Thursday, January 26, 2012


shiny pink ill-fitting trousers
Fresh off my resolution to be less critical and more embracing of my body image, I was handed a task that would put that resolution to the test: I needed to buy new pants. Work pants. You know, slacks. Professional looking trousers. 

I needed to new pants because, hurray, the pants I bought three months post pregnancy to wear when I was going back to work, no longer fit. They were too big! But I was not looking forward to this exercise in futil … I mean excursion. That’s why I let the pants I was wearing basically look like pleated trousers before I finally decided a new pair or two was in order.

See the thing is, is that women’s pants don’t come in uniform sizes or have helpful measurements on them. Pants come in stupid sizes like zero and two and 10. These numbers mean nothing and have no standard across stores or even from year-to-year within the same store. They mean that in one store I am a size four because that’s the number the Ann Taylor thinks will make me feel better about myself and in another store I am a size six because Banana Republic wants to put a woman in a pant size two so those really skinny bitches feel better about themselves – as if they need another reason. I mean a size two? How is that a real size? You know who are the only people who should be wearing a size two? Two year olds.

And since the numbers are not tied to any measurements, like a four means you generally have a hip size of 36 inches and a waist of 28 inches, you have to guess. Depending on what store I’m in, and my history in their clothes, and what size I currently am, I just pick a bunch of pants at that size and the size up and the size down. And, depending on the cut of the pant, maybe two sizes up or down. I mean really. I have gone into the changing room with close to a dozen pair of pants just to figure out what size fits me best and THEN I get to figure out if I can find a style, color, fabric I like. Usually I find maybe one pair of pants that I like.

When I went back to work three months post-partum, I was a size eight in the Gap curvy pant. My first stop on this shopping torture, by virtue of location, is Banana Republic. Now you probably know this, but BR and the Gap are owned by the same company. Do not let this fool you into thinking there will be any similarities in the sizes offered at their stores. So, I pick out some of BR’s “curvy” fit pants. Well, what the f ever. First off, their “curvy” fit pant assumes you don’t actually have an ass or hips – just a hint of an ass or hips, and certainly not both. Apparently BR pants only fit boys and prepubescent-shaped women who never developed birthing hips. I have birthing hips and an ass. Anyway, I’ve successfully bought BR pants before, but have had to have them tailored both in length (which I’m fine with) and in the waist, which I hate to do because god dammit it is not my fault that I have hips! But whatever, I can have them taken in there too. After much trying on and having a sales person tell me that any pair of pants that I wear is going to have some pulling across the hips, I leave without buying anything. I do however put one pair of pants on hold that “sorta” fit in case this is as good as it gets.

Off to the Gap – whose curvy pant was seemingly (amazingly) made with an actual woman in mind – not a card board cut out of a woman. However, after pursuing the wall of pants, there are no curvy pants to be found. I find a sales person (which is the only time you have to go looking for a sales person at a store – when you actually need one – but I digress) and asked about the curvy pant. Nope, they no longer carry those. I walk out.

So then on to Ann Taylor. By this time I was pretty much ready to cry. This is why I hate to shop for pants. It’s so demoralizing. Like it really shouldn’t be this hard? I walk up to the sales person who is working near the pants section; say I need a pants that’s fit for a woman with hips. She asks me what size. I say I’m not sure maybe a four or a six. She pulls a couple of both in several different fabrics and takes me off to the dressing room. Miracle, the size four fits with just a little extra room in the waist. Sure, they’re too long, but I probably can get away without taking them in in the waist. I ask her if they have any petite pants.

Side note: for those who don’t know, petite clothes are for women who are 5’4 and under (I am just below this). The petite clothes have nothing to do with weight; it is a height designation only. They are generally shorter and smaller in proportion. Naturally I am a petite at some stores, not at others. And I tend to be a petite on bottom only (in pants and skirts) but not on top.

She mentions that usually you go up a size in the petite pant, so I would be a size six in petites, but since I have some room in these fours, I ask her to grab some sixes and fours. Sure enough, the four petite fit perfectly. Like no tailoring necessary at all. I think a light from heaven pretty much opened up and shined on me for one second in the dressing room. It closed when I realized that the store had exactly one pair of petite size four in the entire store. But, not to be deterred, and actually feeling slightly happy about this shopping trip, I bought a couple of regular size fours because they were way on sale and the tailoring is still less than the full price pants. I then went online and bought a couple more size four petites.

Call me a happy woman until next time I go shopping and I hop skip and jump myself to an Ann Taylor (or more likely online because they have a better selection of petites) only to try them on and lo and behold a petite size four no longer fits me because they’ve decided that I’ve grown, or shrunk even through according to my measuring tape and scale, I am still exactly the same.

Apparently the notion never occurred to someone that something like a pant should be sold with actual measurements attached to it. Like, I don’t know, I’m just throwing this out there, waist and hip and maybe even inseam. Like I could go to the store and look at the 27” waist/38” hip pants and go try those on. See if I liked them. Maybe they wouldn’t have to have every combination, but they’d have a bunch. And if you were an odd size, or an in-between size, which I’m sure a lot of us would still be, then you could have the tailored. But you would know that you like the pants at Banana Republic but not Ann Taylor so you could just go to one store. Or maybe you could go to all the stores that you never have time to go to because you don’t have to bring every f’ing pair of pants on the sales floor into the dressing room to find the ONE pair that fits you.

I honestly don’t know how women have not revolted in this country. I don’t know what we would do. I guess we could all just stop buying clothes and make our own until designers acquiesced to our demands and started sizing clothes in a rational way. At the same time, we can demand that they stop using only models with no hips and no breasts to model the clothes and when they do use a “normal” sized woman, stopped calling her plus sized because god-dammit 10 is not a plus size.

I know that certain styles of clothes won’t look good on me because of my body shape. And that’s fine. I don’t mind that. I just want to have a fighting chance when I go shopping. Really. I would probably spend a lot more money on clothing if it weren’t so ridiculously frustrating to buy clothes.

Now, apparently, I just need to learn to sew.

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