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andletmetellyouANOTHERTHING | Manolo for the Big Girl

andletmetellyouANOTHERTHING

In addition to Francesca’s comments from yesterday, dear readers I would like you to witness this:

Look, Fat Girls Like Food!

Yeah. That’s a “fat” girl hanging out with a bag of meatballs. Nice one, NYT.

Francesca’s right. That plus size line is going to go the way of the dodo. Even if we DID want to wear them, we’d have to wade through the maternity clothing, past the power tools to the little wedge of retail space afforded to the big girl, conveniently located next to the wrench sets and the irregular sweatsocks.   THEN they’d complain “the market wasn’t supporting us.” You know what I say? GOOD.
The market SHOULDN’T support them. You know who we should be supporting? Boutiques and dressmakers WHO ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT PLUS SIZE WOMEN and give us quality products.

But they’re expeeeeeensive” you say.

Yeah? Really? Well guess what?

Booty.

Hooty.

Hoo.

Good clothes cost good money. If we’re not willing to put down the proverbial meatballs and open our pocketbooks and show designers with our just-as-green money that yes, they CAN make money off a girl with a gut, then what should we expect? They’re not making us clothes as a favor; they want money. So if we accept the lowest common denominator fashion –the stuff that costs them the fewest pennies to produce– then why should they give us anything else?

They think, and rightly so, most big girls don’t have the discipline to save up for one good garment, so they’ll happily sell us cheap and cheerful garbage. After all, everyone knows if we had self-discipline we wouldn’t be fat, right? We should be grateful they’re even making us clothes at all.

Well you know what? I’m tired of it.

AND I’m tired of big girls complaining about how it’s impossible to find good plus size clothes. It’s not. It’s dead easy to find good plus size clothes. It’s just not cheap, and it’s not satisfying in the short term. It takes discipline.

Do you know how many articles of clothing (excluding gowns and unmentionables) I own?

Exactly twenty two.

That’s a dozen dresses, one pair of jeans,  one pair of trousers, a pullover, three cardigan/shrug-type things, three vintage tuxedo jackets and my grandfather’s old Harvard t-shirt which is thoroughly unwearable and held together by nothing but prayer.

Since dresses are my uniform, every single dress I buy must fit the following rules: I need to be able to wear it for at least 3 seasons and in 3 ways: at work, at cocktails, and on a Sunday morning.  It needs to require no inordinately special care, be well-constructed and –most important of all– I need to LOVE it.

If it makes it past all those marks I then ask myself “would this have been chic (not fashionable or trendy; chic) 40 years ago, 30? 20? 10?”

If the answer is yes, I buy it. If the answer is anything but; it goes back on the rack.

As a result, I don’t have very many satisfying shopping trips. Also as a result, I’m the best dressed person most people know.

And here’s another secret: deep down in the black eel-filled recesses of my heart, I am cheap.  If I’m going to buy something I want to buy it once. My soul recoils at the idea of buying something that is designed to be unwearable in a year. A friend of mine who worked at Old Navy told me that most of their clothing is constructed to last two seasons of regular wear. I thought I was going to stroke out.

I paid $130 on sale for the Melissa Masse dress I’m wearing today. It’s cream acetate with large, tight-set black polka dots. The straight skirt hits just below the knees and has bracelet sleeves and a surplice bust. I can –and do– wear it in a variety of ways, twice a month all year long.

The conservative guess as to the average lifespan of one of my dresses is 6 years. so it stands to reason that by the time Daniel Craig tears it off me in a fit of passion sometime in the spring of 2012,  my cost-per-wear will have dropped to $1.35, making it a better value than the $20 Old Navy top, which –when worn with the same regularity through its predicted lifespan– would be $1.67 per wear.

So not only are boutique clothes better looking, they’re less expensive in the long run.

Now I know I’m going to get the same pushback that I always do. Blah blah blah not my lifestyle, blah blah I have kids, blah blah whatever. And you know? That’s fine. There is nothing saying you have to wear nice clothes. If you’re comfortable conveying the messages a fat girl in cheap clothes sends (and they DO send a message) that’s no skin off my nose, but just as the Walmart shopper doesn’t get to complain that the “mom and pops” are going under; the girl who doesn’t support higher end plus-size designers doesn’t get to gripe when they’re being offered nothing but cheap trash.

So let’s prove those dreckmerchants wrong. Let’s show them that fat girls care about quality and refuse to be treated like we’re less worthy of nice clothes than our slim sisters.  Instead of buying that cheap and cheerful cotton frock that’ll be ripped by September, put $10 aside every week and –come fall– buy a beautiful silk sundress you’ll have for years.

They think we spend all day wearing Pooh t-shirts and shoving cake in our mouths? Well guess what? We can put our money there too. Starting now.

39 Responses to “andletmetellyouANOTHERTHING”

  1. Jenny June 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    The only thing I thought when I saw that picture was “Daaaaaang that girl is fine!” I think that’s a good thing.

    As to cost of clothes, I think there’s a place for both more expensive, timeless pieces and cheaper seasonal pieces.

  2. Jenny June 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    Another thing I thought of – because so many plus-size girls are caught in a yo-yo dieting trap (which is another issue in itself that has to be resolved), I think many of us don’t want to spend good money on clothes because we think they won’t fit in six years. That is a symptom of a larger problem, but a reason we may not want to lay out cash for clothes that is worth considering.

  3. Lady June 19, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    well, I will speak up. I’m a person who has little money. it means that the money that i do have to spend on clothes has to be spent judiciously. personally, i like variety. theoretically, i could spend $200 on one well made item, but what would i wear the other 6 days of the week? or on laundry day? I try to buy the best i can afford when it goes on sale. it’s the best i can do. This does not mean that i agree with the cheap trash that is readily available.

    this means, i have a smaller wardrobe of medium priced items that have been bought on clearance/sale. after accessorizing, makeup and hair i look great. I think the key is the whole picture, not just the clothes. the whole person and their personality makes the look.

  4. TeleriB June 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Honest question: Plumcake, do you cut up peaches before you eat them?

    I just ruined a brand-new $70 sweater (Lane Bryant, not exactly boutique, not exactly my old college gear) because I ate a whole peach, the juice dripped and it stained.

    Other things seem to find their way from my mouth to my handy chest-supported drip tray with frustrating regularity. I’m not sure how much of this is the vagaries of life and how much is I eat too fast and without enough care. Can we get a post on polite Southern dining techniques?

  5. Plumcake June 19, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    TeleriB, I do usually cut up peaches or anything that’s going to be drippy, but not always. If I’m eating it whole, I’ll usually put an open napkin underneath it in my hand, sort of like a muffin wrapper. But of course, in clothes like in dating, drips happen, so when I get schmutz on something, I positively rely on Clorox Oxi Magic in the spray bottle. It might take some soaking or a few applications, but it should get out peach juice without a problem.

    Incidentally, one time some hippie spilled peach smoothie on my Hermes scarf. I had to send it Houston to have it removed, but if you can get peach juice (and Lord knows what else was in there) out of $400 silk, you can probably get it out of your scarf without too much difficulty.

  6. Marie Denee June 19, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Amen! And boy do I second that emotion! I balk about this until I am blue in the face(which is quite hard to do) preaching, yelling, defending, why it is so important to invest in quality…

    I think it goes a bit deeper than that though. I think because us plus size curvy divas have been so used to cheap being avaialable, that some do not even know the meaning of quality until they try it on, looking past the price tag!!! It is amazing how many times I have taking people shopping and had them feel the difference!

    I too, got four Melissa Masse dresses on sale for $50 each and let me tell you! OMG! In love! the construction, fit, quality, fabric, and all what goes into quality cllothing is amazing! And you must and need to invest in order to have an amazing wardrobe!

    Get it!!! Two snaps!!!

  7. polianarchy June 19, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    This post is a spectacular call-to-arms. Thank you for it! But wow, you own only twenty-two garments? I’d love a tour of your wardrobe.

    I was similarly dismayed at where Target chose to pose the model. The freezer section really? Why not power tools? Now *that* would be appealing. FWIW, the plus department at my local Target has all but been eradicated. That’s fine, because I’ve been saving all my clothes money to use on Beth Ditto’s new line at Evans.com.

  8. AssertiveWit June 19, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    I think that no matter what size you are, there should be affordable clothes for you. Buying quality clothes is something ALL women should do, no matter the size.

    There should ALWAYS be a happy median anyone can take advantage of when shopping. If I can’t afford to buy a dress for $130, there should be something that costs less that is available and just as nice.

    I was a solid size 10 before I got pregnant and I’m only at a 14/16 and I’m almost 7 months. Granted, there are more places I can shop than say someone who is twice my size but no one should be forced to feel like they HAVE to lose weight if they want a larger variety of affordable quality clothing to wear.

  9. Mrs. Hendricks June 19, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Sing it, sister! I couldn’t agree more, and am in awe of your twenty-two piece wardrobe. Personally, I find that to be aspirational, and I don’t have many more clothes than that. I think this cheap vs. non-cheap issue came upon me slowly; every time I spent a bit more on an article of clothing, it was harder to find something as comparable at Target or wherever. You start to notice how bad the fit it, how cheap the fabric is, and you start thinking, “This twenty dollar t-shirt (or whatever) won’t see the end of July, let alone summer.”

    And dresses! I’ve come to dresses relatively late in life and all I can say is that I’m so happy I got here. They’re wonderful, feminine, dressy and make you feel like a million bucks. Or maybe that’s just me.

  10. Plumcake June 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    Poli, my wardrobe isn’t really all that exciting. Mostly well-cut dresses in black, white, cobalt blue and red. Add three polka dot dresses and one with a big pattern and that’s about it.

    See I really want my dresses to be the canvas on which I build my look. The accessories are the stars and it pays to be creative. I just make sure every single thing I buy is versatile.

    An Hermès scarf (full disclosure: Hermès owns my soul) is expensive at just around $400 a pop BUT give me a black dress, a nice sized brooch and scarf and I can make a dozen different looks just off the top of my head.

    The bifurcated alice band I bought for three dollars yesterday with the gold champagne silk flower on it doesn’t just work as a headband. I can wear it lower on the brow when I want to do a 1920’s Bright Young People look or as a choker, tied in the back with a ribbon. However I wear it, THAT’S going to be the center of attention, just as the scarf or the big brooch or the dark dark red lip color I wear the other days are. The dress is the background.

  11. Plumcake June 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    Assertive Wit, I respectfully disagree:

    “There should ALWAYS be a happy median anyone can take advantage of when shopping. If I can’t afford to buy a dress for $130, there should be something that costs less that is available and just as nice.”

    Why? I can see “almost as nice” but not “just as nice” it costs money to make quality garments. The vendors aren’t going to reduce their markups out of the kindness of their hearts. Thus, something’s gotta give, and it’s going to be quality. If I have ten dollars and I want to buy a steak to grill for dinner, I could probably get a nice rib eye. I shouldn’t expect to be able to buy filet mignon.

    Also, I don’t like this idea of retail obligation. They don’t owe us anything. It’s a business, and we are paying for –among other things– the convenience of not having to make our own clothes. If you want a beautifully made dress for $30, you could make it yourself. If you’re not willing to do that –and I’m certainly not– then you pay for that convenience.

  12. Beth C. June 19, 2009 at 7:31 pm #

    “If you want a beautifully made dress for $30, you could make it yourself. ” Even that would be tricky. Patterns are expensive, yo. Good, well tailored ones, anyway. I actually find it kind of funny everyone thinks making your own clothes is the secret to super cheap dressing. Unless you know how to draft a pattern, which is very different from knowing how to sew, there is still a significant expense involved. Good, quality fabric is not $1.00 a yard, and while sometimes you find something AWESOME in the remnant bin it’s with the same regularity as finding the perfect frock on the Macy’s clearance rack. It happens, but not every day. Granted, it is still cheaper than paying retail, but not quite the savings a lot of people think they’re going to get when they first start out.

    Anyway, I digress.

    Plumcake, overall I agree with you. I also think everyone, skinny and plus size, needs a good tailor. It’s silly to think everything should fit right off the rack regardless of what size you are. Again, it’s the difference between looking fine and, well, looking fine. I think folks of all sizes should skew this way, honestly. Even if you’re a size 2 or whatever, you might have more variety of crap but it’s still CRAP. And it looks it. Forever 21 clothes look cheap and disposable. They just do. They’re counting on the fact that 19-year-olds don’t know or care enough to notice.

    I will say though, with things like plain ol’ T-shirts and such, I must not be very hard on clothes because I’ve had some from Old Navy that I’ve had for years and while they are a bit faded, I guess, they don’t look bad and I wear the hell out of them.

    OK, I’m done. Sorry for the crazy length and slight tangents.

  13. abby June 19, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    OTOH, I agree with you. I think your philosophy of dressing would be better for the planet, everyone’s wallets and everyone’s eyeballs. Most people don’t know how to dress, and it isn’t because of their size. When miles and miles of cheap unflattering clothing is readily available that is what most people are going to end up with.

    But, on the other hand – I want exactly what my thinner sisters are getting – a range of choices. Younger women tend to want trendier and cheaper stuff and that is OK. They should have the option, even if I personally think they shouldn’t. Not everyone is capable of distilling their own style down to its essence, as you seem to have done. But even if they were, it is a process and I’ll bet you made a few mistakes along the way.

    You’ll never convince me it is entirely market driven. The fashion industry is so deeply, historically and hysterically size-ist that I fully believe they would – in fact – cut off their nose to spite their face.

  14. Chantal June 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Ms Plumcake, no offence is intended but I’m very confused. It appears to me that you have exactly one top (a Harvard T-shirt). What do you wear with your pair of jeans? And trousers?

  15. Colleen June 19, 2009 at 9:16 pm #

    I agree with the basic point of this post but the NY Times article wasn’t really about grown women with well-paying careers. It was about young women, as young as high school aged.

    I worked at KMart in high school and bought all of my own clothes, makeup, etc. Even if I did know about cost-per-wear, would I really ever buy an expensive dress, other than for prom? And wouldn’t a middle class 16 year old look a little out of place in an expensive outfit, amongst her F21 and Old Navy-wearing friends?

    As for actual adult women, I still don’t think this is fully realistic for many of us. Ideally it is and theoretically it is but realistically, not really. I wish it was and I always remind people about cost per wear and buying classic items that go the distance but some of us do want trendy pieces that are in style RIGHT NOW and aren’t a huge investment. There’s a definite gap between cheap and cheezy and spendy investment pieces that our thinner friends have access to that plus size women often don’t.

  16. Kimks June 19, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    Sing It Plumcake. My mother taught me at a very young age, “buy timeless quality and you will always be in style.” I have a fairly boring wardrobe- Button up shirts, skirt suits, pant suits a few good dresses, some plain structured T-shirts, Jeans and shorts. I will always have the same wardrobe, and I am always able to go where I need to go in style. With the exception of the few days a year I have to go from my volunteer at the Community Center days to my “got to do a smile and nod ” for my or my husbands firm, I am able to seamlessly move through my days in the same outfit. Its all about the accessories. A great suit can be dressed up or down, a great dress can be dressed up or down, heck, jeans can be dressed up or down. Spend the money on the basics and let your accessories tell the rest of the story.
    Oh– and Keep a cardigan or a blazer of neutral color in your office or car, along with a neutral pair of heels or flats and replacement hose and life will be grand.

  17. Marianne June 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    “Another thing I thought of – because so many plus-size girls are caught in a yo-yo dieting trap (which is another issue in itself that has to be resolved), I think many of us don’t want to spend good money on clothes because we think they won’t fit in six years. That is a symptom of a larger problem, but a reason we may not want to lay out cash for clothes that is worth considering.”

    Jenny, thank you for making this point, it was exactly what I was thinking when reading this post. The only other thing I have to add is that I get very frustrated when trying to purchase clothing on-line, which is where most of the clothing that is the good quality stuff Plumcake talks about is available. I am really very difficult to fit and no matter how carefully I take my measurements, the fact of the matter is that there are LOTS of places who sell clothing for bigger women assuming that the bigger woman has a bigger ass and bigger legs than I do. The last thing I care to do is buy expensive clothing that I then have to return at my own expense when it doesn’t fit. I would be more than willing to spend money on clothing that I can try on before buying it, and I think one of the main problems with plus-sized clothing is the lack of actual stores carrying the stuff. WalMart, Target and Lane Bryant tend to be my only options.

  18. klee June 19, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    I too, am a dress girl and don’t understand why more aren’t: throw one over your head and you’re good to go for just about any occasion. I do not iron, I do not dry clean, hell, I don’t even do zippers and/or buttons.
    I’m going to Italy next week for 3 months, and will travel with one rolling suitcase.
    A few dresses, some scarves, layers, e viola!

  19. Leslie June 20, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    I must say that the majority of my wardrobe money goes to my bras. At no less than $40 a pop (low end) I usually end up spending $250 on about 3 bras and a pair of panties.

    I try not to spend more than $5 on my t shirts because of my work, and the fact that I frequently tear them, splatter them with bleach, or get turmeric or curry on them.

    I lust after dresses from Igigi, but in reality, it just makes more sense for my personal life to spend $30 on a versatile dark denim pencil skirt than $92 on the Starla dress that I’m particularly enamored with.

    So on one hand, I definitely will spend more money on bras, shoes and bottoms, but I am cheap as hell when it comes to my shirts.

    I used to be a size 8 medium. I miss the freedom of walking into a store and being able to find plenty to throw my money down for. I wish for that sort of freedom in my current size 16. I dont particularly feel ashamed of my size, I dont mind my weight gain because of what I came through to be my chubbylovey size. I do however resent that my only choice for a store that is GUARANTEED to have something in my size in most of their styles is Torrid and more than an hour away.

    I am lazy. I admit it. I dont want to deal with ordering online, joyfully opening my new thing!, trying it on, being dissapointed when it doesnt fit and then sending it back, getting a refund or another size only to repeat the process.

    I miss walking into a store, seeing something I love and being able to take it home. I spent far more on my clothing then because I actually was able to find things to buy. Demand met, money exchanged.

    When I find a local store that carries more in my size, I frequent it, and my spending goes up. For me, its ALL about availability. I usually wont buy it if I can only get it online. That annoys me and I think that the companies who only sell plus sizes online can, for lack of a better term, suck it.

  20. C Garner June 20, 2009 at 12:18 am #

    Girl I love it. PREACH!!! I just guest blogged about this for the curvy fashionista. I love it! And if you havent already check out http://www.jibrionline.com…I have had some of her pieces going on 5 years now….chic and timeless…Work!

  21. Rebecca June 20, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    I would cry if the cheap clothes disappeared. I work in manufacturing and wear $20 target and old navy tops and the right fit LB pants (that don’t fit me at all), but I refuse to spend much more on clothing that is going to become very sweaty or covered in grease/oil/paint/holes/chemicals in one shift. In my off time, I like to wear well fitted clothes that are also cheap – my cost per wear is pretty high being that I only wear it 3-4 hours a day.

    Also, while 22 pieces may suffice for a mono-climate geographical region, here in Chicago I require 22 pieces to my COAT to stay warm in -10 degree weather. Six months later, I am down to 2 pieces for the 90 degree 95% humidity weather.

    I know the nice dresses work for you, but they do not work for everyone. I have a (very) few pieces to dress nicely when we go out to dinner or to a movie. For the most part, the cheap flimsy clothes are thin enough to wear to work alone or in warm layers and later on a bike ride and disposable enough that I’m not upset when they die.

  22. Pinky June 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    The NYT meatball picture is unbelievable. Funny how people who pride themselves on appearing politically correct have no problem propagating images like this.

    And I just have to add that Melissa Masse rocks.

  23. JenniferP June 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    Ungh….I want this with all my soul: http://www.melissamasse.com/products/d629

    Here is my problem with most plus-sized clothing, which I do not mind spending money on for quality, but find that even when I buy quality things the fabric is lacking. That’s because it’s POLYESTER.

    In summer. NO.

    This dress: http://www.igigi.com/mia-geo-print-dress.html
    Look: Cute Feel: A SWEATBOX

    This dress: http://www.igigi.com/kamryn-dress-7.html
    Look: SEX BOMB Feel: A SWEATBOX

    A nice business suit! http://www.kiyonna.com/plus-size-clothing/work_wardrobe/98082901
    Look: Polished, flattering. Feel: OMG, GET IT OFF ME

    So it’s like we’re paying more for the designs to fit us, but we’re getting cheap fabric, and that really, really bugs me.

  24. Lisa June 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    Actually, while it’s well-written, I just don’t agree with Plumcake’s argument here, and I’m glad that Twistie wrote a bit of a rebuttal. I have one of rule of shopping, and one rule only: if you like it and it makes you feel pretty, go right ahead on. I am old. I don’t have the time or the energy to walk around believing that every time I appear in public, I’m making a statement for all of fat-girl kind. Maybe Plumcake has that kind of energy, but I don’t. At some point, you dress for yourself. You should always show yourself respect….and for me, that’s not about convincing other people what I am or who I am with my clothing. I dress for me…not to forestall other people’s judgment. If people want to make conclusions about my self-discipline based on my weight, they will. You bet it costs me professionally, but then, so does a lot of things: my husband’s politics got him permanently passed over for promotions in private company after private company. Judgments of you, your life, and your body are everywhere. At some point you have to turn the volume of screaming judgment to zero and live your own life. Some people are stupid; some are mean, some are stupid AND mean. If they think my weight or what I wear is who I am and I’m only acceptable if I meet their standard, then they haven’t met MY standard.

    I like to buy colorful clothing. So that is what I buy.

    Which brings me to the image of the beautiful girl with the meatballs. She’s lovely. I’d ditch the white cardi because I simply don’t like them, but she’s fine. And you know what? Sometimes people eat meatballs. Thin people eat meatballs and fat people eat meatballs. Sometimes people eat cake. While you can spend your time worrying and keeping up appearances and trying to pretend that fat people don’t eat…in reality, it’s just cake. It’s just a food. While our society can make it into a huge, crazymaking brainfrack of who deserves to eat what and when, the reality is…it’s sugar and flour and eggs. That’s all it is. If that’s all you can see when you see me and cake, then….that’s sad. And not for me.

  25. Fabrisse June 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    I haunt consignment shops to find materials I will actually wear at prices I can afford.

    Polyester is no one’s friend, but wool, linen, cotton, and silk tend to be pricey. One thing is to register at Talbot’s or whichever stores carry the styles and fabrics you like. The chances are good they will send out coupons, pre-sale offers, in-store discounts, and shipping discounts all of which will let you get your high quality clothing at a lower cost.

    Buy summer stuff for next year at the end of the season. Do the same thing in reverse for your winter clothes.

  26. Christine June 20, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    I think everyone is refuting Plumcake’s excellent solution because it can’t directly apply to their lives. Of course you have to make adjustments based on lifestyle and geographic location. I have two big dogs and I walk the m in sweats or t-shirts because they’re as likely to knock me over at the dog run as walk sedately beside me. So, I do have some inexpensive knockabout clothes.

    On the other hand, I hate most plus size clothes because of their lack of shape. I’m glad there are more option for teenagers out there, but they won’t work for me because I am a parent of teenagers.

    I also live in four seasons so I need more than Plumcake. But the principle is the same; buy less, buy better (preferably on sale). I’ve noticed some of my English and European friends have far less clothing than I do, but most of it is nicer.

    Just like most people pare down the colours they buy, you can learn what shapes are best for you and your life, and work with them. I know I don’t look good in 5 pocket jeans, so I don’t have any. I prefer to wear dresses but I can’t wear 4 inch heels, so I wear boots, casual shoes and flats. Of course if I go out I can put on higher heels for a few hours.

    I really do think we have to accept that if we want nicer clothes we have to be prepared to pay for them. Yes, it means less buying. And if you’re a SAHM, most of your clothes will be inexpensive and practical. But you deserve one nice dress.

    I used to buy just junk. Once I saved and bought a few nice pieces, I felt better when I needed to be…usually at dinners or parties. And for yo yo dieters, things can be made smaller. My tailor can even do sweaters. And for me, having a few basic things in different sizes is necessary, because I bloat before that time of the month, and sometimes I eat well, exercise and I’m a little slimmer.

    Larger women need to feel good about themselves and buy some things a little more expensive. As Plumcake says, if we don’t, stores will stop making it. Look at the Charles Chang Lima Monik line from a couple of years ago. Stunning clothes, horrendously expensive, but for a New York businesswoman, not out of line with any other major designer. They sold for one season at Saks, because women just wouldn’t buy it. Yet a black skirt would have lasted a woman for years.

    Sorry this is so long!

  27. Max June 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Hmmm. I don’t feel responsible for conveying any sort of a “message” when I wear inexpensive clothes, and I’m not convinced that I’m a poster girl for “undisciplined” fat girls when I wear a top from Old Navy or Tarjay.

    And I will throw down the lifestyle gauntlet by saying that I dress up about once a year, and the rest of the time I need comfortable (and hopefully cute) t-shirts and jeans that I don’t feel like I should have to save up large sums of money for these. I do try to find nicer items on sale, but I also buy a lot of cheaper clothing.

    I don’t feel entitled to anything from any designer. But if Target wants me to buy things from other parts of their store, and if Old Navy wants me to buy clothes for my husband and baby, then they do in fact have an interest in giving me some options.

  28. Franco Jones June 20, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    That young lady IS fine – And if you like “FAT GIRLS” you should see this tribute music video!

    http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/14ae2e58c8/fat-girls-by-eli-braden

  29. dr nic June 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    Ms Plumcake, I know where you are coming from. However, I’d love to know where I could find a lovely boutique store in my fair city (Buffalo, NY) that has any clothing for the plus size girl. Doing a web search turns up one – that closed two years ago, after being open for about six months.

    My only local options are chain stores: Lane Bryant, Avenue, Fashion Bug, JC Penneys, Macys, etc. I know that I can shop online, but I don’t have the time to order something, pay for shipping, wait for it to arrive, try it on, find out it doesn’t fit and pay to ship it back every time I need new clothes. I suppose I could make the two hour drive to Toronto, but thats hard to do when I work 60+ hours a week and have a 10 month old I’d like to spend some time with.

    While I’m not thrilled to shop at some of these stores, I’m not sure what I would do if they closed.

  30. Diana June 21, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    I share this perspective – with the caveat of someone who is a full time writer/artsit. My income varies, so what I can afford when I need something also varies. I’ve found that a)it’s well worth squirreling away the pennies and spare change (really! actual pennies) for something good that will last b)that sometimes the cost of dry-cleaning the same clothes amounts to what I’d spend on cheap replacement clothing – sometimes this is good and sometimes this is bad and c)if money’s really tight and I can’t go naked, consignment stores and thrift shops in Minneapolis are beautifully fat-friendly, and often have those good quality brands from people who buy and toss and stores that don’t sell that plus clothing because they don’t advertise it.

    Also, I am known to eat with a bib or napkin tucked in, or I will eat topless to save a blouse I love!

  31. Mei June 21, 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    Plumcake, can you please answer Chantal’s comment from above? I’d love to know the answer:

    “Ms Plumcake, no offence is intended but I’m very confused. It appears to me that you have exactly one top (a Harvard T-shirt). What do you wear with your pair of jeans? And trousers?”

    Yes! Do you own shirts?!

  32. dcsurfergirl June 21, 2009 at 7:54 pm #

    There should be great clothing styles at all price points for everyone, regardless of size.

  33. TeleriB June 21, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Now that I’ve added Oxi Magic to my shopping list (thank you!)…

    I’m an amateur musician and singer. And I’ll say, with fair confidence, that anyone else can be, too. And be pretty good! (True tone deafness is actually very rare.) But it takes work and time. Practice, at a minimum. Lessons, if you can afford them. And it can be slow, as you can only grow as a performer so quickly.

    Seems to me that dressing stylishly also takes time and work and money. Back BC (before children), I had the habit of shopping. I’d go into the thrift store right beside my gym, browse, and try things on. I learned a lot about what looked good on me, and what good clothes looked like. Most times, there was nothing I wanted to buy, but every once in a while, there’d be a real find.

    Now? Now I’m with the posters who want to go to the store, try on things until one fits, and go home. I’ve just gone through a round of online orders-and-returns and yeah, it kind of sucked. But it also kind of sucks that my number of “great finds” has dropped off precipitously. If you want to get the bargains, find the finds, you have to be out there, hunting for them. Lady Luck is unlikely to drop them in your lap on the one day you happen to have free to hit the mall.

    And… I think I’m okay with that. Life’s about priorities. I’ll keep trying to dress as well as I can, with the resources (including time) that I have to allocate to dressing. Right now, that’s not much – not because representing myself well isn’t important, but because it’s just less important than some other really important things. To me. Right now. Three years ago, I had more time for style and I used it. Maybe three years from now, I’ll have it again. Right now, I don’t.

    But that’s hardly Plumcake’s fault. I think she’s right in that, if you want the look, you have to put forth the time, effort and/or money to get it. Just like you would if you wanted to excel in music, or math, or drag racing. But it’s not a sin or a moral failing if you don’t want to.

  34. TropicalChrome June 22, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    This is truly a situation where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Sure, if we don’t buy what they’re offering, they’ll think there’s no market. But if I do buy what they’re offering, they’ll think that’s what I want. And I don’t.

    I don’t want what most of the designers are offering at any price. I do not need: another black blazer. Another white sweater. Another wrap dress. Another black dress in any style. Another 3/4 sleeve ANYTHING. Another pair of black pants. Another empire waisted anything. Another baby doll top. Another sleeveless anything.

    If this is all they’re going to offer, and it seems like I’ve covered about 90% of it, then for me, they might as well not exist.

    Commerce is a two way street: you provide the products I want, I pay you for them. But they have to hold up their end of the deal.

  35. Zuleika June 22, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    I like Talbot’s and might buy more from them if I could buy clothes that were long enough in plus-sizes. I have suits from various mid-priced companies like Talbot’s and Jones NY that are very well made, and I wore them for several years. I’ve also made my own clothes, and love reading those articles in high-end sewing magazines that deconstruct couture clothing. I like to think I know well-made clothing when I see it.

    I have a fully-lined cotton blazer from the GEORGE line at Wal-Mart that I wear a couple of times a week in the Spring and Fall. It’s in it’s 3rd or 4th year of wear at this point. I think it cost me $25.

    I completely support the idea of buy less, buy better (and buy on sale to make your budget reach the best quality it can). But dismissing certain stores out of hand assuming that everything they make is cr*p further reduces already limited options. Personally, I’ll buy quality wherever I can find it, the cheaper the better. Target makes this really awesome house-brand all-natural Marionberry jam, and I’m not going to stop buying it just because they also sell that nasty peanut butter and jelly all swirled together in one jar.

    But, all that said, I’d still love not every single pretty item sold out instantly and only the drab, baggy stuff available all season.

  36. PenLy June 25, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    I like your ideology, but it’s a false pretence. I have ‘cheap’ items of clothing (timeless pieces) that have served me well for over a decade. Conversely I have had more expensive items that have fallen apart quickly; or succumb to wear and tear much quicker than those 6 years you estimate. I used the do the ‘buy well, buy less’ thing, but it is a false economy. I also like variety, I would get seriously, seriously bored wearing them same thing on such a regular basis for six-whole-years.

    I love well made, well cut, upper-end clothes, and would like to support small boutiques, but no, I can’t afford them. I’ve ended up designing and making my own clothes now because I can get what I want and get something unique. But seriously, whilst it may be hard for you to conceive, presumably having the benefit of a disposable income, but there are people who really cannot afford upper end clothes. And certainly do not lead the lifestyle to justify such expenditure or limited choice.

  37. Annissa November 23, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    I realize this post is rather old now, but I felt the need to comment.

    Not everyone has the option to purchase $130 dresses. No, not even if you save up. If I purchased a $130 dress, that would be (nearly) all I could afford to own, and therefore wear. That right there is highly impractical, let me tell you. To make the dress look different I would have to purchase accessories, right? To dress it up or down? Those cost money too.

    I agree with you about investing in quality, but I am offended by the implication that fat people buying cheap clothes is somehow ruining anything for anyone. Most of us purchasing cheap clothes do so because that is the only option we have. Surely there aren’t people who actually think Old Navy is equal to designer wear?

    If you think people are simply choosing to buy cheap clothes (for what, amusement? a plan to take over the world?), you need to take a second look.