Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Why Don't Shops Sell Clothes in MY SIZE?

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi
at Inkygirl.com
So I went browsing in a shop the other day*, saw a couple of things I liked on the sale rale and took them into the changing room to try on. As you do, you know, like normal. Both of the items I had picked up were a size 18 which is what size I happen to be** and so I expected them to fit me. As you do. What happened was this: The lovely teal dress I tried I had expected not to fit me around the shoulder region. Normally size 18 dresses won't do up above about my bra strap level so I was expecting disappointment, but I could barely get my bum in it and it wouldn't zip higher than my lower back. The second item was more promising; a not-really-wool long T-shirt/short dress type thing. I did get it on but the sleeves were so tight that they hurt (which is definitely not something I look for in my clothes!) and the actual dress was also really tight. I could have worn it-it looked fine, but I wouldn't have felt comfortable in it at all. My conclusion is that these clothes were not really a size 18. I wouldn't have minded if they had said they were a 14/16 on the label but 18 on the hanger, then I would have realised my mistake and left it. Or even if they were sized differently in the first place-I wouldn't have tried them on then. But why go to the bother of making clothes in larger sizes if they're not actually the sizes they claim to be? Why go "Come and shop in our shop, we do lots of common sizes and we're awesome" when you really mean "we don't want to sell you clothes if you are bigger than a certain size!" Don't even get me started on Primark-whoever decided that the difference between a size 10 and a size 20 is simply about 6 inches in length but no other dimensions is a total idiot who has never met an actual woman.

More recently, I went shopping in the Dorothy Perkins online sale and treated myself to this lovely dress in a size 20, note a full size ABOVE my actual size (because dresses are weird shapes, basically!). I collected it from the store and took it to the changing rooms to try on. So far so good. Unzipping the dress, I tried to pull it on in the normal fashion-over the head. I couldn't get the waistband (which if you look at the picture you'll notice is quite tight) over my boobs. I thought this was a little odd but nevertheless continued undeterred. Thinking perhaps that you had to get into it in the more unconventional method of pulling it up over your hips, I tried this. This time I couldn't get the waistband over my bum. I thought perhaps I hadn't unzipped it all the way, but on closer inspection, I had, from neck to hip level. I tried again to get it over my head, thinking I had originally got the underskirt tangled up thus preventing my success. Nope, even with pulling the underskirt down first it wouldn't go on. I ask you this: why would a designer make a dress that was a size 20, when a size 18 woman can't even get it on because the designer waistband (which I'm sure would have made it look lovely on) is un-stretchy and ill-sized? Normally I don't have a problem with Dotty P's stuff, I own a lot of their clothes and regularly fit into a size 18 with no issues at all, so I can only conclude that this was a spectacularly poorly designed dress that can only be worn with people who don't have any body fat at all or who are made of elastic, and therefore can stretch themselves thinner to get into it. I'm sure it would have looked absolutely lovely on Mrs. Incredible.

It's bad enough that so many shops don't even make ranges in any sizes above a 16***, maybe an 18 at a push, like just because you're a larger person it means you can't shop in fashionable shops if you want to. Then the shops that do stock our sizes appear to be squeezing us out (pun totally intended) as well by making their clothes just a smidgen too small to be comfortable, or to do up correctly, or for us to fit in at all. Let's face it, clothing designers, Britain is getting fatter. If the UK average is a size 16 then if the rest of the data fits on a bell curve there are as many size 18 people out there as size 14, as many 20s as 12s (Yes, I'm dumbing all this down for the purposes of this post, don't focus on my [lack of] knowledge of statistics and averages, OK?). Surely then, you should be looking out for us larger ladies as much as your skinnier clientele, surely you should be wanting us to spend our money in your shops and look amazing in your clothes as a walking advertisement too, instead of driving us away by making ill fitting clothes that clearly aren't in the sizes you proclaim them to be. Here's a hint, when you're making them, GET PEOPLE TO TRY THEM ON IN EVERY SIZE. That way you'd know beforehand when you were making a dress that has a waistband rendering it utterly useless to anyone with lumps and bumps and could rectify this before rolling them out to the shops.
Instead, I'm complaining to Dotty P's and writing this blog post. HEY. I'm a size 18, not some magical made up size in your head, Mx. Designer. I want to buy clothes that fit me, thanks. Make it so.


*Disclaimer: The other day in this instance actually equals a few months ago now. I started writing this then ran out of steam in the middle.
**admittedly I am an 18/20 in dresses due to my gargantuan shoulders, but still.
***Don't even get me started on this, that's another blog post for another day!


  1. I totally agree with everything you said here. I am a pear shape, so range from a size 14-16 in the top and size 18/20 in the bottom. So when I pick up dresses there is no hope. Sometimes I can fit into a 14 sometimes I can barely squeeze into a 20. I totally agree. I wish there was a shop that sold fashionable clothes at reasonable prices to larger ladies.

  2. There was a DP dress that almost made me cry at its beauty. So, naturally, I couldn't do up the zip.
    I get your frustration, obviously. A lot of this comes down to marketing and impressions, though. A store like DP would want to be careful to make sure their clothes are desirable, and for that to be so, they need to be clothes that young thin people would wear, and more importantly, clothes that old fat people would not wear. It's horrible, and activist communities are doing a lot to try and change it, but it's how it is right now.

    1. I don't think it is that so much in this situation though, really, because I have a LOT of Dorothy Perkins stuff that fits perfectly-theirs are the only jeans I wear. It was just a very poorly designed dress and probably would have been better to not have been made in bigger sizes due to the stupid design. Yes, I am on the upper limits of their sizing, but I can still wear their normal clothes most of the time. It's the fact they've started bringing in all these new designer lines that only go up to a 'Large' (AKA 14/16) that makes me sad.
      It does make me cross that a lot of shops stop at a size 16, and places like David and Goliath (one of my favourite shops as a teen) classify an XL as a size 16. NO. I can fit perfectly comfortably into Large unisex T-shirts, therefore an XL is /NOT/ a 16, which is probably what you're talking about.

  3. I've come to the conclusion that clothes in any size aren't properly fitted to real women. I'm a petite person, and the other day I bought a sweater dress that had a waist belt which didn't fit. The dress was extra small, yet the only way I could wear the accompanying belt was with it on the last available hole. I'm 95 pounds, which means this dress was modeled with a too-skinny model in mind, and made me think, if they're telling me i'm still just a bit too big, what is skinny enough?" Ridiculous. Unattainable.

  4. Try being plus-sized and short. Nothing fits. Trousers have waistbands that go higher than my waist and which gape at the back. Tailored shirts have waistlines that end up being around my hips. I don't even bother with T-shirts - they're enormous around my shoulders, tight across my boobs, baggy at the waist and clingy at the hips.

    1. I do sometimes wish we could go back to times where it was cheaper to get someone to make you tailored to fit clothes than it was to buy them from a shop!

  5. I work sewing for a dress designer (couture wear), and I can tell you that they have very little concept of anything above a size 8-10, as size 12 is what they consider "plus size". Often, larger sizes (anything over 16) are just scaled up versions of the smaller stuff and anyone over a 16 KNOWS that women over a 16 are proportioned differently. I know this because I am about an 18. Also there is no industry standard for size, so what is an 18 in one brand will be a 16 in another or a 22 in yet another. Then there's commercially made patterns, which are a whole 'nother size system as well. A large part of my sewing business is for women who are unable to find ready-made wear that fits.

  6. Hi Jenni! I discovered your blog through my mum who received a Postcrossing card from you :)
    Love your style of writing, so I decided to follow!

    Greetings from Holland ;)

    1. Hi Daphne, that's really cool!
      I'm so glad she liked my postcard, and that you liked my blog, welcome! =)


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