized” bugs the shit out of me when anyone says it, but again, I think it’s FA vs. The Real World. I’d be happier to buy clothes from a designer who refers to the market as “fat chicks,” ’cause all the euphemisms — and more precisely, the assumption that we WANT euphemisms, as if being reminded of our fatness is unbearable — drive me up a wall. But that’s from the perspective of a fat woman who’s fine with both my body and the word “fat.” And I know I’m in the minority.

    In conclusion, do I want Tadashi to be my BFF? Fuck no. But I like his product and think he’s a smart businessman, even if that makes me sad for the market.

  11. Shoulder pads are often wider to de-emphasize hips.

    Deal breaker. I don’t do shoulder pads. Like, ever. They make me look like a linebacker. And though they may do wonders for “de-emphasizing” hips, they also de-emphasize your head! This may not be an issue for everyone, but for me, I already have broad shoulders, a pretty small face, and not very big hair, so add some shoulder pads, and I look like ZIppy the Pinhead. It’s really tragic.

    Making my own clothes is about to get easier! Some friends of mine and I were talking about how much we really, really wanted dressmaker’s forms that fit our measurements, when our resident art genius suggested this neat idea of putting on a too-big tee shirt, wrapping your torso and hips in duct tape, cutting the whole thing off like a shell, then taping it back up and stuffing it. Then, we just put them on some kind of stand, and voila, personalized dress forms.

    Not a one person job, obvs, so we’re making a party and yarn swap event out of it. If there are any crafty shapelings in the South MS area who want in, I’ll extend an open invite. But I doubt there are very many around here, sadly.

  12. The NYT article made me *so* happy. When I got sick I lost so much weight that I now hover near “underweight.” No way in hell am I healthy. My doctor says she has patients with 30+ BMIs who have way lower body fat percentages that I do.

  13. That Tadashi dress is GORGEOUS. If it came in white, I might actually purchase it for non-existent wedding.

  14. I have a Tadashi dress that I bought at Saks two years ago (bought it for a cousin’s wedding, and I wore it again for my own rehearsal dinner last summer). At the time, I had just put on some weight, so that I was now in plus sizes rather than straight sizes, and I was really upset that nothing currently in my closet fit me. Well, I bought this dress, and I looked FABULOUS. It’s a turquoise silk chiffon, sleeveless, knee-length, with a pretty V-shaped, criss-crossing neckline.

    I do wish that more designers recognized that we fatties might like fashion, too. I’m a lawyer, and I can afford to buy the occasional high-end piece. Not to mention that my field is rather conservative, so it’s good to have several impeccable suits in my wardrobe.

  15. FWIW – I have three Tadashi dresses (I found them on sale for over half off on the Saks and Bloomingdale’s websites), and they are the best made and most flattering dresses I have ever found in my size. They are also NOT frumpy; there may be wider bra straps, etc., but I appreciate that since I need a lot of support up top. The man may not be perfect, but I have found that his dresses are pretty darn close to it.

  16. As an aside, I just got a catalog yesterday that has stopped charging more for plus sizes. It’s not perfect, not many of their clothes are even offered in plus, but my pocketbook likes it a lot. (www.pyramidcollection.com)

  17. And to play devil’s advocate, even around here, a whole lot of women talk about wanting arm coverage — and the reality is, most fat women still hate their bodies.
    And some of us who don’t hate our bodies just want modest clothing — or because of stupid arm/shoulder stretch marks!

  18. I just happen to think sleeves can be pretty…and that gooseflesh isn’t pretty. I also tend to get cold easily.

    So there’s a non-body-hate reason to want a sleeve or two.

    I also feel perfectly free to rock a tank top, if the weather’s warm enough.

  19. Patricia: That version of “affordable dresses” is not affordable for me and a lot of other women.

    emmy: make sure whoever cuts you out of the duct tape dummy doesn’t cut through your bra in the process. That happened to me with mine (ten years and 65 lbs ago), and more recently to two different friends of mine.

  20. I cannot stand shoulder pads. Why do designers still use them? My shoulders are already the size of a NFL linebacker, the last thing I need is more padding. So I tear the suckers out. And if I could afford that black Tadashi dress Nancy Kruze is wearing, I would so buy it!

    More designers need to realize us fat people are not going anywhere and we have a right to look good too. The demand is there, there are fat people out there with $$$ to spend, so start catering to them! (I say fat people, because we can’t leave out the menz. I know a lot struggle to find nice suits and dressier clothing just like us).

  21. Tari, I think a lot of women, regardless of size, don’t like showing their upper arms, particularly older women. (I’ve spoken to plus and straight size boutique owners about this – and they say they receive endless complaints about it and that manufacturers refuse to take the hint). I’m 49 and there are a number of reasons why I don’t especially like showing my upper arms; their size being pretty low down on the list. It annoys the hell out of me I can almost never get dresses with sleeves. Much as I love my shrugs; they’re more a necessity than a choice. I don’t think fat women should be forced to wear spaghetti straps just because manufacturers want to cut corners, or because they’d like me to spend an extra £40 on a matching short-sleeved blouse – and that seems to be the sitch on both sides of the pond right now.

    I also think it’s fine to want to balance your proportions by whatever means, since few of us are perfectly proportioned. I think the problem is that there are so few designers catering for large women and so few of them bother to ask us what we want or how we feel about our bodies that lazy assumptions are made and promoted as gospel.

  22. Hey Emmy… you might even consider using Rigid Wrap, or even MORE economical, the medical quality plaster wrap used in making plaster casts (same thing). Will hold your exact shape even more precisely.

    get on your bra and panties, but protect them with plastic wrap, have friend wrap you with this business… less binding and less accidental squishing of your shape than with the duct tape.

  23. I let my arms hang out all the time. I got married in a halter top dress, and I have pretty big arms. I didn’t care, I loved the dress and that’s what I was getting married in, hell or high water. But everyone’s different and has the right to show arms or not as they choose and I totally support that right.

    I just get sick of designers thinking we ALL want to hide our arms and wear big giant bras and minimize our parts. Like an earlier post said, OMG, people might notice I’m fat! Hello, I’m fat! Can’t hide it, not much sense “minimizing”.


  24. Ummm… that’s not to say that the plaster wrapping is more economical than duct tape (is anything) just that you might well be more pleased with the result.

  25. My comment has nothing to do with fashion, it’s about the NYT article, which concludes with:

    “Why is it such a stretch of the imagination…to consider that someone overweight or obese might actually be healthy and fit?”

    So… if the person is “healthy and fit,” why are they still “over-” anything? Sounds like everything is just right, and they are by definition, at a healthy weight.

    When someone in the media makes THAT connection, we’ll be on to something.

  26. Count me in as one of the ones who bares her bare arms all the time – literally. Like, the only time I wear anything with sleeves is 1.) when all my tanks/camis are in the laundry basket 2.) when it’s less than 45 degrees outside. I’m from Florida originally and I seem to retain heat especially well, unfortunately for me — if I get really hot during the day, then I’ll be hot until I take a cold bath. Otherwise, I just can’t get rid of all the excess warmth, which SUCKS. Hence, I usually wear a tank and then if I get cold, I’ll just layer over it – even if it’s 20 degrees outside, I will always start with a cami/tank layer, because I really DO get that hot.

    Just generally, though, I can’t stand the feeling of anything binding my upper arms (which most shirts – even moderately roomy ones – seem to do with me).

    If I REALLY think back, I can remember a time when I felt self-conscious about wearing short sleeves or tanks, but after a while practicality won out and I think that my tendency to overheat helped me a lot as far as accepting my body is concerned. Because, really? Women tend to (in my experience) be so much more concerned about what other people think of them than the people actually ARE. You might be all ‘omg, my thighs look huge in this – I wonder if anyone notices?’ – and most people? Nine times out of ten, they aren’t gonna take notice.

    I’ve worn tanks and almost nothing but for going on… oh, I’d say about eight years or so? Could be longer, but it’s not like I’ve been counting. I remember girls in my gym class in middle school giving me shit for the stretch marks on my shoulders and that, I think, made me feel a little insecure. These days, though, with even a light tan, they aren’t so visible (at least, to me, from my POV and when I’m looking in a mirror). Still, I’m fine with baring my arms and even got in touch with Substantia Jones over at adipositvity about doing some modeling for her (too bad she only works in the NY area :(). I have always loathed that ‘fake it until you make it’ chestnut, but it really is true – BE confident, even if you don’t feel it, and slowly but surely, you WILL feel confident and comfortable with yourself.

    These days, I look at the stretch marks on my shoulders (really the only noticeable and/or visible ones on my body, if I’m just out and about) and I see them as battle scars – proof that I got through all the years of teasing (from preschool all the way through high school) and I not only survived, but I came out on the other end a more complete, confident, strong person. Thinking about them that way, how could I ever want to hide them? They’re just like my tattoos and my nose ring – it’s something important that I went through and I have these marks that are left behind to document that experience. They represent a lot of years of abuse that I survived and a lot of hell that I pushed and fought my way through, to the point where I no longer feel like I have to apologize for breathing, for being this height, this size, this shape. I don’t have to feel bad. I don’t have to make excuses. This is the only body I’ve got, the only me I’ve got and I like where I am — I didn’t like what it took to get me here, but the results are, I think, something to be proud of.

  27. Buttercup, if plus-size designers believed we all wanted to hide our arms, at least one of the 8 dresses I bought in the US this summer would have had sleeves. (And that was a fraction of the dresses I tried on and didn’t buy. Only one of them had sleeves, and I must have tried on at least 60). Don’t get me wrong. I love dresses; they are my absolute favourite thing to wear and for 12 years I wasn’t able to buy one at all in the UK. So having the opportunity to wear dresses at all makes me positively ecstatic. But of it still pisses me off that I have only 2 summer dresses in my entire wardrobe have (albeit tiny capped) sleeves.

    Like I say my fat is the least of my arm-showing problems. I have a skin condition that gives me permanent gooseflesh that regular use of Lush’s buffy bar improves only slightly. I also have wirey black hairs growing out of said gooseflesh, thanks to medication, that, when I have waxed, frequently come back ingrown, so I have lumps and quite a lot of scarring. Plus…49. I also dislike my bra straps showing.

  28. Apologies. I should have proof read the above. It should have read, “But it still pisses me off that I have only 2 summer dresses in my entire wardrobe with (albeit tiny capped) sleeves”.

  29. my main bugaboo is…..not so much the whole sleeveless thing….but arm holes that aren’t big enough! sheesh….i don’t want to cut off my circulation whilst being fashionable….

  30. Ditto, DiosaNegra1967. My upper arms are WAY bigger than my lower, and though I’m (slowly!) learning not to hate that… yeah, it makes finding tops that much tougher.
    I do love the dress, though. The black version makes my perkigothi little heart go pitter-pat.

  31. Re: Tara Parker Pope’s NY Times article, I saw this in the description of the fitness tests:

    “For men, it meant staying on the treadmill at least 8 minutes; for women, 5.5 minutes.”

    Maybe this is a question for Junkfood Science, but why are these two standards different? This isn’t like weightlifting, where the average woman’s body tends to be less muscular (due to muscle/fat ratios) than a man’s. This is walking on an inclined treadmill. I don’t really get why the time trial would be gender-disparate, or how they came up with the numbers.

    Overall a good article, I was just really curious about this.

  32. “I’m glad that even the dude who wants my money is selling me a dress *and* a side order of body shame.”

    Had I actually had a wedding, I WANTED a Tadashi dress as they were some of the only ones I found at the time that covered arms. All I could find were sleeveless or strapless with some weird add-on sleeve-thingy-contraptions.

    Just because you want to cover your arms doesn’t mean you’re ashamed. I wanted to be comfortable.

  33. Just to clarify: I am not saying that there are not enough options for dressing that allow me to bare my arms, show off my cleavage, rock my fabulous hips, or show my bra straps….I have a fabulous wardrobe that lets me do all that stuff, no worries. My beef is that these factors are so often assumed to be obvious and essential parts of designing clothing for fat women (such that it merits being mentioned in an article like this one, for example). Regardless of where individual women fall on the spectrum of personal style preferences, there are connotations of body shame attached to those design factors…and that’s what I don’t like.

    Am I maybe just slightly bitter because I’m sized out of Tadashi’s adorable cocktail dresses? Yeah, maybe.

  34. I heart Jane Bonbon, who I first learned about on this blog! She makes affordable dresses for ladies — and she, herself, rocks.
    She can be found on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5315387

    Affordable? o.0 Are you sure you put the right link in there? I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that $89 for a sundress is affordable. $35 is MAX for my budget.

    This is also why I really have pretty much nothing to say to about the rest of this discussion. Some fat people have money. I don’t. My yearly income is about $4,400. That’s what I have for 1 year before taking out the cost of text books, rent, electricity, gas and groceries. Can you guess how much of that is left over after all that for clothing? Despite the fact that I have as much need for well fitted, plus sized clothing as someone who makes $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000 a year. Fat people need decent clothing too. And poor people do too. And both of those categories include poor fat people. But no one is going to rush to market toward us, because I can’t say, “hey, I got plenty of money of to give you if you make something that fits me right!” I don’t.

  35. AR, I’m with you –although our family income is a fair bit larger than yours, we’re still in a range where we cannot afford for me to spend $89+ on one dress. that’s about double what I can afford.

  36. I also think it’s fine to want to balance your proportions by whatever means, since few of us are perfectly proportioned.

    I kind of have a problem with the way this is phrased. While I agree that it is fine for anyone to want to emphasize or de-emphasize whatever parts of their body they want in whatever ways they want, doesn’t the phrase “perfectly proportioned” buy into the idea that there is some “ideal” body that nearly everyone falls short of? For me a big body positivity moment was back when I was browsing a website’s feature on swim suits for every figure, and one of the “problems” they had methods for hiding was “long torso.” Even as insecure as I was at the time, as much as I bought into the idea that the way your body looked had to be constantly monitored, I had a moment of spluttery rage: wait, now I have to change the size of my TORSO, something I CLEARLY have no control over? “Perfectly proportioned” suggests to me (not that I think you were trying to imply this) that everyone on some level wants to have an hourglass figure, which hits sort of close to home for me since while I am now comfortable both with my big booty and my small bust, the “disproportionality” between the two still sometimes makes me feel sort of crappy. Again, anyone is free to dress their body however they want, and I don’t wear, for example, knee-length skirts because I hate the way they make my legs look, but the phrase “perfectly proportioned” carries, to me, an assumption about what other people want that I’m not comfortable with.

    And some of us who don’t hate our bodies just want modest clothing — or because of stupid arm/shoulder stretch marks!

    I have a sort of similar problem to this as the one described above. The way this is set up, you have body-hate on the one hand, and modesty and stretch marks on the other; it sounds sort of like you’re saying weight/size is a reason to feel self-conscious born out of body hatred i.e. something commonly agreed in this community is bad, but stretch marks are a valid reason to feel self-conscious. I don’t know if that was your intent or not, but that’s how it reads to me. This one also hits a little close to home as the number one reason I felt horrifically uncomfortable in bathing-wear situations all through middle and most of high school, and the thing I get self-conscious about in a suit to this day sometimes, is the stretch marks aforementioned big booty has had since I was ten. Again, anyone is free to want to cover up any part of of their body for whatever reason, and I’d be a huge hypocrite if I said it wasn’t okay to feel self-conscious about stretch marks, but this feels to me like it carries an assumption that it’s “normal” or “expected” to want to hide your stretch marks, which I disagree with.

  37. Affordable? o.0 Are you sure you put the right link in there? I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that $89 for a sundress is affordable. $35 is MAX for my budget.

    It seems to me “affordable” is a relative term and I have a feeling the person who originally posted the link was not out to alienate anyone who doesn’t have the budget to buy those clothes (or to offend someone who wouldn’t bother to spend in that price range if they could). They are certainly more “affordable” than the $300 to $850 range of the Tadashi dresses mentioned in the WSJ article. There have been many posts here and elsewhere about plus size clothing to fit all budgets. I think it’s cool when someone mentions a newish place that maybe some people have never heard of. Never know where you might find some inspiration for a particular look or style even if you’re not going to be a customer.

  38. Hey Emmy…
    you can buy the Rigid Wrap brand option at most art stores… but the more that I think about it… you are gonna need quantities if you are having a whole party of women doin this at once… so since you’ll have to go the internet route… you might as well save some $$ and get something

    like this
    now I just hope that link works.

  39. On the subject of plus-size clothing to fit all budgets, I’d love to see a post about plus-size clothing I can afford.

    I’m talking Wal-Mart, people. I’m talking $16 cotton sundresses or $18 jeans. I’ve had a lot of luck with this stuff in my little town, but… for me, “a lot of luck” still means that I only have two pairs of jeans and three tops I can wear, because I just don’t know what to buy. The selection is there, but the nice little reports and recommendations and “this dress fit awesome on my big rack but it might suck for girls with smaller hips” analyses just… aren’t. I’d love it if someone (Kate? Fillyjonk? SweetMachine, Joy, The Rotund?) would take a look at nearly zero-budget fat girl clothes. :)

  40. @sarawr: There has been a lot of discussion about plus-size “zero-budget” clothes though unfortunately a lot of it is online only (oldnavy, target …) so it’s hit or miss ordering, which sucks. A lot of people order multiple sizes of whatever they like and return the sizes that don’t fit. Not incredibly convenient, but neither is having nothing to wear.

    I think the point of the OP was that if you do have the big bucks to spend on fancy frocks, the plus-size clothes simply don’t exist by many designers.

    A little OT — I’m pregnant and was recently treated to a shopping spree at a fancy upscale maternity shop. NONE of the high-end lines were available past a size 12 (or XL), so as an “in-betweeny” I was SOL. In maternity clothes. Made with lots of elastic. *sigh*

  41. “Perfectly proportioned” suggests to me (not that I think you were trying to imply this) that everyone on some level wants to have an hourglass figure, which hits sort of close to home for me since while I am now comfortable both with my big booty and my small bust, the “disproportionality” between the two still sometimes makes me feel sort of crappy

    Sorry if I inadvertently made you feel crappy, Isabel, that certainly wasn’t my intention, nor indeed what I meant. Personally I’d kill for a long torso because I have an incredibly short one and carry all my weight around my mid-section so there’s nowhere for it to go other than in my lap when I sit down. This makes me feel disproportionate. I don’t hate my body, but I do wish it were “better proportioned” according to my own aesthetic. Similarly a person with the long torso I covet might well wish they had longer legs if they happened to be as short as I am, (5′ 3″). Do I think they should wear high heels to balance their proportions? Only if they find them comfortable; like the look of them and/or feel the need.

    I don’t think there’s one right shape to be or aspire to but, as someone who falls into this category, I can understand why some feel the urge to create “optical illusions” through the way they dress. Being told it’s compulsory, however, is a completely different matter and not something I hold with one bit.

  42. On the subject of plus-size clothing to fit all budgets, I’d love to see a post about plus-size clothing I can afford.

    That’s a great idea. Until we get around to it, Stitchtowhere has a series of tips on plus-size thrifting over at Fatshionista (search on “thrift tips”), and in addition to Old Navy and Target, I’d recommend Casual Plus, and the sale sections at Size Appeal*, B&Lu, Alight (which has under $25 and under $15 sections), and, if you’re looking for well-made, less-trendy stuff, the under $25 section at Junonia.

    *I’ve never bought anything from Size Appeal, and have heard their customer service is iffy. But they do have a lot of sale stuff under $20.

  43. sarawr—I’m with you. But I doubt we’ll see Wal-Mart mentioned that much because a lot of people are boycotting it due to their business practices and the assumption that everyone who works and shops there are freakydinks on two legs. Wal-Mart is a very last resort for many. But not for me. I live paycheck to paycheck and Wal-Mart is the place Pop and I do our big grocery shopping at. Target disappoints me because their prices are too high, especially on household goods and styling products, and their clothing selection is downright crappy.

    On the up side, I went to the mall today and to Lane Bryant. On the clearance rack, I got a black and white print skirt for 9.99, an olive shirt with a sequined neckline for 9.99, and a Perfect Price shirt in plum for 16.99. Sears also has many things on clearance. I got a pair of tan printed capris for 10.99 and two 3/4 sleeve tops for 14.99 each.

    If there’s a Goodwill Fashions around, I suggest that too. I’ve found a few plus-size items for under $10.

  44. Yeah, I always keep clearance areas (both online and not) in mind. I can rarely afford Torrid or Kiyonna prices, but I just ordered a $60 Tripp skirt I’ve been dying for last night from Torrid — for $12.00. Earlier this year I got a Kiyonna dress to wear to work for under $50.

    I tolerate a good amount of “spam” to get the discount codes and free shipping offers, too.

    And don’t think I scorn Walmart, I do try not to shop there too much because of the political stuff, but when I’m out in country where my family is it’s one of the only places my Sister and I can shop together at all.

  45. sarawr, I wish we could go shopping together! My budget is basically the same, and somehow I just don’t “see” how clothes would look on me very well. I know a girl who is on the large side and always wears cute things, and swears she gets them from Wal-Mart (which I think is probably true, since her mom works there). But when I go, there is naught a cute item to be found! I think they’re there, but everything looks bad on the rack, or something. (the clothes rack, not mine!)

    I get most of my stuff from LB, the Avenue, Kohl’s, and occasionally Catherine’s, because that’s what we have in town. It is out of my budget for the regular stuff, but I buy it all on clearance. That means I usually don’t get things right in season, but it’s a little better quality for the same Wal-Mart kind of price.

  46. @Patricia, and now I’ve heard of JaneBonBon from you! On this very same blog!

    Ladies, in my life, I have had zero dollars in my clothing budget to many dollars in my clothing budget…and until recently it wouldn’t have mattered if I had all the money in the entire world, there weren’t clothes out there that fit my proportions.

    So my mind just boggles when I think about what I just got to do today. I got to send my actual measurements to someone who is going to make me a dress that FITS ME. My mother would have given her eye-teeth for such an opportunity when she was my age.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I know that I am exercising major privilege here…but some people are listening, they are recognizing the need, and while they may not be perfect and they may not be omnipresent, but we’ll keep at them, won’t we?

  47. a lot of people are boycotting it due to their business practices and the assumption that everyone who works and shops there are freakydinks on two legs.

    Well, around here, the first half of that might be true, but the second half certainly isn’t.

    And Tricia, you reminded me that the Torrid half-off clearance sales are amaaaazing. And they happen pretty frequently.

  48. Buffpuff, thank you very much for the clarification (and for being so nice and non-defensive about it–not that that should be the most rare of skills, but, well, internet, you know how it is. One of the things I love about this blog is the maturity and niceness commenters such at yourself).

  49. suzanne: You know, I never even thought about ordering online! I was so poor I didn’t have a bank account for five years, and I just recently got one (and a credit card). I hadn’t even realized that I could use it to order stuff from Old Navy, etc. Thanks for the reminder!

    Kate: Those links were awesome, thanks. See above, re: credit card, bank account, online shopping, big “duh” for me. (Also, I don’t know if you remember, but I still totally owe you that “Science of Fat” thing. It’s coming, I promise.)

    Bree: I might girlcott Wal-Mart if I had the option, but… really, around here my choices are Wal-Mart or the overpriced mall stores 30 miles away. Sometimes I hit those stores up when they have sales, but usually the times I have money don’t coincide with sale season, so Wal-Mart it is. I will say, I have found some cute things there; it’s just so hard to tell what will be cute. Also, I am totally a freakydink on two legs, and that is an awesome term. :D

    car: Dude, we are shopping twins. I can never tell what will look good on me; the one reliable metric I have is that if I think it’ll look terrible on me, it will actually look awesome. Seriously. I just got a $5 shirt at WM that I totally scorned at first — I thought jewel tones were not for me, I thought cap sleeves would bite me in the ass, and I thought the whole long T-shirt trend would just make things bunch at my waist. When I tried the shirt on? It rocked the party that rocks my body. Perhaps opposite shopping could work for you. :P

    (Whew! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a positive response to admitting that I’m poor and fat. Reason number 47583457 that I love SP.)

  50. “…sucks. I don’t need to cover my upper arms, de-emphasize my hips, or plunge my neckline less than any other woman. I’m glad that even the dude who wants my money is selling me a dress *and* a side order of body shame.”

    Actually, sounds like heaven. I can’t wear most dresses now because they offer nothing to cover bra straps or hide the front of my boulder holder. And forget about sleeves, I’m screwed for life on sleeves, I need full length! Covering up isn’t always about shame, I should be able to dictate who sees my body, and how much of it they see, without having to spend a literal year hunting high and low for formal wear.

    Though yeah, women don’t stop needing clothes, or fashion, at a size 24.

  51. I apologize in advance for the thread hijack, but I need help.

    I put on some clothes today that I haven’t worn for a while, and they were too small, and I’m having a sort of emotional meltdown about my weight, AGAIN.

    I thought I was done with this, but it appears I’m not. I really, really need a safe place to go and talk with people like you guys when this shit hits me. This blog is a solid rudder for me during these times, but I need more — I need a support group, one that won’t try and ‘comfort’ me by suggesting ways I might lose weight. Does anyone know of such a place (online)?

    p.s. I’m a regular reader/poster, but I’ve switched nicks because this is deeply personal stuff that I don’t want associated with my other nicks, which are connected to my professional life.

  52. Hera, we all have days like that. It’s okay to get down now and then. It’s only natural, considering all the images of “perfection” we face every day, everywhere, and it’s a real bummer when your favorite clothes don’t fit right anymore. Get rid of them. Give them away, box them up and put them in the attic if you can’t face giving them away, but get them out of your sight. Then do something to make yourself feel valuable and pampered. Go to the library and pick out a book, go get your nails done, some little thing to pick yourself up. Above all, realize that this happens to EVERYBODY, and it will pass. If you need to vent about it, you can email me, emmyduckie at yahoo. I don’t know of any discussion groups about it, but I’ll look into it, and let you know if I find anything.

  53. Hera, I’m about to sort through my fall clothes, so I’m going through the same thing. Not much help, but it’s not just you.

  54. Oh Hera, am I ever with you in this! I had to replace my entire wardrobe this year. I just wanted to curl into a ball and cry – so I did. I even have shoes that don’t fit anymore. I felt lower than lint. Then I remembered the Laura Love song about taking her big ol booty shopping and decided to take her advice. My booty is bigger than my budget but I found some great deals and I feel and look better in my new clothes! If you can’t afford to shop for new clothes, then try secondhand stores. Just don’t beat yourself up over a number! You named yourself after a goddess – allow yourself to feel like one!

    I still believe we fat women need to start a clothing swap. I have tubs of size 16, 18, and 20 clothes, some never worn, that need a new home. I don’t want to take them to Goodwill, because I’m convinced I’ll meet someone who can use them (and/or contract a rare but not fatal disease which somehow increases my bust while melting off pounds). Meanwhile I can use 22/24 anything.

    My email is socinsational at yahoo. Feel free to write me (anyone). We should support one another.

  55. Another place to get cheap clothes — the Friday sales posts on the fatshionista lj community. I’ve gotten so many cute things that way. It’s like a fat girl garage sale! I know some people religiously shop ebay, too.

    As for shopping at WalMart: I am at a point in my life (financially and geographically) where I can personally choose not to shop there due to their labor and business practices. I don’t think people who work or shop there are “freakydinks” (wtf?) I don’t judge someone who shops there, the same way I would hope to not be judged by choosing to eat meat. My not shopping at WalMart is a direct result of my personal politics, that’s all.

  56. Hera, I’m not sure that I can help you, but what came to mind to say was this: your clothing size is not a judgment on your essence or your spirit. You are the same woman now that you were a year ago, only wiser and more experienced. Better. Shed your old clothes and know that your life does not start “later when…” It starts anew every day if you’re there for it.

  57. Cinsation, that’s a great idea! I need more 18s and 20s, and have several very nice 12s, 14s, and 16s (even some I painstakingly hand stitched!) that I can’t bear to drop off not knowing they’ll be loved.

    Do you think you might be interested in starting a swap site? Kind of a very supportive online thrift shop for bigger girls? I think it would be really easy to do, though more of a public service than a profit making venture. If you are interested, I’ll email you and we can discuss.

  58. Emmy, I’d love to be a part of that, but I have no clue about web design. I don’t care about profit as much as the rewards of getting rid the emotional baggage attached to keeping clothes that don’t fit. Email me. I’m game if you are. If nothing else, maybe I can help you out.

  59. I happened to be in Boston yesterday right after reading that WSJ link, so my mom and I checked out OKW, on Clarendon St at Newbury St, a boutique I’d seen mentioned in the comments. The designer there is SO NICE, very all-sizes-positive and very talented. She told us about all sorts of customers with proportions difficult to fit off the rack and how she cut things to fit and look fantastic on them. She grabbed a couple of things and put them on me and draped them how she’d alter them and … OMG. O.M.G. It was awesome and fascinating and I was blown away.

    I mean, I sort of damn well should’ve been blown away, because it is, yes, a Very Expensive Shop. I should have expected it since it was mentioned in connection with the Tadashi label. Ooops. (I did score two outstanding 3/4 sleeve tee shirts at $60 each. I’m busty and hippy and finding non-boxy tees that fit well is a nightmare, and I’m corporate, so that’s a suckable-uppable price point for me. I’ll still be lucky to order one real investment piece from OKW, maybe, if I think it through carefully enough.) Still, if anyone in or with access to Boston does have some money to spend and is looking for an occasion-of-a-lifetime dress, or for the kind of jacket or skirt that will score you a huge new job or client and then become a knock-the-room-dead wardrobe staple for the next decade, then totally check her out.

    And so much for the stereotype “all fat people are piss-poor and can’t afford to pay for designer clothing.” FALSE. I am absolutely not trying to knock people who do find themselves simultaneously fat and poor, I’m just saying, like with any other physical demographic, there’s a full spectrum out there and it really belies the classist inflection of the obesity-epidemic myth.

  60. So, as long as we’re talking fashion, I’m going to go on in a wistful way about my favorite catalog. ^_^ Of course, now everyone’s going to know how utterly NOT fashion-savvy I am, but meh.

    It’s called the Pyramid Collection. I don’t particularly like this term for the style, but I haven’t a better one, so we’ll say it’s a very “new-age” style of clothing, jewelry, and home decor/ gifts sort of products. But I’m a bit “new age,” myself… gosh I wish there was a better term.

    Anyhow, the catalog. They have gothic style, ren faire style, steampunk style… and also just a whole lot of pretty dresses, shirts, and skirts that I would absolutely LOVE to just rock the heck out of all over the place if I had the guts to dress in a style my family would probably give me grief over.

    From an FA point of view the catalog is mildly problematic really, the cover says, “we offer goddess sizing at no extra charge!” which is one of those iffy, gray areas where you can’t decide if it does more harm than good, though they probably mean well (I hope, but who knows?). And the sizes don’t go up very high I don’t think, like 24 or something. I’m lucky enough (from a rampant hatred standpoint and also a search- for- plus-sizes standpoint) to be on the smaller end of plus, so I could still shop there if only I had the money (there are certain items of clothing there that I would own in a heartbeat if I could afford them and my family be darned) but thanks to you all I notice this stuff more now.

    There are two simple yet impossibly beautiful dresses that I would not wait to have an occasion for. I’d just up and wear them. Hell, I’d wear them to hang around the house. They’re just very very me, in a way that the majority of my wardrobe is just painfully NOT.

    Mmm. I wish I lived in an area where nobody batted an eye at that kind of clothing. Not to mention wishing I worked at a job that allowed for some individual expression in the dress code. I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin now, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable in my clothes.

  61. Thanks to everybody that responded to my agony post.

    I’m very much aware that, while I feel alone at those times, I’m not — it’s just that I have nowhere to go and ‘discharge’ the feelings. I can talk to my spouse about them, but he’s an average-sized guy who’s never been through it. I have two close friends who are of size, both of whom are hostages of the dieting culture and can only offer sympathy and the latest ‘lifestyle change.’ The knowledge that my feelings are so common, yet so misunderstood by those closest to me, is pretty heart-rending.

    I have frequently considered starting a forum for people of size, a safe place to talk about those awful feelings without fear of being doubly injured by hatred in the guise of ‘support’ (you know, ‘if you feel THIS badly about it, maybe you SHOULD consider losing some weight,’ etc.). Just out of curiosity, would any of you guys (sic) be interested in something like that?

  62. Anyone else see the article on MSN about how Alabama is now going to start charging its state employees more on their insurance because they have a BMI over 35? It also sounds like they will also be charged if they refuse to take the “free” health screenings as well. They can get out of the fee if they “show progress”.

    So i am wondering how you show progress, and what happens after a persons weight hits that point where it doesn’t want to go any lower. That makes the only method for them to avoid the fees completely subjective. And their workers union is not doing anything about it.

  63. Hi, Twistie! [waves]

    If it makes you feel any better, James died in absolute and abysmal poverty. And yes, he was a genius. Genius has nothing to do with “good person;” Picasso was known to extinguish cigarettes on the person of the woman keeping him company at the time. Charles Worth, the father of modern couture, demanded an introduction, and he decided if the woman would be a customer – not the hopeful customer. James was known for taking finished garments away from their owners, and doing additional work on them, if they didn’t meet his specifications. Would I want him as a friend? No. Study under him? You bet.

    @Kate, I didn’t actually see Tadashi Shoji stating that he “knows he has us over a barrel;” saying “”It’s money dangling in front of your eyes,” is exactly what the rest of us have been saying for years. If Shoji is charging 10-15% more than smaller sizes – I don’t think that’s fiscally irresponsible, really. It takes pattern makers who can draft for those sizes (not as easy to find as you might think); layouts on fabric aren’t as cost effective, and the costs for fabric are increased – it’s not exactly the same as saying, it’s only another yard of fabric, why isn’t the cost just another X dollars for that yard? The layout for that pattern may nip into another three yards. And his cutting is phenomenal!! – and I don’t say that often. His costs are well within reasonable prices for designer clothes. No, they aren’t Target, or Wal-Mart prices – but I’ve seen those prices at Lord & Taylor’s and other department stores for comparable clothing. I don’t think that he’s an abusive merchant – I think he’s recognized there’s a market, and he’s addressing the needs of that market. I didn’t see anything that he personally said that was either greedy, or disrespectful to large women.

    @Tari: it appears to me as if a range of styles are being offered. That fabulous dress Kate linked certainly has bare arms. Some women like to cover their arms, some don’t.

    I actually enjoyed the shock of the writer on finding out that her size-8 slacks make her a “plus size” in the deranged eyes of the Fashion World. The smaller the sizes that are “plus,” the more people They can sweep into the Diet Net – because, horrors, who wants to be plus? The writer’s thighs weren’t a millimeter bigger than before she found out, but you know that increased her anxiety level.

    @Emmy, there are videos and how-tos on the net about making duct-tape dummies. Remember not to pull the tape too tight, or it’ll distort the shapes you’re copying! Make sure the T-shirt is pretty long, as it gets hiked up in the taping. Good luck! (Shoulder pads aren’t really the villains they sometimes seem; the right shoulder pads shouldn’t even be visible. But you can certainly manage without them.)

    @Bon, if she uses Rigid Wrap, she has to then use a pourable foam to create a dummy that can have pins stuck in it. Some folks make the Duct Tape Dummies and stuff them as is; some make patterns from the Duct Tape Dummy pieces, and make them up in canvas and stuff them so that they can have pinable dummies. It makes a tremendous difference in dressmaking to be able to pin into the dummy.

    @AR, you are right. At $4400 per year (student, I’m guessing, what with textbooks), you are not currently anyone’s target market, regardless of your size. Your discriminatory income, currently, is negligible/nonexistent. I spent a whole lot of years being that poor. The fact that I think Tadashi Shoji’s prices are reasonable for designer clothing, and that Jane Bonbon’s dresses are reasonably priced for a broader market, doesn’t mean that I, personally, have anything like that kind money to spend. At this point in my life, I can pretty much guarantee I never will, either. The reasonable solution for you, and for The Bald Soprano, is the same as it was for me: learning to sew. Not because it’s a creative outlet, not because we’re artistic, but for the same reason the poor have always sewn: to cover their backs. It is the best solution that I can recommend for the poor. If you have access to libraries, there are a lot of books that will tell you what goes into making clothes; there’s tons of information on the Internet, and all sorts of knowledgeable folks willing to offer advice. If you can’t afford patterns (which often go on sale $.99-$1.99, much better than the original $15-$25), you can tape newspapers together for the pattern pieces, and copy the shapes of the pieces from the clothes you currently own. You don’t need a machine to start, either; it can be done by hand, especially in all the places where you have to wait for someone else – bus, doctor’s office, etc. If you want a machine, you can often find one for free on craigslist or freecycle. Fabric can be found in terms of sheets, curtains, etc., often at thrift stores, or offered free via freecycle; I’ve made robes from bedsheets and coats from bedspreads. Existing garments (from thrift stores, donations from friends, etc.) can be scavenged for their fabric and findings (zippers, buttons, snaps, etc.), if they’re too small. *You can skimp in a lot of places; always buy good thread. If they’re not too small, but don’t fit right, you can alter them Clothes that fit but are worn past mending become pattern pieces. The simplest garments are often the most becoming: a half-circle skirt, which is the most flattering skirt shape, doesn’t need a pattern, just a pencil and a string, if you haven’t a measuring tape; a plain gathered skirt with a waistband is a rectangle for the skirt, and another rectangle for the waistband. As far as cold hard cash goes, buy at least two good bras a year and alternate them so they don’t wear out as quickly; don’t be afraid to mend them, either. If you don’t have a favorite bra shop, Lane Bryant has some decent bras; so does Frederick’s of Hollywood. (The best bras for support, unfortunately, are the ones that have a horizontal seam across the cup, and a vertical seam below that.) You can make your own bras, but you’ll want to have some sewing practice under your belt first. (You may also never want to make your own bras.) For people like us, with little or no money to spend, the upper end of clothing manufacture exists primarily as handbook to what’s current.

    And you know what? Sewing isn’t giving up, either. Sewing is about total control – even if you are poor. And I like that a lot.

  64. I’ve never shopped at Wal-Mart. Why?

    A, I’m supersize, which means NOTHING in Target, Sears, or JC Penney’s fits me, and I’ve never seen any indication that Wal-Mart is any different.
    B, I’ve got Catherine’s and Casual Male (yes, men’s store, but some of the stuff fits) within a few miles of my house.
    C, The nearest Wal-Mart is 20 miles away.

    I am tempted to go the route of Noel Figart and take up sewing, but as she notes, it takes a LOT of practice to be able to adapt patterns to one’s body well. (She did a SWAP, or Sewing With A Plan, to create a basic professional wardrobe for a few hundred dollars – http://noelfigart.com/blog/2008/07/10/wardrobe-combinations/ )

    OTOH, I do have enough money to buy Making It Big’s made legal American workers pants, so I should stop griping.

  65. Oh, and with all the talk on sleeves, I was perplexed to see no discussion of my bugaboo – Avoiding Sunburn! I am SICK of getting burned every summer, so I’m mostly wearing long-sleeved shirts and tops.

  66. Anyone else see the article on MSN about how Alabama is now going to start charging its state employees more on their insurance because they have a BMI over 35? It also sounds like they will also be charged if they refuse to take the “free” health screenings as well. They can get out of the fee if they “show progress”.

    Man, I really hope NAAFA is all over this.

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