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When I am out at the mall, shopper’s fatigue sets in quickly: the exhaustion from walking miles on cement flooring; the overstimulation from noise, smells, colours and the seemingly endless supply of clothing designed for prepubescent girls with the sex lives of call girls.
I am short and plus-sized. Clothes made for my size are designed to make me look like a toddler with the face of Grandma Moses. Or a low-class hooker. They are shoddily designed and executed with poor fabrics.
I am in contact with a large number of women through Yahoo interest groups. Many of us are my age (early 60s) and plus-sized. We often chat about clothes shopping and its pitfalls. We all share a loathing for polyester, though we embrace spandex.
Is it too much to ask that clothing be designed and put together in styles and fabrics that would appeal to us?
I am talking about fabrics that breathe.
There is nothing pretty about having a hot flash while wearing a polyester top and polyester pants. Sweat trickles down your body underneath the clothing. It’s a wonder someone hasn’t invented a sweat band for the body to catch the rivulets.
Most women I know would be delighted to find stores stocked with tops and pants made from breathable fabrics – cotton, linen and other natural materials. These are also made in a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns.
I have noticed that most manufacturers for women in the plus-sized range subscribe to the tent philosophy.
They select a wildly printed pattern in garish colours, made of polyester, then use sizing based on a tent – sleeps one, sleeps two or more.
They add arms, also styled in a variation of the tent shape, and large neck holes built for an elephant.
To this they attach enough bling to stop a line of traffic. I like bling as much as the next woman.
However, plus-sized clothing manufacturers seem to subscribe to a plus-sized bling philosophy.
They are perhaps hoping to dazzle the oncoming viewer, or camouflage the plus-sized woman. Or maybe they believe that our plus-sized selves will believe this is acceptable Plus-Sized Style.
What I would like to point out is that making a tent requires little skill – only a large supply of cheap fabric. And bling is a cheap and flashy way to dress up a deadly-dull style.
Though my body may not be a size 0, I do feel I have the right to purchase outfits that have been sized and fitted to my body, complete with tucks, seams and darts.
And please use good threads and finish your seams properly. Nothing is worse for anyone than a seam unravelling, revealing our plump bodies in all their glory.
For those designing a store for my age group, I have some suggestions.
Have daylight lighting in the dressing rooms. I don’t like looking as if I have an incurable disease before I actually get one. Soft lights with a daylight bulb will enhance anyone’s appearance. Some change rooms have no light, requiring me to fumble around in the semi-dark.
Put in large dressing rooms with proper floor-to-ceiling doors. Some dressing rooms are reminiscent of the stalls in my high-school bathroom, with large spaces at the top and bottom and little privacy. Include proper closing devices on the doors, lots of hooks for hanging things, and a comfortable spot for my husband to sit. I don’t want to parade my cellulite for all to abhor. Curtains are always a challenge in a small cubicle, when my rather large behind may be peeking out beyond the curtain into the store at large.
Dispense with the surround mirrors that add a hundred pounds to my thighs.
Please hire people who genuinely like their job, and know how to smile and go fetch another size gamely.
Have LOTS of comfortable seating in the store. This, of course, means upholstered chairs with a wide seat for my wide bottom. One puny plastic chair doesn’t cut it. I need to sit down during a shopping expedition to think about what I’ve looked at and what to do next.
Your attention to all of this will be rewarded: I will pull out my Visa card and spend a fortune.
Katherine Adlam lives in Sackville, N.B.