Janey

Fat Fashion – I can feel a rant coming on.

 

I can feel a rant coming on.

I have a love-hate relationship with the fashion industry.  I love fashion, you see. Clothing, shoes, handbags, jewellery – I salivate just thinking about it. I grew up reading Vogue, watching trends emerge and then change just as rapidly. We have stacks of books at my place on the history of fashion. My mum and I watch old Hollywood musicals, just so we can talk about the clothing. Well, also to ogle Fred Astaire; he’s dreeeeamy. Fashion though? It’s something I have grown up with. The idea of wearing something beautifully crafted that enhances my (let’s face it) already pretty fabulous body makes me tingle with excitement.  I even recently downloaded an Iphone application that lets me view shots from fashion shows around the world. 

The fashion industry, as most people already know, are notorious for their unrealistic and often unhealthy body image ideals. Eating disorders, size-ism, drug addiction, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The fat-hatred bombards both ready-to-wear and couture lines, with nearly everything in higher-end stopping at or below size twelve Australian. Oh my god, the RAGE.  Do you know how I feel?  I feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, when those bitchy saleswomen wouldn’t let her shop.  Her kind wasn’t welcome, despite having money to spend.  Hey fashion designers?  I HAVE MONEY TO SPEND, DAMMIT.  WHY WONT YOU TAKE MY MONEY?!?!  Granted, it’s not as much money as I would like, but what I do have, I plan on investing in fashion.  Because it’s an investment in myself. Wearing something I love makes me feel UHMAZING, in so many different ways. 

I have a stunning red dress that I spent a very pretty penny on last year, but was happy to do so because the garment looks fantastic on me.  I call it “Magic Dress” because every time I wear it people smile at me, and luck always turns my way. Of course this has nothing to do with the dress itself; I know that.  But when I wear something that fits me properly, something that feels as though it was made for me, my confidence skyrockets.  Unfortunately even when I have the dosh, the pickings are slim here in Australia. (haha, slim.)

 

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It appears to me fatties aren’t welcome in fashion.  We are chunkier versions of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.  Our kind?  Not welcome here. Particularly in Australia, it seems fat people aren’t seen as fashion forward or daring with their style choices.  All our choices are to hide and cover up and “flatter” our bodies. Australian fashion’s definition of flatter is cover up, it seems.  Maude forbid we be proud of our appearance. I mean, isn’t it society’s problem if they don’t like my jiggly bits? Why do I need to change myself??  Why can’t I wear what I want to wear? 

Fat women are given potato sacks with asymmetrical everything and newspaper print polyester. Fat men are given Hawaiian shirts that are not only fug, but also terrible quality. If you like asymmetrical polyester hawaiian prints, then hey have at it. But that’s all there is.  THAT IS ALL THERE IS FOR US.  If we want to wear something different, our choices are to pay through the nose and have it custom made, or have it shipped from overseas (usually with high shipping prices, and the likelihood that the item may not even fit when it arrives.)

I know so many people who are fabulous and STYLISH fats, despite the severe lack of fashion choices. Each of these men and women have personalities as different as the bajillion designers out there. It is so frustrating to me (and I’m sure them) that there are comparatively few options for fats, given the number of us in the world. I mean, if the obesity epidemic (OOGA BOOGA) is increasing, why aren’t our fashion choices? Perhaps it’s because there isn’t an obesity epidemic – but i digress.

How do we fix this?  Designers say that larger sizes aren’t catered to because it costs too much to produce, and/or that there aren’t enough sales within the area to financially justify production. I don’t know about you, but I buy clothing a LOT.  And I’d be prepared to pay more and buy more if it’s good quality and well designed. There just hasn’t been anything out there that’s nice enough to buy. Believe me, I know, I look nearly every day. And sure I’d like low cost options TOO, but it shouldn’t be one or the other, you know? I feel cheated if I purchase accessories from somewhere like Guess or Chanel, when I know full well that plus size clothing at those stores aren’t available to me. 

And is it a “Chicken or the Egg” scenario?  Fats don’t purchase the fashion out there because the fashion out there is fug, and then businesses think there isn’t a market and thus stop producing it. How do we pass on the message that we’d purchase their clothing if they simply made larger versions of the straight sizes, instead of creating clothing especially for fats that mainly consist of tent-clothing. Can someone please get it into retailers and designers heads that fats have just as much style as straight size?  I know the fat-o-sphere  are amazing in terms of expressing their individual styles, but sometimes I want to shake the fashion industry and go “Hey! Fats are people too!” I’d ask whether or not straight size people would ever wear the options we are given. Why are fats relegated the realm of fugitude when everybody else gets to look all shiny and tailored? 

We deserve the right to own clothing that makes us feel awesome. We deserve the right to own the different styles and makes that thinner people get to choose from.  We deserve fashion rights, full stop.

 

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  • http://blog.themerchgirl.net Tiara the Merch Girl

    It's not just fats. As long as you're not model-skinny, no good clothes for you. In Malaysia anything beyond a size 8-10 is XXL and therefore everyone gets Hawaiian sackcloth. There are some designers that are aware enough of the fact that people have _curves_ (you could be tiny but have a C cup or higher bust, which makes you “fat”) and design cool clothes, but they're either hard to find or quite pricey.

    I've heard people say “oh, that's the ideal we design to”. Why? Why is that? It can't be a “saving cloth” issue, because how much of a difference would that make? What's the big problem with just drawing a few extra inches, and playing along with that?

  • http://lolitaofmoderntimes.blogspot.com/ lolitaofmoderntimes

    OMG, you juste made my day! Everything you're saying is absolutely horrible, terrible… why? Because it is true! I just moved from France, where + size fashion is “becoming” ok, to New Zealand, and I'm just freaking out… NZ has the 3rd highest pourcentage of “obesity” in the world, and there is almost nothing in fashion for plus size, ok, there are some shops, but not really a choice, you have the (very) expensive and old-looking, and the cheap and bad quality… And at least, Evans ships to Australia, ah ah, guess what, for NZ… they don't? Why? I have no bloody idea, but it really piss me off… Anyways… I don't get it, there would be so many customers,ready to spend tons of money (mainly because we've been waiting so long to be able to do so….ah ah), we even ask to be the target, I want to be a new target for the fashion industry, and I definitely feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman… For example in Europe, there are fat women (gosh, I said the F word!!!) who do organize week ends in London, yes, they organize shopping trips!!!! Why? Because Oxford street is th only street in the world where you can be plus size and do some shopping without feeling rejected by the fashion industry, and this is great, being able to go in most of the shops and find your size, and find different styles, etc… But why one street, why? And why in Oceania it seems that there is a real problem with plus size fashion in general, I just don't get it…. I want to shake things, I just don't know how to do it, but I really think that we should do something, there must be something to do, we just can't contemplate the situation and keep on being pissed off… We deserve fashion rights, let's go get them!

    (gosh, I 'really hope u understood my english, lol)

    Sarah
    ~ Lolita of modern times ~

  • Malia

    I completely agree, Tiara. Are you from Malaysia, too? I've never been more than 5 pounds overweight and currently I am at the very low end of the BMI scale for my height. Yet in Malaysia I'm still considered average to chubby. When I was a size 8, I could barely find any cheap clothes here; the only clothes I could buy were the more expensive imported clothes from countries which actually produce size 8s. And when I was a size 10, it was impossible to find anything. I completely agree that everyone deserves clothes that fit, but it sometimes frustrates me to hear people complaining on other blogs about not having size 20 and up, while I used to struggle to find size 10 clothes.

    This is in no way a tirade against this post, though, or anyone who complains about not finding clothes which fit, and I hope that's clear. Everyone deserves to be able to find clothes that they like, and which fit them.

  • La_di_Da

    YES! THIS.

    It's a small thing but I'm glad City Chic exists now, at least. I would have killed to have a store like that when I was a teenager. Sure the clothes aren't that well made and are a bit pricey for the quality, but so's Sportsgirl and and all the non-plus stores with youth fashion.

    I think I said this in an earlier comment, but I blame Maggie Tabberer for the big 'n' boxy potato sack look. OK, not her personally, I actually feel sorry for her that when she put on weight after stopping modelling, she felt the need to hide in great swathes of fabric. Taking Shape (or TS14+ or whatever it's called these days) is pretty much the same only with “boho” stylings. My Size and Autograph are like the cheap version of Maggie T. (I'll give one thing to the Maggie T clothes, they are usually made of good quality fabrics.) Sara is marginally trendier, but still cut big 'n' boxy. Yarra Woman, Expressions, blah blah blah BIG N BOXY BIG N BOXY. Don't even speak to me about Target “Options Plus” AKA No Options and KMart etc. Big Wah is surprisingly OK sometimes, like knockoff City Chic.

    Although, in the past couple of months I have found that Big W has actually started increasing their range of underwear for fat ladies, and I don't mean just getting in a new shipment of size 26 Cottontails. There are a decent number of cute bras and kickers that even MATCH in there now in sizes 16-24 C-DD. (Still waiting on larger cup sizes though, but it's a start.) Who'd have thunk it? I guess Big W is less ashamed to have fat chicks in the shop than David Jones, who have a range of plus size lingerie that is just rubbish – one rack of beige and white scratchy nylon lace monster truck bras, one maybe one or two Maggie T bras which are less monstrous but still FULL COVERAGE.

    I have a friend who is nearly 6 feet tall, not model skinny but by no means even chubby, either, and she wears a size 14 on top and 16 on the bottom. She buys pretty much everything she wears from the internet because apparently size 14, even if you are 183cm tall, is OMG FATZ.

    So I have given up on retail and am getting out my sewing machine again. It is a complete lie that fat fashion is somehow harder to make than skinny fashion. I have sewn for people of all shapes and sizes and there's no noticeable difference, really. You use a little more fabric for size 26 and up, especially in home sewing, as bolts of fabric are at most 150cm wide, but that's about it. It's like there's this great pretense that you need to buy special heavy duty thread and industrial strength canvas for anything bigger than size 12 otherwise you will have fatties busting out all over, and it's a terrible strain on the designer's wrist having to draw a slightly bigger model in the graphics, and ew they might have to think about fat people. Oh what a terrible tragedy. It would also help if shops actually advertised the fact that they sell plus sizes and didn't hide them in the Corner of Shame behind the lawnmowers or something.

  • http://www.nicholasperkins.com/blog/ Nicholas Perkins

    Perhaps there needs to be a group of people being intermediaries and helping to forward on Evans stuff from Australia to NZ?

  • http://www.nicholasperkins.com/blog/ Nicholas Perkins

    Man, I'm so over the Hawaiian shirts. I just do not even go there. I think in some ways I am lucky. I can get away with looking a little less fancy than if I was a girl. But sometimes a man just wants to look fancy dammit!

  • http://blog.themerchgirl.net Tiara the Merch Girl

    Yup! You're a size 8 and _you're_ having trouble finding clothes? Geez, I would have thought size 8 was _tiny_. What the hell is being sold at the boutiques then, negatives?

    I'm a size 13 (well, 12 or 14 depending on who you ask) so finding stuff is tricky. The nice stuff never fits, bah.

  • http://deeleigh.livejournal.com/ deeleigh

    I've been wearing plus sized clothing for 30 years (wow!) and have lived in the US and Canada. I've given this issue a lot of thought over the years, and I think I understand the problem.

    Plus sized women look best in tailored, fitted clothes, but we're also a variety of different shapes: everything from pears with tiny waists and big thighs, hips and butts and small boobs to apples with big boobs and bellies, big waists, and small hips, butts and thighs. The only way to make clothes that all of us can wear is to make them tent-like, make them adjustable, and/or be a genius with tailoring and be willing to exclude some shapes.

    Jones New York is brilliant at making tailored plus-sized clothes that fit most plus-sized women. I have a tailored wool Jones New York jacket with a belt – no stretch – that fits my pear-shaped body perfectly and also fits a friend of mine at work who's my size, but shaped like a cylinder. Both of us look stunning in it. You almost never run across clothes like that, though. It must take a lot of skill to design them, and Jones is an expensive brand. I'd imagine they have designers with solid technical training.

    Tie-backs, buckles, belts, and fabric with stretch make clothing more adjustable, and they're easier than complex tailoring. I wish that more plus-sized clothes had ways to adjust the waist, but things are better now than they were in the past. Some clothing is obviously designed with a particular shape in mind, and that works well, too – but it diminishes the potential market. Probably the best way to deal with variations in shape is to custom tailor everything, but that's expensive. I've come to accept it, though. At this point, I'm having most of my clothes professionally altered. I buy them off the rack and then (for example) get the arms or legs shortened and the waist taken in. It would be great if there was a reasonably priced plus-sized shop with onsite tailoring.

  • http://corpulent.wordpress.com/ Frances

    This is an awesome post. I was reading through it going “Yep… yep… yep…”

    Except for this part: “Well, also to ogle Fred Astaire; he's dreeeeamy.”

    Gene Kelly > Fred Astaire. Always. Both dancing and looks. THERE, I SAID IT.

  • http://kristiecunningham.com/ Kristie

    Amen.

    I will say that, if you look around and find a good, fair seamstress, custom clothing isn't that much more expensive, if you consider the multiple items in your closet that you bought and ended up never wearing because the fabric was cheap, or they fell apart, or the cut never was quite right and it just felt funny on. You add up enough of those dogs, and you've got yourself a brand-new custom-made dress that fits you perfectly. Well worth it. If I could sew, I'd do everything custom. However, I was not gifted with sewing talent. I tried and I suck at it.

  • http://www.HandbagOutletsOnline.com/ Handbag Outlets Online

    Agreed. I always notice that designs I like are only available in “normal/skinny” sizes. It's completely unfair because I think some dresses would look AWESOME on me. It's just how society is, hopefully we get over it one day.

  • nitrojane

    I agree about Gene Kelly, he's the cat's meow. BUT I do watch more films with Fred in them, purely because he did more! If I had to choose it'd definitely be Gene, though.

  • Forestroad

    I live in the US so I can usually find places that sell plus-size in store, but some of the better stuff comes from the UK. In a place like Oceania, wouldn't it be nice if instead of paying all that return shipping for stuff that doesn't fit, you could open up stores in your own community of everything that would have been sent back otherwise?

    I'm not a plus-size anymore, but I have a new rant related to the “so much extra fabric it's too expensive!” argument. That would be the length of pants. I am 5'5″, which is above average height for a woman. Granted, I have short legs and a long torso, but why-oh-why is every pair of jeans I try on a full 5 inches too long for me?! Are there really lot of little people 4' high being counted into the average to bring it down, and median height is really like 5'10″ or something? I don't think so! At one store I shop at a lot, pants come in different lengths (ankle, regular, and long), and I can usually find a pair of “ankle” jeans that come to my heel, but I think that the rise on those jeans is different too so they end up hitting lower on my hip and the fit is all different, usually meaning I have to go up a size but if I go up a size (to a US 12) it is hard to find “ankle” jeans anymore bc apparently all size 12 women are giants, too.

    And, if they can pants in three different designations for bottoms, why not fitted tops in 3 designations like apple, pear, and hourglass?

  • http://stayclassyla.blogspot.com JLopezCostume

    In this instance, I would suggest knocking off. I hate to, considering I am a designer myself, but it's really the only way to show these designers that they're doing something wrong. You won't let me buy your stuff, then my dollars won't go to you/your store.

  • NattieNell

    LOL at asymmetrical clothes. I'm a complete symmetry freak so it makes me cringe big time. The other thing is plus size women's pants in Oz must be ankle length it seems. Being a short lass that makes me look shorter and stumpy.

    I think the comments about there not being enough sales to support it are rubbish. If they actually tried to make nice clothes that made us feel good about ourselves then we would buy more. Durr!

  • jesscar

    I also wanted to note that I LOVE City Chic! Its so great to see fantastic stylish clothes that I actually want to wear in a plus size shop!! Tho I wish they would had more extra small sizes available.

    I'm at that really annoying weight where I'm too big to fit the “normal” young girl shops (eg cant fit into the size 16 at Roads or Sports Girl) but then most of the smalls at City Chic are too big :(

  • louisvuittonreplicahandbags

    Its just not the size meters , whether some one is skimmy or fat ,the market is been ruled by the designers and the companies and the trend is been set by the celebrities who promote the Fashion shows.the cost of the raw fabric and other variable will restricting the designers to make some specific outfit.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah pretty women very take care of their weight. Less weight remain them very charming and beautiful. Now is the generation of fashion. Women use every thing which make them more beautiful like diamond rings, pencil heal shoes and many more things.

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  • gunnygurl

    I feel the same way, I am very tired of the rhetoric that fashion experts spout when it comes to fat people. The fashion industry especially men have been sadistic when it comes to what they constitute as beauty. Male fashion designers only see one kind of woman as their ideal, a thin girl that is just coming out. too tall, too thin and that is supposed to be chic? If you base their taste on European women, for the most part, the women in Europe fit that ideal or did before world war two, but American women, we are solid. Yes, we did at one time want to appeal to that ideal, but it is no longer realistic for us. If only a small percentage of women are a size 0, or less than a size 7, they are hailed as more beautiful, but not women that have more size and substance. We are sick of being looked at as freaks, stared at, commented about should we eat anything, and treated as second class citizens. We know what we look like, and quite frankly put I have a real issue with the bridal industry that has had the super small sizes that are impossible for the average woman to get into, even if she is not quite plus size. The sizes are right out of world war two, when brides were smaller.The only thing these dresses served was to tell women that they can only be happy if they are tall and thin. No wonder women get a complex when they are about to get married for the first time.  I am short and fat, and the dresses that I have checked out over the last year or so, just to do my research, do not do a short, fat woman like me justice. Just putting on several wedding dresses that were A line, supposedly to make me look the best, made me look like an overblown puff pastry. The lady trying to sell me the dress ended up being read the riot act, because I hate flattery, especially from sales people. I asked her for the truth, and her ” Oh you look beautiful routine,” was pure bull. I think it’s good that heavy people are designing clothes for plus size and supersize people. If it were left to the regular fashion industry, they would hide us all in closets so we don’t upset their sense of what looks good to them. From what I have seen the fashion industry in general, some of them should not even be trying to sell that crap to the public not to mention the rich. the freak clothing does nothing for people except make them look more outlandish. Personally, I like to see people dress good, and feel good, but as long as the fashion industry continues to try to destroy fat people’s sense of self worth, they are going to have a battle on their hands with the plus size clothing coming out; and with the plus size women designing now, at least we have an avenue to go to.

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