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Saturday, June 19, 2010

I guess they'd rather we go naked
Posted by Jill | 1:44 PM
Considering the kind of flack that "women of size" get in this country if they dare wear anything that shows more skin than a burqa, I'm kind of surprised that clothing manufacturers aren't rushing to make things we want to wear so we don't do things to offend the populace like dare to leave the house in tank tops and capris on hot days.

Or perhaps they buy all the studies which say that if you're a plus-size woman, you're going to be unemployable and sexless. I don't claim to speak for every woman who's above a size 0 (which seems to be the benchmark for "normal size" these days, but I have a job that pays well, and so do other larger women I know. We have disposable income, and we like to have clothes that go beyond muumuus and sweatpants to wear to those jobs. I had one of those traumatic three-day regulatory meetings in which every aspect of your work is scrutinized this week, and for two of them I showed up in natty pinstripe pantsuits in two colors. That was the only colors they had or I would have bought six of them. You know how hard it is to get a suit when you're a 4'10" size 16? But these suits are awesome; they make me look as if I'm ready to audition for the next road company of Guys and Dolls:

Right now I'm in a pair of white cotton crop pants and a tank top. You don't like my upper arms? Don't look at them. It's friggin' hot.

For some reason, the New York Times, home of aging high school mean girl Maureen Dowd, decided that they should run a piece today on the shocking realization that fat women wear clothes too:
Corseted into a size 18 white denim dress, wearing heels that made her about 6-foot-2, Gwen DeVoe, a former model and fashion-show producer, stepped onto a runway in Manhattan this week and made a pitch to retailers for the plus-size woman.

Those stores that don’t carry bigger sizes? “Shame on you, baby, shame on you,” Ms. DeVoe said. “Every curvy girl that has a dollar is willing to spend that dollar.”

So retailers are realizing.

Sounds good so far, right?

Well, here come the killjoys:
That same day, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 28 percent of the adult population was obese last year, the highest percentage yet. Almost two-thirds of American women are either overweight or obese, according to the most recent CDC figures.

And the connection here is....what? That we should just go naked? Smokers burn holes in their clothes. Should THEY go naked too?

My mother is going to turn 83 next week. She has been substantially overweight for much of MY lifetime. She also is a 20-year lung cancer survivor and she's still smoking. She worked into her sixties and had two husbands. Did I mention her 83rd birthday is next week? You can send her good wishes in the comments; she'll read them.

Now what was all that about the fat chicks again? Oh, yes:
Although Americans have grown steadily heavier in the last decade, women’s plus-size clothing still makes up only 17 percent of the women’s apparel market today, according to NPD. There just is not much supply or variation in plus-size clothes for women to buy, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. And the big retailers have mostly stayed away.

Cost is one issue. Plus-size clothes are more difficult, and expensive, to make than more traditional sizes. Material can be the largest portion of a garment’s cost — up to about 60 percent — and larger sizes require not only more of it, but sometimes different production processes.

“Its not just about how much fabric is required,” said Deepa Neary, a retail consultant at A.T. Kearney, a consulting firm. “You’re actually using wider bolts of fabric, and that sometimes requires special machinery to produce the garments. You often don’t get to pass that on to the consumer, so your margins are not as high as the regular-size clothing.”

And with limited floor space, retailers say it’s hard to display, say, blouses from size 0 to 24. So the plus market “unfortunately gets treated like an exile,” said Kathy Bradley-Riley, senior vice president for merchandising at the trend forecasting firm Doneger Group.

Given those difficulties, some companies have pulled back on plus-size offerings. Old Navy and Ann Taylor stopped selling plus sizes in stores in the last few years, and now sell them only online. Liz Claiborne, which still sells some plus-size clothing, shut down its plus-size line Elisabeth, along with Sigrid Olsen, which carried larger sizes. It sold Ellen Tracy, which also had a plus-size offering. But given the strong sales in the sector more recently, and women becoming ever more overweight, some companies are giving the plus-size market a second look.

Yes, because a size 14 or a size 16 pair of pants means you have to have a store the size of your average Wal-Mart just to hang one pair of them. And there's SO much more fabric. If you've ever made your own clothes, you know just how ridiculous the "lots more fabric" and "lots more space" claims are.

This link is to a Simplicity pattern for a simple wrap dress. I chose a wrap dress because it's a style that just about anyone can wear. This pattern comes in sizes 8, with a 31-1/2" bust and 33" hips to 24, with a 46" bust and 48" hips. For a size 8 you need 1-5/8 yards of 60" wide fabric. For a size 24 you need 2-3/8 yards of 60" fabric. Even if the fabric is twenty bucks a yard, you only need a yard more fabric for a size 24. If you are a size 16, you only need 1/4 yard more fabric than the size 8 does. At twenty bucks a yard, that's five dollars more.

Until this country starts ridding the food supply of pesticides, chemicals, corn syrup, artificial crap and processed "food-like substances", and stops this idea that working 80 hours a week is somehow a good thing and starts giving workers six weeks of vacation and an eight hour day like European countries have, so that we can eat leisurely meals of fresh food; until there are bike paths so that you don't take your life in your hands if you want to bike to get a quart of milk instead of taking the car, until we know just what it is in plastics and chemicals that's not just making people fat, but keeping them that way, can we please just shut the fuck up about other people's weight and let us get dressed already?

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Anonymous ShortWoman said...
Oh dear, between you and Florinda I am feeling a little guilty calling myself ShortWoman as I tower over both of you at 4'11". I too have a hard time buying clothes. I'll never be a size 0 because I have boobs and hips and shoulders. And since the clothing industry wrote off the 20% of American women under 5'1" a decade ago, it's almost impossible to buy pants that don't drag the ground. Unless of course we are willing to wear "capris" that come to our ankles.

Maybe we should get a fashion expert and start our own company?

The whole idea that one should not leave the house in a pair of shorts and a tank top if one doesn't happen to look like a super-model is ridiculous, and contributes mightily to eating disorders, which are getting more and more common. I know three, THREE, families who have had their children almost die for the desire to be thin in the last few years. I don't know enough people for that to be an insignificant number. It's HORRID.

I say, let's all back off of judging people for looking different, no matter what that difference is. Let's make some money by making clothes and make up and whatever else for everyone, so they can buy it. Yes, let's figure out what we're doing wrong with our food supply (and it's a lot). But let's not make that the issue with looks. Let the issue with looks be more like that old 70s mantra, "I'm OK, you're OK". Please.

Blogger jurassicpork said...
Mrs. JP ain't plus sized (although she'd put on a coupla more pounds in the 11 months since she's moved in, proof of my excellent culinary skills) but she has a refreshing lack of fashion sense, one exceeded only by Mr. JP. On hot days at the sign shop, she wears men's light collared shirts and Bermuda shorts.

In other words, with us, form follows function. I'm wearing just bathing trunks in my house now and don't give a damn who may see me through my windows. It's almost 90 here in MA.

My new AC purchased for cheap was installed just yesterday and it was a Godsend last night. I'll worry about the electric bill later.

Anonymous Becks said...
Mrs JP sounds like my kind of lady. Light collared mens shirts and longish shorts are exactly my summer uniform. comfort is the key my friends- fuck the rest of it.

Blogger Elayne said...
Well, I for one want to say hi to Jill's mom. Hi Jill's mom, happy early birthday from Elayne formerly-Wechsler! I'd like to thank you for your hospitality all those years ago whenever I came to visit Jill from my parents' house in Roselle!

I'm much happier since I discovered the Woman Within catalog. Sucks that so much of their stuff is made in China, but it's reasonably priced and I also know precisely what size shirts to buy from them in various styles. Now if only I could get the hang of their pants.