On Shopping and Shaping a Wardrobe

Published December 30, 2010 by sleepydumpling

In my lunch hour today I went shopping with my friend Nadia.  Originally I just went looking for a pair of black Mary-Janes, my old pair had died and I realised that other than ballet flats, I didn’t have any flat, black, comfortable shoes that I could wear with tights.  I really, really need some good quality shoes that I can be on my feet all day in, so that was my goal.

We popped into Rivers and they had all of their sandals and casual shoes for $20 a pair, so when I found both a pair of very cute patent leather and suede Mary-Janes in black, and another pair of cute leather Mary-Janes in a kind of olive colour, I bought both.

Then since the Rivers store is only two stores away from the Autograph store, and Autograph were having a 70% off sale… well, you know Nadia encouraged me and all.  SHE DID!!  Anyway, I came away with 3 tank tops, 2 dresses, a chemise, a bolero and a pair of swimmers, all for $93!  Weeeee!  I do love me some shopping.

Now let me just clear something up here.  It has been suggested in a few quarters (including one abusive email that I received) that I am somehow “selling out” to Autograph because they have sent me clothes to review.  Yes, they have been very generous, and I really appreciate that they’ve chosen me to do this with.  But that does not mean I’m doing some kind of “blog for product” thing here.  I will be the FIRST to speak up when Autograph don’t get it right.  In fact, there is a woman who works in their Brisbane Myer Centre store who is bloody awful at customer service, it would kill her to be pleasant and friendly.  (Though the other lady that works there is really nice, I don’t want to tar them all with the surly lady brush).  Autograph are in no way perfect when it comes to plus-size retail, (prices are still a bit steep for some things, still a whole lot of crossover busts and still far too many scratchy, non-breathing synthetic fabrics) but right now, review garments or not, they are getting some things right.

Not to mention that I also still BUY from them, because they’re also the one store that I can get to easily that have a) clothes to fit my death fatty, apple-shaped body b) prices I can afford, though usually on their sale racks and c) something that I like, even if I don’t like all of it.  If they want to send me clothes to review, I’m going to bloody take it and give honest reviews.  When I think they do good, I’ll say so, when I think something sucks, I’ll say so.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I was having a little think about all the shopping I’ve done lately.  For the first time in my entire life, my wardrobe is bursting at the seams.  I actually have more clothes than I have space for them and that I’m able to wear.  Not only have I bought clothes (and yes, received clothes) from Autograph, but I’ve also had a bit of a spree from Evans, Yours, thrift sales, Target and when I can get to them, Big W and Kmart.  So I’ve added to my wardrobe quite considerably over the past few months.  I’ve become adept at finding marvelous bargains, mostly through the word of mouth online, so that I can afford a whole lot more than I once would have been able to as well.

The reason it’s so stuffed is because I’ve actually not removed anything much from there for the past decade.  I still cling to clothes I bought ages ago.  Marianne and Lesley have talked about this in one of their early Two Whole Cakes fatcasts, the phenomena of fat women buying clothes that are in their size simply because they fit, and are affordable, and then hanging on to them forever because they might never find them again.  As I looked through my wardrobe, trying to make room for the new stuff, I realised that this is exactly what I have been doing.  What if I can never get a decent pair of black pants like these again?  But I loved this skirt so much, it doesn’t fit me any more, but it was so beautiful, what if I never owned anything this beautiful again?  This is one of the first dresses I bought after I got my first decent job, I just have to hang on to it, it’s SO significant.  I bought this when I was in the US, and I’d never seen anything like it back here, I can’t let it go.

It is time for me to shed these things that I never wear, that don’t fit, that aren’t appropriate for my current lifestyle.  Not only because they take up too much room in my small flat, and not only because I can no longer wear them, but because they are representative of an old way of thinking about myself as a fat woman.  They are the things I clung to because they flattered me, because they were the few crumbs of what I could find to fit my fat body, because I might not find something else.

I clung to these clothes like one clings to a dying relationship… because I was scared might not have another one.

Things have changed.  I have changed.  Where once I waited for the clothes to miraculously appear for me to buy, now I have the power to tell retailers what I want and tell them that they can have my money when they provide it.  Where once I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing things without sleeves, or high waisted skirts, or fairly body-con dresses, or dresses at all, now thanks to fabulous fatshionistas who have gone before me, I will be bold, wear things that please me, try new things, be proud of my body.  Where once I would have hidden in black, shapeless sacks, now I look for colour, for shape, for style.  Where once I had the option of one or two budget department stores that had a small selection at the back to fit my body, I now at least have a couple of solely plus-size clothing retailers and some fantastic overseas retailers selling online at an affordable rate with shipping that is reasonable.  Not to mention the smaller, independent sellers who are cropping up as well.  The internet has not only opened up a world for them to sell to, but it has opened up a world of contacts to share and network when it comes to finding plus-sized fashion that is affordable and desirable.

Not to mention that I have built a career over the past decade and through bloody hard work and passion for my field, can now afford to shop when I feel like it, as well as when I simply need to.

I can say goodbye to the garments that I have clung to for so many years.  Because I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things, clothing-wise.  Because I don’t have to stay in that bad relationship any more for fear of not being able to find another.  Even the fabulous garments that I have metaphorically outgrown, or desired but never really connected with can go, remembered fondly but bid farewell, perhaps for another to love, as a better fit than they were for me.

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10 comments on “On Shopping and Shaping a Wardrobe

  • “It is time for me to shed these things that I never wear, that don’t fit, that aren’t appropriate for my current lifestyle. Not only because they take up too much room in my small flat, and not only because I can no longer wear them, but because they are representative of an old way of thinking about myself as a fat woman.”

    I really love that :)

    I’ve been in a somewhat similar situation – holding onto old clothes, not so much for the sake of the clothes themselves, but rather, because of what they have represented to me. I have less of an emotional attachment to those old ill-fitting items these days, but i’m still working on letting go of some fears & thought patterns, which i know will see me let go of these clothes along with them.

    Thanks for another great post, & one i really connect with right now.
    Take care :)

  • I love cleaning out old clothes (as hard as it is to throw out the “maybe someday” things) Its amazing how powerfully symbolic it is: old clothes, old ways of seeing yourself, stepping into new clothes can mean stepping into new thoughts. wishing you a Happy (and stylish!) New Year!

    • Thank you elizabeth. I’m finding it very cathartic, and I’m looking forward to handing over a HUGE pile of clothes to my charities of choice. Someone out there is going to find all these plus-size clothes for a death fatty and benefit from them more than I will with them sitting in my wardrobe taking up space.

  • i love this. sure, us fatties don’t have the myriad choices that straight sized folks do, and i’ve done my fair share of bitching and complaining about it (and i don’t intend to stop, by the way), but your post made me smile so many times because we DO have choices! there are fabulous, delightful, and gorgeous clothes out there for us. and shopping can be fun! i would never have said those words 5+ years ago. it’s good to be reminded :)

    • Oh we by no means have what we need or even deserve by way of options. But they are slowly getting better, and WE’RE getting better at being confident and having fun. We will just have to keep working at them until they give us more choice, more value, more quality!

  • Most of my clothes were Fords, the things that form the basis of a wardrobe: navy blazer, khaki skirt, black dress, etc. A few years ago, owing to various illnesses, I dropped from a size 24/26 ( at which size I had a 20-year accumulation of really great clothes) to a 16/18: BAM! No more extensive, fabulous wardrobe. I learned a VERY valuable lesson: if you really feel in your bones that you’ll NEVER find another dress, sweater, whatever like one that you really adore, KEEP IT! Otherwise, go through your closet once a year, and if a garment hasn’t been worn since your last clean out, send it to a new home.
    Keep your Fords & your much-loved items, but make room for things that keep your wardrobe fresh. Find a women’s shelter or other charity to which you can donate your discards. Most of these places are woefully short of plus-sized items. When I called my church’s shelter to ask if they could use any plus-size women’s items, the shelter director said, “What time can you get them here?”

    Congratulations on your recent shopping spree – sounds like you REALLY scored some goodies!

    • I have never really been into what one would call a “classic” wardrobe. Mostly because a) I couldn’t find those things and b) I couldn’t afford those things. There are no classics in my wardrobe that I have hung on to.

      I disagree with hanging on to things that you adore, but you can’t wear, simply because you feel you won’t find another. This is what my WHOLE post is about, did you read it?

  • I am guily of buying clothes that I don’t really like or need simply because they are in my size and they are ‘ok’. I have way too many clothes and many I just don’t wear. I do get some sense of satisfaction sending them to the op-shop though because I figure some fat lady is going to snap them up and be so happy that there were some decent plus size items when there usually isnt.

    • That’s what I figure too Bri. Some lucky woman is going to come across these things and go “OMG!! Stuff for ME!!” like I do when I find something fab in an op shop.

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