Announcements, Plus Size Fashion, You've Got to Be Kidding Me

Open thread

So yeah, adding another co-blogger was theoretically supposed to increase frequency of posting, but then A Sarah and Fillyjonk both had the nerve to go out of town and have lives or something, and Sweet Machine and I have both been dealing with shit that keeps us away from the blog, and I got really caught up in following and writing about Dr. Tiller’s murder, and here we are.

So, two things, before I tell you to talk amongst yourselves.

1) Reminder: Marianne and I and Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere contributor/Fatshionista extraordinaire Lesley Kinzel will be reading, signing books, and hanging out at Re/Dress in Brooklyn this Friday night, June 5, starting at 6 p.m. Deets:

Re/Dress NYC
109 Boerum Place
Brooklyn, NY
between Pacific + Dean
f/g train to Bergen Street stop
Shopping at 6:30, reading begins at 8.

Fillyjonk will be there, too, and there will be a dance party afterwards, and refreshments, and all the fatty vintage shopping you can handle. Come on down!

2) This article pissed me off on so many levels, I don’t even want to get started. I’ll just quote from a gchat I had with Fillyjonk yesterday.

FJ : was that the article about how there are fewer plus size fashion shops/lines because of lack of demand?

unlike every other segment of the retail economy, which is just zipping along?

life and style reporters are probably going to be sucking that teat for a while

“demand for popsicles is down!”

“demand for furbies is down!”

me: “demand for newspapers is down!” oh, wait.

[There is some discussion of just posting inflammatory quotes from the article and letting Shapelings have at it.]

me: “For one, plus-size collections are expensive to make—as much as 10% more than standard lines, experts estimate—because they require additional fabrics, and special fit models and patterns.”

SPECIAL fit models and patterns. The other ones are normal, so they don’t count.

Or cost money.

“’They’re really bargain shoppers,’ says Catherine Schuller, a plus-size expert and former editor at Mode, a magazine for larger women. Many are homemakers who can’t spend considerable amounts on clothes and are willing to sacrifice their own spending for their families, especially now, Ms. Schuller says.”

Um, with all due respect to the segment that fits that description, if that’s your understanding of the entire fatty fashion market, maybe I get why Mode failed.

FJ: maybe i should write something

it would have to be really short and horrible

me: And the one that really got me:  “Because these shoppers prefer to buy online, according to industry insiders…”


FJ: aaaaaaaaaaaaa

Me: Which extends to the fact that, if we go to the mall, it’s to see if the one fat store has anything that fits us, so there’s not so much point in going to the damned mall

Whereas people buying straight sizes can go to the mall to try on things at 20 stores.

FJ: right! but no, it must be because WE PREFER TO SIT IN OUR HOUSES AND WALLOW IN SHAME

Me: Also, once again, a company’s marketing fail gets blamed on the market.

How many Shapelings have said, “Wait, Ann Taylor carries up to 18? I had no idea.”


And then no one comes in and buys those sizes, so obvs, the market doesn’t exist

FJ: it’s as though they have to rediscover marketing for the plus-size market

“well, for normal-size people, we make a product and tell them how great it is, and then they buy it”

“for fatties, i think maybe we should try pretending the product doesn’t exist and see how that goes”

me: Ha, no kidding! We’ll cram a couple of plus sizes in the back, never say anything about it, and just wait for the customers to arrive! It’s a plan!

FJ: we’ll be rich! rich!!

me: Also, it’s important to have a deep understanding of the market…

So here’s what you need to know:

They never leave the house. They don’t like to spend money. They don’t want to look attractive.

FJ: they’re unlovable & they eat too much

they probably own one million cats

we did a lot of focus groups

on 4chan

me: HA!

There you go, Shapelings. What else would you add? What else do you want to talk about? Thread is yours.

(Oh, I just realized SM put up a fluff post while I was writing this. Oh well. Now you’ll have TWO threads to muck around in!)

214 thoughts on “Open thread”

  1. I love the fluff… and I love the conversation. Really feel free to post excerpts from your chats because they are hilarious.

    Okay, so a little tiny bit of blogwhoring this morning because I wrote a very satisfying post about dancing and how it connects to the prolonged teasing I endured as a child (really, there is a connection).

    I also wrote a note to the staff at Dr. Tiller’s clinic via the NARAL site, thanking them for the work that they do.

  2. I dunno – I feel like there needs to be something about us inbetweenies who are more or less sized out of many “regular” stores (especially because I’m in my 20s and a grad student and would therefore like to buy cheap clothing as is carried at, say, Forever21), but are still too small for plus size stores.

    Thank God I love shoes…

  3. Ann Taylor goes up to 18? Seriously?

    Yes yes yes to all of your criticisms of this mess — nothing like rationalizing people’s inability to believe that fatties like cute clothes.

  4. Does anyone watch Tori & Dean? I’m so upset about the way the show is dealing with the nanny and her “obvious” need for weight loss surgery because of back pain, that I’m going to have to stop watching.

  5. I read that article yesterday and it pissed me off as well.

    First off, I’d imagine that demand for most items (except for real necessities like food, etc.) is down in this economy. (I live in SE Michigan where half of all jobs are related to the U.S. auto industry–few of us are buying anything right now.)

    Secondly, why do they have to repeat that we plus-size gals require “more fabric” and “special patterns”? Maybe if you gave us something beside muu-muus you wouldn’t need so damned much fabric. Special patterns? Most of the clothes you mainstream stores have been trying to sell us are NOT so very special. It is NOT special to embroider cute little animals onto a sweater or make everything in heat-seeking polyester!! No wonder we don’t buy.

    Thirdly, nice way to characterize us as uniquely being homebound self-sacrificing bargain shoppers, as though skinnies don’t bargain shop. Everyone I know looks for bargains, but I won’t buy anything at a bargain price if it’s shitty. And it doesn’t mean that I won’t buy something that’s WOW if it’s full-price. But WOW moments in retail stores are few and far between, especially if you’re at the upper end of sizing. Again, offer me clothing that’s stylish and well-made, and you’ll have me as a customer. (It’d be nice if you treated me with respect as well, like maybe not putting the plus-size clothes next to the hardware section.)

    Thirdly, I DON’T prefer to buy online, but it’s a fucking necessity! I’d much rather browse and try things on than hope that what I’ve ordered based on a tiny picture will work for me. And there are no food courts online!

    Maybe I’ve gotten it all wrong though. Maybe most of us are sitting at home, excitedly thumbing through the latest Roaman’s catalog, expectantly waiting for our delivery of specially-patterned knee-length trapeze tops made of fluorescent polyester. Yeah, that’s it.

  6. It’s so true all that you two g-chatted…I mean holy guacamole…how can I buy something that I can’t find? What really astounds me is that there is this boatload of money to be made, yet, people are too embarrassed to advertise they have the clothes? REALLY? Too embarrassed?

    People aren’t embarrassed to advertise tampons…or viagra…or…uh, toilet paper…or whatever…but they are too ashamed to acknowledge that they sell clothes for fatties…Fatties mind you who will BUY the clothes…HAPPILY…perhaps not a $200 party dress everyday (once every 2 years or so…) but I am in need of a cute cardigan and a summer dress to wear to a picnic, oh and I would love some pedal pushers for this season…I mean come on…I have budgeted to buy clothes I just can’t find any to buy.

    Sheesh….that’s all for now.

  7. THANK YOU for making the obvious point that if a majority of women are sized 12 and up, they don’t need SPECIAL sizes and fit models. If you didn’t design clothing for the numerical minority of women in the first place then the majority of women wouldn’t need “special patterns.”

    And I have to say, having been pretty much every size on the spectrum, the larger the size the more expensive it is (and not the 10% or whatever extra fabric.) When I was under a 12 I could walk into a store, go to the clearance rack, and buy things for way cheap. That just doesn’t happen now. So I have no doubt plus-sized clothing have taken a bigger hit because 1) they are more expensive to begin with 2) shopping while fat is no fucking fun, especially when the only things you can afford are ugly.

  8. Hi. LOVED your comments!! I don’t know why they don’t get it in the retail/fashion world, but I have some observations. I used to work for a VERY large and well-known plus size retailer and have a couple of very specific thoughts on this subject:

    1. I was told that during a high-level meeting at my company, one of the male executives made the comment that “fat women hate to shop, they want to get in and out as quickly as possible and buy whatever is most comfortable.” It was infuriating then and it’s infuriating now. We need to have women who wear size 20, 22..etc doing the buying, running these stores and advocating for us. We need discussion groups between us and retailers. We need them to see that we are real, we have money, and we are not to be marginalized anymore. We are women who want to look as good as our smaller sisters. End of subject.

    2. Part of this problem lies with us. When I had my store, many of my customers would say “I don’t want to spend money right now on anything nice because I’m losing weight..or plan to lose weight.” We need to continue to drive home the importance of living in the “now” and dressing for who we are at any given time. You may lose weight, in which case, you buy new clothes. You may gain weight – same thing. i’m just saying, we need to be willing to treat ourselves and love ourselves enough to dress in clothes that fit and that we love, no matter our size.

    3. I hate the whole – you can shop with us on-line but we’re not featuring your size in our stores. I’ve already made a concious choice to not shop on-line at stores that do not carry my size in -store (I am a size 22 – I will not shop Old Navy, the Gap, etc..) If I’m not important enough for you to want me to walk through your doors, you’re not important enough for me to shop wtih you on-line. How insulting.

    I love your site!!

  9. All of this, plus:

    I know its been mentioned before, but I also hate how plus sized manufacturers assume all fatties have the same shaped body, and that we all like having that body dressed in shapeless sacks in tacky fabrics and patterns!

    And I hate shoping online! When you have a differently-shaped body, (like most women!) You have to try things on and evaluate how it fits and looks on you. Online shopping is useless.

    As an aside, I would love to find a shop that sells high-quality clothes that are unfinished. So that the waistbands and hems can be fitted ON SITE! Wouldn’t that be awesome?

  10. It continually amazes me how retailers can be so fucking stupid. I mean, people go to COLLEGE and GRAD school for these jobs, fer chrissake!
    “Uh, gee. We have all these leftover items; let;s put them in the sale rack: let’s see, size 2, size 0, size 00, size 4, another size2. Huh. Wonder why no one bought these. Oh well.
    Hey we sold out of the sizes 12 and up on all this stuff. I know! Let’s make those sizes UNAVAILABLE!!!!! THAT’S why the smaller sizes didn’t sell! The wee ones were too afraid of/offended by the fattie sizes to shop here! If we get rid of the fatties, the wee ones will come back and buy up all the size 2s! Golly, I’m brilliant!”
    Yeah. That’s workin’ real well.

  11. The higher price for “plus sizes” has always infuriated me, especially when I’m told that part of the surcharge is due to a need for special patterns and fit models. If that is true, why aren’t petite clothes also higher priced, for their special patterns and fit models? The LogicFail always ticks me off.

  12. It makes me nuts that anyone blames the discriminated-against party for coping behavior that’s a direct result of the discrimination! I see this all the time in the “what’s wrong with women” articles. If we’d only speak up, we’d get raises (except women who speak up are penalized). If we’d only be nice and approachable in public instead of stuck-up (except women who’re nice are responsible for being attacked). It’s a shame that women pay attention to how much a man makes before they marry (when you’re married, you’re supposed to stay home with the kids and let him support you). If women have a problem, it;s because of who they are.

    Oh, and I forgot, we’re also so hard to figure out!! I realize that is a derail, but this situation is just so perfect as an illustration. We’re going to make shit clothes and hide them and then criticize you for not being better customers.

  13. The last few lines cracked me up. One million cats and focus groups, that’s us fatties.

    At the moment there are two stores in the Netherlands where I can buy decent plus size clothing.


    In the entire freaking country.

    You know that whole list of stores at the end of Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere? My country has Ulla Popken, and Miss Etam’s Plus department (which isn’t on the list and goes up to size 26 or so). Normal stores barely go beyond a size 14, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to dig up that one size 14 shirt in a rack full of size 8s and 10s.

    I buy a lot of my clothing online, because yeah, that’s the only place where I’ll actually find some. I prefer to buy in real stores because then I can actually try the clothing on to see if it fits.

    The plus-size market isn’t declining. It’s being ignored. 2 + 2 = 5, we are not at war with Eurasia, ignorance is bliss and fatties don’t want to buy pretty clothes that fit them.

    Any more of this, and it’s like the clothes stores and fashion designers are practically screaming at us: “No, fatties, we don’t want your money! We know you have money to give us in exchange for pretty clothes, but we don’t want it! Go awayyy! We only want money from thin people!”

    Head, desk.

  14. It continually amazes me how retailers can be so fucking stupid. I mean, people go to COLLEGE and GRAD school for these jobs, fer chrissake!
    “Uh, gee. We have all these leftover items; let;s put them in the sale rack: let’s see, size 2, size 0, size 00, size 4, another size2. Huh. Wonder why no one bought these. Oh well.

    It’s like the complaints about how “vanity” sizing is omg, terrible because people who used to be a size 0 have to buy a size 00 and it’s just SO complicated. Uh, as opposed to the size 14s and 16 who now have at least a SHOT of finding something they can wear in the store and who are statistically a lot more common than the 00s? Nah, they’re just fatties; who cares about them.

  15. What I’d love to see is bra makers realizing that there are more sizes out there than a 34C. Anyone tried to get a 42AA lately? Maybe even a 44AA?


    Yeah, exactly. Fat women with very very small breasts are up there with pink Elvis impersonating unicorns. It’s not so bad that most plus sizes are made for women with a rack-o-doom, that’s managable, that’s just about taking stuff in, but a well fitting bra that doesn’t cost at least three figures is something else altogether.

  16. pennylane said one of the things I was thinking… so what if we *do* need “special” forms and it takes more material to clothe us… don’t we PAY for that?? I know it costs me at least $2-3 dollars more PER ITEM I buy… I’ve probably bought 30 yards of material and at least 4 fat lady dress forms all my own! Heck, if manufacturers made cute things for us, we’d probably… gasp… buy them! I mean, I get that small boutiques are closing – I’d love to know what the rate is for boutique closures for non-fat folks, but um… are we not in a recession?

    Oops. Ranting. Sorry.

    In other commentary… have any of you 300+ types (or friends and relations of 300+ types) ever had your legs waxed? I am about to sign up for a water aerobics class at my local pool, and I’m wondering about the waxing thing. I know, I know, it’s buying into the patriarchy and all that to be hair-free, but since I’m already putting my fat body into a bathing suit in public, I feel like I can only be *so* brave, ya know? So, anyway… waxing experiences? Thanks, thanks!

  17. Hey fashion designers? Can you please stop with the “plus size clothes are more expensive because they use more fabric and need different patterns/fit models” bullshit? Your logic there doesn’t make sense–A size 2 uses more fabric than a size 10, but they cost the same. Tall, average, and petite lines require different fit models and patterns and use different amounts of fabric, but they’re (usually) all the same price. Cover your costs by upping everything a few bucks if you have to, geez.

  18. I blogged a few days ago about the lack of stores catering to fat customers, especially to those 26 and up, at our malls. Being a deathfat 26/28, I’m lucky to have at least four or five stores in a mall I can find clothes at. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for someone who is a size 30/32 and above, where they’re basically forced out of sight and online to buy clothes, paying excess shipping and return fees, or to make their own clothing. Lane Bryant won’t even stock 30/32 in their stores, only carrying a few pieces online. For a store that is known to be THE place for fat ladies to shop, that’s a real disservice. If Fashion Bug, as well as Avenue, will carry 30/32 in their stores with no qualms, why can’t LB? Why can’t other stores? Don’t tell me it’s due to cost or lack of demand…when I go to those two stores, 30/32 is what they have least of, with 26/28 as the next in demand size.

  19. I am shocked that AT carries to an 18. You’d never guess. I’m a single digit/straight size but shopping there makes me feel like a giant person, in my stores half of the place is petites, and most of them seem to be a size 2.

    and yes, then the sales wracks are all size 2 petites also. How is this working? (and why do I still shop there?)

  20. I would love, love, LOVE to shop at a store like the one Rachel described upthread! Nice clothes that get properly fitted to my body? Hells, yeah, I’m there!

    At 5’2 1/2″, short-waisted, small-boobed, full-bellied, and proportionally long-legged, I’m not an easy fit.

    After all, everyone who wears over a size ten is at precisely 5’8″ and either an extreme hourglass or a shapeless blob. Either way, she doesn’t want to look good. If she did, she would read the minds of the few retailers who carry our sizes but don’t inform us of the fact, or spend all our time trawling the internetz to find tacky polyester muu-muus at twice the price.

    And they wonder why so many big girls take up sewing.

    This week on The Fashion Show (Bravo’s pale, sadly lacking in Tim Gunn replacement for Project Runway) they’re having the ‘normal sized woman challenge.’ The previews have shown one designer saying this is the challenge that will obviously spell out his end on the show and another having what appears to be a nervous breakdown over the idea of dressing a woman who I would guess is no more than a ten, and might even be an eight.

    Seriously, design students are being taught that we are some terrifying alien form of life. The entire industry is geared toward shaming us into not existing.

    Funny, it ain’t working. I’m still here and I still want to dress fabulously, you fuckwads! YOU JUST DON’T WANT MY MONEY BECAUSE IT MIGHT BE AS FAT AS I AM!

    Trust me, my money won’t do a damn thing to your waistline. If you’re meant to be thin, I can’t make you fat. If you’re meant to be fat, honey, there’s pretty much no way you’ll avoid it. I’d still like something nice to wear.

  21. ITA. Hello, I wouldn’t shop online if I could go somewhere and just try stuff on for a change. As much as I hate the mall, I hate having to ship stuff back even more.

    Oh, and why, why, are size 20 pants always 2″ too long? I’m 5’7″ and my legs aren’t short. Who are these exactly designed for? And YES re different body types. You would think a 38B bra wouldn’t be that hard to find “in a store” but I’m lucky if there are 3 *total* at one time, that means from all manufacturers in any color in any department store section at one time. I shudder to think what bigger cup sizes must be contending with.

    Given all this, can I also ask where people do like to shop? Lately it seems like I’ve given up and am paying premium Nordstrom prices for stuff just because their site is easy to deal with, and I did get a decent suit (although AGAIN with pants too long) at Macy’s (ONLINE). And there’s J. Jill which finally seems to have recovered from a particularly dowdy design period. Some of the British catalogers — Wrap London — have cute stuff but it just seems priced out of my range. Not a big fan of Coldwater Creek.

  22. Oh and another thing! If we big girls require so much extra fabric, where are you putting it? It sure isn’t in your so-called tunics, which at 28″ length is more like a crop top for many of us!!

  23. MamaD, lets not forget that it isn’t in the sleeves either. Nothing like a tunic that is ok on the chest and the hips, but has size 2 sleeves.

  24. I’ve always hated the “it uses more FABRIC” line. If that was really a concern, as others have pointed out, then prices would be allocated on a sliding scale range for EACH size; not cut off at some arbitrary number; labeled “PLUS” and upped $4 or more to cover costs across the board!

    I’m also still dreaming of a day when the average designer will offer more than Empire Waists and Tent Shirts for fatties. You know that I just realized I look fabulous in shirts that are floaty and have a tight band around the bottom that hits around my hips? I found ONE such style in LB where I tried it on. Since then, I have been unable to find more than one hand’s count worth of similar styled shirts ANYWHERE for purchase, even online.

    Damanique: love the Orwell refs ;)

    Stop assuming we’re all fat the same way you jerks. Then make a range of fun designs like you do for that 1% of the population you imagine/wish we’d all emulate and actually ADVERTISE your new fab selection and expanded size range. The dollars will come.

  25. Fat women with very very small breasts are up there with pink Elvis impersonating unicorns.

    Clearly, you are supposed to exchange your breasts with us tiny-ribcaged people with C-and-aboves.

  26. So, I’m willing to waive the price difference. I will pay more for flattering in-betweenie clothing (I’m a size 16 or 18). I am probably reiterating the debate here, but I’ve spent most of my life avoiding fashion due to body hatred. Now, I’m getting over it, and I want to look good.

    So, I pass a clothing store that has some great fashion in the window. I rubberneck. Then I think, “Do they even carry my size? How much rejection am I willing to take today?” And I usually decide that this is not the day where I waste a lot of time looking at the size tags on the rack and not finding mine. And I go home and order the stuff I know fits online.

    (And if I actually fit into most clothing at plus stores, I would schedule girl time with my other plus-sized friends and dive bomb the stores. But I’m just as likely to have the same problem there.)

    If I were a size 12, I would be walking into clothing stores on impulse all the time to try on something cute.

    And when I stumble into a playground that *does* have continuous sizing through my range (so I can size up or down on an item to see how it looks), then I get all excited and have trouble controlling myself. All I need are some playgrounds where I know I can find lots of options, and I will spend. And I don’t give a damn if they’re priced 10% higher, seriously. If that’s what it takes, I’ll pay it and complain later.

    I don’t know if we’re going to see all that mysterious fattie money until we can get to a critical mass of continuous clothing sizes into the plus range such that when a plus passerby asks herself, “Do they even carry my size?” the answer is, “Probably.” Then it’s worth it to go look.


  27. Oh and back up hold the phones here. Quote from the article “But the average American woman weighs 164 pounds and sports a size 14, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How can fashion and retail abandon so many customers?”

    WTF? So I spent about half of my young adult life at the AVERAGE fucking size of the American woman and about 10 pounds more or less from that weight…and thought I was SO MUCH LARGER than EVERYONE else?!?? WHY is that mindset so prevalent when it is not reality?!? It makes me want to sob! Is it JUST the media portrayal as Thinner as Normal? Is it now just an horribly internalized inability to SEE others around us as the vast variety of sizes they really are? *sigh* Not sure where I’m going with that but damn…. people are losing out on so much money not treating those of us sized ABOVE or AT “average” as a serious set of potential clients.

  28. JustMe: I think your body must be broken. I’m 5’7 and all the pants are way too short. I have to buy talls and have them altered. Or just walk around with them dragging in the mud. Wait. Maybe it’s my body that’s effed up.

  29. AprilD: Also, the jerks need to give the line more than a couple of months (what, 6 tops?) before deciding that no-one will buy anything and stopping carrying plus sizes again. Amirite?

  30. Maybe we should all throw in together and start a Shapeling Boutique.

    Surely somewhere out there is a designer who’s saying “Plus sizes are this giant untapped market! I can make cute, well fitting things for the majority of women who are size 12 and up!” Somewhere, this has to be happening in someone’s brain.

    On another note, can I just say that I went to Wal-Mart and found a surprising selection of cute summer skirts and blouses and stuff in all kinds of sizes up to 18 in Misses? No polyester or embroidered puppies in sight. I know Wal-Mart has its own set of issues, and I can’t speak to the quality of the garments, but I was just really happy to see a flirty skirt and a pretty blouse, for about $15 per piece, on the rack that wasn’t marked “2” or “4”. I didn’t have time to check out their actual plus/women’s section to see if there was a similar variety. Maybe I’ll do that this week.

  31. Me too RAHR! about the added cost for added fabric. I sew. It takes me less than 2 yards to make a skirt. I can make a dress out of 3-4. A BIG dress out of 5. And I am not small! Long arms and long legs and big! Unless they are using way wasteful cutting patterns (and I doubt that) the extra fabric is negligible. Look at the back of pattern envelopes, and the “OMG you big cow you need so much more fabric!” argument falls apart like that straw cow it is.

  32. I’m just gonna throw this out here again, while I remember

    They do suits, and button-down shirts too. And other casual pants as well. Possibly a little pricey, but worth it I think given that it’s all custom made.

  33. Coco: I’m one of those people who is thinking about a shapeling boutique! But I have no formal training in fashion design or tailoring or sewing.

    Personally I think we should storm FIT (fashion institute of technology) Bastile-style, defenestrate the professors and re-educate the students ourselves. Have them teach us to sew and we teach them to like fatties.

  34. Ooo! Oh! Better yet, we take over Project RunWay and the Fashion Show and replace the skinny models with plus-sized normals and have the designers work from them for the ENTIRE season!


    The humanity!

  35. Reading this thread, I’m reminded of my stepfather’s crusade to get mountaineering equipment companies — Ski Hut, Sierra Designs, Class 5, Mountain Hardware — to produce packs, boots and specialized clothing designed for women. He started back at Ski Hut when he met my mother in 1961, and when he retired from Mountain Hardware four years ago … well, anyone who’s gone shopping for hiking and climbing equipment will know just how well he succeeded [/snark].

    Thing is, the arguments against it were all basically the same: The market isn’t there! Women don’t do serious hiking and climbing! Even when they do, they won’t spend money for specialized equipment! The design work would be too expensive! It’d require separate patterns and cutting! It’s too haaaaaaaard!

  36. Many are homemakers who can’t spend considerable amounts on clothes and are willing to sacrifice their own spending for their families, especially now, Ms. Schuller says

    Right. Because fat homemakers are perfectly content to drape themselves in sackcloth for those trips to the bakery or the glucose store. And the few of us who have jobs outside the home are all nasty officials or sassy (usually black or hispanic) judges just like on teevee, so we can get away with uniforms and billowing robes.

  37. J.Jill is uniformly $10 more for plus size and it irritates the hell out of me. I can sometimes do a misses’ XL on top depending on cut, but always in plus for bottoms, so I hit the markup almost randomly. I bitched them out about it in a survey once.

    Not to mention that in our globalized market, every single piece of mainstream label clothing is /already/ marked far over cost.

  38. I know, I know, it’s buying into the patriarchy and all that to be hair-free, but since I’m already putting my fat body into a bathing suit in public, I feel like I can only be *so* brave, ya know?
    I was just saying this same thing to a friend after spending a few days at the pool (reading LFTF, of course).

  39. The thing about the fabric argument, as I said on Jezebel where Kate pointed to, is: consider the one piece swimsuit. Generally at least $20 less than a simple triangle bikini with no tailoring. And yet it covers several entire body parts more! What a nutty argument.

  40. … so we can get away with uniforms and billowing robes.

    I routinely wear billowing robes. Or, rather, caftans, with the occasional muu-muu. I like them. And I like bright colors, as well. At this very moment, I’m wearing a Thai-style dashiki in electric blues and greens with touches of hot pink and orange.

    And I look damn good in it, too.

  41. Oh, Rachel! You used the word defenestrate!!!!!\

    Please virtually gay marry me over teh intarwebz!

    (swoons with wibbly adoration)

    Also, I’m going to join you in your storming of FIT. Oh, and I’d be happy to personally handle the re-education of Tim Gunn (call me, Tim!) over homemade scones.

  42. Heehe. Okay since it is an open thread I’m sharing this gem what is/was titled on Yahoo: Donut = 59 mins. of walking. Seriously? So if I eat like….half a dozen BABY flavored donuts is that like running a marathon? ;) Ahhh….maybe it’s just me and a case of the giggles but this just hits me with a bit of indignant hilarity right now…

  43. Alyssa, I know EXACTLY what you mean. There’s a store near me that carries a brand of designer jeans I love. i wear one of the two largest sizes they make, but whenever I go into this specific store, they don’t have anything above a 28 or 29 waist. When I asked, they told me that they only order one or two in a size 31 or 32 because when they order more, they just end up on the sale rack.


    That’s the same sale rack that’s currently filled with size 24-26 waist jeans. Disconnect much?

    Kaz and limesarah, It can be just as difficult for women who have small ribcages and large breasts. I wear a 32G and there is only ONE store in ALL of Boston that carries bras in my size. And of course I can’t afford them because I’m a student.

    Along those lines, If I want to buy a bikini and they don’t come in separates, the manufacturer assumes that if you wear a 32 band, you must wear a small or extra small bottom. But I need at least a large…

  44. AprilD: man, I miss Dunkin Donuts. *grumph* If anyone has a recipe for their chocolate glazed donuts? please? *crickets*

    Sorry for the non-coherence, I have a fever and it’s hard to think.

  45. WTF? So I spent about half of my young adult life at the AVERAGE fucking size of the American woman and about 10 pounds more or less from that weight…and thought I was SO MUCH LARGER than EVERYONE else?!?? WHY is that mindset so prevalent when it is not reality?!? It makes me want to sob! Is it JUST the media portrayal as Thinner as Normal?

    *hugs* It probably also depends on where you live – but yes, if you assume “normal” is Friends-size, then you’re going to be skewed.

  46. I would hunt the polyester/rayon animal into extinction if given the chance.

    Nothing says sexy like the words “flammable” and “sweaty”.

    I don’t even understand the logic of why these fabrics are so prevalent in plus size clothing.

  47. Meems: I feel your pain. There appears to be one brand of bras in all of Germany that makes G cups, and they don’t have their own store so I have yet to find one to try on.

  48. Meems, my mother has the same issue there – she’s something like a 32E and has a lot of trouble finding stuff that fits. She does have the advantage however that she makes enough money to be able to afford to buy two or three good bras every other year or so that are good enough quality to last her.

  49. @Kaz and limesarah

    If you figure out the breast trade, please let me know.
    I’ve offered to share with many friends who aren’t as top heavy, but we always got stuck on the logistics.

    Try a 38K. They aren’t in stores.
    I live in a major metro area, and there are 2 boutiques that each have 1 bra in my size, and we’re talking $80, easy.
    I’m lucky to find 4 in specialty online boutiques, and most look like hold overs from WWII. If I could just find one in a color, any color. But it’s white, and I get overwhelmed by selection if black or beige is offered.

  50. Oh and here’s a newsflash- just because I wear plus sized swim attire doesn’t mean that I want to wear a skirt to the beach.
    Why can’t you put together swimwear that offers BOTH bikini bottoms and skirts so women can choose?

  51. I still go in to LB from time to time because I have some sort of pipe dream that their clothes will stop being $8,000 and that there won’t be a lot of cute things covered in bizarre patterns and shapes. Or pseudo “rock” patterns or something. After about 2 minutes of checking the clearance racks, I remember why LB lost my business.

  52. Amen!! There’s a reason why my personal ‘style’ evolved into what is basically nice fitted T-shirts and jeans, with maybe a few fun tops and a skirt or two in the mix, accessorized with jewelry. It’s because I fluctuated between a size 16 and a size 26 during my teens and early twenties. Lane Bryant was the only damn place I could actually try on clothes that fit, and the only clothes there that didn’t make me look older than my mother were… jeans and nice fitted T-shirts. Thank Maude I’m still a college student. I dread the day when I have to go shopping for interview and office clothes.

    @valerie: Where do I sign up for the Great Polyester/Rayon Extinction Hunt? I have touch sensitivity issues (part of my sensory integration dysfunction) and just lightly brushing my fingers on many types of polyesters and rayons is like the tactile equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me. Why, why, why do cute fat girl clothes not come in cotton? Zaftique, I’m talking to you and your polyester dresses that look so gorgeous and tempt me from my monitor! “Ooh, look at that awesome pink-striped sundress… in my size, even! Polyester?! DAMN YOU, POLYESTER!”

  53. Gack! Skirts at the beach! I was just shopping for a swimsuit and thinking to myself, why on earth do all of these suits have little cheerleaderly skirts at the hip? If I’ve committed to taking my fat ass outside in a swimsuit, I’m probably okay with showing three inches of thigh.

    You’d think, if all that extra fabric costs so much, that plus-sized swimsuits would be the last place designers would want to place extra skirtage. Just saying.

    And hells yes, someone should start a store that has alterations as part of the process. I’d be willing to pay a little more to know that my pants will be the right length and my shirts won’t gap at the bust.

  54. Let’s assume that the retailers are right. Fat people only like ugly shapeless clothes, and will only buy them if they are cheap enough that they can afford things for their children, etc.

    So I visit the epitome of cheap shopping: Walmart. You know, the store they often show the headless fatties going into? I go to buy a bathing suit, as this is the only place in a 100 mile radius where I can buy one in my size under $100. The biggest size they sell is 3X…which is a 22/24.

    Which is me.

    Never mind the fact that there were only 3 suits in that size (thankfully, one was not TOO ugly). I am by far not the largest woman in Arkansas. Where do the people slightly bigger than I am go to buy clothes? They could shop online, but most online plus size clothing is too expensive for the average Arkansan’s budget. Cato, Lane Bryant, and other plus size stores go one better by offering 26/28, but that is still not even close to the largest sizes needed in Arkansas (where the obesity epidemic BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA is at a “critical point.”).

    Side note: I know this is a long post, but I get so damn angry at Old Navy, whose website boasts that their women’s plus size line is “exclusively online.” As if it’s a desirable thing not to be able to try on clothing before you buy it.

  55. @ Megbap and Electrogirl

    The availability of 100% cotton is the reason why so much of my money is going to Macy’s now. In fact, its the only store credit card I possess. They have quality clothes, sizes up to three x, and I rarely have to fight to find cotton. They even have a plus sized section here although I hear tell they’re not all that great in some cities. I can deal with 3-5% synthetic so sometimes I can find cute stuff at Avenue and Cato Plus. But LB can totally kiss my ass.

  56. The cynic in me wonders if all the rayon/polyester ties into the ‘fat people are dirty and lazy’ bit. Machine wash, non-iron fabrics are perfect for those lazy, slovenly fat people! After all, give a fatty the choice between a comfortable fabric that *gasp* needs IRONING and something uncomfortable that you can just pull on and wear and everyone knows what they’ll pick.

  57. Hi Retailers, I’m TropicalChrome, and I pay full price for clothing.

    But I don’t do it often. Because I’m not paying full price for cheap, shapeless polyester crap. If I’m going to pay full price, I expect the full price treatment: finshed garments. Quality materials and tailoring. Clothes that fit MY body, not some mythical generic body that everyone over a certain size has.

    Aside from my jeans, my two absolute favorite pieces in my wardrobe are a short sleeved black jacket and a short sleeved black cardigan (*), both of which I paid full price for, both of which look fantastic, and both of which I’m wearing the heck out of.

    (*And can we talk about BLACK? Black, black, black, everything in larger sizes is black. (Ok, I’m exaggerating, but I’m on a rant here.) If I’m lucky, beige or white. Oh, lucky me. I want COLOR. I look good in color. But when I go clothes shopping it’s a sea of funereal black. Can’t we mix it up a little maybe?)

    Don’t get me started on bras. (Too late.) I’m NOT small chested – I just happen to be small enough chested that I’m one size below where most brands, when they deign to make my cup size, start their band sizing. That includes a lot of retailers which feature larger sizes.

    And just because I have larger breasts does not mean I need underwires up to my collarbone. My breasts are NOT wild and are not going to break free and run amok over the countryside unless they’re contained. They’re actually quite well-behaved.

    I rarely buy online because I’m not willing to pay around $20 for the privilege of trying on clothing. Hey, Retailers, maybe if your garments were actually made to your so-called “size charts” (which should be called “best guess charts” given their tenuous relationship to actual garments) it would be worth taking the risk, but not on top of your ridiculous shipping costs.

    Ok, so I’m ranting :). But I realized today that two of my favorite shirts have shrunk vertically so they’re really only good for shells under jackets or sweaters anymore and I’m going to have to replace them, and I am SO not looking forward to it.

  58. two of my favorite shirts have shrunk vertically so they’re really only good for shells under jackets or sweaters anymore…

    I had something similar happen to me just recently. I followed the care instructions exactly and the princess cut shirts came out smaller than they were before the went into the wash. Normally, I line dry anything I suspect might shrink. But the tag promised I could dry on low so I mistakenly believed it.

    So I called the company and complained. They replaced my shirts within a day free of charge. Depending on the age of the garment, store policy, etc you might be able to do the same.

  59. Re: swimsuits – I’ve had great luck at Target (though I live in MN, so I know we get better pickins’ than other stores). Their plus suits are often tankinis, with several styles of tops and bottoms, sold as separates. And they last the whole summer of me swimming (in a pool) 3-4 times a week.

    Re: un-natural fibers – I don’t think this problem is unique to the plus size market. Take a walk through the “straight” sizes the next time you’re in a department store. Pretty much the same thing, for anything “fashion-y” (e.g. everything other than plain t shirts, sweats and jeans).

    Or as those of us who sew know – the fabric selections in your typical store is mostly poly, outside of quilting fabrics. Which would make for tops even more garish and crazy than the poly fabrics.

    I have to go to very specialized internet retailers to find good quality, natural fabrics for sewing.

    I think it’s because of the belief that people don’t want to spend a lot of time on laundering and ironing cotton/wool/linen/silk fabrics. The man-made materials can go in the wash, the dryer and remain wrinkle and shrink free.

  60. @MamaD
    “Maybe if you gave us something beside muu-muus you wouldn’t need so damned much fabric. Special patterns? Most of the clothes you mainstream stores have been trying to sell us are NOT so very special. It is NOT special to embroider cute little animals onto a sweater or make everything in heat-seeking polyester!! No wonder we don’t buy.”


    kate, you must post more of these snark-filled conversations. this is the light of my life today. and i needed to lighten up with all the shitty news going down.

    @SM – never feel sorry for posting cartoons! even if kate *does* steal your thunder – ha!

  61. I actually like bathing suits with skirts, but it mostly relates to grooming laziness and my afore-mentioned need to give in to the patriarchy on visible non-scalp hair when possible. My real preference is a bathing suit with swimshorts, but those are the hardest to find, with out spending a Queen’s Ransom!

  62. Clearly, you are supposed to exchange your breasts with us tiny-ribcaged people with C-and-aboves.

    Word. Even when I can find my 36DDs, the underwires end up poking me in the underarms. Bras just suck.

  63. Re: the leg waxing. No experience at or around 300, but I did it a couple of times well over 200, and meh. For the hassle, expense, and pain (not severe, but still), I decided it was a LOT easier to just shave well every few days. YMMV.

    I thought I’d gotten past the stage of severe rage at plus-size scarcity until my last couple of trips to REI. I couldn’t even find a decent rain parka that would zip. And sports bras ….. O.M.G. don’t even get me started. Seriously, I had to walk out before I started to scream. I know REI isn’t responsible for all societal messages, but there was something about the contrast between “You’re fat, you must not exercise” and my internal response of “Yeah? I DO exercise but please tell me, how’m I suppose to keep that up WITHOUT COMFORTABLE CLOTHES TO DO IT IN???!!!!” that just sent me right over the edge.

    On the upside, I was bitching extensively to my trainer along those lines, and she sent me to Title Nine. They have a HUGE selection of sports bras, both underwired and not, and the salespeople were sweet, helpful, and didn’t give me the slightest impression that my money wasn’t welcome. I’m not sure how large they carry, but I’m around a 40D to DD, depending, and I had numerous choices.

  64. JustMe—I feel your pain. I just bought trouser jeans at LB in a petite!!!

    Others—I love the venting. I went everywhere online trying to find decent swimsuits. I felt so frustrated because there were all of these websites claiming that they sold plus sized bathing suits but either they LIED or I didn’t click on the one suit that had my death fatz size because it was UGLY!!! Surprisingly enough, I found and bought cute swimsuits at Torrid’s website.

    One other thing—I was at Disneyland yesterday and saw SO many fatties walking around, having a grand ole’ time. So I went to a gift shop to buy at sweatshirt and the only one that would fit me was a men’s 2x. I know U saw men and women there bigger than me. No Mickey sweatshirts for them.

  65. Look, a chicken!

    I forgot. Does anyone have any good suggestions for a bikini top to accomodate my Rack of Doom with, perhaps, a bit of uplift? I know I’ve finally come to a good place with my body because I’ve started to try on swimsuits *recreationally* without self-loathing — ok, maybe I’m just developing my inner masochist but that’s neither here nor there. Anyhow, I’ve found some cute bikinis and/or two-piece seperates that fit ok on the bottom, but the tops …. even if they accomodate me without being borderline pornographic, they ain’t doin’ *anything* for me. They can make bras that provide shape and uplift; has anyone found a bathing suit top that is sufficiently engineered and reinforced to do the same???

  66. Vixen—I have the same problem, which was keeping me from buying said swimsuits in the first place. Then, my therapist told me that I could get the top altered for more support. Duh. I then bought big tops and plan to go to a tailor.

  67. Bra sizing is a microcosm of just how fucked up the ready-to-wear clothing system is. Bras are even more of a serious matter IMO because they are essential for comfort and health for a lot of women. We all have heard that most women wear the wrong size.. maybe that has something to do with the fact that 98% of available bras are 32 AA-B, 34AA-DD, 36B-DDD, and every woman in America crams herself into whatever is least uncomfortable. Even if you get fitted most fitters are using an antiquated system (from before stretch fabric was invented) designed to get us to buy in their limited size range.

    In ‘reality’ (as in, they do exist, but you will usually have to buy online. The exception is Britain, the queen of bras. Shops there tend to have a much bigger range in stores) bras range in size from bands 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54 (really the band measurement should be within an inch of your actual ribcage measurement, a snug fit for proper support – it’s actually more comfortable tighter, who knew) with each band having a cup range of AA-M. Your cup letter has nothing to do with the absolute size of of the breast (all D cups are not ‘big boobs’), it is relative to the band measurement. A breast that fills a 36C cup, for instance, is (roughly – because nothing’s regulated so it can be quite different brand to brand) equivalent in volume to a breast that fills a 42AA, 40A, 38B, 34D, 32DD, 30DDD or E, 28E or F cup. You can see from this just how easy it is to end up in the 36C or 34D even if your ribcage is tiny, the underwire is lying on top of your boob, the center gore of the bra is 5″ away from your breastbone, etc.

    I am quite passionate about the subject as I spent a lifetime adjusting myself every 5 minutes in my uncomfortable (sometime painful as I have sensitive breast tissue and PMS soreness and cysts) bras as I thought I was a 32A. I did some research and am now wearing 28C bras ordered from Britain that ACTUALLY FIT OMG THE COMFORT.

  68. WARNING: Tangential rant to follow:

    Further proof retailers are insane: I went to the Gap about 5 years back and asked for jeans that were NOT low-rise.
    They looked at me like I’d just asked to eat their children.
    And WTF is up with Victoria’s Secret?!?!?! I haven’t ventured in in a while, because the last few times I did some crazy lady accosted me with a tape measure and tried to measure my boobs. When I told her I was looking for PANTIES, she gave me lecture on how 85% of women walk aroung wearing the wrong size bra.
    So I lectured back that an even higher percentage were working twice as hard as men for significantly lower pay. That at least shut her up long enough to allow me to escape the store.
    I fucking hate shopping.

  69. Why can’t you put together swimwear that offers BOTH bikini bottoms and skirts so women can choose?

    Juniona and Love Your Peaches both do this, but it’s NOT cheap and no physical stores. Both go to 6x.

  70. Just a thought department stores, you might get fat customers if you acted like you wanted us there. I got sick of the clothing tease walking back to the plus section, you know the one “Oh! I love that! …stops at size 10…grrr, OOO that’s pretty! stops as size 6…6? really? bastards.” You make it through the clothes you would wear, to see…stuff your grandma wouldn’t wear.

    Also, I’m 5’2, a wear a size 22 up top, a size 16/18 on the bottom, my bra size is a 42DD, I know you small breasted ladies are saying they cater to the “rack of doom” they don’t , I think they cater exclusively to C cups, because I have tried on so many shirts that I just fall out of. My cups runneth over…

    Also, please, bra friendly shirts, I own a bra for every occasion, I have t-shirt bras, strapless bras, plunge bras, long line bras, push up bras, pretty sexy lace bras, you name it, I should NEVER have to worry about a bra peaking out of a shirt, yet it still happens. And bra friendly does NOT mean burka-like skin coverage either.

    Also, for those who tend towards gothic style clothing, check out Rose Mortem They make the clothes to your measurements, they’re pricey, ($99+) but totally worth it if you can afford to splurge. Also, no extra charge for plus sizes.

  71. The sad thing about Vic’s Secret is that it didn’t used to be that way. I remember shopping there in the early nineties and it was all classical music and pretty smells and *really* pretty romantic nightwear with ok, not plus as such, but reasonable “standard” sizing. Obviously, their target demographic has shifted to about 20 years younger and shrunk by at least 50%.

    Ok, they still make really hawt undies that I can *just* fit into, and I’m thinner than I used to be. Which means there’s a woefully underexploited market right there. But not one damn thing in the store fits me on top.

  72. Careful there Bonnie, I’m stuck in Britain and believe me, the range is EXACTLY what you described as the standard American range. As in, under a B cup and above a 32 band? Forget it. Over a DD? Also, forget it, unless you want to pay more than the average person earns in a week for one bra.

  73. @Vixen – re: comfortable clothing to move in
    especially effing REI but i have the same trouble with Columbia, etc. considering ‘women’s [true] average size’, there is no excuse for an in-betweenie to barely be able to find active-wear in XL or XXL. which is me, and where i find myself.

    what, bigger people don’t ever like to move? even though the WW crowd HARPS ON ENDLESSLY about exercise being the only means to salvation [and extra points for the day]?


    i hate to give up my secret, but this gal has an etsy shop and will make anything in plus sizes, at least up to size 34:
    pretty stuff, too – not the usual polyester death-by-heatstroke crapola.

  74. I’m sorry to hear that Kaz. Also, sorry I generalized. I based my comment on availability in Britain from what I’ve heard a couple British women who wear ‘weird sizes’ mention in passing and from my cousin’s experience geting fitted while she lived in London (always wore 34B, found out she’s a 30D and bought several nice bras).

    I guess it’s more a matter of finding the right boutiques..

  75. Ahhh, London… *daydreams* Yeah, I think I spoke a bit too soon as well. I’m stuck waaaay out in the middle of nowhere. Only thing protecting us English from Cornwall is the Tamar. Independent retailers don’t come this way. Even big chains have trouble.

  76. I’ve just started (as in, bought fabric three days ago) to attempt sewing my own tops. I blogged about most of this, especially how refreshing it was to find so many patterns that I liked.

    But I only barely footnoted the worst of some of them, which would be from Vogue. The designs are weird and were run up on nasty-bright fabric and not one model came close to being a size 18, much less over. Seriously—the catalog even reused a shot from the misses’ section to show what the pattern looks like from behind.

    It was actually a relief—if not a surprise— to see that they don’t offer patterns above a 22 or 24 so I won’t be suckered into looking through their books again.

  77. @Shoutz — I’ve only ever waxed my arms (legs get shaved). I’ll be honest and say I get a little nervous when I go to nail places to get them done, because the waxing tables seem to be kind of unstable (I’m about 340). If you can swing a splurge, it might be worth it to try a more expensive salon … but I’d ask about the tables before I go.

    Another option might be a swimsuit with legs; Junonia makes a couple. You’d only really have to worry about de-hairing from the knees down, so maybe shaving would be an option or an at-home waxing. I have, in fact, a totally unused, black jogsuit I bought from them on sale that didn’t fit right that I never got around to returning. If you want it, LMK and we’ll figure out how to exchange info so I can send it to you. I’d love for it to have a happy home where it gets worn instead of shoved out of the way!

  78. Another vote for a Shapeling Boutique.

    Target is ridiculous. They cut their plus size offerings and, at least in Philadelphia, don’t even offer underwear in our sizes.

  79. Not fluffy, but I was fascinated to learn from MSNBC today that “Heavy, drosy drivers pose risk on the road.”

    Apparently, if you’re a light but drowsy driver, you don’t pose a problem.

    I really thought I was over getting annoyed by stuff like that!

  80. Sing it.

    I once, back in the day when I had the money, forked out £90 each for two glazed cotton sun dresses from a posh specialist fat ladies’ boutique. they were nothing fancy – sleeveless, low-waisted, full-ish skirts, in nice bold prints. I was an in-betweenie at the time – and the going rate for the same sort of dress of a similar quality in a straight size store was around £35.

    That was galling enough. However, 2 days after I bought them I found some heavyweight glazed cotton that had very obviously been designed and manufactured by the same company who’d supplied the fabric for one of my dresses. The pattern was similarly themed and identical in style but the colourway and scale of the print were different. The cotton was also identical in quality and weight. The fabric cost less than £3 per metre. That was my first realisation that the whole “it costs sooooo much more to make plus-size clothes” argument was a lazy-arsed crock of crap.

  81. Toni — either our bodies are totally flip-flopped, or we should switch pants. :) I need to get myself to a tailor but that’s yet *another* expense.

    Re J. Jill, yeah, the plus size surcharge is irritating, as is the fact that the last plain white button-down shirt I bought from them also shrunk in the dryer on low…the quality of their stuff really seems to vary and in this case I ended up with the cheap end. I did, however, buy 3 plus-size “Foxcroft” button-down “work” shirts from Nordstrom…at a bit of a premium price, I’m annoyed to say, but they fit great and are of good quality.

    I can also endorse Title 9 for larger-sized bras, not on my own behalf, but on that of a friend, who really liked their sports bras. (Also: why are bras so expensive?! Not much fabric, right? Is it the “engineering,” in which case, shouldn’t jocks cost what bras cost?)

    I’d be all for a boutique, or something that at least brought out the best of what’s available out there, in a variety of sizes, styles, and price points, with tailoring. Oh, yeah.

  82. Ugh…I remember when I was in middle/high school, my mom would only let me wear bathing suits with the skirts on them. I always felt like she was trying to get me to hide my fat.

    No wonder I haven’t gone swimming/owned a bathing suit in years (besides the fact I suck at swimming). A couple of my friends are trying to encourage me to get a bathing suit this summer but…I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m ready to go there yet. Plus I can barely afford to buy groceries, let alone a new bathing suit.

  83. @ The Bald Soprano: I’m in Germany too, and have given up on clothes shopping here. There are plus size shops, but they seem to be suitable only for those who are nine foot tall and have a preference for large shoulder pads and alarming animal prints, all in lovely easy-care rayon. Perfect for the 30-degree Bavarian summer!

    I do my shopping online from the UK and because the pound is relatively weak at the moment, it’s worth it. Next and Marks and Spencers deliver to many countries and have nice broad size ranges with many trousers available in – GASP! – petite leg lengths. For bras I order from Marks and Spencer and Bravissimo, though Bravissimo only has a few styles at a 40 band and focuses on the large of bosom. Their clothing range is fab.

    Also great for online shoe and boot shopping is Duo, because they do shoes fitted for breadth and boots fitted for calf size. I now have knee boots for the first time in my life.

    Last week I was in the UK and did mighty shopping raids on my favourite stores, so now my wardrobe is updated for summer. As a very short and top heavy Shapeling there is nothing that’s going to look worse on me than a polyester tent. I deserve decently tailored clothes, dammit! That’s a lot of euros that German companies are missing out on.

  84. I just did a shit-load of shopping recently for my month long study abroad program and here’s how it went:

    I’m cutting Victoria’s Secret slack because they now have my size of underwear in more than just briefs. A few years back if you deigned to venture in needing XL panties you didn’t deserve cute styles or thongs or anything. Nope. Briefs for you. Now there are a lot more options in XL including thongs. Unfortunately they failed in that only one style of bra was available in my size.

    Gap Outlet: Last year I went to a Gap outlet in GA and found an awesome pair of jeans which I wear A LOT and lots of cute things in my size, but I’ve gained some weight and I needed new cute things in my new size. Well, I was sorely disappointed this time around. I walked out with 3 pairs of pants that fit me. I tried on 7 in the same size, but only 3 fit.

    Old Navy: Had dress pants on clearance and several pairs in my size. I was desperate for dress pants because of my upcoming internship so I took what I could find, but the fit is awkward and they were too long in bare feet. Hopefully a heel will help.

    Lane Bryant: Still Ridiculously overpriced. I found what I needed and the sales woman was extremely helpful as I was being particularly picky that day.

    Dillard’s: Needed another business suit, found one I really liked in an 18, but thought I needed a 20. The style I wanted in a 20 had to be shipped from Mobile and I didn’t have the time or inclination for that. It was also still the original price as opposed to the 18 which was on sale. Luckily the 18 fit after all. Still don’t understand the price difference.

    All in all I was exhausted at the end of each tedious shopping day. If my trip weren’t imminent and I wasn’t so desperate I would have shopped around a bit, maybe done some on-line shopping, but I didn’t have time to order clothes that *might not* fit on me.


    Sorry this was so long…

  85. I went shopping with an inbetweenie friend on Memorial Day for an interview outfit.

    Macy’s – lots of cool clothes, but only two blazers/jackets that were remotely appropriate. I then dragged her to …

    Nordstrom’s – loads of suits and blazers that would work for an interview. She ended up with a tweedy gray size 16 suit that fit off the rack. I had grabbed several shells for her to try it on with — black, white, light blue and burgundy— but of course all were more expensive than she wanted to spend. Thus began the search for a white shell.

    Talbot’s / Talbot’s Woman – Nope. As an aside, they did have suits – in bright primary colors. I think the tweed is better for interviewing.

    Eileen Fisher – We tried this because the light blue t she’d tried the suit on with was from Eileen Fisher. The clothes were nice but didn’t quite “go” with the suit the way she wanted. (She did fall for a dress. And I am now debating whether their clothing is “unconstructed” enough for me to wear a size 3x. Doubt it – and of course they don’t have plus sizes in the store to try on.)

    J Jill – We found a great white shell here.

    Also got shoes. The funny thing, for me, was that while I knew intellectually she could shop in more stores than I, I hadn’t gotten it emotionally. Also, it was nice to see that stores I hadn’t thought had plus sizes do…but of course they can’t advertise that, right?

  86. @hallie: I LOVE Jane Bonbon! I have a total of five dresses from her – including one I had custom-made as my bridesmaid dress for my brother’s wedding and I love all of them. They look great and I always get compliments on them.

    But thanks for linking cuz I see she’s got some new stuff up for summer that I’ve got my eye on now..

  87. Ugh… don’t even get me started.

    I’m a 38DDD, 5’3″, and a size 16-18 in pants. Apparently, I don’t exist according to clothes retailers.

    Today, for instance, I was searching for CUTE SHORTS THAT DON’T GO DOWN TO MY KNEES. If they fit in the waist, they went up to my rib cage (because anyone over a size 14 wants Mom Jeans, don’tcha know), and if they were the right length, they didn’t fit the waist.

    The worst part? Aside from the Boobs Of Doom, I’m just about the size of the average American woman… maybe just a bit shorter and bigger. WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

  88. It’s not just in clothing. My therapist (who’s quite thin, but not exactly what you’d call super-athletic) told me she recently went to a kayak showroom sale she saw advertised in the paper, hoping for an upgrade over her dinky little inflatable number, something light enough for her to carry by herself that could make it over the relatively tame rapids she preferred. She said almost everyone there was like she was — women, mostly middle-aged, mostly single, who were just getting started with the kayaking thing and didn’t have biceps like Cheryl Haworth’s, so didn’t want some huge hulking boat they wouldn’t be able to pick up.

    Well. Every salesperson there was a man, and a super-buffed out, super-athletic man at that. And guess what kinds of kayaks they had at this show, despite the fact that they advertised it being for n00bs? Yeah, you guessed it, huge hulking boats you have to have biceps like Cheryl Haworth’s (or Albert Pujols’s) to pick up. And these salesmen just could not believe that women were walking in there, taking a look around, and walking out shaking their heads. My shrink actually had the presence of mind to tell them that they totally segfaulted when they assumed that everyone was going to have someone to carry their kayak who was as super-athletic and buffed-out as the salesmen were. Their jaws damn near bonked the floor. To them, super-athletic was what was normal, and of course anyone going kayaking would be exactly that! (Or at least have a man in their life like that, maybe more to the point.)

    Moral of the story: People don’t sell what people want. They sell what they want people to want, because that’s what they know how to sell. Clothing stores “offer” plus sizes the way Hollywood studios “offer” movies with women in the lead: Make your offering as blah as possible, don’t put any real advertising muscle behind it, and when it fails, you can say, “Hey, we tried, and they just wouldn’t come out!” They do not want us around. That’s pretty clear.

  89. Someone upthread wanted jeans that weren’t low-rise; Carhart’s sells nice sturdy ones in pant lengths even!

  90. Bonnie – I wore a 36D or 34DD for years and was always adjusting and pulling and falling out…until a friend from college returned from a stint living in England, during which she worked at Bravissimo. It’s made such a huge difference! For anyone in the US, Intimacy sells “unusual” sizes and is in several major cities.

    Alyssa – VS effing ridiculous! Last time I let them measure me, the girl pubs a measuring tape loosely around my ribcage and goes “whoa, so you’re, what, a 38?” Besides the fact that she was insulting about the fact that I might wear a “larger” band size, but I’ve never actually worn a 38! When I came out of the fitting room and handed her the bras back (all 36s), she looked at me and said “Oh, too small?” *sigh* No.

  91. Someone upthread wanted jeans that weren’t low-rise

    Actually, it’s hard to find low-rise jeans these days, at least in my experience–all the jeans I’ve tried on in the last year have come up to my ribcage, which isn’t what I want.

  92. valerie: thanks, I’ll go take a look at their website and see if there’s anything to be done. They aren’t brand new shirts, but I know that my dryer is from hell (or at least prefers to dry clothes at similar temperatures) so I always run it cool and take the clothes out a little damp because I KNOW what happens if I don’t :).

  93. “Some designers, including Eileen Fisher and Isaac Mizrahi for Liz Claiborne, still create for the market”

    I hate when people say this and only mean that these designers’ lines run to a 16 or 18. That does NOT count as “designing for the market”. Hell, it doesn’t even count as SERVING the market!

    I know Eileen Fisher does actually carry plus sizes, but Mizrahi? If he is designing for women my size, I sure haven’t seen it!

  94. Many are homemakers who can’t spend considerable amounts on clothes and are willing to sacrifice their own spending for their families, especially now, Ms. Schuller says.”

    Wow, I just can’t imagine ANYTHING that would account for the fact that many women who’ve had children feel like unattractive sloppy mommies who aren’t fit to attend to their own needs and wants. If ONLY I didn’t have a stupid lady brain, maybe I could puzzle it out! /snark

    (I hasten to add: Not that all homemakers or mothers are like this, or that you have to be into unhealthy self-sacrifice to be a homemaker. But come on, you can’t just toss that out as though it’s woven into the fabric of the universe that it be mom who chooses to stay home and not spend money on herself, FFS.)

  95. For anyone who’s looking for a sports or t-shirt bra, Rack of Doom or otherwise, take a look at Enell. They’re expensive, but since I normally pay that price for a bra anyways (with my 34F-Gs) I just cop it, and they are the ONLY sports bra that I can actually run in without giving myself two black eyes.

    Plus, their range seems to me to fit a lot of different sizes, and they also offer a custom make service.

  96. Wow, I stopped going into Ann Taylor because I never saw anything above a 12.

    …I’ve just googled and their petites only go up to 16. *rolls eyes* Oh well, I’m nearly a 20 now anyway.

  97. randomquorum and others re: Enell

    I’m in the middle of the custom process with the Enell custom lady and so far she’s been amazing. I haven’t even finished my order, let alone gotten my bra, though so I can’t speak to that yet, but I’ll def try to remember to report back once I’ve gotten it and let y’all know how it went. I’m so excited!!!! I haven’t had a proper sports bra that actually fits and does its job in years!

    and yes, they do have quite a size range and the things they can do with custom sizing are pretty amazing.

  98. Kate (and Marianne), great interview in Time Out New York this week! I was thrilled to turn the page and see you guys there. You put across your points so well, especially HAES. But did you know they were going to put a bit from Meme Roth right next to the interview, as if to rebut your points? That pissed me off royally.

  99. I had posted this late on another thread–I think the Faith 21 thread–but anyway, if any of you live in or will be in contact distance of South Florida at any point, there is a semi-magical bikini and bra store in the Florida Keys called the Lion’s Lair–sizes up to 44H, lovely sales staff, personalized service, etc.

    I went in there on a lark last weekend, and had two salesladies helping me for over 2 hours. First, they measured me (34FF)–then they proceeded to bring me cute swimwear, armloads of it, every conceivable size, cut, etc. I actually bought a bikini, and had a blast buying it. I hadn’t bought a swimsuit in over 5 years.

    They have a website,, but they don’t let you order online–you have to call or email your measurements for a remote fitting. And they may not be as great for sizes larger than 28-32W. And they’re not cheap. But it was the first time I’d ever realized why some people think shopping is fun, and I thought I’d try to give them shout-outs here.

    They also seem to have a very dedicated customer base . Go Fig. If a store actually treats me like a valued customer, I’ll spend the money to shop there. But I’m not going to spend any more money to be treated like an inconvenient embarrassment. Take that, fashion.

    Okay. I’ll shut up about this now. :)

  100. I looked at the original article, and it says

    Looking for value under $150, even those full-figured women who are buying won’t splurge.

    “They’re really bargain shoppers,” says Catherine Schuller…

    I think her idea of ‘bargain shopper’ is my idea of ‘normal person with normal budget’. I bet part of the problem is that people who make big bucks in fashion and media develop a warped perception of how much it is reasonable to charge for a garment.

  101. @ Tropical Chrome – “And just because I have larger breasts does not mean I need underwires up to my collarbone. My breasts are NOT wild and are not going to break free and run amok over the countryside unless they’re contained. They’re actually quite well-behaved.”

    I love you. Why do so many manufacturers think that underwires must automatically cover the entire torso? I’ve found a few brands that are blessedly free of this issue (Freya, Fantasie, Felina…um, noticing a theme here), but far too many brands make bras in a D cup or above that look like they were designed by the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a bra, people, not a suspension bridge.

  102. Speaking of wires in bras… I had to get a strapless bra for my sister-in-law’s wedding a couple of years ago. In a G-cup, that’s pretty tough. Amazingly I did find one, and that thing seriously was built by the Army Corps of Engineers – not only did it have underwires, it also had wires IN THE CUPS. Seriously.

    Although I admit to being amazed that it is even possible to hold up something like that without straps – those puppies are pretty heavy!

  103. Breaking the trend here, I have a rant about shoes. I love me some shoes. Cheap to mid-price trendy shoes are my one sartorial addiction. But again, they do not make my size!

    Look, I realize I have big feet. I know that somewhere around 8 or 9 is the average, and I get that those will be the big sellers, but, really, is an 11 so freakish that stores must never ever carry it? It’s only 2 sizes up from average, there must be plenty of women out there with big old clown feet who want cute shoes, too. But only a few brands seem to even make an 11. (Only in select styles, too, yes, I’m looking at you, Steve Madden.) WANT BIG SHOES!!

    I mean, there’s, but that’s back to the no-try-on online problem.

    And I’m talking about FEET! I think even fatphobic morons know there’s no way to eat less and exercise more to make your feet smaller.

  104. Hey emmy I have the opposite feet problem (and clearly, too much spare time today!)

    I wear usually an Australian size 5, sometimes a 6 (I have no idea how to convert that – sorry!). But it means that often, its not just that the stores don’t carry them, its that the shoes don’t even get made in my size.


    I say we should all go back to the good old days when you had to get every clothing item custom made, shoes included. How hard could it be? ;)

  105. Average American womens shoe size is currently a 10.

    Given the fashion industry’s record with clothing and bra sizes, I think that should explain perfectly well why I can’t find anything in my average but a bit wide size 10.5 half the time when I am silly enough to look.

    Fashion Dudes, do you understand the concept of AVERAGE? One effing half of the population is LARGER than the average, that’s the definition.

    What exactly is so hard about figuring out basic market concepts like “make the stuff people are begging for, and sell it to them nicely”?

    I personally know two women who cried the first time they shopped at Jay’s Wide Shoes in Beaverton Oregon. I was in college when I figured out that my feet had hurt my entire life because I had never worn a pair of shoes that really and truly fit.

    In the world’s most successful capitalist country, that’s just sad. And really really stupid — but I guess we are all looking at the results of the stupidity of successful capitalism lately, every time we read the papers.

    Am I naive for still hoping things will get better, both in the economy and in the marketplace? I can’t help it. I still deep down believe that if we just tell enough people, “they” (we) will stop doing the stupid stuff…..

    Oh, and while it’s nice that Oprah periodically helps teh fatties out by giving time to things like Bra Buying Secrets, I want to know what the hell is wrong with the woman that she will continue to talk about how shameful her body image is to her, instead of holding Fashion Contests for budding designers and companies to solve the obvious problems of Large Size Fashions???

    What would have resulted in the industry if Rosie ODonnell had worn Fashion School student designed clothes, say, holding contests in each state so she’d have fifty prize winners to wear on the air. Even within her non-flashy, hide herself in plain sight fashion desires, what might that have done to a pile of careers and businesses over time?

    Climbing down off my high horse now,

  106. Nothing to do with the post really… But you mentioned the book, and I remembered something I meant to say a few weeks ago. There was a request a little while ago for Aussie/Kiwi ppl to post pics of the book if they saw it. Well, I took photos, but I can’t work out how to put them on my computer (I fail at bluetooth…). But, just so you know, Borders at Canberra Centre had, when it first came out, massive stacks on the front table facing the door so you looked there as soon as you walked in. It was really cool – I thought you might like to know that. :)

  107. On the subject of big shoes, you can’t just size shit up. Stuff that looks cute in a size 6 looks really friggin odd in a size 9 and up. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a shoe on the rack, found a size 10, and was just struck by how much it looked like I’d jammed a canoe on my foot! This is one area where I don’t mind a separate line for bigger sizes, they need to re-engineer the design so that it will look good. I can kinda cram my 9.5 wide feet into 10s, so I’m mostly easy to fit and I find that a blessing. I just wish it didn’t look so odd.

  108. I live in Australia, and find it almost impossible to find clothes for work that don’t have flowers on them. It is really hard to find professional clothes for people size 18 and over (US 14 or 16). The other day I couldn’t find a skirt in the whole of the (very big) city centre. A skirt. All I wanted was a skirt because the zipper on the one I was wearing broke and I was having to hold it with my hands at work. I ended up having to squeeze into a size too small and spend the rest of the day hoping no one would notice.

    As for bras….I’m a 40E (I think) in US sizes. The last time I went bra shopping, the only thing the major chain bra store had was a) ugly and b) has thin plastic straps. I like my boobs, but there’s no way on earth thin plastic straps can hold them up. I ended up having to buy spare bra straps and using them.

  109. You know, I don’t mind rayon. Polyester can fuck right off, but rayon has a nice drapey thing going and usually isn’t hotter than hell, depending on how thick they made it. I steal my husband’s rayon tropical shirts to wear in the summer, and they’re ok. They could stop making pastel rayon pantsuits with rhinestones though, that would be nice.

    I’m just peeved because my ass can wear cute stuff from Torrid like shiny leggings, but my rack has to shop for clothes in Catherine’s.

    Last trip out, I specifically told my husband that if he had to buy something to bury me in, and Catherine’s was his only option, to slap my ass in the coffin naked. I remember telling him about my quantum theory of ugly Catherine’s clothes, where if I didn’t look this would be the one time they had something cute, so I had to observe to make sure the clothing was ugly. The last trip out to look at clothes was literally the last trip. I’m not spending $6 and an entire day just so I can find out that only one store sells barf worthy plastic suits in a 30 and I should feel lucky that someone thought of me.

    There’s just no way in hell that it costs $85 to make a shapeless polyester pastel sack dress. Turn me loose in a Jo-Ann fabrics with $85, and I could find you enough polyester to make 10 of them!

  110. @CassandraSays: “but far too many brands make bras in a D cup or above that look like they were designed by the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a bra, people, not a suspension bridge.”

    You are my hero. You are the wind beneath my wings. You absolutely made my day!

  111. Articles like these make me headdesk in pure frustration. Haven’t store like that noticed things that have been going on for YEARS, like how the largest sizes always sell out first?

    So, people see those shuttershades Kanye West wore, asked for them and got them within 6 months -1 year. We’ve been asking for good quality, affordable and comfortable clothes for decades, and we still get these excuses.

    These people are just a vicious cycle of ignorance. Prescription: A boot to the head.

  112. Late again, but love the 4chan focus groups. Speaking of which, did you catch xkcd this week? 4chan meets Twilight. I lol’d.

  113. Average American womens shoe size is currently a 10.

    YOU ARE SHITTING ME, Lily! I’m size ten, and I truly had no idea.

  114. I would like to second what Meems said about us in-betweenies. Especially since I’m also in my early twenties and would love to buy cheap but fashionable clothing. Yet most of these stores assume that anyone from our demographic is between UK size 6 and 12. The plus size store (note ‘store’ = singular) only starts at size 16. There is a gaping hole in the market and somehow no one manages to realise that.

  115. @wriggles:

    That article is horrifying — and he’s taught at THREE NZ universities. There are so many things wrong with what he believes/says, it just makes me want to cry.

  116. Lily, I don’t think that’s correct. I’m pretty sure the average shoe size for women in the States is right around an 8. I’m sure there are people out there who are wearing the wrong size, but a two size difference is pretty significant.

    From my own (totally unscientific) observation among people I know (across a pretty broad range of ages, heights, ethnic backgrounds, builds, etc.), most people are somewhere between a 7 and 9. The slight majority is around an 8 or 8.5.

  117. Wriggles, I just went back and read that article. Are you EFFING kidding me??? He has the GALL to use a concentration camp as an analogy? (Um, also, I don’t think that’s really an analogy…) Maybe he didn’t notice this, but people also DIED in concentrations camps. From starvation.

    Touchy subject for anyone, but half my family died, probably in concentration camps, during WWII.

  118. Yeah, nearly everyone I know is between a 7 and a 9 with the 9s often struggling to find shoes. I really hope America isn’t full of 9s and 10s cramming their feet into too-small shoes. :(

    Shoes sizes seem to be wonkier now than when I was younger. I was always a 7 1/2 after my feet stopped growing in 7th grade, but now I find myself buying sizes from 7 to 8 1/2 whenever I go shoe-shopping. A 4-size range seems a bit much!

  119. If you’re thinking about taking up sewing and have a Joanne’s nearby, do sign up for their coupons. Every month they send out a flyer with at least 40% off one item (includes one length of cloth) and often a note about some patterns which will be on sale for a weekend. It’s a great savings and they don’t seem to sic everyone else on you too, at least I haven’t noticed an increase in junk mail.

  120. The 14th cyclon and Meems (sorry to hear about your family),

    Like so many who believe in punitive calorie expenditure, he’s so wasteful.

    He only needs one bullet.

  121. I visited the Time Out New York link in the twitter feed. It was nice right up ’til the end. So far the comments are all positive, too.

    Don’t “journalists” get tired of including an obligatory hater quote at the end of every article? I’d think it would get old.

  122. For the record, “Average” does not always mean “middle”. The middle of a given group of numbers is called a median, and it’s not calculated the same way a statistical average/mean is. “Average” also does not mean there’s more of that number than any other number. That’s called a mode, which is also calculated differently.

    Example A: Let’s say there’s 6 women: one is a size 4, two are a size 16, and 3 are a size 24.


    108 divided by 6 is 18, so the average/mean size of that group is an 18. This supports the general notion that half of sampled group is above the calculated average.

    Example B: However, another group of 6 women are sized as follows: 2, 8, 12, 14, 26, 34. When you add them all together you get 96, which gives us an average size of 16. Notice, though, that 4 of the women are below the average and only 2 are above the average.

    Example C: A third group of six women are sized as follows: 2, 2, 4, 6, 6, 28. If the size 28 woman hadn’t walked in, the average would have been a size 4. Since she has been included in the sampling, the average shifts to a size 8. Still, though, 5 of the women are still under the average.

    So, when they say that the average woman is a 5’4″, 164 pounds, wearing a size 14, a 36C bra, and a size 10(really?!) shoe, they don’t mean that there’s an equal amount of women above and below the calculated average. For every woman who’s 5’11”, there could be one woman who is 4’9″, 2 women who are 5′ and 5’1″, or even 3 women who are 5’2″, and so on.

  123. I think Kari wins for a Frantics reference. Unless that was unintentional, but I still have, “Boot to the head! (nyah nyah!) Boot to the head! (nyah nyah!)” running through my brain.

    Can’t wait for Friday! I’m doing a “Kate & Marianne & Lesley (!) are coming to my neighborhood!” ass-boogy right now.

  124. I got a swimsuit at the Avenue last year half-price at the end of the season, and my 3rd grade son told me I looked hot in it twice in the space of about 10 minutes after I put it on. :) It’s a tank/skirt set, but I like the extra coverage. Definitely a beach suit rather than a workout suit, though. Speaking of them, I just discovered the Avenue last year thanks to some comments here (they’re in town, but I never knew what they were and didn’t go in ’cause, you know, small clothes stores almost never work for fat people). I like finding cute cheap tops there, but most of their clothes are cut for women with much larger breasts than mine.

    As for shoes, I wear a pretty standard 7 1/2, but wide. UGH. It’s like being Tantalus – there are the shoes, there’s the size stamp, and then … no.

    On Jo-Ann – the coupons are great, but you do have to use them. You get dropped from the mailing list if they don’t get them back a few times in a row. There’s a bar code on the mailed coupons specific to you, so if you don’t use them, they know.

  125. ChloeMireille, you’re right about averages, but I’m still not convinced that a size 10 is average. With the high number of women in the size 7-9 range, there would have to be a fair number of women who wear larger than a size 10 for that to be average. Of course there are women who do wear 11, 12, etc, but I just doubt it’s enough to raise the average to a size 10, especially since, if my memory serves, the average shoe size 40-50 years ago was around a 7.

  126. I just recently sized out of “average” (feh) mall stores entirely, at least for pants and dresses. As a pear-shaped gal I can pull off mainstream-sized t-shirts and some other tops. So now I’m really having to expand my plus-size store repertoire and it SUCKS. BIG. FAT. IDON’TKNOWWHATS. It’s really disheartening to shop online.

    Cases in point:

    Lane Bryant, where I only shop with mega-coupons, is just now initiating some ridiculous practices, FYI. I should go see if Fatshionistas or others are chatting this up. Normally, if you are shopping in their store and need an out-of-stock item, they will ship it to you free of charge. Well, not anymore. The employee I talked to said it’s supposedly in effect now but she hasn’t seen it ring up yet. Ridiculous. (They also no longer let folks use their credit card reward checks online.)

    Old Navy is just about to kill me. ALL the pants I just ordered from them were low-rise, some really really low-rise, and are cut in strange unflattering ways that give me some kind of diaper-y camel toe effect. Plus, they have an online “wish list” feature to save shopping cart items for later–and when I was checking out, I had to re-login (time taken to find credit card number and all that), and to the cart were added all of my wish list items! I didn’t notice and had to return them when they got here.

    On the upside, when I’m looking for nicer clothes, Igigi and Kiyonna (which I know I am lucky to be able to get from Viva La Femme, yay!) are fun. Recently they both had online sales so I ordered some stuff directly. But it’s all non-returnable or only returnable for store credit. I know it’s a common practice, but it makes me order less than I would–and if I get something and love it, the sale is usually over if there are any more in stock. Their customer service is always, always lovely, at least. As it is at Viva La Femme.

  127. Car, I hear you so hard on the shoe thing. I wear an 8W. I love gladiator sandals. They are everywhere in a size 8, but when you add the scarlet W to that size…nope. Not a damn thing I can even try on. Add in that I have a ridiculously high instep, and suddenly buying shoes over the internet is an exercise in frustration and futility not to be borne – not to mention the joy of spending twice as much in back and forth shipping fees as I do for the (already more expensive) shoes.

    What’s more, last night I went on an internet search to find gladiator sandals I like in my size. guess how many pairs I found to choose from? Two. And they both looked flimsy as hell and cost twice as much as ones I liked better that looked sturdier but don’t come in wide sizes.

    Anybody know a good custom cobbler in the SF Bay Area?

  128. Ooo! Oh! Better yet, we take over Project RunWay and the Fashion Show and replace the skinny models with plus-sized normals and have the designers work from them for the ENTIRE season!


    The humanity!

    Rachel, I say we start a letter-writing campaign to have these idiotic shows do exactly that. Don’t tell me you’re an awesome designer because you can do what every other design student on the planet does. Show me a line of cute, affordable, well-made clothes for a size 16/18 and up and I’ll sing your praises from here to Bali Hai.

  129. Add in that I have a ridiculously high instep…

    OMG! We have the same feet. ;-) I gave up the other day and ordered more Birk’s, because I can’t find anything else that fits. At least they were fun silver Birk’s, but still.

  130. OK, here’s a late addition to the diuscussion that’s been driving me BANANAS lately. Why, why , why! can I not have anything except “briefs” or “hi-cuts” if I want to but some simple cotton underwear at Target or Walmart? If I wear the briefs, they go about two inches above the top of my pants. My PLUS SIZE pants. Is this akin to the CIA and the FBI not sharing information?
    I know that the underwear selection has gotten better over the past few years. But that’s more in the high end. I just want some damn cotton underpants, ya’ll. Bikini. I’m trying to cover my bottom and bits, not my belly button.

  131. Lord, the instep. Is that why so many shoes feel so horrible? You can almost fit a ping-pong ball under my arches.
    Spouse, otoh, has totally flat feet and can’t find shoes, either.

  132. CoryBetty: Yes!

    I’m so short most “briefs” (ha!) come up almost to the bottom of my bra. WTF? And I know that boy-legs are a god send for some, but they cut off the circulation to my thighs. Argh!!!

  133. FootSmart (i’m sure there’s a website) sells a foam mold, make-your-own-arch-supports sort of thing. I forget the name of the company, but it’s a hundred bucks and so far mine have held up for at least a year now. They’re really really solid, and you can only really use them in roomy, closed shoes, but they’ve really saved my feet. I can’t even stand for long periods without pain, since my arches are both high and too flexible.

    And my feet are wide and big. Sometimes I like to depress my self by searching for my size (10.5) on Zappos, then watching the number of results shrink exponentially when I click on the “C” width button. And those are mostly sneakers, orthopedic shoes, dance shoes (so, yay there, I guess. At least I can get shoes if I decide to take tap after all), flat sandals that are useless to me, and shoes that are mighty expensive and just skirting the cute/ugly line, like Keens or Earth shoes or something. Sofft sometimes has decent heels, too. But again, way expensive.

  134. Hmmm. I wear a 30 to 32 size trouser; not even the plus size shops carry those in the store front, so I do a lot of my pants shopping on line.

    I wear anywhere from a 24 to 30 in a top, depending on cut, fabric and style. My experience with mainstream dept stores is that they top out at about 22/24, and most of their clothes are cut small, so I almost never find anything to fit. I’m not a masochist, I don’t have to keep beating my head on that wall. Main stream does NOT serve my plus size body.

    And the plus size store fronts tend (at least in my experience) to focus on casual, trendy, younger demographics. Mind you, I don’t want to look like a frumpy granny. But, I also don’t want to dress like a 20 year old. I want classic well made wardrobe pieces that can be dressed up or down, that can transition to work, to parties, to lounging at home. I also need to be able to find things appropriate for funerals, weddings, and other dress up occasions. I can’t get those in the store fronts most of the time, which is another reason why I shop online.

    Someone made a point that in a mall, a “regular” sized woman has 15 to 20 options for clothing. She can go to Ann Taylor for professional and cocktail party wear. She can go to the Gap for casual wear. She can stop in at half a dozen stores in between the two. She has tons of options. Me? A mall/shopping center might have one or two options at most. I have to go to 2 or 3 different SHOPPING CENTERS to find 2 or 3 stores for me, and many of them carry the same general styles, so we don’t have anywhere near the same variety as a “regular” sized woman does.

    Is it any wonder I’d rather shop on line, rather than run all over town, wasting a lot of gas money and getting frustrated, in the hope of finding something that I like? Even if I have to return an item, online is a lot easier on my nerves, my stress level, and my car.

    And I’m not sure what the designers are using for “special fit models and patterns”, but I still don’t feel like they are patterning their clothes for plus size body concerns. At best, I think they use size 16 and 18 models, and expand the patterns without taking into account that a size 26 body is just as different from a size 18 as an 18 is from a 10.

  135. “Not to mention that in our globalized market, every single piece of mainstream label clothing is /already/ marked far over cost.”

    This is so very true…at my 2nd workplace of death, Target, when something is clearanced all the way down to 75%, even something selling for like $2.74, they still make money off of it. Really.

    “….on how 85% of women walk aroung wearing the wrong size bra.
    So I lectured back that an even higher percentage were working twice as hard as men for significantly lower pay….”
    Excellent comeback…wish I could come up with things this quickly.

  136. Piffle, car, et al re Jo-Ann coupons/mailers:

    As someone who works there, let me set the record straight. You’re right that signing up for them won’t get you more junk mail, but MAKE SURE that you check the tiny, tiny little box at the bottom of the sign-up card that tells them you don’t want your name sold.

    If you don’t want to get dropped from the mailing list, make sure that you bring in the MAILING LABEL (not just the coupon) and get it scanned by a cashier (or hand it to anyone in J-A garb) because the coupon alone WILL NOT KEEP YOU ON THE MAILING LIST. Bring in the mailing label 3-4 time a year at least. I can’t tell you how many sad folks tell me their tale of woe that they don’t get their coupons any more and have to wait the 6-8 weeks after re-signing up to start getting their mailers again.


    I am so with you on the wide foot/high instep thing. For me it pretty much equals no open toed shoes because my toes NEVER show thru the openings and I always look like I’m a toddler klunking around in my mom’s shoes! :(

  137. This’ll teach me to post an outrage worthy fact without googling it.

    I’ve had conversations with two people who claimed that ten was the average, and who are smart enough to know trivia like that, so it didn’t occur to me.

    I’ve become a dirty internet rumour monger. Please forgive me.

    It’s 8 wide, apparently, which sounds more reasonable, but still doesn’t excuse the fact that every store I’ve ever gone into says that 10 and 10.5 sell out pretty much instantly in many styles.

    I really do understand the stores desire to not have left over stuff, and not being able to cater to everyone. BUT. Why don’t we have more small businesses like Jay’s Wide Shoes which started as a small specialty store and grew amazingly fast because people NEED things that fit?

    I swear that I would shop at a store called Tall Fat Chicks if it meant I could have sleeves that fit instead of being twice as wide and a foot shorter than my arms. Or a waist at my waist. Or if I didn’t have to unpick the hem in actual fitting pants, and sew in an extra strip of fabric to have a hem that is almost long enough. Almost.

    I’m dreaming of man styled shirts that aren’t made for Big and Tall Men, but for big and tall me. sigh….
    (my kingdom for a breast dart that actually points to the front of my breast!)

  138. All this stuff about shoes makes me wonder…if an 8 wide is average, shouldn’t that really be an 8 regular? The fact that it’s an average, implies that there are plenty of women who need a ww or www width, which are extremely difficult to find.

    And I have a hard enough time finding shoes to fit at a size 7-7.5 and a c width (not a true wide, but slightly wider than a “regular”).

  139. Delurking:

    I also have high, flexible arches. I buy a high-arch insole from FootSmart and put it in many of my closed toe shoes. For sandals, I wear Dansko (which I used to buy very cheaply from the back room at Schuler Shoes in the Twin Cities) or Birkenstocks. They used to carry a high-arch Tatami line, which were less “Birk” looking, but the company has completely changed in the last five years, so I’m not sure they’re still available.

    Someone upstream mentioned buying hiking/climbing pants. I love to hike and have ranted about this for years. In 2006, I found online links to plus-sized Columbia pants (which didn’t seem to be available for puchase) and called their flagship store (in Oregon, I think) and had them sent to me. Some fit. Some were returned. I also randomly found a few pairs at a gigantic Gander Mountain.

    In the last week, I’ve moved from the Twin Cities to Chicago. In Sunday’s ChiTrib there was a story about clothing swaps (see: I’ve participated in home goods swaps in the past and got to thinking. We should try to do a plus-sized clothing swap. I know there is the big used sale in NY, but has anything like this been done in Chicago? Or virtually?

  140. The number of XS and 00-4 things on racks in stores (and the corresponding lack of 12-18, or whatever the top bit is) has always confused me. Is it that they just order so many more size 0s than size 14s? You’d think that eventually they’d figure stuff out . . . but no, nearly all stores have a similar proportion of stuff on the clearance racks.

    A while ago, a plus-sized woman wrote into a fashion blog I was reading to figure out what lawyers wear to ask about options for women over size 14, and I think the best that the blogger could do was say, “Try Nordstrom?” I suspect that a place that could provide Banana Republic/J. Crew type suits for the size-14+ crowd — and offered them online — would make a killing, as well.


  141. I think it’s a nearly perfect solution (the best one would be to go back to custom made clothes for all, but corporations are making too much money manufacturing clothing/shoes for that to happen) to have specialty stores offering items made for people in a smaller range of height/size/proportions, rather than all stores trying to offer a limited range of ‘bigger’ , ‘smaller’ , ‘youthful’ or ‘professional’ clothes that leave tons of people of sizes or with proportions outside that range (for women’s clothes the default usually a bust slightly smaller than hips and waist 10″ or so smaller than bust, which isn’t the most common shape at least among women I know) out in the cold. And if they could clearly describe who they are catering to, that would help:

    Fat Chicks Above 5’7″! Cute Women’s Shoes Size 6 and Under in Wide Width! Men’s Shoes In Narrow Sizes 9 and Under! Tall Fat Guys With Big Shoulders, Arms and Chests! Fitted Clothes for Average-Sized Women with Large Busts and Hips and Much Smaller Waists and Ribcages! Medium Height Really Skinny Women Who Need Work Clothes, Not Belly Shirts, Hotpants or Bedazzled Jeans! Clothes That Work for Apple-Shaped Women with Smaller Breasts (No Empire Waists)!

  142. I want to post something here, from a blogger that normally I just love. This blog entry is NOT about weight, per se, but it is about being PC and since Shapely Prose is a very proud PC site, I thought I’d share.

    Not only am I sharing because of the common “pcn-ess” of this Ta-Nehisi Coates blog entry with Shapely Prose, but because of one line that I found really blindly ignorant — ironically, in an entry about tolerance!

    Check it:

    ” watching conservatives mock liberals for being PC, is like watching the morbidly obese mock Weight Watchers for its system of points. ”

    Look, I am a PC, liberal fat girl, and have no love for the conservative movement but this analogy, is so grating I had to speak out somehow.

    I tried posting my reply on his Ta-Nehisi Coates blog at, but it is moderated by TNC, and was not posted in the comments section. Gee, I wonder why?

    My reply was not a rant, but an urging to re-think the commonly held stereotypes of dieting, fatness, thinness, and health.

    To be fair, my argument is not with the gist of that blog entry as a whole. In my comments reply I said I was totally down with the central argument. It was just that the analogy above, was so seeminly ignorant. And, I was not posted. It upsets so much that in the comments section, the above sentence was not even questioned :(

    Well, i just wanted to be able to post somewhere about this today with like-minded people, thanks for “e-listening” !

  143. Oy, the shoes. I thought for years that I was a size 8, but I’m actually a 7.5. I just always had to buy them a half size bigger to get them wide enough (which doesn’t truly work, but if the shoes are too big, you can at least sort of get your foot into them).

    There are so many shoes that I would love to try on, but there’s just no way. My feet are a true WW — they are WIDE. Which means no cute strappy sandals, nothing trendy, ever. Birkenstocks and Dansko clogs are the only shoes that are consistently wide enough. It’s frustrating. I watch “What Not to Wear” and the hosts often note that even if the shopping hasn’t been going well for that week’s surprise person, at least she’ll have fun once she goes shoe shopping. I usually have to grumble at the TV at that point, because not EVERYONE can have fun shopping for shoes. For some of us, it’s a nightmare of tempting cute stuff that won’t even go on past our toes. Grrr.

  144. I love Bonnie’s idea, wouldn’t it be funny to put up a whole street of stores like that in Second Life or some similar game?

  145. Yes! to the J Crew/Banana Republic-style store that would sell plus sizes. I would have to get a part-time job there to support my habit.

    This is a subject that infuriates me. And I’m going to take some of it out on my beloved Target: I used to be able to go to their Plus section and come out of there with any number of cute sweaters, dresses, etc. Lately it is the wasteland of sale racks, clearance junk no one wants and overflow from the dressing room. I noticed that every time I go the “regular” sizes are creeping further and further into the plus section. I spotted a cute dress, audibly gasped and ran over to it. It was a Medium. In the space that was formerly the Plus section. I wonder why they don’t have the designers who make the 0-18 clothes make the exact same classic designs in 16w+??? Can someone answer that question?

    I don’t believe for a second all the bs about extra costs, extra patterns, no demand. The answer is this: As a size 20, I do not deserve to look good. That’s the bottom line. “They” think we don’t deserve it. “They” think if we want nice clothes we need to lose weight. If I had a business degree and/or designing skills I would so be coming up with a business plan for the Plus Banana Republic.

  146. “I don’t believe for a second all the bs about extra costs, extra patterns, no demand. The answer is this: As a size 20, I do not deserve to look good. That’s the bottom line. “They” think we don’t deserve it. “They” think if we want nice clothes we need to lose weight.”

    I think you nailed it there, kitKat. Any time the topic of trendy plus-sized clothes comes up in the mainstream media, there will be at least one quote from MeMe “I Hate Everyone With Visible Flesh” Roth or one of her ilk saying that making nice clothes for those Evil Fatties will only encourage them in their fatness.

    And then people make fun of fatties for wearing clothes that don’t fit well or that aren’t fashionable.

  147. Must jump in with two things:

    1) Saw Kate quoted in the NY Times — yay. Surprised there’s no “welcome, NYT readers” post.

    2) Today I was in Borders. Found _Lessons_ftF-o-S_, and I placed a copy atop the stacks of weight-loss books which had a whole table to themselves. I know our dear hosts can’t condone it, but wouldn’t it be cool if we all did this every time we were in a book store? I have this dream that seeing the book will Speak To people.

  148. Damn my post sourcing the feat-of-engineering strapless bra must have got stuck in the spam filter.

    It was made by Goddess – check out their website too, but I couldn’t find a link to it there… this is the one I have.

  149. Swimsuit prices/availability/ugliness are really bothering me right now. I have to buy a swimsuit in the next week or so and so far the only really affordable option is Old Navy (even with shipping) since their suits are mostly on sale, and have been for a while. Although, apparently they realized which of their suit options sell better than the other ones so now if you want the only colorful version of some suits you get to pay double, ditto for underwires. I am large. And I have the rack o doom. I enjoy underwires (also, Old Navy, not everyone loves a goddamn halter!). But I’ll buy a plain suit that fits and works and isn’t priced as though it’s made of pure spun gold. I’m looking at you, Torrid and Lane Bryant.

    I think a big part of the reason that the plus/larger end stuff is never left and the sale rack is full of the smaller stuff really has to do with options. It’s been said so many times that while I might have one store to shop at in an entire mall, smaller women might have twenty. So while I and anyone my size is pretty much stuck at that one store if we don’t want to mess with shipping or driving all over town, someone smaller might waltz in and waltz out with one thing or with nothing and hey it doesn’t matter because they’ll just find something across the way.

    We end up picking over every available item and the smaller stuff sits there. And this is before getting into the stigmatization of having to shop at the “fat girl store,” which leads many an in-betweenie/smaller fat to ignore the store even if it does have something in their size. If they can find their size anywhere else, they will (this doesn’t apply to every smaller fat/in -betweenie, especially not those here, but I have seen it happen many times).

    Also, I have no idea what the average women’s shoe size is, but finding cute 12’s outside of Payless and Torrid that won’t break the bank is a pain in the butt. Tall ladies tend to have big feet, so I have to wonder what is going on with shoes and models, since many are taller than me (I’m 5’10). Do they just cram their feet into too-small shoes?

    This whole discussion has made me even angrier at designers and retailers. WTF are they thinking? Also that quote about shopping in the “under $150” range is hilarious. Disconnect much, people?

    Oh, and I actually sort of fit that whole “mommy” demographic they’re talking about, but you know what? The reason that I haven’t bought cute new clothes in a long time isn’t because I’m cheap, or lazy, or some mommy martyr who only cares about her kid’s duds. It’s because there are rarely any cute clothes in my post-baby size (28-30…sometimes 26 or 32) and when there are, they are way more expensive than is justifiable or just way expensive because they’re custom-made. I care, and my baby is old enough that we go out and I’m not worried about random spit-ups, etc. So I *want* to look nice, but I’m not given a whole lot of cooperation from these businesses.

    I’ve been compensating with nail polish, but no more. I bought a sewing machine on Craigslist today, and I will make things myself!

  150. My first thought was that the “prefer to shop online” thing was supposed to be code for “feel embarrassed to be seen in public”, to which there is a grain of truth because the culture insists fat people are disgusting–but what it really is, is “fat people stay home all the time because going to the mall is EXERCISE”. Because obviously fat people don’t get any exercise! That’s why they’re fat!

  151. Catrina, I’m totally with you on the halter thing!!! It drives me crazy that every magazine that does an article on “best suits for your shape” or whatever recommends halters for women who have large boobs. Do they just not understand that the combination of heavy boobs + gravity + halter = neck pain?

  152. Re: 18 @ Ann Taylor, I had no idea either. The one time I ever entered an Ann Taylor store, about ten years ago, I was a size 16 and the girls working there openly glared at me by the time I had taken two steps into the store, so I left. They were all extremely thin, and the “your kind not welcome” message was no less clear than if they had spoken it aloud. Up until today, I had always assumed from that experience that Ann Taylor was a brand that, like J. Crew, slanted heavily toward the lower end of the straight-size spectrum.

    I believe that was on the same mall trip – one of the last times we ever went to a mall to actually shop, rather than meet friends or something – that my young husband got very annoyed at me because he thought that the reason I wasn’t trying anything on was that I was being a drama queen or something. He thought surely I must be neurotically fishing for compliments or something, as I frantically whispered to him that no, I really *am* larger than the largest size here, can we please just *go*, you’re embarrassing me? He didn’t understand, because he was a 2XL, substantially larger than me, and he was finding stuff all over the place. Including in the men’s sections of the same stores that didn’t have anything for me.

    Now that I am a 24/26 I just *know* that I can’t shop. In a way that’s loads better than what it feels like to be an in-betweenie and having to brave going into a store, looking/feeling out of place, nervously checking the backs of the racks to see what the largest number is, trying it on and then having to explain to the salesperson that it doesn’t fit… that’s incredibly hard, especially if you’re young.

  153. I think I’m going to ask my husband to give me a fabric shopping spree and a new sewing machine (the one we have now is his from before the marriage and I Do Not Trust It!) for my birthday so I can have some new skirts.

    I almost wish I had managed to talk my way into the fashion design program when I went back to school instead of doing the quick way and finishing in history (almost… but then I wouldn’t have met my husband…) because then I could have taken all y’all up on that idea of starting a store/line of clothes for fat women. *sigh*

  154. Try being plus-sized in Australia if you *really* want to experience the joy[1] of shopping.

    I’m lucky – there’s a specialist plus-sized clothing store in my actual suburb (and there was one near my workplace when I was living in Canbrrra). But the next nearest one is about a half an hour’s drive up the coast, then there’s another few at a mega-mall about three-quarters of an hour away (possibly more, I’ve never actually been there) and another couple at another mega-mall about an hour away (which is, oddly enough, the one I visit most often, since it’s the one I’m most familiar with). However, as plus-sized clothes tend to cost a good chunk more than ordinary sized ones (I’ve just done a quick check on the site for one of the few retailers which does a decent larger sizes selection, comparison shopping against their ordinary women’s collection – to give an example, a straightforward t-shirt with a single print costs about $20 AU for standard sizes, while the plus-size version is about $40 AU). My favourite plus-size retailer (I like them for their colour choices, and for their style) has a scoop neck t-shirt for about $22 AU, but that’s pretty much the cheapest thing in store.

    Of course, I’m not so lucky, since I’m currently on the dole, which means if I spend $40 on a t-shirt, that’s approximately 1/10th of my fortnightly income gone – and if I need a new bra, that’s $80 gone right there. New underwear? Well, I’d better hope one of the supermarkets has a pack in the size I take, because otherwise it’s a good long trek up to the nearest department store in the hope they’ve a special on ladies full briefs which will mean I can get more than one pair of knickers for $10. I don’t bother looking for anything other than full briefs in my size, because I can’t find the bloody things – once you’re over a size 14, the Aussie market has decreed you must wear granny knickers. So this year, my fashion choices are simple – how much wear can I get out of last year’s stuff before it all falls apart (and if it does, can I fix it)?

    As to the whole “fat women don’t go to the mall that often” thing, all I can say is “well, duh!”. If I’m browsing in a shopping mall, I’m usually checking out the bookstores, the music stores and the game shops, because at least there I find retailers who don’t give a damn how bloody fat I am, since my money spends just as well as anyone else’s. The fashion places? Well, with approximately a total of a dozen shops (of three chains) throughout the whole city (well scattered) who actually sell stuff in my size, plus another half dozen major retailers who don’t object too vociferously to my apparent existence, I’m not precisely spoiled for choice, am I? But the majority of fashion shops? Gods forbid I come in there and get my fat germs all over things, they might have to close down to decontaminate. Strangely enough, I don’t tend to go where I’m not welcome – so yeah, I don’t spend my days down at the mall. I’ll go in, go to the supermarket, do the grocery shopping, and bugger off home again.

    [1] Tis to laugh. Or scream.

  155. @kitKat My local Target did away with their plus size section, and just moved their plus sizes in with the rest of the women’s clothing. I was VERY confused when I headed back to the far corner where the plus sizes should be and it just wasn’t there. I went to go check for what I was looking for in the straight sizes, and tada, up to 3X, in almost everything. Any chance your local Target is just transitioning between layouts? I will say it was very nice not to be segregated to a special section of the store and have the joy of shopping like everyone else.

  156. Meg Thorton, my friend lived in Australia for a time and said it was impossible to shop. And she was barely an inbetweenie at the time. I’m sorry there are so few options there. What gives? I’ve hear the same thing about different countries in Europe (only from people who are there on vacation/studying abroad, so maybe they just don’t know where to look).

  157. So, I just recently (defined as the past 2.5 months) got a wild hair to run a marathon. Since it is summer here in the South, with 90 degree + days and humidity, I really, really need workout gear that wicks. Bras, some sort of bottoms, and tops. I’ve been looking online, and most of the places recommended don’t sell things I can imagine myself running in (loose capris may be great for other activities, but not running/jogging long distances!). Or if they do, they have a skirt attached to them. For real. And, the cherry on the sundae is that almost everything is over $60 per piece.

    I’m a size 14-18. I can’t imagine the frustration of buying something past that range.

    And, I also just discovered that Endell doesn’t make my size bra. Amazingly, fatties with a 40B cup do exist! And we like pretty bras and to workout!

  158. The reason why halters are so oten recommended to large-breasted women is because it looks good. It elongates the neck, provides full coverage and creates the illusion of “perkyness”. But there’s no reason why that same look can’t be recreated via different engineering! And the reason why designers haven’t created a supportive halter is because they dismiss us as anomolies unworthy of full (pun unintented) consideration. They just don’t realize that big breasts are fucking HEAVY. The vast majority of industry designers are gay men and small-breasted women. Is it any wonder?

    In any case, after 10 minutes of thought here at work, I think that I have figured out a modified halter for big boobs. My solution? Supportive straps that cross between the upper shoulder blades and link to a band under the breasts. I might even include a structured ‘bra’ inside the top. This would allow for a mostly backless braless look which I have long coveted.

    I only wish I had a dressmakers dummy to test my theory out.

  159. RE: Book signing tonight. Just letting you know that I was planning on coming because I thought that if it started at 6:30 I could make it to my other event at 8:30. But looking at the details, I don’t think I can be in two places at once. I certainly try all the time. So wanted to meet you!
    Love from NYC!

  160. I like to shop at even though they’re a little more on the pricey side. One really cute dress every year is worth it to me. They are a more new age place, but they have the most adorable summer dresses. Their selection of plus size goes to 3X (26/28) and a few dresses (I think 2) go up to 30.

    It still doesn’t cover everyone who deserves to wear nice, cute clothes but at least it’s a start.

  161. @Jmars: Sorry to take so long in responding to your kind offer to see if we can put that suit of yours to use! I’m actually a bit bigger – a size 28, but asked about women 300+ & the waxing thing because I never seem to see women above that size talking about it. I did buy myself – a few years back – a regular one piece bathing suit and matching swim shorts, so I can do that, I just was hoping… :)

    @ Catrina: Darlin’, do I HEAR you on those bigger sized feet! Mine are usually an 11, but sometimes a 12 – and really wide. I sometimes joke you can just take the shoes out and give me the boxes to wear, instead. (How sad that I make that a joke, right? :sigh: ) Anyway, if you don’t mind the online thing, I’ve had some good luck with Massey’s, which is online & in catalog form. I got my wedding shoes from them, even – so they do dressy and/or generally cute in larger – and wider, in my case – sizes.

  162. I’m confused as to how we can be in the middle of an obesity epidemic of the largest proportion ever known to humankind and yet there is no demand for larger clothes…

    Surely that means one or the other [or *gasp* even both?!] isn’t true?

  163. @Rachel – It always gets me that we live in a society in which women PAY to have large breasts, and yet few designers actually make bras or clothing for women who have them naturally. If you do happen to be looking for a backless bra, this one by Maidenform isn’t terrible:

    Unfortunately, the sizes are limited. I ended up buying a 34DD, which works fairly well.

    For me, the ideal bikini top is designed like a bra. If I want the look of a halter, i can just go find something that crosses in back, but the thing is, I may have “unusually” large breasts, but I actually have narrow shoulders and a defined collarbone. I’m just fine with a bra style top thankyouverymuch.

  164. I’ve composed a haiku for swimsuit manufacturers:

    Want a bikini
    I don’t want triangle cups
    How is that so hard?

    I’ve noticed that triangle cut bikini tops tend to create a flatten and sag effect on my otherwise presentable DDs, which isn’t flattering. Halter triangle tops go all out, for flatten, sag, and neck pain. But they’re all I’ve been able to find for the past few years. I might have better luck if I shopped more seriously, instead of just glancing through swimsuit racks when I see them. But when all I see when I look at a swimsuits are triangle tops, I just can’t manage to put the effort in.

  165. Lucizoe: Yep, that was entirely my intention.

    Nowadays, if any of my friends rant about an asshole who was mean or anything like that, I just tell them, “You know what they need? A Boot To The Head” then link them to a vid at Youtube :D

  166. Margaret, re: Enell
    just so you know, Enell is specifically geared towards large-busted folks. The sports-bra needs of someone with B-cup boobs are so vastly different than someone with, say, F (or bigger) cup boobs that I’m actually glad someone is specializing. They are actually pretty good at fitting a large (ha!) range of sizes of larger busted folks, including fatties (with bands up to a 52) they just don’t make standard sizes for someone who needs a B cup in any band size, it’s just not their shtick.

    I think some others have mentioned Title9 (, and I’ll reiterate that while they are not so great for clothing for fatties (read: maybe okay for inbetweenies, nada for anything bigger), they do have a good selection of sports bras, and you can search by size. One bra that I can personally recommend is the “Frog bra”. It is stretchy and with no cups, so it’s just S/M/L/XL sized so the precise cup sizes shouldn’t matter much. This is a serious control bra and is the best thing I found before Enell even though it doesn’t even come close to containing my L/M cup boobs (I layer it over another bra).

  167. @Puffalo – Surprisingly, I’ve found some very nice, inexpensive bikinis at H&M. They do run small (I’m typically a 10-12 and often have to buy a 14 in bottoms or even 16 in some button down tops there), but I found a bikini top in a D cup there last year. With the bit of stretch in swimsuit material, the 36D top works pretty well for me. They definitely don’t carry true plus sizes, but have some reasonable options for inbetweenies.

  168. Maybe, we’re not buying clothes because the collection in the one or two stores in our area have collections that are largely inappropriate for a professional woman of style. It’s so frustrating, and I actually have good brick and mortar options in NYC between the women’s sections of Macy’s and Lord & Taylors (though they tend to be mumsy) and a great strip of stores up in Harelm on 125th street (Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart, Avenue plus a few discount stores that go up to 24W/2X.)

    It’s having multiple options that get people out to the stores to shop. I remember there was one mall in the suburbs North of Detroit (when I lived out there 15 years ago) that was a fat chick mecca with 4 or 5 stores plus okay department store sections.

    I get the feeling that malls look at fat chick stores like having a female character in an action film … we’ve got one, so that demographic is handled … why would we need more?

  169. “Sue, on June 4th, 2009 at 3:37 am Said:
    Kate (and Marianne), great interview in Time Out New York this week! I was thrilled to turn the page and see you guys there. You put across your points so well, especially HAES. But did you know they were going to put a bit from Meme Roth right next to the interview, as if to rebut your points? That pissed me off royally.”

    I saw that! And damned if they didn’t make La Meme sound almost reasonable! Nuts to that!

  170. @ Meg Thornton – They have supermarkets at the mall in Australia? OT I know but I never knew that. How unusually logical and convenient.

    Also Australia seems to have gone even more batshit about weight issues than the US. I saw some article with everyone freaking out in comments about women being an Aussie size 12 – isn’t that an American 8?

  171. Nowadays, if any of my friends rant about an asshole who was mean or anything like that, I just tell them, “You know what they need? A Boot To The Head” then link them to a vid at Youtube :D

    Heh. If you feel like mixing it up, you can also direct them to this one.

  172. I’ve been wondering what you guys make of the whole “obesity as underlying condition” thing that’s going on with the swine flu in NYC. Essentially, the few NYers who have dies from the swine flu are all said to have had “underlying conditions” that contributed to their death. These conditions include obesity, which I just don’t get. I could see how asthma could make it harder to recover from the flu, but extra weight? Really?

    I know they’re trying to keep people from panicking, but it seems like BS. Thoughts?

  173. I did a quick scan of the comments, so if this has been said already, sorry. It’s really starting to annoy me that I have not seen one single solitary post about “Up” on various fat-o-sphere feeds. There was a sh*t-storm about Wall-E, a lot of the posts were made by people who refused to even see the film, “Up” clearly has TWO fat main characters and there are 0 fat jokes in the film, and I haven’t seen anyone go “Hey, this is an awesome movie made about fat people with no fat jokes, and said fat people are awesome and heros. This is exactly what FA wants, so why is it being totally ignored?

  174. I haven’t seen it yet nor read any press about it. I do plan on seeing it though- that’s awesome there are no fat jokes. I just saw Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda in the span of three weeks and my eyes about rolled out of my head.

  175. I know this is WAY off-topic, but I just want to let you guys know that I started my own blog and I linked to this site. :)

  176. Colleen, I’m hoping to see it too! (Though realistically we may have to wait until it’s at the dollar theatre.) I very much liked the preview, but was wondering if there would be fat jokes. So glad to hear there aren’t!

  177. I know this is WAY off-topic, but I just want to let you guys know that I started my own blog and I linked to this site. :)

    Yay! And yes, please link if you don’t mind.

  178. This is exactly what FA wants, so why is it being totally ignored?

    I can only answer for myself, but it’s because I haven’t seen it yet. (I didn’t write about Wall-e, which I still haven’t seen, either.) I am planning to see Up, and it does sound like the lack of fat jokes is postworthy.

  179. We just saw Up yesterday, and I really, really enjoyed it. A lot!

    And yeah, there were a lack of fat jokes. And actually, I didn’t have my cringeometer go off. It was a very human story.

    And – and this is a rather big deal for me – I didn’t really notice two fat characters.

    I thought the writing very well handled, better than most G movies.

  180. A Sarah: Added to my collection. So much WIN :D Can’t wait to use this and make some peeps smile!

  181. I’m new to the FA thing, and have spent quite some time over the past few days reading through old posts / threads.

    Reading this one has gotten me thinking: I’m 100% with this movement intellectually. I buy the science as laid out in “Don’t You Realize Fat is Unhealthy”; I buy the feminist thinking behind interrogating ideals of beauty and politics of the body.

    What I don’t get is how to really make this all sink in, really. Thinking about the *always* agonizing experience of clothes shopping — about the shame and disgust I felt 100+ pounds ago in junior high, looking for new school clothes, or about the last time I went to JC Penney and *everything* felt too snug — it reminds me that I straight-up do not like my body. It reminds me that I really feel, deep deep down, that I need to be half my size to be attractive or loveable or sexual. It reminds me that I seethe a little every time I hear a fat joke, but that I’m always too ashamed to react directly.

    And you know — that’s not who I am. I *like* myself, mostly. And I can a lot of value in myself in almost all other areas. So how do you learn to *really* believe that you can be a whole person, and a person of value, when you can’t find a decent blazer?

    I know that’s an issue that’s been running through this thread, but I’m not posing that as a rhetorical question. If there are earlier posts that deal with this issue, I’d be happy to be directed to them (rather than rehashing old news here!).

    Thanks, all. I’m loving this site!

  182. So how do you learn to *really* believe that you can be a whole person, and a person of value, when you can’t find a decent blazer?

    sf, this post is probably a good place to start.

    And I swear I’m not saying this just to self-promote… the questions you’re asking are actually the basis of our book. So you might want to check that out.

  183. psst. Kate. I was trying to do the promoting for you ;D

    I guess this time I was overly concise, heh. (rather unusual for me!)

  184. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m going to toot my own horn a bit here. A combination of the article that inspired this thread and the same weeks’ episode of The Fashion Show in turn inspired me to a bit of a rant, which I posted over at Manolo for the Big Girl yesterday, which I think some of you might enjoy.

    @ sf: read it, honey. I think you might find it empowering. I certainly hope it helps out a bit.

  185. Honestly, when I saw the preview for Up, I assumed that, while the trailer looked cute and lacked fat jokes, that the movie would get in a few digs here and there. They’ve got me trained. I’m quite pleased to hear it’s fat friendly.

  186. oh, and @annief way upthread, I have done the same thing for years–buying shoes 1/2 size up to get the width, which doesn’t actually work but what are my other options? At the moment, the sandals I’m wearing are a too big for me men’s size. It is incredibly irritating to go shoe shopping and not be able to get more than your toes into anything even when it supposed to be your size.

  187. The comments have gone way off topic, but I did want to add to the discussion about the demise of the plus size stores. It is apparent to me (and I have talked to lot’s of friends and family shopping with me and they agree) that the manufacturers of plus size clothes seem to choose really bad and ugly prints. I will walk through stores and see dozens of things made with cool prints and get to the plus size department and see every item has been made with whatever was rejected by every other desiger on the planet. UGLY fabrics.

    And if it is made with something nice, they bejewel it to death. Yes – I want to be large and SPARKLY!!

    It is as if they hate us.

    Or at least do not believe we have taste and might like a classic, sophisticated look.

  188. Thanks, guys! I had been planning to pick up the book anyway, but now I’ll be sure to do it ASAP. :-) And the “Fantasy of Being Thin” post is quite beautiful! I’ll be checking back in here regularly. Personal issues aside, even — there is some smart writing here!!

  189. Plus size clothing in a nicer brand is a lot more expensive than most women of regular sizes have to pay for their clothing. It’s not that it’s soooo much more fabric. It’s that the line is small and they probably don’t get to take advantage of volume discounts. They just pass the cost on to the consumer, and when the consumer can NOT afford to pay $200 for their skirt (common with Ellen Tracy, for example), they simply say, “Oh these are bargain hunters”. Most middle class women cannot afford to pay $200 for one garment, much less one garment for one season.

    I believe many might think that plus size women would scarf up the items on the clearance rack, then, to use the next year. This presumes that those women would want to accumulate seasonal items that won’t be useful for another year, and which won’t match the same styles everyone else will be wearing at that time. This strategy only works for very simple, classic pieces, and many lines are quite the opposite of that; they have lots of trendy touches which are great…but not at investment prices.

    I also think that most plus size women don’t really shop with the idea that they will be the same size next year, anyway. Some have the hope that they will Magically. Be. Smaller. , and others know that they might just be larger (because it’s happened before). Either way, spending gigantor money on plus size clothes makes no sense to many plus size women (IF they can even afford to do it in the first place).

  190. It’s that the line is small and they probably don’t get to take advantage of volume discounts.

    Right, and it’s not like the store could make the line bigger, and actually advertise it so people knew about it, and put it in stores so people could try it on, or anything. I mean, that couldn’t possibly help sales to justify the bigger line of cothes! (That they don’t do this, of course, ensures they never get to a sale rack, because they weren’t in stores to begin with.)

    I really think people who buy trendy clothes on clearance are the people who seriously don’t care if they’re out of fashion by a year (or more), and that’s independent of size. If that didn’t sell clearance racks wouldn’t even happen. Fat people should have access to that option just the same as thin people, and i’m sure it would sell just as well!

    I really want to see Up, you guys!

  191. Old habits die hard with some of us. Time was, when you found some clothing that looked good on you, you’d keep it and wear it for years till it just about disintegrated in your hands. Actual fashion trends were not something you had the luxury of even caring about, because none of it was ever made with you in mind.
    About advertising – it always seemed as if they made a special effort to encourage me not to spend my money.

    “Don’t buy our magazine – we never show anyone in it who looks remotely like you.”
    “Don’t watch our tv show – anyone in it who looks like you is going to be insulted and shamed.”
    “Don’t smoke – the happy smokers in our ads are all slender and popular.” (I actually appreciate that one!)
    “We’re going to make our clothes and shoes as ugly and scarce as possible, so you won’t even be tempted to buy more than you absolutely have to.”

    I’m not going to buy a mirror if I can’t see my reflection in it.

  192. This is exactly why I’m going to learn to sew. If they can’t seem to make anything I would like to wear I’ll just have to work around them. I would still like to call these people up and ask them just who they are actually designing these things for. I’m down here in Florida , there’s no way on earth I’m wearing plastic!

  193. Yes, I know I’m 2 months late getting on this thread, but I had a meeting today with a man from the Small Business Administration and I had to share.

    This man’s response to my plan to start a business designing and marketing fashionable, comfortable clothing to bigger women was to immediately explain that it was a bad idea because all the department stores were ending their plus-size lines because they just don’t sell.

    I did point out that sales would be better if 1) They let women know they were selling plus-sizes to begin with 2) The sales staff didn’t treat them like shit and place the plus-size department all the way in the back of the store and 3) The clothing weren’t so damn ugly and uncomfortable.

    This discussion didn’t deter me, it only makes me want to get this business off the ground more than ever.

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