I agree 100% with this piece by Erin Gloria Ryan on how “dressing your age” is dead. I am all for wearing whatever you enjoy, regardless of your age. I am all for throwing fashion rules out the window if they don’t resonate with you.
But the opening anecdote just made me sad:
A few months ago, I had a couple of hours to kill after work and found myself wandering over to the TopShop a few blocks from work and, as I sometimes tend to do, wasting time by trying on clothing weirder than anything I currently own. It’s fun in a movie montage-type way, finding out whether I can pull off a boxy pleather crop top, or a pair of fuzzy pink shorts with a denim corset and a mesh blazer or whatever crazy shit the store’s buyers are trying to trick shoppers into wearing that season.
I’ve never been able to do that. Not as a teen, not now as an adult.
I’ve always loved outrageous, over-the-top clothing. I’ve always loved experimenting. And I’ve never had that easy access that straight size women take for granted.
I’m lucky to have clothing swaps and the Big Thrifty. And there are enough plus size options online that now, as a size 22, I have far more options than I did as a size 16 teenager in the late ’90s/early ’00s. (The suckiness of barely being able to find clothes in your size as a teenager, when you most want to experiment with fashion, would be a whole other post. Which I should probably write at some point.)
But still. I want to be able to walk into a store and try on any ridiculous thing that strikes my fancy. I want to try on weird clothing not for movie-montage-esque fun times, but because I genuinely love weird clothing. I want to wear unicorn sweaters and holographic prints and fuzzy everything. I want to dress like a ’90s club kid: neon colors, platform sneakers, photographic floral prints, clear vinyl jackets and all.
I want a plus size TopShop, a plus size NastyGal. I want not just the occasional fun item from ASOS Curve or Domino Dollhouse, but entire stores full of awesome stuff. Entire in-person stores, where I can try on clothes without paying for shipping, waiting for them to arrive, and then dealing with returns if they don’t fit. I want to be able to play around with clothes without commitment or risk. And yes, I want them to be cheap as well. I hate paying so much more for clothes than people who wear straight sizes do–even though I know that in a sustainable and just fashion industry, all of our clothing would cost more.
Sometimes I just want pretty things. Pretty, ridiculous, shiny, cheap, teenage-dream things.
Sometimes I forget that there’s this whole world of clothing I can’t be part of, and when I get reminded, it just hurts.