Shopping As It Should Be

Published September 20, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

Last month I was lucky enough to take a road trip with my great friend Kerri, and we went down to Newcastle to visit the lovely Bek of Colourful Curves.  Of course, Bek being a fab fatty like myself, we just had to have a shopping day.  Check us out, look how cute we are!

Too much adorbz for one photo.

Too much adorbz for one photo.

So Bek took Kerri and I to a lot of her favourite shopping haunts and the most awesome café I have ever been to, Frankie’s Place for lunch.  It’s a funky, quirky kind of place that has original food ideas, lovely atmosphere, good quality basic dishes and I ate a salad so amazing that I thought I had been transported to paradise.

The world's most delicious salad.

The world’s most delicious salad.

They serve their drinks using old children's books as trays.

They serve their drinks using old children’s books as trays.

After lunch, we wandered up Darby St until we came to a very fab retro-style shop called Ramjet Assortments, run by the wonderful Michelle.  Bek had mentioned that they had awesome accessories, which, as a fat chick, is something I’m always looking for to jazz up otherwise boring plus-sized clothes.  Michelle asked us if we were looking for anything in particular and when I said “It’s OK, you wouldn’t have anything to fit me anyway.” gasped in horror!  “Of course I do!”  She then proceeded to enthusiastically fling dresses at all three of us, asking rapid fire questions about our tastes and style.  The minute we squee’d over a print or a colour, she found something that she thought we might like in something close to our size.  She had all three of us trekking back and forth to the fitting rooms, Bek and I swapping dresses between the stalls to try on.  Even had Kerri who is not a shopaholic by any stretch of the imagination, happily trying on all sorts of frocks.  I’m a size 26 – 28 AU, and she had up to my size at least.

Michelle was enthusiastic, attentive and fun, without once being pushy or overwhelming.  She never made any mention of “flattering” or “hiding flaws” – just listened to what we liked and paid attention to our reactions to things she suggested.  Even when Bek and I told her we preferred to identify as “fat” rather than “curvy”, she took it totally in her stride and accepted our preference.  She was so positive and her enthusiasm for her stock was really infectious.  All three of us walked out of there absolutely beaming with a frock we totally love.

Look at the print on my dress!

Look at the print on my dress!

Astonishingly, once we’d come down from the high of such a fun and fruitful shopping experience, I actually had a little cry.  A couple of little cries over the next 24 hours in fact.  Because the realisation had sunk in that as a fat woman, I had never had a shopping experience like that.  I had never been in a store and had the staff/owner pay positive attention to me and be genuinely enthusiastic about helping me find something I love, without once suggesting I had to flatter or hide my body in any way.  In fact, I’d never had that in a completely dedicated plus-size store, let alone one that had sizes starting at size 6!  Michelle’s approach was the same towards Bek and myself as super fats as it was to Kerri who is much smaller, and when we popped back into the shop a few days later, she was giving the same enthusiastic, friendly service to a young woman who looked fresh off the pages of a fashion magazine, as well as an older couple who were looking for a gift for their daughter.  We had decided to get Bek a gift for being such a wonderful hostess while we were in Newcastle, and realised that a gift voucher for Ramjet Assortments would be something that she would really love, rather than something generic like a department store or a supermarket.  Michelle greeted us with glee when we walked in the door, and was delighted to hear how happy we were with our purchases of the previous visit.  As well as buying our gift for Bek, I splurged on a pair of seriously cute earrings to go with my sweet new frock.

Earrings of fabulousness.

Earrings of fabulousness.

Fat women just don’t get service like that.  We’re normally treated as though we’re an inconvenience, or as if we are a challenge to “flatter”.  We’re either ignored, told there isn’t anything in our sizes, or get the hard sell on something that doesn’t fit or isn’t to our taste.  When I mentioned to a straight sized friend of mine that this was the first time I’d ever had that experience, she was absolutely astonished.  She said “Don’t they want you to buy their stuff or something?”  The answer, it seems to me for most businesses, is no, they don’t.  Very few businesses actually want a fat woman’s money.  No matter how hard we want to give it to them.  Some of them don’t even promote their product, and actively try to suppress it being promoted by others.  Yet then they complain that their product doesn’t sell.

So when a business as fabulous as Ramjet Assortments, and a person as passionate about her stock as Michelle comes along, I believe it’s important that we promote them.  If you’re in Newcastle, get yourself down to Darby Street and go inside of Ramjet Assortments.  Say hello to Michelle.  Tell her I sent you.  Ask her to show you some fab frocks to fit you.

If you’re not in Newcastle, Michelle will sell via mail order.  She has a Facebook page.  Drop her a line, ask her what she has in your size.  Follow her Instagram where she posts new stock with it’s available sizes listed.

What?  You want to see the frock I bought?  Well, alright, since I love you all… behold, Spooky Cats!



41 comments on “Shopping As It Should Be

  • What a wonderful experience! What an adorable dress! I might be a tiny bit jealous, although I’m not usually a print girl. Guess you’ll be forced to visit Newcastle more often! 🙂

  • I love the spooky cat dress, it looks fabulous.
    I am calling Ramjets on Monday, I badly want a dress like that.
    Thank you for you ever interesting and inspiring blogs, I am pleased you had a lovely trip and some great experiences. I had not realised people would be so disinterested in selling to willing buyers, what a foolish loss of income and so unheedingly cruel.
    All the best

  • Oh Kath you make me smile like a Cheshire cat from ear to ear!
    What gorgeous words. I had a ball playing frock ups with yourself, Kerri and Beck and Im so stoked you are all loving your Ramjet goodies 🙂
    Bek’s voucher is burning a hole in her pocket whilst we wait in anticipation for the next deliveries of Folter frocks.
    In the mean time have fun being the fabulous lady that you are!
    Shell xx

  • I love the cat dress – it’s really great to hear you had a positive shopping experience. I’ll definitely visit them when I’m next in Newcastle.

  • EEEEE KITTY DRESS. Man, I love Newcastle and loved Frankie’s Place when I stopped by. I will always remember it as the first proper coffee I had since leaving Melbourne at the arse crack of dawn.

  • That dress is amazing! I now want to make a trip to Newcastle to experience it all myself. It’s so true, even myself, as a size 22 don’t get that kind of help. It’s a little sad. It sounds like you had such a positive experience!

  • I love the dresses shown and it’s nice to hear someone who is actually passionate about her job. People think selling clothes is unskilled work but doing it properly takes knowledge of the stock, how it will look on different shaped bodies and some serious people skills, sounds like Michelle has those skill.

  • As a shop owner, I´d be so happy to see you come into my shop, with your attitude and personality. I´m so tired of having women refuse to try something on because it´ll show their arms or because the pattern would draw attention to them.

  • Love the purple hair with that dress! Great outfit. And I so feel you on having positive shopping experiences. Pardon me while I vent for a minute about a not so positive shopping experience I had yesterday. To preface the story, a little background is needed.

    I’m a high school counselor at a large public high school in SoCal. There’s a special career-oriented program at my school for students potentially interested in law enforcement, the justice system and social services. Yesterday, the 12th graders in this program went to a place called Working Wardrobes, which is a second-hand store for people who can’t afford work appropriate clothing and are trying to make a change in their lives, find a new job, make a step up in their career, etc. Working Wardrobes has a lot of second hand suits for men and women, blouses, jackets, pants and other accessories. They also provide resume assistance, interview prep classes and some minor life coach type counseling to help people focus on what they want and how to get there. It’s a great service for the community, and provides a free work appropriate outfit for our high school students coming from lower income homes.

    To help ‘bond’ with our students, our staff – teachers and me, the counselor – went to Working Wardrobes yesterday, too. Like out students, we also got a free work appropriate outfit with the help of a personal shopper. Never mind that I have plenty of work appropriate outfits in my closet, I figured it was a free shopping trip and the purpose was to help bond with the kids.

    However, three of the four teachers who are in this specialty program are all naturally tall, thin, athletic looking women. The fourth teacher is bordering on plus sized, but she has a fairly proportional body shape: tall, with a smaller waist in comparison to her hips and top half. It’s a little easier for her to find clothes off the rack that me with my my short, disproportionately fat body. I’m 5’5″ tall and am the most fat in my midsection: big boobs, big tum, flat ass, slimmer hips, and broader shoulders/upper torso. My body is kind of hard to dress and I have to get many of my clothes tailored just to fit me properly.

    Suffice to say, yesterday’s experience at Working Wardrobes was not great for me. While all the teachers found great suits or separates almost immediately off the rack, I found a lot of nothing. They only had one suit jacket that fit me: a boxy black one. They had no other jackets in my size. All of the dress pants I tried on were poly-blends and absolutely horrible. They looked like clown pants on me. Most pants that fit me in the waist are ginormous through the legs, hips and butt area. I settled on one pair that fit the best, but I will still have to get tailored to fit me, causing me to spend money on what was supposed to be a free outfit.

    The blouses were even worse. Being a second-hand store, naturally, the selection wasn’t great to begin with. But the selection of plus size blouses was even more limited than the other sizes, mostly in cuts, prints and colors that are not ‘me’ at all. The personal shopper tried to be helpful by bringing a bunch of tops to my dressing room that were SO not my style, and most didn’t fit me. Most were collared shirts with buttons that I couldn’t even get buttoned over my boobs.

    My biggest success at Working Wardrobes was, as usual, with shoes and accessories. I found a lovely silver-tone necklace and a great pair of used Clarks flats. The blouse I settled on was an awful poly-knit brown that I took home with me simply because we were supposed to get a blouse as part of the outfit. I plan to give the blouse and boxy jacket to Goodwill. I already have plenty of work appropriate tops and jackets in my wardrobe.

    It was discouraging to have a bad shopping experience at a place that’s doing so many positive things. I can’t really fault Working Wardrobes because they can’t control their inventory. They only have what people are willing to donate to them. …Although I wonder if it ever occurred to them to spread the word about needing more plus size donations.

    What was the most discouraging about my experience, however, was the personal shopper trying to ‘identify’ with me. She was a beautiful, tall, curvy black woman with long limbs. When I explained some of my clothes shopping issues to her and how much of a struggle it is to find clothes that fit my body off the rack, she would counter with her own experiences of not being able to find pants long enough for her (something I find hard to believe since almost every pair of pants I try on seems like they’re made for someone 5’9″ or taller) and her arms being too long for long-sleeved tops. “Every woman has their ‘stuff,'” she’d say. To which I wanted to respond, “Yeah, but your ‘stuff’ isn’t quite the same as mine. You can go into pretty much any store in a mall and find something to fit you. Aside from Lane Bryant and Avenue, I can’t. And I don’t like either of those stores.” …But it really wasn’t the time or the place to say those things. ….Sigh.

  • Cute stuff! I admit, I’m not sure whether it would come in my size as I wear a size 24 (2x – 3x) depending in US sizes. I don’t know if sizes are differently numbered in Australia. Does she have online shopping or a catalog or something? Loved the kitty print!!! and your first dress you were wearing! Totes fab!!!

  • What a great shopping trip story. And that spooky cat dress is AWESOME!!! I would love to find that fabric here – it would be a huge hit with the folks at the shelter where I volunteer. 🙂

  • So lovely! I’m so glad you had a great shopping experience…glad to know people like that DO exist after all. And you look amazing of course 🙂

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