Sunday, March 29, 2009

Experience - Dress Shopping for the Larger Sizes

"I don't get it. You have a good sense of style but there's nothing for you." - Sumo

Recently, Elder-Beerman concluded their Good Will Sale. Reader, friend and shopping partner Sumo and I decided to check out the goods on the last day of the sale. Right off the bat, I purchased to Perfumes: Dolce & Gabbana The One (LOVE but it's almost too light) and Stella McCartney Stella (I found out later I was allergic and had to return it). Sumo also purchased Chanel Coco Madomoiselle so the evening wasn't a total loss... but I get ahead of myself.

I have a wedding to attend next month for a friend of my husband's who stood up in our wedding. I don't have a thing to wear that would be appropriate for such a joyous occasion. Since we had plenty of 20% off coupons Sumo and I started browsing dresses. First of all, there were lots of really ugly dresses. This season's color palette as stocked in Elder-Beerman is depressing. Not many brights, lots of browns and greens (but not pretty browns and greens), some ugly orange-reds (which I can't stand). Funny 70's inspired patterns. It quickly turned into a game of "Which dress comes in a size 16 or maybe a 14?" Sometimes, when you're desperate, that's all you can do - hunt for your size.

There wasn't much to choose from. Basically my choices were wear hideous bathrobe imitations, mumu pup tents or look like a "Stepford Wife", as Sumo put it. Only two dresses ended up actually fitting and looking somewhat decent but neither were winners in my eyes. So we left and headed over to Macys.

And in the Dayton Mall, let me tell you - the difference between walking through Elder-Beerman's drab, dull, worn out store and going into Macys is astounding. It's like Macys is a shining becon of hope in comparison.

At Macys, we avoided the MAC Cosmetics counter at my insistance because I'd already made two purchase that week and just couldn't forgive myself for spending more on MAC without coming home with a dress. So we oogled the extremely short but fun juniors selection (the types of dresses my husband still insists he wants to see me in that would be completely inappropriate for someone who's in their 30s let alone a size 16) before moving on to more suitable hunting grounds. We found the same Jessica Howard dress style at Macys as at Elder-Beerman but the prints were so much better! That still didn't change the fact that I had no hope of fitting into their size 14. So we continued wandering.

We went around the store until we came upon I.N.C. I tried on a couple of XL dresses that we ended up not considering because they were just too casual. Defeated we left Macys.

As we wandered back to Elder-Beerman and our car we ended up passing Lane Bryant. Before this night I had never set foot in that store. As I told Sumo, it would be like "admitting defeat". Well, defeated I was so in we went. Every dress I tried on there fit or was too big (as Size 14 in a Plus size store is VERY different from a size 14 in a department store - it's like they expect you to have watermelons attached to your chest). Every dress came down to around my mid calf - the exact place you don't want dresses to hit you unless you're 80 years old or you want your legs to look like tree trunks. For example, the dress on the right was one I tried. I'm short- it doesn't fit me right. Plus it just reminded me of old women's clothing (with a slightly sexier top). The fabric was sort of icky. It wasn't as bad as the first dress I tried on though - they don't even have that on their website. There weren't many dresses to choose from and the ones they had I did't like. So again, we left defeated.

On the way back to the car, I remarked to Sumo that now she had experienced what it was like to be a larger girl shopping for clothing - not much fits and what does fit is just not pretty. It's hard to feel good about how you look when you're faced with these choices. Sumo responded that she felt sorry for me. I told her not to feel sorry for me, that I got myself into this mess and I'm going to get myself out of it. Feeling sorry isn't going to help me do that.

But to all the designers out there, I wish you'd start paying more attention to how women's bodies carry weight. We don't grow linearly, so quit making your designs size up in a linear fashion. And we larger women are worthy of having beautiful clothing too. Quit thinking that you only have to design for those who are 40 and up - some of us exist who are younger than that. I am not my mother (and my mother dresses better than the options you are currently providing).

And yes, I fully realize that I have not tried every dress out there - I know there is some fabulously larger clothing options. I just don't know where to find them. But occasionally I will see people wearing them.

So this trip was an astounding failure. But at least I got one good perfume out of it.