I’ve been making the rounds at various shops looking for some updates for our full time travels. I am beyond frustrated. I’m proud to say I have hips and boobs. I have measurements that once made men swoon. (My husband still swoons for me, but let’s keep this PG.)
Finding well-fitting clothes has always been a struggle for the “plus-sized”. Even now, when the average size of half the women in the U.S. and Australia is above 14, the label of plus sized still carries a negative stigma among buyers, designers, and the fashion industry as a whole. The industry largely disregards the fact that plus sized now equals the real size of a majority of women. These women have the buying power to spend on clothing that looks good and fits well.
While acceptance is growing for labels to begin marketing to the curvaceous, most larger sized options are still crammed into the back of department stores with styles designed for the likes of Granny. And polyester, no less!
So why am I talking about this, especially on a travel focused blog?
Lately, I’ve seen a few ‘how to pack’ articles that go along the lines of “If you don’t pack it, don’t worry. You can ‘just pick it up’ somewhere on the road.”
Do you know how difficult it is to find a fleece hoodie that fits boobs and hips and doesn’t fit like a garbage bag?
Even if we could ‘just pick it up’, it’s a matter of finding places to do so. The plus sized market is still very much a specialty field. A lot of designs that work well for travel simply aren’t tailored proportionally for larger sized women. They just make larger versions of garments designed for straight sized people.
I was in Ireland in the middle of winter on a business trip. The only clean clothes I had were the ones I was wearing. The rest I dropped off at the local laundromat who screwed up the pick-up time, leaving me with nothing to wear for the following days meetings. I was desperate for something – anything – to wear.
Not surprisingly, I found myself in the back of a department store. I bought a wafer-thin tube skirt which hugged all the wrong places and went ‘pilly’ on that first – and only – wear, because it was the only thing I could ‘just pick up’.
The advice of ‘just pick it up’ reflects the same arrogance that the fashion industry is adhering to. The writers are ignoring the fact that people come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. They ignore the fact that most travelers plan years in advance to make their travel dreams come true. Long term travelers have to consider every ounce of weight and every dollar they spend.
The writers of these articles remind me of the movie, ‘Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’. (I love that movie).
Mahoney says to Henry:
“You’re a ‘just’ guy…
you think it’s just a store,
it’s just a bench, it’s just a tree.
It’s just what it is, nothing more!”
It’s shallow and thoughtless. There is no ‘just’. A lot of people can’t ‘just’ pick it up off the rack.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve thought all too often, “Apparently plus size women have no style!” I realize now that the issue does not reside with us plus sized women. Iit resides with the buyers and designers.
Plus-sized women of every age want the same opportunity to wear stylish apparel that is flattering to their body type.
I like looking good, and I want practical clothes that work for my life. Especially my travel life. Travelers need natural fabrics that are light weight and quick drying. In three years of living in Australia, I have found one pair of quality travel pants that fit reasonably well. I still had to take up the legs by several inches
The world seems to be becoming more comfortable with the idea that not everyone is supermodel-thin and instead, seeing people as they really are. If the mainstream fashion industry is slow to react to this growing trend, the pace for manufacturers in the travel industry is glacial.
For instance, I saw a Women’s 16 fleece in a shop the other day that would likely only fit a 12-year-old girl. Technology will help to bridge some of the gaps as manufacturers become more automated and driven by real world data. On-Line merchants also hold some promise of narrowing the gap between fit and style.
From experience I know that I have to prepare for every eventuality when I pack. I make sure that everything layers, has multiple functions and that everything I have in my bag will suit any occasion. I adapt my packing list to suit my trip. I pack one or two extra things and throw in a small tube of washing detergent and a portable clothesline, so that I’m not caught short. I certainly don’t need another throw away skirt!
I have tested the theory. Never ever think you can ‘pick something up’ when you are a curvaceous traveler. I look forward to choice when it comes to plus sized clothing. In the meantime, I think it’s best to be prepared instead.
I have found some handy links for buying plus-size online. But like everyone, sometimes you just need to try it on first! (I’m not affiliated with any of these, just some lovely online shops I’ve found)
J.Jill – good, flowing fabrics that wear well.
Talbots – Their jeans are fabulous and I love that Talbots account for vertically challenged plus size women too! (And seriously, will someone buy me this dress?! It’s perfect for travel!)
Target – They can be a hit or miss, especially as the seasons change, but I do have some key pieces in my wardrobe from Target.
Old Navy – Surprisingly Old Navy have been my staple for t-shirts for years. Again, they can be a hit or miss, but most of the time when I’m in the U.S., I’ll stop in to replace old Ts which have finally worn out. (I wear t-shirts practically every day!)
Here’s a great site – travelfashiongirl – that I’ve also found recently. So far, I’m liking it. I’m going to explore it more in the coming weeks and see what they have to offer.
Are you curvaceous and found great clothes that totally rock your world?
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