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.