Brick-and-mortar hell – Day 52

I won’t bore you with my menu today. I did eat out, but otherwise it was mostly leftovers. Today I want to talk about clothes shopping.

I have no idea what it’s like for men who are overweight, but for plus-sized women, clothes shopping in brick-and-mortar stores is its own special kind of hell. I had sworn off it, but sometimes you need clothes and online isn’t always an option.

Initially I had typed up a huge rant, but no one needs to hear that so instead I want to compare some retail experiences I had this weekend while I went in search of a skirt that I need ASAP.

  1. Kohl’s – I was in 3 different of their stores over the past 3 days. The plus-sized section occupies maybe 1/15th of the space devoted to Misses clothing. Please keep in mind that over 1/3 of Americans are obese nationwide  Obese, not overweight. Obese. (You can be merely overweight and in plus sizes). Presumably the vast majority of these people are not nudists. We need clothes. I’m working on the weight thing, I swear, but in the mean time I need to wear something.

In each of these tiny, tiny sections, the aisles are actually narrower. In 2 of those stores I saw clerks carefully hanging up clothes in Misses. When they got to the plus sized part, they pretty much threw clothes willy nilly onto racks.

When it comes to the actual clothes, it’s slim pickings (excuse the pun). Where someone in Misses might have the option of 5 different types of dresses, in plus sizes, if you don’t want a shapeless maxi sun dress, you’re S.O.L.

They’ve also got a nice little racket going with the pricing. You go find a top in Misses that costs oh, $20. It’s an XL or maybe if you’re very, very lucky and XXL. Now go find the same top in Women’s, maybe an X or a 1X. It’s $35. You hold up the tops next to each other. Half the time they’re the same damn size.

  1. Macy’s – After the last time, when a clerk suggested that I lose some weight so I would have more options, I had sworn I would never go back there again, but desperation drove me here. While I didn’t get that level of rudeness, it still was a crappy shopping experience.

Now understand that I live in a city that’s not exactly a metropolitan center. The Macy’s stores we have here do not in any way compare to what you might get in Chicago or New York or Philadelphia, etc., but still. You’d think if you wanted decent careerwear a department store would be the type of place to go.

Apparently a lot of retailers think that the moment you hit plus sizes, you stop working and only want to wear polyester with elasticized waistbands.

I also get that the American department store is a dying breed, but as with Kohl’s, you can tell where they want to spend what little staff time they have. It’s nowhere near as neat as in Misses. The displays are crap. You stand a chance of finding a clerk in other departments. I guess they don’t want to pollute themselves by going near the plus-sized people.

  1. Old Navy – Their stuff is cheap and they do have plus sizes. The range is limited and on the youthful side, but if you’re looking for some inexpensive t-shirts or cardigans or whatever, this might be a place to check out. Unfortunately it’s also like a warehouse and my experience with their teenybopper clerks has not been stellar.
  1. Lane Bryant – Let me get the bad right out of the way first. Their stuff is expensive and the quality is not terrific. Also the range of clothes, well, I can get better stuff online for cheaper. But you need a pair of jeans? You need nice trousers for work? They’ve got it.

Also? They’re super nice here. By the time I got through with Kohl’s and Macy’s I was feeling really low about myself. All the weight I had lost, as I stared at the pile of clothes that were either hideous or didn’t fit, and then at myself, it felt like absolutely nothing. I felt like nothing. You walk into Lane Bryant and the clerks go out of their way to help you. They treat you like a human being. I still didn’t find what I was looking for, but they referred me to a couple of places that might have what I wanted.

  1. Dress Barn – I had never been in here before although a friend of mine had recommended it to me. Turns out the same company that owns Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor owns this retailer too. 50% of their space is for plus sizes. HALF of their square footage. There’s none of this, “put the plus sizes in between the mattresses and infants so it won’t offend the ‘normal’ shoppers” crap. And it’s all displayed identically and with the same level of care.

I have no idea how the skirt and blouse I bought will hold up, but man, the service was outstanding. I got personalized attention from 2 clerks in a way that I haven’t seen in decades.

Anyhow, that’s been my weekend–trudging around malls and shopping plazas. There’s a reason I’ve been buying my clothes online for so long. Hell, when I wanted a sports bra and workout clothes, I had to buy stuff online. Most brick-and-mortar stores do not sell those things in plus sizes. (They want you to be thin and to workout, but not really. And god forbid you go to a gym with skinny people–they don’t want you there either. I guess you’re just supposed to stop existing?)

Like I said, though, sometimes you have to go into a store.

I’m going to share this link I found, which is a master list of women’s plus-sized clothing retailers. Some of these places no longer exist and I’m not sure the brick-and-mortar part is useful, but it’s been very helpful for the online items.

I’m committed to making these lifestyle changes and there will come a time when I have more options for clothing again, but regardless, people should not be treated like this. Obesity is a problem. I’m not arguing that, but this kind of approach? It does not help.

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