Thrifting while fat: finds and frustrations

Becky wrote a great guest post at Already Pretty about how thrifting while fat allowed her to experiment and develop her personal style.

I wish my thrifting experiences were as good as hers. For me, thrifting has been at best a chance to score some cheap basics, and at worst an exercise in frustration.

One of my thrift store finds: cute and comfortable, but not particularly me.

In my area, thrift stores tend to have a decent plus size selection–and some straight-sized items that are stretchy enough to fit fat people–but they very rarely include anything interesting, funky, or wild. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into a thrift store and seen gorgeous, unusual, sparkly, riotously-patterned, tulle-adorned, vintage, or punky clothes in straight sizes, while the plus sizes consist of jeans and solid-colored tops.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought, “I would dress so much more outrageously if this stuff came in my size.”

I can’t even read straight size thrifting blogs, because it just hurts to see someone finding so easily, so cheaply, the kind of clothing I have to search hard and/or pay lots of money for.

I’ve been lucky, though, to experience a taste of cheap plus size variety at Re/Dress NYC when it existed, and at the Big Thrifty here in Boston. And despite my limited options, I’ve always found ways to experiment with style–from my high school days of green lipstick, dog collars as chokers, chunky Mary Janes, and safety-pin bedecked skirts to the tutus and tiny hats I wear today.

I am heartened by events like the Big Thrifty and New York’s Big Fat Flea. I am heartened by the explosion of fatshion blogs and indie plus size designers.  I hope that the events spread beyond large urban centers, and that the clothes spread beyond small, expensive indie brands.

I hope that someday, I can walk into a thrift stop and be surrounded by Domino Dollhouse, SWAK, Torrid, ASOS Curve, Igigi, and Kiyonna. I want to see a world where fashion experimentation is an option for everyone who wants it.

Fa(t)shion inspirations, special tutu edition

I know it’s not Wednesday, but I couldn’t wait to share these awesome outfits starring tutus that I’ve come across recently.

Sian shows of her ASOS Curve tutu dress (the same one I mentioned in my tutu news post):

I absolutely love the romantic vibe of Sal’s dusty pink tutu. If I had one like it, I’d be all about mixing it with florals, or with spikes and leather. Or a t-shirt and sneakers. Or a shit-ton of lace and pearls… *falls headfirst into fatshion-fantasy-land*

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Tutu envy, part 3

Recently I saw both Sal of Already Pretty and Alison of Wardrobe Oxygen wearing lovely tutus.

I love Sal’s slightly goth take on the tutu. And check out the kitty pictures in her post!

Alison, mixing stripes and leopard like a boss.

Alison linked to the eBay posting where she found her tutu. Sal just wrote that she got hers on eBay, but considering how similar it looks, I’m guessing it might be from the same seller.

And that tutu? Absolute love.

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On thin privilege and online shopping

The perils of buying clothing and bras online: way too much stuff to return.

I’ve been reading through Already Pretty’s archive of link roundups, and there’s some really interesting stuff.

This is a response to one of the posts Sal linked to, although unfortunately I can’t find it.  It was an ode to buying clothing online, written by a straight sized woman.

I kind of hate when women who don’t wear plus sizes talk about how much they love shopping online, while we fats don’t have much other choice.

As someone who usually wears a size 18-22, I do have a few real-life options–which is more than many larger people have, especially if they don’t live in or near a major city. But there are very few stores near me that are exclusively plus size. The Boston area does have a few (Lane Bryant, Avenue, and Ashley Stewart), but none are particularly easy to get to from where I live. There’s also H&M+, which has awesome stuff, although a much smaller selection than H&M’s straight sizes.

But most of the stores where I sometimes find clothing–Target, Marshall’s, thrift stores, etc.–have only a few items in my size. And their plus size selection is usually a lot less interesting than their straight sizes. So most of the time it’s just not worth it.

I know that shopping online is sometimes necessary for specific items like tutus, petticoats, and My Little Pony t-shirts. And if I wore straight sizes, I’d totally buy online from Topshop and Modcloth.

Online shopping does have its place. But depending on it sucks for many reasons:

1.) You have to pay for shipping and wait for your package to arrive. Then, if it doesn’t fit, you have to return it and pay even more shipping. All the shipping charges, on top of the higher price of plus size clothing as it is, are like tax for being fat.

Sometimes, you can get free shipping for orders over a certain amount of money. And a few places, like ASOS Curve, offer free returns. But neither is very common.  And even if you can get free shipping for orders over $50 or $100, what if you really only want one item from that store?

2.) You don’t get to try things on before buying them.  Different brands’ sizing run differently, and rarely match up to their size charts. Two similar items by the same brand can fit completely differently. For example, this peplum lace top from Deb fits me perfectly, whereas their floral top is way too tight.

Sometimes, you have buy a lot of things before finding one that fits, which means more waiting and more shipping charges, plus the hassle of packing everything up and taking it to the post office. And some companies are really slow about processing returns, so it can be a month or more before you get your money back (I’m looking at you, eShakti).

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Fashion policing: a playground of oppression

Yeah, I’m wearing leggings as pants. You got a problem with that?

The deeper I get into the fa(t)shion world, the more I come across examples of fashion judging and policing, even within spaces that are explicitly body-positive.

It pisses me off immensely. First, because one person’s style is no one’s business but their own. Period. Second, because it’s inextricably tied up with pretty much every prejudice under the sun: sexism, ableism, ageism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia…

Warning: epic rant ahead.

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