I am human and I need to be clothed

I went to a local New Look store a wee while back and they'd moved the plus size section. It was once right in amongst the "normal" clothes in the prime of the store, but they'd moved it upstairs, tucked into a tiny corner behind the menswear. To make one feel just that little bit more shithouse, on this particular day the lights happened to broken. The whole store was a flourescent blaze, except for this one corner with the fat clothes which was in total darkness. You gotta laugh.

Things have changed massively since I was last a larger lass. Back in the early 00s it was a struggle to find something to wear and the limited selection seemed aimed at old ladies – blousy tunic tops, tapered leg jeans with elastic waists; shiny black "slacks". And of course those nighties with kittens printed on them.

These days there is so much more on offer, especially online. With the proliferation of fat fashion blogs you're never short of inspiration either. Here are some things I've noticed from recent shopping experiences:

1. Sizing is ridiculous
I know there's never really been anything remotely resembling standard clothing sizes, but I currently have clothes from 16 – 22, some of it even from the same shop. What the bloody hell size am I? In some stores I can wear the "normal" sizes, other times I'm banished to the plus sizes. You never really know til you try on, which is a pain in the arse if shopping makes you cranky.

2. They're making trendy stuff in larger sizes
Which is a great leap forward from the Sequinned Kitten era. Alas I'm now 33 years old and look ridiculous if I slip into something apparently Bang On Trend.

3. Somtimes you still feel like a second-class citizen
They make an effort to have a larger size range, but it's only available online. I'm looking at you H&M and Old Navy.

4. Jeans are easier to find
No more tapered legs! There's such a great variety of styles, but no matter what size I am I still usually have to get wide-leg styles to accommodate my sturdy thighs.

5. Dressing the top half is not as simple
This is no doubt down to my fusspot personal preferences and body shape, but I find it hard to find tops that don't totally swamp your waist. I still have a waist dammit, I don't want a smock! Also, there doesn't seem to be that much choice in the middle ground between dull basics and mega trendy.

Speaking of trendy, here are the two kinds of tops that most leave me spluttering with disbelief.

a) The modern equivalent of the kitten-print top, Tops with stupid shit written on them:

Lol   Rawr   Rawr

b) Tops that make you look like you were attacked by hungry dogs:

Nibbled2   Nibbled2

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54 thoughts on “I am human and I need to be clothed

  1. Oh man, I am PASSIONATE about standardised sizing. It’s ridiculous that it doesn’t exist, let alone in the one store.

    Nothing makes me feel shittier than struggling in an out of clothes.

    Don’t even get me started on those tops & dresses that make those of us with bosoms look like dememented 3 year olds.

  2. couldn’t agree more on the tops! I will not wear anything that is the slightest bit maternity looking and I am not a billboard sign – so much of it IS these days. I have to try on 3 sizes most of the time. This is not some weird body perception thing on my part, it is the difference between cuts. Even the same manufacturer, with things being produced in different factories, has huge differences.

  3. i am still a size 24, and am sometimes (often) disgusted by certain trendy fashions that are available in plus sizes. think skinny jeans or short shorts. just because a fashion’s available in your size doesn’t mean it is flattering. (or just b/c a teenager can wear it doesn’t mean a 30-something should)

    since i’m a fat girl myself, i feel i’m entitled to say it – there are certain things fat girls simply should NOT be wearing! but yes, overall, we definitely have more choices than even just 10 years ago. however, i’m also frustrated by the stores that only offer those sizes online. i was pregnant last year and insulted by the VERY limited availability of plus-size maternity clothing. do the stores really think there are no fat pregnant women out there?

    i’m new to the weightloss blogging world, and glad to have found your blog.

  4. That “LOL :D” shirt is just awful, ack! Agree with Vickie, I cannot understand the maternity-like fashion – it only works if you’re a stick insect or actually pregnant and don’t mind the “when are you due?” comments. Like all fashion, this too shall pass! (Then reemerge 25 years later.)

  5. Oh, I am an offender. I look like I’ve been attacked by those dogs most of the time lately. Only because it is the only tops that fits me right now seeing that I am not a 22 (all the way up there at 28 now- ugh!) My biggest peeve though is that they make the necklines so BIG/wide for these clothes. I don’t know if I should fake cleavage and/or walk around with my bra-straps showing all the time — So now I just wear scarfs and the likes around my neck to come across more decent. It also helps to keep me warm seeing that winter just rolled around here. :)

  6. I despise clothes shopping. I never know what size I am and I look awful in everything- it seems like things are cut so narrow. I’m 40- I don’t want to dress like an old lady but I also don’t want to look like I’m trying to look 15. Also, the phrase “Bang on Trend” makes me cross.

  7. I have had it up to the eyeballs with fashion. Some of it I can tolerate, some of it is useless on anyone with a figure different to a pubescent boy.
    My rules.
    Heels
    Waisted Belts
    Skinny jeans tucked into boots (Lilli does it well in her last post)
    Great accessories
    Lots of basics in flattering patterns
    Cool accessories
    and of course, red lippy, or nice eyeshadow but not both.

  8. It’s come a long way from the muumuus of yore but I still find it really hard, simply because I am fat without the boobs to go with it. A lot of fat girl chic (here, at least) is all about the cleavage, to distract from the fat – when your cleavage is shite it doesn’t work so well!

    My fat girl uniform skirts paired with Threadless tshirts, so I guess I fall into Kitten-Print top land, but with 500% awesomeness :P

  9. Oh, Amen! to everything especially to the tops. H&M Germany does have the bigger sizes in the stores (yay), but even they fall victim to the two very common beliefs “whoever is big definitely also has humongous boobs” and “if we cover this tent in large flower/leopard/graphic print, it’ll look smaller”. Sigh ;o)
    But, being 31 myself now, it surprisingly paid off to wander back into flashy pink teen stores that I usually despised – turns out their target audience grew up, too (e.g. Pimkie, Orsay).
    To avoid crankiness when shopping: Take a bottle of water and a snack with you, and take a piece of clothing with you that fits – when you find something you like in the store, whip it out of your bag and hold the two together to figure out what size to try on. Bam, less trying on. :o) (or, to quote more appropriately: LOL :D)

  10. Totally agree with you – those t-shirts bring out my inner Hulk and I just want to rage whenever I see them…

    I think some halfwit in New Look must have had an ‘inspired’ (see what I did there?) idea to move the fat clothes to the most inaccessible part of the shop. Grrr.

    Like Patricia, Bang On Trend just annoys me. Gok can get away with it cos he’s Gok, but nobody else thankyouverymuch!

  11. I am actually totally amused, because my little sister (a size 26/28 on top and a 22/24 on bottom, ouch) owns two of those sloganed t-shirts – the LOL :D and I AM RAAWRSOME ones. She also has an OMG one. XD

    They actually don’t look as bad on a person as they do on the mannequin/on the website, I promise! But then again, my little sister is 25, which is sort of a more acceptable age, I guess? WHEN DID WE GET SO OLD?

    That said, Tops That Look Like Sacks should never have been made in the first place. I remember that Evans actually had a “square shape oversized top” a few seasons back, and it was just that. A SQUARE FROM THE SHOULDERS DOWN. It did absolutely nothing for people who were already slightly shapeless. It’s ridiculous.

    Urgh, clothes shopping is horrendous.

    Did you find anything nice to wear, after all of that?

  12. yay. thanks for this. Sizing IS ludicrous for women and I am SO not a shopper-never have been. Why even bother putting on numbers if we have to hold them up and stare at the width of the thigh to figure out if we might be able to squeeze into them anyhow?

    tho’ I’m in the “normal” sizes (except I need talls, and I only shop at places targeted to actual adults vs. little young things…), I have to say it seems VERY DIFFICULT to find tops that are not “princess” cut or generally flap around my waist like the American flag on a windy day. I think the American proliferation of “muffin tops” has affected clothing and I can barely find anything that actually fits my waist.

    I, too, have thighs (& butt) & small waist and my favorite jeans @ Eddie Bauer (actually FIT, miracle) then got changed: they “tweaked the waistline” so now, like today, if I forget to pack my belt, I am yanking up my pants ’cause my waist is SWIMMING. erg. So now I’m back to NO jeans fit me just right.

    Wow, I really am whining. But loved your post, and the 2nd stupid shit t-shirt is so bad I’m not even sure I get it.

    =) ALWAYS find your posts delightful. =)

  13. That was damn funny.
    I recently surveyed the plus sizes in Kohls and was disgusted that it was in the back corner, hidden away and there were no excercise tops. I was like, just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I don’t excercise. It was a nightmare.

  14. Along with the wide flappy neckline of tops that have been chewed by dugs my other bugbear is t-shirts with tiny little cap sleeves which show off my shot putter arms to perfection…and just to be pick I don’t like 3/4 length sleeves either … why can’t I get a top or a shirt with sleeves down to my damned wrists anymore … am away to meditate now I’ve got that off my ample bosom xx

  15. I hear you about standardizing the sizes of women’s clothing. This doesn’t appear to happen in men’s clothing. What’s up with that. I hate shopping for clothes. I don’t think I have been in a clothing store for about 6 years. I pretty much buy everything online and hope for the best :-)

  16. The term “bang on trend” has never been heard in California and makes reading your blogs so much fun.

    My theory is that there are too many woman hating men designing clothes for us big and beautiful ladies.

    I don’t have a waist, damm it! My body type is beach ball in front with small hips and lean thighs. The Creator was having fun designing me. Still, I do need those tunics that cover up the waist.

    Hello to all.

    Linda Shirley

  17. You nailed it – fluctuating between the “normal” and “special” ranges is amusing at best and soul crushing at worst. My wardrobe goes from 12 to 18 at the moment, with many a size 14 that I can’t get into. And when will they learn that clothes that have been scaled up from stick insect proportions just don’t work… strangled upper arms have been the nail in the coffin of many of my potential purchases.

    The other laugh-or-cry moment recently was buying some killer undies to go beneath a dress I love* but that doesn’t love my wobbly bits back. M&S size all of their whole-body shapewear by bra size. Yep, you got it girls, everyone who’s a 36D is apparently exactly the same size on waist, hips and torso length. Muppets.

    (*Pepperberry – they understand boobs, hallelujah)

  18. ahh thanks for the fabbo comments… you know i am seriously contemplating the I AM RAAWR-SOME tshirt now! :D

  19. Oh my god YES! Hallelujah for you Shauna and this post which makes me realise I am NOT ALONE in the clothes shopping wilderness. And those tops – oh dear, those tops. Totally agree. My pet peeve is that it is SO hard to find tops with a bit of shape, not ugly babydoll sacks, but that are in a material that is not also clingy and gross!

    PS love the Smiths reference in the title :)

  20. “kitten top equivalent”! HA! I almost snorted water all over my laptop.

    It’s shocking that the clothing industry still doesn’t get it. We are all shaped so differently. There should be more options, in “real” clothing. Not this joke stuff.

    Great post, Shauna.

  21. Have you seen / worn the truly-ethical *PeopleTree range(prices are steep but they do have have a sale twice a year(winter and summer)plus an ongoing sale on their website)(www.peopletree.co.uk), Shauna?

    * not just Peopletree

  22. This post made me laugh. It is so true. I find women’s clothing sizes absurd. I end up wearing stuff that my mother gives me, or that comes from the charity shop as I can buy it in large quantities and donate back to the shop whatever doesn’t fit. I would like to send a photo of myself to a shop and them to post back an entire wardrobe of flattering outfits for my body shape that would fit and be fashionable. Shopping for clothes makes me lose the will to live!

  23. I could have written this. I have no idea what size I wear, if stores have a plus sized section it’s usually small and tucked away, ugly UGLY clothes, catalogs but once again having no idea what size to get I have to order three sizes and I’m probably one of them. Is it any wonder I hate shopping so much. One store the plus section didn’t have a fitting room remotely near it so you had to trek halfway across the store to try things on and to add insult to injury, they had a three item limit.

  24. Yes! YES! Those bloody dog-bitten tops! Who thought of those? Especially in larger sizes? If you have an impressive embonpoint (or big boobs) like what I have, those damn things make you look like you have installed one of those awnings that butchers and bakers shops have on their shopfronts! Hate them.

  25. You HAVE to buy that “I am Raawr-some” shirt. You can wear it ironically! (Like I do my HTFU shirt and my sequinned superman logo shirt). Subvert the visual paradigm! I feel your shopping pain though sister. It just gets worse when you get a bit older and you get a bit more cashed up and you don’t want to look like a frump, a bogan or a refugee from Brighton (or its UK equivalent) – white capri pants, lots of gold jewellery, BMW, you know what I mean. Rwarrr! My strategy is BYO fabulous. I just bought a leopard print trench coat!

  26. Now don’t go beating me up everybody, but I loved the bottom row. I love the loose flowing comfortable feel and they look feminine.

  27. Have you heard of/tried Bravissimo? I know they’re generally for the ladies with the large knockers, but the beauty of their clothes is that they DO cut them to accommodate a waist. And if there isn’t a shop nearby, their online ordering is AWESOME. This is one of the major things (along with Waitrose’s self checkout and shops that have useful websites) that I miss the most about the UK. If I find myself back there I’m buying everything they’ve got :-)

  28. I really did lol when I read this post. I have serious issue with the number of massive cartoon characters they have of nighties and t-shirts, serious show me a size 24 woman who wants a cookie monster across her boobs.
    I’ve bought a few things on the old navy site, especially the tops, they are nice and soft, great for layering unlike the tops I can find here that are all chunky and thick. But they want to charge $65 postage to Australia grr.
    I am convinced I”ll never wear anything close to what I want to wear until I’m at least a size 18

  29. I concur about your RRAWRSOME-ness. What I like most about fashion for fat chicks is the pregnancy top trend. That’s a beaut.

  30. This is why shopping vintage is tops – because you get actual measurements rather than an arbitrary size that may or may not be accurate ;) You should deffo get the Rawwrsome tee shirt x

  31. I’m struggling to find my ‘clothing identity’. I’m too old for some things…wayy too young for others and I now fit in to xl and l of the ‘regular sections of womens clothing’/ my big fashion nightmare is the sleeveless top. If we are big, people, and have wings or hanging meat for upper arms, we don’t need no sleevels tops.

  32. The one thing I really HATE is when all the tops in the plus-size section are either cap sleeved or have no sleeves at all and then you end up looking for something to go over the top but end up with one of those shrug cardis that highlight your waist and lower back fat-rolls instead.
    Grrrr!

  33. Though this post has a sad theme, I am gladdened more than I can say by the deployment of a suitably adapted Morrisey lyric to convey ur totally justifiable frustration, and hence I was moved to comment.

  34. I am close to my target weight and wear a pretty small dress size. However, I look fat, too, in cap sleeves, cropped shrugs, dog-bitten tops, shiny fabrics and tapered trousers. And smock tops make me look pregnant. How can they think those clothes will suit someone more amply proportioned? They don’t suit or flatter ANYONE. I’m not giving up my Star Trek T-shirt, though. Flattering or not, it’s central to my geek identity.

  35. “…juuuust like everybody eh-else does!” (WWWWWAAAAAHHH-ooooow!)
    (Yes, another fan of The Smiths reference.)

    My fashion peeves:
    – Cotton-poly blouses that trick me into buying them, only to need ironing. There’s a reason I don’t do linen anymore.
    – I’ve compared catalogs of many popular retailers, and ALL their pants sizes assume a 10-inch difference between hips and waist. Up and down the scale, mine is a 5-inch difference. I will never have properly-fitting pants.
    – And yes, non-standard sizing makes me cranky, too.

    Thanks for another great article, Shauna! Those shirts just killed me.

  36. I have to admit to owning a fair number of T-shirts with messages on them (though they’re all slightly more meaningful or possibly just geekier than LOL :D… which does seem pretty feeble.)

    The shapeless tops-without-waists also used to annoy me no end, since they just hang off the chist and make me look as though I’m the same size all the way down. The ones I own are useful at the moment since I’m seven months pregnant… but I don’t want to look pregnant all the time!

  37. Is it sad I kinda want that dinosaur t-shirt in the middle? (Purely to sleep in of course.)

    I hate clothes shopping right now. My sizing varies so much and I can’t decide what size of top would be the most flattering on me. I wish sizes were standardized so at least I know I can order size X online and it will fit. Instead I play an infuriating guessing game with trying find clothes I like that fit me.

  38. Hi Shauna, My hatred of clothes shopping (sizing, choice of teeny-bopper or granny styles, limited choice in regional town) drove me to the sewing machine about three years ago. Most days I wear at least one item I’ve made. Haven’t looked back.

  39. Oh sigh – shopping. I happen to love shopping, but it can be a right royal pain in the ass … literally if you get the trouser-sizing wrong!! I long ago came to the conclusion that a clothes size isn’t so much a rule as a guideline (to borrow from Pirates of the Carribbean), but I defintely find some shops are bigger offenders than others (H & M and Primark – I’m looking at you!!). 4 stone ago, I frequently came home from a shopping trip feeling fat and ill-formed and generally freakish in my proportions …. and 4 stone later I have decided that it’s NOT ME IT’S THE CLOTHES!!! Stupid clothes-designers. And I totally agree – loose maternity-style tops are heinous … especially once the dog took a bite out the bottom of them! :o)

  40. Oh Lady, you’re preaching to the choir. It’s also impossible to find tops that don’t either A.) Make you look pregnant, B.) Have giant stupid butterflies and flowers on them (this opinion coming from a former heavy metal musician anyway, my wardrobe is still governed by black and red), or C.) Are made for women who are 5 feet tall and wear a triple D cup.

    I’m like you, I lost 120lbs, then let 50 of it sneak back on me over three years and now I’m back in plus/normal purgatory – only now I’m in my 30’s and all my old goth/metal club stuff looks retarded on me. *Sigh*

    Getting old sucks.

  41. Same problems here as well! I have just found body shaper lingerie from M&S and can not live without them any more.

  42. Attacked by hungry dogs? Oh, that hit my funny bone tonight. That’s a great description for those jagged, odd hemlines. Thanks for that laugh!

  43. Bwahaha I have too many ‘hungry dog’ tops!! Totally not a look for the lass with a tummy (like me).

    Your post is totally bang-on, I’m in much the same boat. NZ is a black hole for normal, wearable plus clothes too.

    I have to confess to owning a couple of ‘tops with stupid shit written on them’ but I have consigned them to nightwear only. Oh, except for my FAVOURITE which has ‘Aerodynamically Curvaceous’ across the front, a reference to the best webcomic everrr (so extra geek points) and describes me to a T! :P

  44. Shauna, a Smiths reference?! As if I needed another reason to think you are awesome!

  45. I will pay you money if you wear that raawwwwesome top in June. Seriously. Cold hard cash.

  46. Well said! We are not supposed to depend entirely on the scale, but we can’t trust clothing sizes either! Grumble…

  47. oh how I can so relate to this post!

    I used to be the same 16-22 depending on the shop and how that really does mess with your head… well its not good! I’m now between a 12 and an 18… and it horrifies me have ot get an 18 in ‘skinnier’ stores so i find myself avoiding said stores now!

    Standard sizing would make this all easier (unless the new standard was an 18 for me, then I’d feel bad all over again!)

    pmsl at your description of the clothes too :)

  48. @Amanda Yes, it’s a pain in the neck isn’t it? I just trust my old, tight jeans, which I make sure I wear at least once a week, mostly to check my weight. I see from the label that they are a size 24. I’ve no idea what that even means, and I don’t actually want to know, so it has no emotional overtones for me.

  49. I just moved back from France and I had the hardest time ever finding clothes that fit right! The sizes were all wacky and of course nothing was made for a woman that has any sort of curves. Plus, I had a hard time finding any sort of store that had a plus size section! Very happy to be back in the US, where I can at least find some clothes that are meant for a woman with hips!

  50. Is it just me, or does the blue one look like it could be a kitchen trailer curtain? Man, I’m getting old…

  51. I totally agree with you. I dont want to look like i’m 12 but then to the other extreme I dont want to look my moms age! I’m aged 28 and really struggle to find clothes which really suit me. And another thing…you got me started now..I dont want to pay £20 for a baggy t-shirt that DOES look like its been mawled by dogs! x