Sunday, December 12, 2010
The Fat Girl's New Clothes or I Don't Want to Dress Like a Construction Worker!
Being tall and fat, my round features and double chin consigned me to Sears Roebucks "Pretty Plus Department', where my mother worked. I couldn't count on the safety net of my jumper uniforms-with their blue, plaid, Peter Pan style collars that had gotten me through seven years of Catholic school. I dreaded shopping for clothes with every ounce of my being: I'd see my mother getting frustrated, dragging me from store to store, hoping for the right pants to fit my extreme-pear shaped figure.
I'd shot up to a 24/26 misses size--where I'd stay until around age 26 before the fun really began and a size 12-13 shoe. Being 5'11, I stood taller then 80% of the boys I'd meet, and a good deal heavier too; but how could I stage-manage my height, when the weight was ever present.
I'd dream of cutting off my toes and shrinking into the "petite' drawer where all the popular girls resided. Truthfully, I hardly felt like a girl, when they were supposed to be cute, thin and smaller then men.
Adding to my misery, the larger women's clothes were usually ill-fitting, too short, and locked into those mysterious half sizes for the "stocky and short". In the mid-80s of axis of Calvin Klein, Guess and Gloria Vanderbilt, my grandma styled shirts with those weird useless tabs on the sleeves, men's shoes and "high water pants" only cemented my low high school status.
The pattern never changed with my mother admonishing me as she fit pants over hips that outpaced my waist by 10 inches. That didn't include my arms--always too long for the '80s blazers--causing my mother to tell me, "you have very long arms!"
Other times I'd hear, "Soon you will be wearing muu-muus", or "What will you do for clothes when you get too fat to buy any?" since I was at the tippy top of the size scale for the 16 Plus shop. Such one-liners became an unpleasant reality when I shot up past my mother's 18-20 size during my junior year. It couldn't be any fun for her either, but not surprisingly, these trips ended with me getting mad or in tears, and my mother fuming about the weight that refused to come down: "Don't you want to be able to wear pretty clothes?"
I'd shoot back, "Why don't they just make them in larger sizes?"
But even the plus sized stores, it seemed, were prejudiced against my upper end of the scale. For years, I noticed the odd size 24 mingled with the endless colors of size 14-20 styles-even though I was seeing plenty of older women my size too.
Everything seemed made for extremely short fat women with big bosoms, not fat tall, extremely flat chested and large hipped women like myself. I dreamed of flowing fabrics, long dresses and tunics, but felt consigned to my mother's taste for Oxford shirts and narrowing jeans--everything unforgiving of a large figure. Even then I wouldn't find any dresses that fell below my knees until the mid-90s.
When I got out of the house and become free to make my own fashion choices, I started buying more dresses and started breaking the constricting fashion rules I was brought up with such as the odd rule that one had to wear uncomfortable nylons every time they wore a dress. Those things were abysmal.
Into the 90s there become more choices for clothes but even then they were hard won. I would travel 20 miles to this one specialized clothing store that catered to large women, dropping 400 bucks [a huge amount of money for me] to buy decent dresses. Most of what the mainstream plus size stores offered was far too masculine, boring, too form fitted and "tailored". Walk into those places, you see a couple dresses on the far wall, and there's nothing but jeans and construction worker clothes!
Most of these places make the mistake of just making the thin women's styles "bigger" which doesn't mean on a fat women they will be flattering. Wide waist bands on pants? Come on! , these pants if anything will make a woman look far fatter. Culottes? Do not get me started. One thing I'd love to tell the plus sized moguls, do not design dresses with top to bottom buttons for fat women! Why are most of these dresses so short?!
Modern fashion has lost a lot of zing, and gotten uglier and uglier, where it seems we have gone to a place of everything look like it's from the 80s but shorter and tighter. OK, so maybe I dress like it's 1890 but at least I can move around and bend over without everything being put on display. What is it with those tops that are cinched in right under the bust, that make everyone overweight look pregnant?
Also someone needs to tell women over size 18, jeans are not flattering! Actually I do not think they are flattering to anyone! If anything has become the new Maoist uniform for American it is blue jeans! I'm bored even seeing them on everyone! Adding high heels to the picture, doesn't help either, it just looks tacky.
Today, I wear all dresses, yes there is some practicality to it, weighting 500lbs and trying to hoist some pants over your rear-end, isn't easy. Pants on a body shaped like mine look ludicrous. I buy my clothes special made from couple stores that specialize in the ultra plus sized woman. The main one already mentioned is sancutarie. but there are deals to be found on ebay too.