It could be that I live in a smallish city in the Midwest. It could be that I shop on a budget. It could be that I have never been what you might consider a trendy person. Whatever the reason, in my closet there aren’t a lot of clothes that I would wear if I had an alternative other than begging my mom to drag out her old Singer and whip me up some outfits.
In my town, we have one dedicated plus sized clothing store. One. Their clothes would best be described as “cute”. Not the look I’m going for at this stage in my life. There are a few discount stores and a few department stores with a rack or two of larger sizes, but with few exceptions the clothes are cheaply made but expensive to buy, and rarely are they actually attractive.
I used to get catalogs from Lane Bryant. Every couple of months I would take the scenic drive to the nearest Lane Bryant Store, 90 miles away. Some might wonder why I would drive almost 200 miles round trip when I could order to my heart’s content with a few clicks of the mouse. Well, I’ll tell you why: return shipping costs a fortune and most of my purchases didn’t fit. Even when I ordered the same top in two different colors, I usually got at least one that didn’t fit.
This is why I found myself driving along a deserted highway on a gorgeous summer day, headed for Lane Bryant with my newest catalog on the seat beside me. The cover of the catalog featured a pretty, though hardly plus sized, model wearing a dressy Capri-pant- and- floaty-top outfit that I thought would be perfect for an upcoming wedding. As I drove I put the whole look together in my mind: earrings, shoes, even my hairstyle. Imagine my disappointment when I finally got to Lane Bryant and not only did they not have the outfit in my size, they didn’t have the outfit at all. I waited while the clerk called in to the regional office, checking to see if it could be ordered. When she finally got off the phone the clerk told me that the outfit on the cover on their catalog wasn’t actually a Lane Bryant item. It was “representative” of styles carried in the store. The clerk had a list of item numbers for clothes the company felt would be good substitutes, so we spent a few minutes looking them up. One was a tube top, one was an oxford type button down blouse, and the third was a graphic print t-shirt. I was so appalled that a company would feature an item they don’t even sell on the cover of their advertisement that when I got home that evening I went online and cancelled my Lane Bryant credit card and removed my name from their subscription list.
After my breakup with Lane I flirted with the “Cute” store for a while, but ultimately I went back to shopping online (I’m still not speaking to Lane). When an item is truly awful I suck it up and pay for the return shipping. The rest of the time I make due. I know that to be politically correct I would have to proclaim that I want to lose weight “for my health” but the truth is, I really want some funky clothes.