clothing quality

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Plus-Size Fashion Companies – Let Me Help You Make Money!

Published October 28, 2012 by sleepydumpling

Alright.  Since many people seem to think that it’s somehow wrong for me to be angry at the unjust way many of we super fat people are treated by the industry that is SUPPOSED to serve us*, I’m offering up my services.

If you have a plus-size fashion/clothing company that caters to people OVER a size 3X (24AU) or you have a plus-size fashion/clothing company that WANTS to cater to people over a size 3X, contact me and let me help you make money.  Let me promote you to my not inconsiderable following both online and in real life and let me help you gather the resources and information you need to make your product a success.

There are a few small guidelines though:

  1. If you don’t cater to my size (4X/26AU) as a minimum, or are actively working to in the very near future, please do not expect me to give you my time and energy.
  2. If you do not ship internationally, please make that clear.  I am not adverse to working with companies that don’t ship to Australia, but I need to be able to make that clear to my audience.
  3. You MUST be willing to revisit both your service, product and/or your marketing.  If you simply toss your hands up and say there is no demand, then you are not trying hard enough.
  4. I will give you honest and frank feedback and help you channel the feedback you get elsewhere to something you can actually use.  I know it is difficult to get any real information from some criticism, but I am expert at working out what the actual issue is and finding real steps to resolve them.  But that will require a commitment from you to actually listen and take negative feedback on board.

Now, my time is precious and valuable, so this is not something I am offering lightly.  I am however offering it for free to those of you who are genuinely willing to work towards improving your products, service and marketing.  I am that committed to improving the fashion/clothing industry for fat women over a size 3X that I am willing to offer up my time and energy for free, within the framework of my regular life.  Please be aware that I do have a full time job and other commitments I will have to work this project around.

If I can also help fat men, that will be an added bonus.  It is not my area of expertise, but I do have resources I can help with and know people I can refer you to.

So, if you want to open your business up to a whole lot of new customers, a mostly untapped market in fact, I’m willing to help you do that.  I want to see you succeed and make money.

And to those of you who are a size 3X and over, please spread the word and stand by to help me make things better for you.  You will also need to put your money where your mouth is when companies DO take up the challenge.  Don’t leave me to do it all on my own!

*How dare we be unhappy at being excluded!  We have options dammit,  yeah a whole four companies!  Many of which don’t ship internationally or actually cater to our size!

Fab Fat Fashion Feedback Session

Published February 20, 2012 by sleepydumpling

I am a very lucky fatty.  I do know that.  I was invited again by Autograph Fashion to spend some time in my local store reviewing their new product lines and giving them some feedback.  Of course I leapt at the chance – what’s more fun than trying on clothes and playing with fashion?  Not to mention getting to share them with you all once I have too.

The kind folks at Autograph gave me a list of garments they wanted me to try on, and then let me go nuts with whatever else in store interested me.

I tried on a LOT of stuff.  I lost count with how many.  We didn’t photograph all of them, but here are the ones we did.  The first item they asked me to try on was this half sleeve foil print top.  I knew before I even put it on that it wasn’t my cup of tea, but the girls gave me a pair of jeggings (also not my cup of tea) and I had a go anyway:

Definitely not me.  I’m not one for slogans or anything on tops, and I wear almost no t-shirts at all.  It was made of a really soft fabric though.  The same goes for the jeggings – well made and a nice fabric, but not my cup of tea.  I felt really naff and uncomfortable in this outfit.

I then went on to try a floral print button through top that I had been eyeing off online for a bit.  I love a floral print, and anything loose and breezy has my vote in summer:

I found it super cute, but it just didn’t fit me at all.  It was kind of loose around the armpits, but sat weird on my hips and tummy.  A pity, because I just love that print.

Another outfit that the folks at Autograph asked me to try were the snakeskin print leggings and this frill hem voile tunic.

This top fit WAY better, but I wasn’t fussed on that hemline – it just hung all weird.  It’s a gorgeous colour though and a lovely soft, cool fabric.  But I can’t tell you how much I love those leggings.  They’re awesome!  Soft and comfortable and breath well, and y’all know how I love snakeskin print.  Those went on the “Yes” pile straight away.

I also tried on this black shirt:

It wasn’t really my cup of tea – it’s a bit plain for me.  But again, another great fabric, and if you’re looking for a wardrobe basic, it would be a good one.

Then it was time to try on some dresses.  This one jumped out at me straight away because of it’s blue print – blue is one of my favourite colours to wear:

But sadly, it didn’t work.  It looked frumpy and bland once I put it on, and the slip underneath was actually longer than the dress.  It’s a pity because I do love blue.

The ladies in store asked me to try this mono print one on, as they wanted to see it on a body rather than just on the hanger.  The print didn’t appeal to me at all (a bit old lady feeling for me) on the hanger, but it was better when I put it on:

It hung really nicely and was beautifully soft as well.  I think if it had been a different print I would like it a lot more.

Another one of the garments the Autograph folk asked me to try was this peplum dress:

I love it!  I love it!  I love it!  I’m going to change the belt up for one in red or bright yellow, to bring some colour into it.  I would LOVE one in the same blue as the top on the wall behind me in this photo, and I’d wear that with a yellow belt too.  Or red would be awesome.  Or purple.  I put this one on the “Yes” pile even though I have a dozen plain black dresses.   It’s such a cute style.

There was also this zip detail dress, which I really liked on the hanger:

I really liked the look of it, but it just wouldn’t sit right on me.  I think I would spend all my time adjusting it – and you know how annoying that is.  But I love the style and the print.

Now you know I’m not so much of a corporate wear kind of woman, but I thought I would give this dress a try (no longer on website):

How cute is that dress??  I love the just on the knee length, and the splash of colour in the top half.  It’s made of a beautiful weighty knit in the skirt and a light viscose in the bodice.  Since the dress was such a hit, I thought I would try a couple more of the garments from the workwear range.  There was this lace print tunic:

Love it.  I think I will go back for this one.  I love the soft peach colour and the pretty lace print.  I wear a lot of tunics and leggings, so this one would integrate into my wardrobe just nicely.

I also tried on this fluttery bow print top, and liked it so  much, it came home with me!  I wore it to work today, check out how I wore it:

Yes, I did have a hair cut over the weekend!

And this apricot spot top (with grey maxi skirt):

Despite the squinchy face I’m pulling, I really did like it.  I may also go back for that maxi skirt, I love that it’s straight through, no tiers or frills or fuss.

Leaving the skirt on, I tried this pretty floral top:

Which I really did love (I’m a sucker for a floral), and this gather neck print top:

Which didn’t quite work for me, though I love the colours in it.  Looking at that maxi skirt again, I REALLY like it.  I think I’m going to have to invest in that one!

Finally, I tried on a few more tops, from this rust coloured stripe top:

Which to be honest, I didn’t feel at all comfortable in – you can probably tell by the photograph!  I don’t really do t-shirts, but this colour and the stripe really called my name.

Then to this red and grey top:

Which really didn’t work for me at all (it felt like a pajama top) and finally, to this striped top with pockets:

Which I absolutely loved to bits, so much that it also came home with me!  It’s so soft and comfy and I love the pockets.  I am such a sucker for stripes too.

Finally, there was this awesome zigzag print tunic, which also came home with me, and I wore it to work on Friday (pre hair cut!).  Check it out:

I think that’s my favourite piece of the whole day.

There were a WHOLE lot of other things I did try on, but for several reasons they were rejected.  Some were just sold out in my size, some didn’t quite fit, some I didn’t like the fabric and some just weren’t my taste at all.

But overall I’m really impressed with how far Autograph have come in the past year or so.  I always find something I love, there is always something in on-trend colours, there is now some really good variety and mostly, it fits, even my size 26AU super fatty body.

1. In the interest of openness, Autograph Fashion gifted me 5 garments of my choice, but all opinions are my own and are not influenced by this gift.
2. Thanks to Lauren Gurrieri who took all of the in store shots for me.

 

An Afternoon at Autograph

Published November 19, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Sometimes being a bolshy fat activist blogger means I get to do some pretty awesome things.  For anyone who has been reading Fat Heffalump for awhile, you know I’ve had quite a regular blog review relationship with Australian plus-size clothing retailer, Autograph Fashion.  Being the only brick and mortar dedicated plus-size store that actually have clothes that fit me (most only go to 22 or 24 AU) and that I can afford (MySize – $90 for a t-shirt, fuck that!), I am pretty vocal about how they’re doing with serving the mega fatty like myself as far as price, quality and style are concerned.  In the 12 months or so since they first contacted me and asked me to review some of their clothes, I’ve watched a vast improvement in the quality and style of their stock and the look of their stores.  They’ve gone from this to the outfits I’m going to show you below.

I’ve been really, really lucky that they’ve sent me so many pieces for free to review, and I really appreciate that they are working to get it right – and of course, I’m the kind of bolshy fat activist blogger who is going to be honest with them if they don’t.

Earlier this week they contacted me and let me know that some of the marketing folk were going to be here in Brisbane today, and asked me if I would like to come in and meet with them, have a look at the new stock and give them some feedback and discuss how they’re doing with their product and service these days.  HELL YES!

Being on holidays at the moment (back to work Monday, sob!) meant that I had plenty of time to spare and could relax and just enjoy talking with the ladies and trying on clothes and letting them see how they work on someone at the upper end of their range.  I’m a size 26AU in most garments (though often lower sizes in pants/skirts) and therefore definitely at the upper end of their 14-26 range.  I also have a body that is not a traditional shape – no hourglass or pear here… I’ve said before I’m more of a barrel with legs.  We know as fatties ourselves that our bodies are diverse in shape even though we might take the same size garment, so it’s important for the folks from a plus-size clothing company to understand the mechanics of our fitting garments to our diverse bodies.

I did make sure I was wearing a mostly Autograph Fashion outfit today, because I also want them to know that I certainly do buy their clothes – boy do I buy a lot of their clothes!  So this is what I wore:

This dress originally came with a belt, but because I’m round in the middle, it looks better on me unbelted.  The sandals are from Payless Shoes and earrings from Ritual.  I also had an Autograph Fashion bracelet on, but my hand is behind my back so you can’t see it here.

So I met the Autograph ladies and we started out by having a discussion about what I liked about the store and the current stock.  The Myer Centre store looks great at the moment, inviting and as if they’re proud of their stock and their customers.  Compared to a lot of plus-size clothing retailers, who either shove the plus-sizes in the back, or they fill the windows with something other than their clothes on plus-size mannequins (why put something other than your stock in the window??), I like how their stock is highly visible from the front of store, and they have plus-size mannequins right there in the middle of the front of the store, highlighting the plus-sized clothes they sell.  It looks like any other clothing store, just with bigger clothes.  Their stock has some great colours that are bang on trend at the moment, and some really fab on-trend prints and styles too.

We also talked about the stuff that I’m not so fond of.  Shark-bite hemlines anyone?  I HATE those things, though I’m stuck with several in my wardrobe because options are so limited for my size.  They actually don’t have much that makes me go “yuck” at the moment.   I also told them about some horrible things other companies are doing, like cutting off at size 20 or 22, offering only casual clothes, charging exorbitant prices for t-shirts and capri pants ($90 for a t-shirt!!), or the worst practice – having lower quality fabrics for the upper sizes, ie 22 and 24, than those that are 14-20 in the exact same garment.

We also talked about how clothes fit on “everyday” fat bodies, as opposed to their current “face” of Autograph Fashion, plus-size model Fiona Faulkner – who is gorgeous but is a bit of an Amazon – very tall and hourglass with long legs.  That’s not the average Australian plus-size woman’s build, and so we talked about the practicalities of fitting clothes to women with bodies like mine that aren’t shaped like the current cultural beauty ideal.

They also asked me if I could buy clothes from any other plus-size retailer, if they had my size, shipped to Australia and were affordable, who I would buy from.  Dorothy Perkins got my main vote – I love the styles they have but they simply don’t cater to my size and I mentioned that I like Asos Curve but they also cut off before my size as well.

Then we got to the fun stuff.  They let me loose to just try on a whole bunch of stuff and see how it fits, which ones I like and which ones  didn’t work.  I selected a HUGE pile of clothes, I really wanted to get in and put stuff on my mega fatty body and show them how it looks.

And yes, I have photos for you all.

The first one is this print maxi dress that they actually posted on their FaceBook page today and I liked the look of.

I like the super long length and that it has little cap sleeves, which cover my tattoo enough for work.  It’s lovely and cool and the neckline is really pretty.  This one got a total thumbs up from me.

The next one was this glittery lurex stripe maxi.

I liked the look of this one, especially as the fabric was all glittery and sparkly, and the cut and length were great for me, but unfortunately the lurex was kind of itchy and prickly.  I’m sure it would drive me nuts here in the Queensland heat.  It does look cute though.

Another dress next, this time a shorter length one in blue (not available online):

I love this dress.  The intense blue colour, the just-on-the-knee length, the slits down the sleeves and the soft fabric.  Total winner, one of my favourites of the day.

I did try on a few other dresses next, but they didn’t work on me or there wasn’t one in the right size.  This one clung in all the wrong places despite being a gorgeous colour and print, a pretty frilled one (available in red or black, not on the website) that just wasn’t suited to my shape, and a sleeveless one in a gorgeous pewter satiny fabric that gaped all weird around my armpits.

On to a few tops next, and the first I tried on was this black and white sleeveless tunic (not available online):

I absolutely love the starry print on this one, and it was a delicious cool cotton fabric, but there was that damn shark-bite hemline!  However it was softened by the little frill around the bottom (I do love a frill) and there are slits up the sides that make it fall nicely.  I may even go back and buy this one, I love that print so much.

Then there was this one in a taupe with frill neckline and pockets:

I liked it much more on the hanger than on my body.  I think the blue would have been a nicer colour on me too, but they didn’t have one in my size.  It was soft and comfortable, and I LOVE the pockets, but yeah, it just didn’t work for me.  It gaped a bit weird around the armpits, which seems to be a bit of a common theme for some of the garments there.

Those of you who know me know that I love leopard print like only a fat lady can, so it will come as no surprise that I had to try on the sheer leopard print shirt.

This one was my other firm favourite of the day.  I was in love the minute I put it on.  It has a dipped hemline (very on-trend this season) and tiny gold buttons, and cutouts in the sleeves.   It’s quite sheer so I just put it over a plain black tank top.  Gorgeous and floaty and perfect.

I did try a bunch of others that I didn’t take photos of in the tops too.  A cute one with a lace frill in apricot that was really lovely (I may go back and buy it), a watermelon peasant blouse that was lovely but didn’t fit me right, and a ruffly one in the most gorgeous bird print in black birds on midnight blue (not available online) that wasn’t available in my size.  Oh and I also tried on this striped maxi skirt, which is beautiful and soft and cool – yep, might go back and get that one too!

Finally the Autograph ladies brought me a bunch of other things they wanted me to try on just to get a look at how they were on my body.  There was this top which was really quite cute, I may go back and get that one too!  Their new sandals which are a wide foot fitting and super comfortable, and a little denim vest that I absolutely fell in love with but didn’t get a photo of!

But there were also these two dresses, which demonstrate the power of trying things on before you buy, and to get out of your comfort zone.  First there was this black one with cutout detail (not available online) that I totally would have picked out for myself but left on the shelf only because I already have a zillion black dresses.  But looking at it on shelf, it would have been one that I would have bought without trying on because it’s a style that usually suits me.  But when I put it on:

It just didn’t work on me.  It clung, it rode up in the back, and just wasn’t right.  Which is a real shame because I love that cutout detail and it’s a great length too, just below the knee.  It would have been a dress that I’d bought and never wore.

Then they brought me this floral one (not yet available online) that I had looked at and thought was pretty, but totally not me.  I never would have even tried it on, had they not asked me to.

I am so glad I did!  I love it to bits!  It’s so femme and retro (it feels like a vintage piece) and is such a cute length on me.  It was also really useful to show the Autograph folk the dress on a super fat body.

By that time I was quite over trying things on and I was getting hot and sweaty!  But it was lots of fun and we had some really useful conversation about fit, fabric, construction, the politics of fatshion, marketing to fat women and body positivity.  It was interesting to talk about the diverse types of customers they have, from those who are looking for “flattering” clothes that they can feel comfortable wearing, and those of us who are more fat positive and are looking for fashion, fun, colour, and visibility.  It’s hard to make such a diverse group of people happy when there is currently so little available on the market – but women who want to cover their bodies and dress in a “flattering” manner have as much right to choose that and have product available to them, as those of us who want something more fashion forward and visible do.

We also had a good talk about the practicalities of garments for plus-size bodies.  Things like garments needing to cover plus-size bras (which are by default, big and ugly), of lengths of dresses not getting longer as the sizes get bigger (they sadly often do, which means larger sized women who are not taller end up swamped), how necklines work differently with large breasts and chins, the fit over different shaped breasts, hips, arms, bellies and thighs, and the different climates Australia has and what is practical in Melbourne may not be here in Queensland.

Once we’d finished up there, they very kindly gave me the first print maxi dress, the blue shorter dress, the sheer animal print shirt, the floral dress and the denim vest (not pictured) as a thank you for my time and feedback, which has me very chuffed.  I can’t wait to style them myself with my existing wardrobe and do outfit of the day photos with them when I wear them later.

All in all, all of the women from Autograph that I met this afternoon (and the effervescent Michelle and lovely Sue who are my local Autograph ladies) were friendly, genuinely interested in conversation with me about their product, the industry and the politics of fat fashion and were a lot of fun.  Other plus-size fashion retailers could learn a lot from them.

Calling all Super Fatties!

Published August 27, 2011 by sleepydumpling

You know what?  I’ve had enough.  I’ve had enough of supposed plus-size retailers/manufacturers/labels sizing out the upper end of a standard plus-size range.  I’ve had enough of these companies deciding “We’ll make clothes for those of you who are fat… BUT NOT TOO FAT!”  I’m looking at you City Chic, Asos Curve, Dorothy Perkins, Pinup Girl Clothing, Leona Edmiston, Style369, Carmakoma, Forever21, Monsoon…. there are so many more.  Even regular companies that do some plus-size clothing as well as their straight sizes, like Threadless and ThinkGeek cut out before a standard plus-size range.  Don’t get me started on department stores that only go to Size 22 or 24 in most of their labels either.  Department stores!  The very stores that are supposed to cater to everyone!

Sadly, even two of my favourite online stores, who offer some plus-sized pieces, have further limited the upper sizes – We Love Colors and Sick for Cute.

There seems to be this perception that if anyone provides clothing in anything over a size 22, that they are “encouraging obesity”, or that we won’t buy them, because we’re not interested in style, or fashion, or shopping… instead we would rather comfort and cheap prices.  Which is utter bullshit.  Firstly, how can you “encourage obesity” when every aspect of society hates on fat bodies to the point that one cannot shop, or walk down the street, or open a magazine, or read a newspaper article, or many other things without seeing fatness pilloried, vilified and desperate calls to eradicate/cure us as though we are a disease or a plague?  And secondly, the reason we do not spend money on fashionable, stylish clothing is because there fucking is none!  Or what little there is often doesn’t fit us properly, is made of shitty cheap fabrics and constructed poorly so that it falls apart after only a couple of wears!

The other one I’ve heard from retailers is “But we can’t find manufacturers to make it!”  But then you go to the manufacturing companies and ask them, and they say “But the retailers won’t stock them!”  The blame game just keeps getting thrown around like a hot potato on to the next guy.  It’s just bullshit – you only have to see how quickly the upper sizes are snapped  up on those brands that DO cater to them to know that the customers want them, and will pay good money for them.  Every time I go to an online sale for any of the companies who do – Yours, Evans, Autograph, No Exceptions etc… the upper sizes are gone.

Major kudos to those companies who do, the manufacturers and labels and retailers who aren’t afraid to cater towards the full standard range of plus-sizes (which in Australia is currently 14-26) and even more kudos to those who go beyond this range to even larger sizes.  Yours, Evans and No Exceptions are three companies who go up to at least a size 32 in many of their garments.

Now it’s no use complaining about this without doing something about it.  So what are we going to do about it, fabulous super fatties?  Well, to start with, I have put together a Facebook group called Super Sizes.  Because Facebook, love it or hate it, is one place where we can spread the word VERY quickly.  I also need to know how many of you there are out there.  When we work together, our voices get stronger.  The more of us that are visible to the plus-size clothing companies out there, the more they are likely to listen to us.

Now I’ve chosen Super Sizes as the title because I want to gather in those folks who have not yet found fat acceptance, as well as we fab fatties.  And well… we’re Super Sized!

As size 22 Australian seems to be the most common cut off point, that is what I’m focusing on here – the sizes from 22 and upwards.  That’s about a 2x or size 20US, or a size 20UK (by the way, sizing conversions are never consistent – it’s so hard to get accurate information about clothing sizes!)  From a quick poke around the main plus-size companies I can find, this seems to be about the most common cut off point.  We won’t say that sizes smaller than an Australian 22 can’t be involved, but most plus-size clothing companies do cater to these sizes, and I want to REALLY focus on size 24 and beyond, which really miss out on the most brands.

Once I’ve got a group formed, we’ll start working on ideas and strategies to campaign for more fashionable, reasonably priced, reasonable quality options for we super fatties.  We will share those companies that do cater to us, talk about how we can make what we have work, and expose those companies who treat us badly, ignore us or give us pathetic excuses.

So I’m calling all of you Super Fatties to put on your capes (sizes 22 and above!) and get ready to make some change in this world!

More Autograph Fashion Reviews

Published April 22, 2011 by sleepydumpling

It’s time to do another garment review post for Autograph Fashion!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, they sent me some more product to review.  I can’t tell you how lucky I am that they do this for me, because they are the store I shop in the most (being close to my work and generally in the right price range for me).  After my post on how much I had fallen in love with their tall riding boots, I counted 13 pairs of boots that were sold because of either that post, or the one I did on Tumblr.  That’s just the ones I know about.  So they’re getting good advertising out of me at least!

In this latest post, they sent me the brown buckle boots, pink buckle ballet flats, sleeveless sequins tank, 3/4 sleeve knit paisley print dress, short sleeve plait neck lace print top, animal print top (no longer listed online but worn with this leather jacket) and another paisley print top with a cami (also not longer listed online).  I have worn all except the paisley print top so far (which I hope to wear this coming week) and have had most of them photographed to share with you here.

Let’s start with the animal print top and brown buckle boots shall we?  Take a look of my OOTD:

I have to admit, I fell in love with this animal print top back when Autograph first posted a pic of it on their Facebook page as “coming soon”.  There was a lot of “fat ladies shouldn’t” around the bold print, but I was like “GIMME!!”  I particularly love the sweetheart neckline (I’ll tolerate surplice necklines a whole lot more if I can have a bit more variety in them) and empire waistline.  Both are styles that particularly suit me.    But what I really love about this top is the fabric.  It is a lovely weighty knit that is super soft and just drapes beautifully.  The bodice actually has a kind of cami lining, so it makes the top fall even better than just with the fabric.  Some months ago Autograph had a run of this very thin, clingy knit that had great colours, but it just sagged and looked sloppy no matter who was wearing it.  It even clung to the lace of my bra and made my boobs all lumpy.  To be fair, I saw that fabric everywhere for awhile there, most retail chains seemed to give it a run.  I’m really glad it has disappeared, because it was a crap fabric.  This top is made of a knit that is everything that the cheap knit wasn’t.  I’m not sure what this one retailed at, I think $49.99 or $59.99.  It is still in store though if you like it.

I’m also wearing the brown buckle boots in this photo.  When I bought the tall riding boots, I saw these and thought they were nice, but didn’t really think I’d bother with them, even after seeing a friend of mine with them in black looking fab in them.  But now that I have a pair, and I’ve worn them a few times, I am SO glad I have them!  They are really cute, super comfy (I ran around one really busy day last week all over the shop all day, for a 9.5 hour work day, and was still standing when I finally got home, having had them on for about 12 hours!) and they fit my 19″ calves with room to spare.  I love the lighter, warmer brown of them too.  These are $89.99 and I would honestly spend that on them.

The boots are still available online, but sadly the top is not.  I think it may have sold like hotcakes.  You might find it in the actual stores though if you’re lucky.

The next garment I wore was the sleeveless sequins tank:

I’ve been longing to wear sequins to the office for some time.  I’ve been inspired by Bloomie, Nicole and Anna all wearing sequins, so when this one arrived I was rather thrilled to be able to fulfill that longing.  It’s a sleeveless top, and only sequinned on the front, but I think they’re probably wasted on the back anyway.  The sequins are sewn on well, and though there was a tag attached saying to expect some to fall off on laundering, only a few did.  This one retails at $59.99, which is quite a bit more than I would spend on it.  It also now comes in red which I am lusting after so much!  Both the silver and red are available on the website.

Then I wore the 3/4 sleeve paisley print dress (it’s finally getting cool enough to do so in Brisbane!):

OMG I LOVE THIS DRESS!  Again – good quality knit fabric, drapes so beautifully, breathes and is deliciously soft.  I adore the print, it has that 70’s feel.  The length is perfect with my tall riding boots, and yes, I’ll even forgive that surplice neckline (I really am getting sick of them though.  It retails at $79.99 and is still available on the website.  I will be wearing the shit out of this dress through winter.

The other two items I have worn, but sadly didn’t get OOTD photographs for are these two:

This is a cute top, a little more sedate than I would normally wear, but I got a lot of compliments on it.  It’s really nice to have something other than a surplice neckline, that’s for sure.  The fabric isn’t as nice on this one as the other garments, it’s a more synthetic feeling fabric, and doesn’t breathe as well.  But I’ll get a lot of wear out of this for work through winter.  This one sells for $49.99 and is still available on the website.

And these that retail for $59.99:

I’m not sure I would buy ballet flats from a plus-size store.  Don’t get me wrong, these are as cute as hell, and fit really well (the only negative is they get this weird camel-toe crease in the toe that I am trying to stretch back out with newspaper), but we fat girls can get ballet flats anywhere.  The boots I understand – we need wide calf boots for fat legs.  But ballet flats are pretty universal.  They’re not specialist wide fit ones either, but then thin people have wide feet (my tall, super slim boss has the same size feet as I do, only mine aren’t as wide as hers so I often inherit shoes that don’t fit her – the only thing I COULD inherit from her – I’m easily 4 of her!) so those should be in regular shoe stores.

What I think I’m getting at is that I really want my plus-size retailer to focus on plus-size clothing and accessories.  Wide calf boots.  Plus-size belts, tights, sleepwear, swimwear, underwear (PLEASE AUTOGRAPH, START GOING ALL LANE BRYANT WITH BRAS FOR US!!)  Rings, bangles/bracelets and necklaces to fit our fatter bodies.  Don’t worry about the stuff that is universal – they only take up valuable plus-size real estate.

All in all, happy with all of the stuff Autograph sent me (though a few tweaks would be welcome), and VERY, VERY impressed with the buckle boots, paisley dress and animal print top.  I am very pleased to see the quality of fabrics improving, the addition of wide-calf boots, and some cute, funky, fashionable things coming through.  Keep it up folks!

Getting it Right; Getting it Wrong

Published April 4, 2011 by sleepydumpling

How can two companies, both owned by the same mega company, both basically in the same business, have such wildly polarised modes of customer service?   If you don’t know, Autograph Fashion and City Chic are owned by the same company, Specialty Fashion Group.  They’re like big sister and little sister of the same company.  Both are plus-size clothing retailers.  Both are Australian based companies.  Both have an online arm of their business, that will sell overseas.  I don’t know how cross pollinated their staff are (ie whether head office actually covers both brands), but you think there’d be at least some communication across the organisation.

But it seems not.

Both retailers have a Facebook page (City Chic/Autograph), and post pictures of their up-coming stock to the page, where people comment on it.

However, how each company responds is vastly different.

When there were lots of women leaving comments on the Autograph page that they wanted sleeves, Autograph responded with a pre-run search link to all of their tops, tunics and dresses with sleeves.  When there were lots of women saying that they wished that Autograph would style their outfit shots more than to just put a model in the dress and photograph her in front of a white background, Autograph changed their images.

From this:

Lovely model, shows the dress, but a quite dull.  To this:

Styled hair, styled make-up, interesting background, nice lighting, some accessorising.

When the posters on Autographs page responded that they would like more fashionable, modern clothes, Autograph responded.  They introduced cute boots* (someone mentioned wide calf boots on their Facebook wall some time ago too), new styles, some more colour.

When I wrote a blog post critiquing the frumpy nature of a particular season’s clothes, Autograph contacted me, and as you probably know, have been amazing sending me products to review.  I know myself that in the past six months or so, I’ve gone from wearing Autograph clothes that look like this:

Which is from the first parcel of stuff they sent me, to this:


This is from their current stock, a lovely big parcel of such they sent me last week – both those boots and the top/dress I am wearing are available right now.  Let me just tell you, the boots are so bloody comfortable I tromped around in them all day (I haven’t worn ANY heel for almost two years) running through our biggest library with a vendor, walking up to the shops at lunch time, all over the place, and I wasn’t in any hurry to take them off when I got home.  And that top is lined in the bodice which makes it drape so beautifully, and is made of the lushest, soft, weighty knit fabric.  I’m not just saying that because they sent it to me for free either.  I promise, if they send me anything that sucks, I’ll tell you.

When people complained that their fabrics were thin, lost shape and clung in all the wrong ways, Autograph stopped stocking them and have moved to much nicer (and really soft) fabrics like the top above.

The list goes on.  Autograph are listening, they talk TO their customers (as best they can around the ones that one can never make happy at any time) and they make changes when people speak up.

Which brings us to City Chic.  I’ve never seen City Chic respond on Twitter to a negative comment.  They’ve only re-tweeted the positive ones.  City Chic post their stock on Facebook, and when people complain about their high prices… nothing is said.  When people say they’d like garments that they can wear a proper plus-sized bra of ugliness under without it being exposed, City Chic respond “Well, buy a shrug.” (I don’t want a shrug, I want a garment that fits my body and my underwear properly, and besides, I live in BRISBANE).  When customers said their prices were too high, they ignored it, and their prices have got even higher.

Well the straw that seems to have broken the camel’s back happened over the weekend.  When someone noticed on Friday that City Chic had quietly dropped any garments over a size 22 from their website, word travelled pretty quick.  By Friday night, there were several posts on their Facebook page exclaiming dismay at this.  They ignored it all weekend.  By this morning, a lot of people were talking about it, on their Facebook page, on Twitter, on Tumblr and various other places.  There were a lot of angry fatties out there, making it very clear that they were offended at City Chic removing the upper range of plus sizes.  Along with a lot that spoke up and said that their sizing was shoddy as it is, smaller than standard and a fit that doesn’t work for many bodies.

Instead of engaging with their customers quickly Friday afternoon, or even over the weekend (we just saw posts bragging about how they were off to London), they let it brew up, until this afternoon, when they responded with what I feel is a somewhat snarky post.  It’s long, and you can see it here. (You may have to “like” the page – it’s really long so I can’t share it here).  Basically it says that we considered our sizing and because you fatty fat fats didn’t buy enough of our stuff at full price, we cut out the upper sizing.  Perhaps City Chic need to have a wee think about just why people aren’t buying their stock at full price.  Perhaps full price is over priced.  Perhaps their sizing is wrong.  Perhaps their fits are wrong.  Perhaps the garment quality is not good enough (the three garments I bought from them some years ago when they still had some size 26 pieces fell apart very quickly).  Perhaps the styles can’t be worn successfully with a size 24 or above bra under them… the list goes on.

What really galled me is their admission that they use a size 16 fit model.  What??  A size 16 fit model for a range that was going up to size 24??  Ok, find someone who you know is a size 16.  Now look at my body in the picture above.  What the hell are they thinking to use a size 16 fit model for the upper range of plus sizes???  There is a positive plethora of differences of shape and proportion between a size 16 body and a size 26 body (and all sizes in between).  A smart company would have two fit models, or even three for plus sizes, because they vary so much more than straight sizes do.

I actually emailed them on Friday afternoon and left some constructive criticism (and an expression of dismay) at their cutting off their sizes at size 22, and how their clothes were poor construction/overpriced/cheap fabrics/sized strangely.  Guess what I got in response today?  The explanation that they posted on Facebook, cut and pasted into an email.

Great customer service huh?

All this, PLUS I discover that they go to size US28 (about a size 32Aus) and offer cheaper prices to customers in the US.  But customers in their own country don’t get that, oh no.

As I say to all plus-size retailers that I give criticism to – I want to give them my money.  I want to become a loyal customer who tells everyone how awesome they are.  I want to spend too much money on their clothes and complain I’m broke.  I want to hang about their shop on a twice weekly basis, annoying their staff asking when the new stock they’ve been advertising on Facebook comes in.  I want people to see me with their shopping bags, to ask me where I got that cute top/dress/boots/pants/skirt.  I want my straight sized friends to say “Damn, I wish those fit me!”  Again, I want to give them my money.  And lots of it.

But they don’t seem to want me to do those things.  They don’t want to size clothes to my body, they don’t want to provide clothes that last, or are of pleasant fabrics, and the certainly don’t want to offer a price that is reasonable for the product they are selling.  It is very, very clear they don’t want my  money.

So until they prove that they DO in fact want my money, I’m going to give that money, and praise, and word-of-mouth advertising to companies who do.  Like Autograph Fashion**.  Who LISTEN to their customers, make attempts to make them happy, and acknowledge that their customers include those who are very fat, and that they need to create clothes that adequately fit those very fat bodies.

City Chic – learn from your big sister.  She has much to teach you.

* City Chic have almost the same boots as the tall riding boot from Autograph.  Autograph’s cost $99.99.  City Chic have them at, wait for it… $299.95
**I hate having to add this caveat, but there has been a very vocal claim that I am “selling out” by praising Autograph because they send me free products.  If Autograph get it wrong, I am going to say so, free products or not.  Just as loudly as I call City Chic out here.

Super Fat Clothing Woes – A Crowd Sourced Post

Published March 22, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Twitter is bloody awesome yo.

After a conversation with a friend via email over the past few days about the quality of plus-sized clothing, particularly clothes for we Super Fats, in sizes 22 and over (I chose 22 because size 20 is where many supposed “plus-size” lines cut off) as opposed to the quality of straight sized clothing, I threw out the following question on Twitter (over two tweets):

Hey death fatties: do you think we are more tolerant of clothes that are poorly made because of lack of options? Eg weird fit/crap fabric?  I’m particularly curious for those at a size 22 or above. Do you think you tolerate lower quality in clothing?

Well… did I get an overwhelming response!  Over a hundred replies in about 6 hours.  Aye caramba.

It seems like I hit a real nerve with this particular topic.  To be honest, I am not surprised, being a death fatty myself, I’m quite used to the frustration of not being able to find, or afford, clothing of reasonable quality to fit my body.

The overwhelming response was that yes, many Super Fats do tolerate poor quality garments, simply because there are no other options, or at least, no other options that they can afford.  As @silentbeep3000 says:

yes i tolerate lower quality of clothing because i’d rather have clothes than not.

I saw this sentiment echoed over and over again.  From clothes that are poorly made, to those that are made of cheap, uncomfortable fabrics through to clothes that are cut badly and do not fit the bodies they are designed to be worn by, lower quality clothing is pretty much the norm for those in sizes over a size 22.  That’s without even getting into whether or not the styles are something fashionable that we like.

@erinvk says:

Yes. I am so happy to be wearing something fashionable on my body that I am happy to hand sew tears after one or two wears.

How often have you found yourself mending garments because a) you love them b) you know you won’t get another like it and c) your options are very limited when it comes to clothes that will fit you and look good?  I know I have a mending basket that sits beside my sofa, so that I can mend when I watch DVD’s.

There were also several mentions from Super Fats regarding learning to sew, so that they may properly mend, repurpose or make from scratch clothes that are of a reasonable quality, cost and fit.  @SabrinaSpiher says (over several tweets):

Bad cut is worse to me than shoddy material/craftsmanship. I’ll reject stuff that’s too big in the rise or tight in the waist but if it’s cheap and falls apart and gets holes … I’ll tolerate that. Not much choice, really.  My friend is an amateur seamstress. She says this summer she’ll help me learn simple sewing for shirts, skirts, dresses.

Bad cut/shape is a repeated complaint as well.  Many plus-sized women find that clothes are made so cheaply that they are from a design that manufacturers can churn out en masse, with little regard to how they would fit a fat body.  As @andreakc73 says:

It’s not long enough (the shirts) or you are suppose to be fat and short. Little given to any shape above a 22. Expensive too.

We see the same styles over and over and over again because they are cheap to manufacture.  Go into any plus-size retail chain, and tally up how many surplice necklines, shark-bite hems, peasant tops, shoe-string/empire-line maxi dresses and gypsy skirts you will see.  Regardless of whether or not these actually fit a fat body properly, or the underwear worn beneath them, they’re cheap and are considered “flattering”, so there are a plethora of them to be found.  Personally I like surplice necklines, shark-bite hems and empire-line maxi’s, but I don’t want my entire wardrobe to comprise of them and only them.

Of course, even if you like a style and a cut, the fabric quite regularly lets you down.  This from @AbigailNussey:

The summer dresses? Hot fabrics. The winter dresses? Thin as paper. All of them? Too $$$.

And @silentbeep3000 refers to having to choose between good properties in a garment, rather than being able to find a combination of all:

ideally i’d have great natural fibers AND good style. I rarely get both. I so often have to pick between the two

Which brings us to pricing.  Even when the garments are cheaply made of unpleasant fabrics, we have to suffer through them being overpriced.  @jennifergearing says:

I wouldn’t mind lower quality if it was priced that way, but if I’m paying $50+ for a top it makes me sad.

Coupled with this tweet from @MadamQ:

I wouldn’t mind so much if they came at Supré prices etc. Autograph a prime offender with their acrylic and poly!

So why aren’t there any options for plus-sizes to a full range of sizes (not just stopping at 20 or 22) for budget clothes like Supré?  For those of you outside of Australia, Supré are a straight size clothing retailer who sell mass produced clothes at very budget prices.  There are lots of others like them in Australia now, like Valley Girl, Cotton On and such.  Where are the clothes for plus-sized customers that are mass produced but ultra budget?  The answer is those mass produced, cheap clothes are being sold at a premium to customers who have little or no other options.  Unlike straight sizes, we cannot take our money elsewhere (though some options are starting to open up with online shopping, particularly from retailers like Yours Clothing), so there is no incentive for them to provide bargain prices.

As @bargainfatshion shares:

While thin people usually have many shops to choose from, all offering a slightly different fit, death fats have 1 or 2.

What it boils down to is that the level of quality for a garment costing say $50 or $100 is markedly lower for plus-sizes than it is for straight-sizes.  How often do you hear that old trope that fat people are poorly dressed and frumpy?  Perhaps this is because when we spend $50 on a garment, all we get is shoddy and frumpy?  As @sweetnfat says:

I get frustrated when these poor-fitting clothes wear out quickly, but can’t afford $50-$100 for one or two pieces.

There is a whole lot of classism at work too.  Quite often, the more upmarket retailers ignore fat bodies altogether, either cutting off at size 20 (I’m looking at you Leona Edmiston) or simply not holding any plus-sized lines at all.  From @DBFiveGirl (several tweets):

apparently well paid, professional women are not meant to be bigger than s16/18. We’re meant to be unemployed it seems.  DJs (David Jones department store) at Bondi Junction have no fatties section as apparently no affluent fat women live in the eastern suburbs. Total otherness

When it comes down to it, not only our quality of clothing is affected by the lack of options for Super Fats.  As @ThePlusSideofMe says:

…not only my style, but the quality of my clothing is dependent on what is offered.

And @downtogirth says:

my biggest gripe is not quality, but style. My style is dictated by what I can fit into & what I can fit into is not my style.

When your choices are limited to just a few sources, and those sources have limited styles (see my mentions earlier about the repeated design features), how you express yourself through your clothing choices is severely limited.  No matter how much you want to dress yourself in a particular style or sub-culture, if there are no clothes available to you in your size at a price you can afford, then you are simply not able to do that.

It’s not just limited to women’s plus-size clothing.  This from @bigboyfashion:

Yes. When you feel like you don’t have any options, you’ll wear whatever you can find, and that sucks.

And this from @bilt2tweet

Definitely. If you can’t make your own you’ve no choice but 2 wear what you can get frm a store. Crap quality poor fit or no

and

I’m a 4XL mens and I’ve bought clothes that didn’t survive the second washing. This after paying 65 – 75% MORE for it than Reg

But most of all, through lack of options and quality of clothing for Super Fats, there is a whole lot of discrimination at work.  Even if something is of poor quality and you try to protest it, there are often aspersions cast at you.  As @snicketyflick says:

& gods forbid that you go to return something instore it’s like they think eww fattie wore it to death and is trying to con us

Most importantly, having to work so hard to find clothes that are suitable, reasonable quality and affordable perpetuates the stigmatisation of fat people.  From @DBFiveGirl:

I never feel more marginalized as a fatty than when I am shopping for clothing in stores.

So what do we do about this?  We Super Fats are restricted so much that we have to spend an inordinate amount of time sourcing clothes that are attractive, of reasonable quality fabrics, well made and finally affordable, that we are unable to spend that time focusing on other aspects of our lives.  It affects public perception of us, our employment prospects, how we are treated by other professionals (both within our work and our general lives), our finances, how we spend our time (I know I’d rather do a lot of things than spend time mending shoddy clothes) and most importantly, our self esteem.

It’s about so much more than just being able to shop for cute things.

Thanks also to @StilettoSiren, @ilaeria, @astryid, @SassyCupcakes, @mimbles and @mymilkspilt who also shared similar experiences, feelings and frustrations as the tweets above.
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