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Monday, June 05, 2006

I'm not fat, these clothes are too small!

The Bargain Queen is going to have a little rant today, and probably only the girls will relate to it - sorry boys! What she wants to know is why do some fashion labels make their sizing so tiny? Do they really not want money from anyone larger than the house model? One Australian designer is famous for saying he doesn't want 'fat chicks' wearing his clothes... but surely that strategy doesn't work for everyone?

Clothes sizing isn't something The Bargain Queen normally thinks about. She mostly doesn't care what the numbers say; every brand cuts their stuff differently so of course the numbers vary. She's an L at stores aimed at teens and an XS at stores for the middle-aged but she doesn't care. If it fits, no worries. But she just had one of those sad, tragic changing room experiences that made her feel like an overweight hippopotamus and it got her thinking.

The Bargain Queen was checking out the winter sales that just started in Sydney and tried on a label she doesn't normally wear. The garments were beautiful, well priced even before the mark down and there were racks of different styles to choose from. It looked like a great buy, but gorgeous clothes end up on sale racks for a reason. Sometimes they were priced too high; sometimes unseasonal weather makes them unnecessary that year; sometimes the store's buyers miscalculate their customers' tastes. But sometimes, noone buys the clothes because noone fits in the clothes.

So The Bargain Queen went into the changeroom... and nothing from this label fit. At all. She tried the medium, she tried the large. She had acres of flesh hanging out all over the place in both of them. Ugh! Really not something anyone wants to see.

Now this would be fair and reasonable if The Bargain Queen was bigger than the general population. OK, she does have a little bit of winter padding right now... but she's currently an Australian size 12 (equivalent to a US 8 or a UK 10) which on a 5'7" frame is not enormous. To put it into perspective, the most recent research on Australian body sizes found that the average 16- to 24-year-old woman fits a size 16! So why is she way too big for the large size garments?

There are a whole lot of possible explanations. Perhaps the designer thought the fabric had more stretch than it does. Maybe they made a terrible mistake while they were grading the patterns and the small size became the large. Maybe they expected shorter people, who also tend to be smaller, to buy their clothes. Or maybe they actually do want to keep 'fat chicks' out of their clothes.

The lesson The Bargain Queen should have taken from all this is that she gets convinced that she's fat a little too easily. So one manufacturer makes clothes for the super-slim... so what? She also tried things from a brand she buys regularly and was roughly the same size as usual, which should be evidence enough that she's not enormous. And even if she was overweight, there are much worse things you can be. (Unhealthy. Mean. Pedantic. Sociopathic...)

As for the manufacturer, it's unlikely the department store was pleased to have racks of their clothes left at the end of the season to mark down. If their super-small sizing is working for them, it's not happening at that store.

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  • At 8:34 am, Anonymous mag said…

    Having just broken the size 16 barrier I just know that many designers don't want big girls to wear their clothes. What they do make in my size is frumpy and unflattering, usually black and makes me look bigger. No one is designing with voluptuous women in mind. Shopping for me is like a full time job - just to find something that fits and is comfortable. As for bargains, if one more shop assistant says " well we only get one size sixteen and it goes straight away" I will scream!

    I have had some luck, however with the following labels at seconds outlets (DFO- Homebush) Charlie brown, Lisa Ho, Alannah Hill skirts (their tops are made for breastless women),Calvin Klein jeans (their fashion range is made for very small people)

  • At 4:33 pm, Blogger The Bargain Queen said…

    Thanks for the tips Mag! And good luck!

    Portmans does some good stuff too, but it's a bit inconsistent: some of it's great it you're a bit bigger, other stuff is strictly for twigs (or just straight-out hideous!)

  • At 4:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A couple thoughts on clothing and the ever-so-varied sizes...
    A former retail apparel purchaser recently told me that tags don't match with the clothing they are intended for. She says that many retailers buy in "lots" of clothing and expect there to be approximately 4-5 of each size in any given lot. If there aren't? They switch out tags to make it seem like there are. (terrible!) So, sometimes you run into a "size large" that was, and really still is, an extra small. And that sort of thing.

    And from the other end of the spectrum: I'm positively certain that I'm not getting smaller, yet the majority of clothing seems to be outgrowing me! ie: a once favorite brand of jean in a size 0 or 2 was heavenly! These days, the 0 positively falls off my hips, and two of me could fit in a 2! And we all know the world just doesn't need two of me.
    Mags, I sure sympathize, more often the answer is a questioning look and "No ma'am, they don't even MAKE them in that size..." Which means that eight years later, I'm still desperately clinging to the one pair of jeans that still fit and haven't gone holey. *sigh*
    So, BQ, if you run across any lovely twig-sized bargains, let me know! We've got to figure out how keep an overseas purchase in the "bargain" category ;)


  • At 6:46 pm, Blogger The Bargain Queen said…

    Hi Miniducky, thanks for the info!

    If you're after twig size, you might want to look at some Australian fashion designers. I'm an AU size 12 (about a US 6) and I'm 'too fat' for most of the stuff from labels like Sass & Bide, Bettina Liano, Wayne Cooper and Zimmerman. I guess they're phenomenally expensive in boutiques over there, but you can often pick up gently worn stuff on and have it shipped over. Hope that helps!


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