"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What Do You Dial For the Fashion Police?

Ah, spring, when a young(ish) Twins fan's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of finding some capri pants and maybe a top to go with her so-cute new sandals.

You know what? They don't make clothes for actual women anymore. TBL is not sure they ever did.

TBL recalls being fourteen and approximately as wide as your pinkie finger and having no problems at all finding clothes that fit just wonderfully. But TBL kept on getting older until one day she woke up and had hips and a butt and other things that grown women have in real life. And suddenly, the shopping? Not so easy.

Here's the thing: the average American woman is 5'4" and wears a size 14. TBL is 5'3" and does not wear a size 14, but neither does she wear a size 2. And yet, all the pants which fit the curvy bits have great swathes of extra fabric flapping about the legs and/or pooling about the ankles. And all the tops which fit the curvy bits either drape tentlike over the rest of the torso or look as though they were applied with a vacuum-sealing device of some sort.

As a bit of an aside, while TBL is pleased to see the sport clothing manufacturers producing more gear for the female baseball fan, far too much of it is pink. Those of you who know TBL in real life, take a minute to picture her in pink. Try not to laugh so hard you injure yourself, please. This blog does not carry liability insurance.

But back to the fashion industry--TBL has female friends in every size you can imagine, and we all find that the task of acquiring clothes that fit nicely and are appropriate to both our personalities and our ages falls somewhere between "Herculean" and "Sisyphean".

So tell us, why are 95% of the clothes in the stores made for only two kinds of women--the pencil-thin, hipless, buttless, boobless wonder, or your color-blind Auntie Edna who thinks muumuus are appropriate to every occasion?

Most women fall somewhere between the two. And what we want is not so terribly complicated. We want clothes that fit. Comfortably. Over real bodies. We want to be able to look professional without looking frumpy. We want to be casual but still have waists that are easily identifiable. We want to look (and feel) sexy, not trashy.

We want to walk into stores and try things on without having our self-esteem bludgeoned to bits. It's okay--it's normal--for a woman have a convex belly and dimples on her thighs. Why should she hide under floral-print tents just because she doesn't spend three hours a day at the gym or--goddess forbid--she had a baby and her body changed? Why are we made to feel ashamed of having a woman's body, not a boy's? Perhaps more to the point, why do we allow ourselves to be shamed?

But no matter how good (or otherwise) we feel about our bodies, hardly anyone is making decent clothes for them. We do the best we can, we hunt through store after store, picking up this here and that there and too often settling for something vaguely adequate because it's the best we can find. We learn to alter our own clothing (get a serger, ladies, you'll love it) and keep an eye out for our best girlfriends' sizes while we're in the stores, because they do the same for us and we can all use every bit of help we can get.

We buy stuff that isn't comfortable because it looks okay, and stuff that looks like hell because it's comfortable. We come home with things that neither look nor feel good, because we think they might be great when they soften up in the wash, or after we drop that five pounds we've been meaning to deal with. We end up with closets bursting and drawers overflowing and nothing to wear.

Guys? You wonder why she has so many clothes? This is why.

It's stupid. Piles and mountains and racks of clothes in store after store all over the world, and no one who isn't a size 4 and under can find a thing that they really like. Who designs this crap?

Who decided that TBL is too short for her own hips, and that if she doesn't want to wear a sack over her chest, she must be determined to skirt the very edges of the public decency laws? Who decided that the most gorgeous, sexy women TBL has ever met should disappear under yards of shapeless fabric just because they had children? Who decided that you only deserve nice clothes if you're 5'8" and measure 34-22-34?

And, ladies, we can't hang this one on the guys. TBL is certain that there are, in fact, men out there who honestly prefer the stick-figure vision of femininity, but she has yet to become acquainted with any of them. The (straight) guys, they do like the curvy bits.

You know what the really "in" thing is this summer? The empire waist. That's where the top or dress is cinched (usually with a band of some sort) directly under the breasts and flows loosely from there. This style looks delicate and lovely on any woman who has an A cup and no hips. On the rest of us--which is most of us--it looks like maternity wear.

And to judge from what is available in the stores, they all expect TBL to voluntarily buy this stuff and spend the summer looking pregnant. Aside from the fact that FPC would fall catatonic at the mere thought of becoming a grandmother, TBL does not wish to spend her summer explaining that no, she does not want or need a used stroller for cheap.

You will not find any answers here. TBL is just venting, and putting some questions out there. And maybe hoping that if enough of us think about this, and get annoyed about this, and find a way to stop buying crap that's barely serviceable and mostly undesirable, someone in the fashion industry will wake up and say, "Excuse me, but why don't we try something completely off the wall here, and whip up some clothes that make people look and feel good? I've got a hunch they might sell."

And if, in the course of your daily life, you should stumble across some capris which would actually be capri-length and not wader-length on a woman of normal height, and which do not in any way resemble a hot air balloon or, alternatively, body paint, do drop TBL a line. She's still looking...

4 rejoinders:

Fourth pew, center sounded off...

And then there are the shoes. Sweet mercy, the shoes! What sort of anchovy-combination-pizza-heartburn-induced-nightmare does it take to think that we should stroll around even our offices -- much less the city streets -- in FOUR INCH HEELS!?!?!? Or is it a conspiracy among the chiropractors, the podiatrists, and the surgeons who'll be doing our hip and knee replacements when we hit 60?
And pizza-toes . . . no, I won't even start my rant on pizza-toe shoes. We'll be here all night.

I am seriously considering embarking upon a Quest. (Note the capital Q. This is serious.) A for-real, swear-fealty, devote-your-life Quest to have The World's Coolest Collection of Flats.

Anyone care to join me?

frightwig sounded off...

It seems to me that women's pants used to be cut for women with curves, back in ye olden '80s and prior days of yore. Ladies' bottoms, even fully dressed, used to look round. Trust me, I'm not such a gentleman that I fail to notice such things. Then sometime in the '90s it became "fashionable" for gals to wear clunky shoes and pants cut for boys, and now you even see ads for "the Boyfriend Trouser"--or, as I call them, "men's clothes at women's clothing prices." It's a sad state of affairs, I agree.

I think this is what eventually happens when women's clothing is designed mostly by gay men, to be modeled by figures that gay men find attractive.

Third Base Line sounded off...


I would, but I'm well into my Quest for the World's Coolest Collection of Embroidered Sneakers and Limited-Edition Birkenstocks. Have you seen my white sneakers with the red baseball stitching on the seams? Find of the decade!


It has always been my opinion that true gentlemen not only notice such things, but make a point to notice so that they may, at all times, be armed with the largest possible selection of honest compliments.

Uncontrollable Id sounded off...

What a lovely blog. Thank you.

And I will happily add my two cents here as well. Clothes are horrendous. And can the fashion industry just GET ON THE SAME PAGE with sizing? Why can't we just do what Europe does, and use MEASUREMENTS so we don't have to do conversions in our head every time we walk into a store? And yeah, I'm a female with female parts, thanks, and I really would rather NOT look like a boy, which is why I generally stay away from clothes that are CUT for boys and sold to women. The empire waist can bite my ass. Who is buying this shit?

And I am launching an offensive against pink Twinswear. (Green too. But pink first, because it's such a problem.)