Fat Money $pends

By: Cassie Goodwin

It’s a very particular kind of conundrum to be a fat girl who loves clothes. Considering the way I dress day to day, most people would assume I have no interest in fashion at all. My work wardrobe is all based around three or four classic (black) pieces, and even on the weekends I don’t usually get much more adventurous than a nerdy t-shirt with a skirt. But it’s not because I don’t love fashion; I actually really enjoy flicking through the photos from runway show. Additionally, though I don’t often subscribe to current trends, I’m always interested to know what they are. I’ve inadvertently taken in a lot of horrible Cosmo advice in the name of checking out what colours are in this season. The main reason my wardrobe was so sparse previously was that I simply couldn’t afford to expand it. I’ve been an unfortunate mix of unemployed, studying, or working part time for the last ten years or so, and I simply never had the spare cash. But at the start of last year I finally got a job that paid me enough to give me some spending money, and I was overjoyed to explore the world of clothes I hadn’t been able to access before. However, as it turned out, I still couldn’t access the clothes I wanted.

You know the old adage, “Fast, cheap, done well – pick two?” Well, this saying seems to ring especially true when it comes to plus size shopping. You really can only pick two, as it seems to be the case that the clothing will either fit, be beautiful, and be way too expensive, or be affordable, fit, and be wholly unflattering. The wonderful world of online shopping is the only place I have been able to reliably find garments that fit all three categories. I haven’t bought any substantial amount of clothes at brick and mortar stores since I got financially stable, just because there is nothing there to buy.

There are several low cost “girly” chains around in my city , and they have a bunch of relatively trendy stuff for reasonable prices. Unfortunately, they only go up to size 14, and that’s a SMALL 14. Due to my comparatively teeny waist, I can often squeeze into their stretchy tops, or the ones that are supposed to be oversized and drapey on “normal” women. But their pants, skirts? Not a chance.

Even the more pricey stores that carry fashionable clothes have no interest in catering to women like me. The last time I went into one of the more expensive stores, I saw a skirt I liked and asked the saleslady if they had a size 18. She gave me the longest, slowest eyeballing before sneering and replying, ”No, we don’t carry sizes that large. We only go to size 16.” The emphasis was very much on the LARGE part, managing to give me the impression with a mere intonation that the size I had asked for was extraordinarily large, and that perhaps I should try a costumier for whales instead. This, “keep your money fatty” attitude is why I tend to keep a list in my head at all times of places that are even worth sticking my head into. There are certain stores where I have literally never even looked at the clothes, ever, because I know there is no point.

There are some shops that cater my size. Most of them proudly declare in the window the “wide” range of sizes they carry – I say “wide” in inverted commas because adding two extra sizes to the standard range isn’t exactly what I would call groundbreaking stuff. But almost without exception these stores seem to assume that anyone with the audacity to be bigger than a model obviously has no interest in fashion whatsoever. I mean, if people bigger than a typical model WERE interested in fashion, why would they let themselves get so fat?

This means if I want clothes in my size from a brick and mortar store, I pretty much have to dress like a middle aged suburbanite. Flowy tops with big prints all over them, nice smart front crease slacks, turtlenecks and button up shirts with a sensible, straight black skirt – these are apparently the entirety of my options. Honestly, what is it with plus size clothing and enormous prints anyway? Jamming giant, garish flowers all over a dress does not make us look any smaller, and we ALL know that. So why, WHY am I unable to find a plain, nicely cut work top that doesn’t make me look like a waitress at a particularly tacky tiki bar?

I gotta tell you that this, if physical stores ever wonder why they are failing, it is because of all these complaints I’ve just vented and more. Fatties have money too, you know, and if you won’t carry our sizes and if your salespeople eyeball us with disgust, you BET we’re going to take our money straight to sites like Domino Dollhouse (pictured above) and give you the finger on our way out the door. And we’ll look good doing it, too.

Cassie is a thirty something Australian with an enormously chequered past, who can be found spouting her endless opinions all over the internet. Her opinions are largely confined to The Reluctant Femme at present, but if you feel like you need a constant stream of it, she can also be found on Twitter (@anwyn) and Google Plus.

Inspired by Art Herstory: Romaine Brooks’ ‘Self-Portrait’ (1923).

We found this image here.

“The imagery of intellectually and physically powerful femininity and that of the lesbian New Woman of the early twentieth century intersect in Brooks’s paintings which rely on the imagery of cross-dressing. In her Self-Portrait of 1923, she shows herself rigidly contained against a landscape of ruined buildings. The face is mask like, the eyes shadowed by the brim of a top hat, one gloved hand clenched in front of her. The gaze is watchful, the costume stylish but severe. Combining the thematics of romantic independence and endurance, and the sartorial signs of wealth and independence, Brooks produces a powerful female image.”

-Whitney Chadwick in Women, Art, and Society (1996).

Inspired by Romaine Brooks

White button shirt, 66 CAD / Wallis black jacket, 35 CAD / Vero Moda short mini skirt, 38 CAD / High heels, 60 CAD / Fur handbag, 53 CAD / Yellow gold jewelry, 3,920 CAD / Mauro Grifoni glove, 64 CAD / Diesel , 145 CAD

 

BONUS: We think Brooks might have approved of Marni’s pref-fall 2013 collection–lots of menswear-inspired silhouettes and bold shapes.

Fashion Behaving Badly: Factory Fires

There has been a lot of attention lately on the tragic factory fires that were caused in the name of producing clothing. Most specifically, the fire in Karachi, Pakistan in September, the fire in Tazreen, Bangladesh in November, and most recently, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

These fires are tragic, and many lost their lives or family members. There have been many fingers pointing to who is responsible for these fires. Here are some things to consider, we’ll leave it up to you to mull over this one:

1. Designers personally taking responsibility for starting the fire.

2. Unsafe working conditions for ‘third-world’ citizens.

3. Garment workers are protesting their working conditions, and some suggest they are doing so by sabotaging their workplaces.

3. Capitalism, or the real cost of fast fashion.

4. Does our desire for the latest trends and styles overshadow the need for the safety of other human beings?

5. Would making clothes here at ‘home’, or in the west be better/safer/more ethical?

6. Have we learned nothing from history?

 

 

A Tale of Two Sisters Shopping

By: Emily Yakashiro

So last night I went shopping at Metrotown in Burnaby, BC with my sister, Husky Jane (a nick name with a cute story and long history behind it). She had asked me to help her pick out some new clothes. Being the self-declared fashionista of the family (shameless, I know), I was eager to help out. My sister’s style is a lot different from mine, and we have completely different figures. HJ is curvy, I am not–at all. I went shopping with her knowing this of course, I’ve been shopping with her a ton of times before. However, this time it really struck me how tough it can be to find cute, colourful clothing for someone who is not a size 0 or XS.

IMG_1479

Above: Husky Jane, left and me on the right (we’re fixing a duvet cover in this pic)

HJ had several limits on what she would not wear which I didn’t fight much: no sleeveless tops, no collars, no bright colours, no peplum anything, no skirts or dresses, nothing too low-cut. Well, unfortunately for us, a LOT of stuff in stores looked like this:

Above: H&M

Above: Forever 21

So, not exactly stuff that my sister was into. Then there were a lot of sheer, blouse-y tops (like the ones above) with short sleeves which we had more success with, like the ones below:

Above: Forever 21

The problem with these flowy, boxy tops was that they tended to highlight parts of my sister’s body that she didn’t exactly feel like showcasing, or they hung on her funny, or just gave her no figure whatsoever.

So, shopping proved a bit difficult. There were lots of great casual shirts, but she was looking for something a bit dressier and appropriate she could wear to church. HJ was getting increasingly frustrated, while I was having a great time finding tons of great things.

Then it hit me:

1. I can really walk into any store, and I can pretty much always find something that will fit me perfectly and look good.

2. I can wear whatever trend I want if I really wanted to and feel comfortable: peplum tops and skirts, floral pants, collared sleeveless drapey blouses, dresses without structure, sequin minis, etc.

3. When I do find whatever I want to wear, I don’t have to worry about the shape wear I could wear underneath the given item of clothing.

4. I don’t have to fit the clothes or worry about my shape too much, my body is pretty much the model body designers often use to make clothes in the first place.

5. I very rarely have to worry about alterations to first-hand clothing.

Bottom line: I have a LOT of privilege this way, whereas my sister does not. Our culture values and prizes my figure, and wants to show it off, while on the other hand it wants to hide or conceal my sister’s figure. A shopping trip that was fun and a total breeze for me was trying for my dear sister. Now, to be honest, HJ is a picky shopper and is a modest dresser, if we had dropped even the latter, she would have had an easier go of it. But then again–why should she have to compromise her tastes? With all the variety and choice available in a HUGE mall like Metrotown, why were there so few stores carrying things for my sister’s figure, while I had endless variety?

5 Easy Styling Tricks

We found the image above here.

1. Have glitzy or heavy stud earrings that you don’t want on your ears? Pin them to tips of your collar to add a bit of shine. Better yet, follow this DIY and turn those earrings into a sweater clip!

2. Try tying your scarf a different way! Wendy Nguyen of Wendy’s Lookbook made a great video on 25 Ways to Tie a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes!

3. Belt a long, printed scarf over the rest of your outfit (like Miroslava Duma, below). Adds colour, looks sharp.

We found this image here.

4. If you’re wearing a monochrome or neutral outfit, switch out your basic black shoes for red, blue, or leopard print ones! Subtle, but failproof-really!

5. Okay, so this one is kind of cheating because it’s not a tip so much as a resource, but it’s well worth your while to head on over to Who What Wear and watch their quick (most are 2 minutes or less!) styling videos. Many focus on trendy pieces (velvet, leather, peplum anyone?) that are trickier to style.

 

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