I went shopping this week–something I do not enjoy. I needed a suit for a meeting. I’ve got nice clothing, but in the last year I’ve gained a lot of weight so few things fit. I headed over to a department store to find a fitting suit that wouldn’t make me pass out during the walk from the car to the building in this week’s 117-degree weather. I tried the ‘women’s’ (i.e. the fat ladies’) section for something appropriate.
Why is it that fat women have to wear purple? Purple and magenta are the predominant colors in the women’s section. It’s not just a seasonal thing. I hate those colors, and they don’t look good on me. I prefer darker, muted colors. I also think that large women look better in subtle shades. Out of desperation, I have a ‘fat dress” in shades of purple that I bought when I gained weight. I feel like it screams, “Fat lady approaching!” I don’t want to draw attention to my body when I’m fat; I want to blend in. Bright colors and crazy patterns (What’s with the leopard–or worse still, purple leopard?) are just too much on a large body. There’s a lot of loud material drawing a lot of unwanted attention. Definitely not my style.
And why are there only sportswear items in the large women’s section? Do big women not hold down professional positions? If you don’t let them dress the part, it certainly won’t help them succeed. I couldn’t find a single suit in that section. Everything was purple and casual and frilly. That last one kills me: why do I want frills that stick out from my already-large frame? Again, not helping me blend, people! I wanted linen or silk or something other than jersey-knit cotton shirts with a big, 3-D, frill down the center.
In the regular ladies’ section, there were items in larger sizes that should not be available in larger sizes. I could find a micro-mini in my size–with COW print, nonetheless. Exactly what a large woman with decreased self-esteem needs. Yet I couldn’t find a single suit jacket, even though fall fashions were everywhere. I suppose our society is more casual these days, and life in the desert means vacation or retirement for most, so casual clothing reigns. But my interview was with a staffing agency, and they tend to be more conservative. So I felt a suit was best…well, suited for the occasion.
In the end, I found a few lined skirts and some nice shirts that I could pair with a jacket I have at home. It buttons snugly and is a bit too heavy for this weather but I’ll leave it open and carry it until I am just about to step inside. Sigh…shopping as an overweight, middle-aged woman is depressing.
Even once I lose the weight, I know I have to dress appropriately for my age. I’ve seen fit women over 40 (or even over 65) rock some serious fashion and often think, “They look great!” But for me, dressing in fashions made for teens and young women is weird. I want to look good, look up-to-date, and express my personal style, but I don’t want to look like I’m trying to kid anyone about my real age. I feel like my only options (in my income bracket) aside from poly-cotton slacks suits are skimpy ensembles made for a slim body with perky parts.
Today while shopping, I found a beautiful dress on sale that had an unusual neckline. There was no way to wear a bra with it. Straps would show, and a bandeau bra would show through a slit that revealed cleavage. Sadly, I can’t wear that dress without a bra, so I had to pass it up. It was so cute, but my, erm…assets…just aren’t what they used to be. They need a little help, and I am not about to tape ’em up every time I wear a casual sundress.
All this has increased my anxiety level. Is this what a mid-life crisis is about? Am I going to turn into a living Cathy cartoon? Will I start laughing at female “Am I right, ladies?” comedians instead of comics like Maria Bamford? Do I have to trade my McSweeney’s bookmarks for http://www.bhg.com? Is there now a special store for women like me? THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL I’M SHOPPING AT CHICO’S!
I think I need a cocktail. It’s time for a Manhattan. (And if you comment on the fact that I picked up a bottle of pinot grigio ‘just to have on hand’ this week, I will cut you.)