But first, let me describe the problem fully so that the need for a specific solution becomes more evident.
Thirty years ago when I was just beginning my acquisition of a professional wardrobe, the size difference between the very smallest and the very largest American female clothes shopper probably amounted to about 50 pounds. I had no trouble finding clothing that fit in those years.
However, with the coming of the Obesity Age, that smallest-to-largest spread increased to, what? At least 100 and perhaps it could be more accurately stated as 200 pounds! That had two effects on the market:
- Manufacturers changed the dimensional ratios of clothing to account for the excess weight now carried by the average woman.
- The difference between successive sizes increased to account for the greater spread.
Both of those market responses are evident in these example dressing room photos:
|It's a tent. It looks like I stole a man-shirt out of my husband's side of the closet. And this is just one size up.|
However, I and women like me still have to deal with this. Those of us in the conservative, educated professions are expected to be appropriately tailored: traditional shirts with collars and a well-put-together deportment. I work in a male-dominated profession, so it's even more important that my presentation be unassailable in every way, including appearance - I can't go around looking like either a slob or a Barbie doll caricature, especially as a middle-aged woman. For the past several years, I've been operating with only three appropriate shirts. Three business meetings with the same parties and my entire wardrobe is exhausted. I sometimes have this imaginary dialog in my head whereby one of my clients asks, "What the hell?! Do we not pay you enough to properly dress yourself??" And I reply, "Yes you do, but there's virtually nothing available for me to buy."
Retailers don't make this process any easier because each and every one of them engages in flagrant deception when it comes to their wares. They all sell tent-like clothing for the masses, but you can't confirm that until you actually waste your time by walking into the stores and inspecting more closely.
|Whether casual or dressy, all of the shirts that they sell are pinned in the back to take up excess fabric. What from the front looks like it might fit a normal-weight woman is actually a tent in disguise.|
|Yes, this particular mannequin is anorexic. But even if the mannequin were filled out to the size of a 130 lb. woman, this shirt would still be tent-like.|
|Much of the time, the retailers aren't even subtle about this practice. Some of them use big file binder clips instead of discrete pins.|
|You can't even find relief if you try to go for a traditional conservative knit instead of a tailored shirt. They're all tents regardless of style.|
And now for one of my favorite workarounds:
|Coincidentally, about three hours after I wrote this post, someone shared this meme on Facebook. I had to pass it on.|