Friday, June 12, 2009

Oh the sizes I have been (Plus some pictures!)

There has been some chatter lately about how plus sized clothing lines are being phased out in this economy. The XX Blog over on Slate has a good explanation of why, but I wouldn’t call the 16 at Ann Taylor a plus size.

A Universal Truth — ALL women have a hard time finding clothes that fit. It takes time and effort and requires some thought to your own sense of personal style. I have been a continuum of sizes as we’ve moved through the seasons through the years. I have tried on thousands of items of clothing. I often used the big open room that used to be the woman’s changing room at the Basement in DT crossing even when I was still a true plus size. Feeling good about yourself starts (for me anyways) with looking good on the outside. I didn't care who saw me there, most only saw me with my clothes on and you wouldn't believe the number of times I have heard, "You don't look like you've lost all that weight!"

I was 20/22W during my plateau at 240ish in my mid twenties, it was a weight I knew before in high school but years later my body was a different shape. At my largest I was 30W at Lane Bryant and during my thinnest, buffest days I was a 6 at Banana Republic. That was only on top of course, the skirt to match the suit jacket was an 8, a stretch then at 152. My dimensions changed with my weight, at one time I was larger around than I was tall but when I revisited that weight on the way back down, that was no longer the case. It has gotten easier over the years to mask my awkward shape as my body weight came closer to the most common. I do expect it to be easier now with the plastic surgery to buy pants, skirts and dresses. Click here and here for pictures of what was in my way.

I don't find it odd that plus sized clothing sales are down 8% compared to 2% for normal sized women in this economy. If I was still heavy, I'd be wearing out what I had simply because it was more difficult and way more time consuming to find new clothes that fit well. As I explained based on my own personal experience I understand how difficult it must be to design for a smaller number of women with a larger variance in their proportions. For example, Lane Bryant did not design clothes for me. Yes they fit, but I did not have the chest that their designers assume all large women have. Dresses had darts and pleats that looked all wrong and the rise of their pants, always awkwardly high. Designer lines like the Lauren Ralph Lauren and the former Elizabeth also had similar fit issues. Think matronly. When I got down to goal I found I had the same but slightly different problem, but it was hard to fault the clothing companies. No one has the now thin but formally fat on their mind when designing clothes, and so while it was hard to find things that disguised my problem area it wasn't the nearly impossible task it was when I was 200-345 pound.

In the end it's all about fit. Anyone can look good regardless of size, it just takes some time and thought. Sadly, a little more of both the larger we are.

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