Friday, February 07, 2014

The Continuing Misadventures of Short Fat Woman!

It's a beautiful midwinter day -- crisp and cold, but also sunny and clear, with the kind of cloud-flecked blue skies we almost never see around Seattle this time of year.

And I had to go and ruin it by shopping for clothes. Ugh.

Clothes Shopping for Short Fat Women
(a cautionary tale)

I have never enjoyed clothes shopping. Even when I was young and skinny, it was a thankless task. But since the onset of puberty and some significant weight gain, it's grown to be a chore I detest with white-hot intensity.

Why? Well, mostly because with my body type -- short, fat and middle-aged -- it's nearly impossible for me to find inexpensive, well-fitting clothing off the rack. Emphasis on "rack." Finding clothing that fits everywhere is, shall we say, a special challenge when your cups runneth over and you have the kind of butt Sir Mix-a-lot would celebrate in rhyme.

For example, let's take button-up shirts, blouses and cardigans. AND STUFF THEM IN THE TRASH. If a top fits at the waist and hips, it gaps open at the chest like I'm transforming into She-Hulk. If I find a size big enough to fit my bustline, it hangs straight off my bust and turns the upper half of my body into an amorphous blob. And because I'm short in the arms and legs, long-sleeved tops are always, always too long-sleeved. I can cuff them or roll them up, but the resulting bulk doesn't usually compliment an already-shapeless, too-big top.

T-shirts should be simple. SHOULD BE, but they are not. Men's sizes fit in the bust, but nowhere else, making me look like I'm wearing a paper bag. Girly-cut shirts are nipped and tucked to follow my curves, but are usually not in stock in larger sizes unless you go to a specialty store like Lane Giant. Crew necks strangle me, and even conservatively-cut V-necks show embarrassing amounts of cleavage. Short sleeves are almost always cut too short, revealing the flabbiest parts of my arms, and long sleeves are cut too long, as mentioned earlier. Further, nobody -- NOBODY -- cuts their shirts to the proper torso length; they're all too short or they shrink after one wash, showcasing the least attractive part of my stomach. And tissue-weight Ts are the bane of my existence. Remember that Robin Williams joke about ballet? "Men wearing pants so tight you can tell what religion they are," I think it was? Yeah, that. Shirt fabric so thin that you don't have to speculate about my cup size; you can just read it right off my bra band. Not. Acceptable.

Dresses? It is to laugh. You can find beautiful, fantastically-cut dresses in complimentary fabrics if you're anything less than a size 16. If you're a size 18 or above, those dresses disappear, mysteriously replaced by muu-muus in puke-green double-knit polyester.

But all these annoyances pale before the exercise in futility that is shopping for jeans.

Yeah, I know, no woman likes to shop for jeans. There's a reason for that.

I am 5'4", have short legs, big hips, big butt and a fat stomach. Jeans that successfully fit over one area rarely look good anywhere else. Plus, even though the average Western woman is exactly my height, garment makers have created an existential dilemma when it comes to pants that fit correctly:
  • 5'3" and below: Petite.
  • 5'5" to 5'8": Average.
  • 5'4": As far as garment manufacturers are concerned, YOU DO NOT EXIST.
I can either buy women's petite pants and look like I've survived a flood, or buy women's regular pants and resemble Charlie Chaplin. It's enough to make a girl load up and head for the nearest clock tower.
Dude. I feel your pain.
Oh, and mail-order/online shopping? Pffft. Yeah, there are more options online, but they come with a cost. Paying a premium to have clothing shipped to me only to discover that -- surprise! -- it doesn't fit properly, then paying even more to ship it back? Now I'm out shipping costs and I'm still naked. Pass. No matter how carefully I take my measurements and compare them to online size charts, mail-ordered clothing never fits. Lesson learned: if I can't try it on for free, I won't buy it.

The good news is that all these fit problems can be ameliorated... if you can find a competent tailor and pay him/her $20541083.69 to alter all your clothes.

I don't hate my body any more. Yeah, it's not perfect, but that can also be said of a multitude of things I enjoy. I just wish clothing manufacturers would spend a bit more time listening to frustrated women like me and adjusting their products to fit actual human bodies.

As I said, ruination of a perfectly good day. Next time I'm going geocaching instead.


Jennifer Leigh said...

I have one word for you: eshakti. It's the curvy girl's best friend.

Soozcat said...

That may be, but if I can't try it on first...

Jennifer Leigh said...

Eshakti will custom make any of their dresses with your specific measurements. They will also add sleeves, lengthen the hem, and change the neck. As long as your measurements are correct, their clothing fits.

Soozcat said...

What happens if it doesn't fit?

Soozcat said...

Never mind, I'm reading it now. "Please note that shipping and customization charges for returns are non-refundable."

Yeah, that's a no-go then.