The Evils Of Dress Shopping

(note: when i first typed out the title, i accidentally wrote "The Elvis Of Dress Shopping." i'm not sure what that might be, but it sounds kind of fun and sequin-y. this entry, however, is neither about fun nor sequins. well, at least not directly about sequins.)

so a couple good friends of mine are getting married. and while god knows i could wax pseudo-prophetic on THAT topic (because weddings are emotional and meaningful and also raise lots of questions in my head about what modern marriage is, and how it does and doesn't work, and also isn't it amazing how people come together, and wow, life is unpredictable and hmmm, will i ever marry again and if so under what circumstances?), i have a more pressing concern. namely, what the hell i'm going to wear.

i don't really have a lot of dress-up clothes. i have clothes that are nice enough to go clubbing* in, and some silly/fun things to wear for occassions like new year's** but nothing i'd consider nice enough for a wedding.

and this -- of course -- means i have to go shopping for a dress, which -- of course -- is nothing short of agonizing.

i mean, shopping just for regular clothes is difficult enough. i am not even CLOSE to the weight i want to be and i HATE buying clothes for my current size. every time i buy something that fits me now it's like admitting defeat. i feel like each article of clothing is a big proclamation of how much i weigh AND a reminder of how long it takes to lose weight.
[uh, not that there's a viable alternative. much as i'd like to, i can't have a closetful of clothes that will fit me in six months and nothing to wear in the meantime. because even though that would be AWESOME motivation, there'd be that bizarre matter of having to, essentially, call in fat for work.

"um, hi,, i won't be coming in for at least 20 more weeks....well, see, i wasn't working hard enough on losing weight so i threw out all my old clothes...yes, all of them...uh huh, right. no, but i bought all new ones! as soon as i drop another few sizes i'll be back...yeah, just keep my desk warm..."
but shopping for a special-occassion dress is even worse. because a special-occassion dress isn't just something to throw on, it's something that's supposed to make you look and feel beautiful.

that's beautiful. not hidden by a shapeless sack with shoulder pads.

and here's where i start to get shrill.

becase why? WHY are the selections of dresses for sizes 14 (and up) so god-awful? i do NOT get it.

i mean, sure -- i essentially want a dress that will make me look, oh, you know, four sizes smaller. and that's maybe a little ridiculous and my burden to bear, fine. i get that dresses can only do so much.

but THAT said, i have to wonder what the designers and stores are thinking.

for example? dress makers seem not to understand that if i am a size 14 (or up) i probably have a lot of boob. (and for the record, i do. a LOT.)

so like, this style? pretty!

but where do you suggest i put my breasts? shall i just lay them out on top?

seriously. if i wore this dress i would need an entirely separate top.

and uh, speaking of tops...

why on earth are designers hell-bent on showing off women's upper-arm flab? I don't want to see it! YOU don't want to see it! NO ONE wants to see it! so why Why WHY do like, 90% of women's dresses have spaghetti straps and/or no straps at all?


in the first place, not ONLY is one's ENTIRE upper-body area on display, but those teeny tiny straps don't even hold the bust area up ON THE MANNEQUIN. look at it! the dress is SAGGING ON THE MANNEQUIN. exactly what 14+ sized human would you suggest we plop into this dress, huh?

oh, and then.

then we have waist issue. i happen to have a waist, see, and while it is not as small as it once was, it IS smaller than my hips and bustline. and for this i would like acknowledgement.

not trickery.

i do not understand the thought process here, but clearly this dress is trying to trick you into believing that the waist is the area located directly below your boobs.


see, it has been my experience that my waist is in a very different place than my upper ribcage. and when i pretend that my waist is located just south of the boobage, all that happens is i end up looking pregnant.

and i don't know about you, but i do not enjoy the prospect of showing up at my friends' wedding only to have people ask me when i'm due.

another huge problem i have -- and this one i can't really fault the dress people for, even though i will -- is that i'm short. and so when i wear a dress that is supposed to hit "just below the knee" it actually hits me mid-calf. you know, right where the calf is largest. so instead of being able to show off my not-so-shabby legs, dresses tend to make my legs look way bigger than they are.

i usually evade his problem by wearing skirts, and (hi, confession time) hiking them allllll the way up so that the waistband is just under my brastrap. (sexy!)

the problem with separates, however, is that the formal ones -- ones nice enough for a wedding, say -- seem like they're made for matronly mothers-of-the-groom.

just ew.

really. formal separates need to get a life.

anyway, the point is (mostly) that even when a dress seems to fit all the basic requirements -- no breast spillage, no upper-arm exposure, waist at waistline, not too long -- it is made of SUPER CLINGY material.

of all the plus-size dress mysteries, this one takes the wedding cake.

are dressmakers and designers SO out of touch with the average woman that they don't know most of us aren't cellulite-free?

um, hi. just because i do not want to hide my body in some toga-like floor-lengthed "wrap" concoction does not mean i want the entire world to see where, exactly, down to the itty-bitty molecule, i am carrying excess weight.

i want to accentuate my curves, not my lumps.

i mean really. can you imagine? and horizontal stripes to boot!? in a 14!?



just when i thought it maybe couldn't get any more ridiculous, i found this dress:

this little number is -- uh huh -- an actual dress and it is only available in a size 16.

could someone explain?



*clubbing = "dancing in bars"

**silver sequined top-hat (yay! indirect sequin involvement)


  1. only in a 16? too bad! maybe you can get it taken in.

  2. There's no getting around it: tailor, tailor, tailor. I hate the extra cost too, but it's the only answer to the short legs/short arms issue I grapple with. (Limb stretching really takes too big of a bite into free time.)

    The lines are simple and would lend itself well to being taken in as you lose weight, so it wouldn't be a waste of money. The sight also has super cute matching wraps.

    The sticker price is high, but who knows. Maybe there's one selling on e-bay. Good luck with your quest. You'll look fab.

  3. I'll call into work 'fat' if you do? I love that idea...

  4. Go to Spencer
    She designs for people that are a size 14 & up! (experience speaking)Find the dress you like & then try to find it on EBAY - you won't be disapointed .....

  5. Um, Hi! If you find a dress, could you please let me know how and where because I fight the same problem. Stupid designers don't know how to design large for fashionable people.

    I'm trying to lose 25lbs in 2 months for a cruise. Wish me luck!

  6. Well, I can clue you in on that hot pink mini-satiny size 16 number! It was obviously designed for Trannys! Big Fella's need femmy dresses, too, you know! When in doubt, though, I always wear a Salwar Kameez. That's cool Indian garb...a tunic, and pants essentially. I'm not from India but I like that style. Of course I think you should buy a mini dress with a velvet jacket and Show Off your self! Love ya!

  7. OMG You have just told my wardrobing life story--minus the shortness. I am 5'9", which comes with its own challenges (at least you can trim a pair of trousers--you cannot make them grow). My closet is (not) filled with meantime clothes. Like you, I hate to buy clothes for a body I refuse to make my permanent address, so I buy something for the meantime--until I lose weight. One day I will fit in my fat jeans of 10 years ago, and then maybe I'll fill my closet with beautiful clothes. Maybe.

  8. I feel your pain, K. Shopping for dresses is ridiculous. I recently concluded that, even I was height/weight proportionate (this last occured for me 35 years ago when I was a wee infant), even if I did wear a size 4 (I think I would just look weird), everything would still be too long. That's realistic, right?

    Good luck finding a dress.

  9. Hi! This is probably obvious, but since it's the sort of thing that I procrastinate on, I just thought you might like another goal for your No Joy in 06 campaign. Namely, get your skirts hemmed? For me the problem is pants, but well, I have an entire wardrobe of pants I can't wear not because they don't fit, but because they are too long. And I can't sew. Don't even suggest it.

  10. I am going to say this, in spite of my deep deep painful hateful relationship with them. And as soon as I utter the words, I will probably curl up into a little ball and die for suggesting it. But... okay... David's Bridal has some nice two piece sets. I am short and curvy (read: chubby) and found a tea length skirt that was really nice.

    But whatever you do, never, and I repeat NEVER let them alter your stuff. But that is a different story.

  11. The really painful thing is that when you lose weight--it doesn't get any easier. I thought that once I got down to a "real" size shopping for clothes would be fun!productive!painfree! No such luck.

    Not that this information will help you in any way. ☺ Good luck with the shopping.

  12. that pink thing is really... something.

    and a shrug is a perfect way to handle those upper-body baring styles.... that's my trick these days.

    check out and even for some more youthful looks. i've ordered dresses from both and they've worked out for me.

  13. This is why I have exactly one dress in my closet. And I’ve only worn it once because my boobs spill out of it if I bend over or try to move my arms in any way. This post reminded me of the bridesmaid dress shopping I did with my (size 6 and 8) sisters. Yeah, lots of fun. Why on earth dress designers do what they do I will never understand.

  14. Ericha2@comcast.net11:01 AM, January 30, 2006

    You can also try in the women's dresses and special occasion section. A few cute things.

    Also try they have dresses with sleeves. in the special occasion section. I used to love this store when I lived on the east coast. has a lot of dresses, most are kind of matronly but there are a few worth looking at.

    Good Luck! I hate dress shopping, too. I was not blessed in the breast department so everything is too big on top and too small on bottom. Blah! Pants rule!

  15. I have a little suggestion that MAY (or may not) help.

    2 years ago I had the same task. To buy a dress that would make me look fabulous at one of my best friends weddings. What a fucking chore that was. I thought it would be 'fun' to go shopping for new dress. Uh, no think again. I found a few things that I liked but looked horrible on me and sometimes I buy stuff that I like but does not necessarily look good on me. So, I decided to take one of my friends shopping with me. The deal was I wasn't allowed to pick anything out - she picked out dresses that she thought would look good on me. This resulted in trying on things that I would not necessarily pick out for myself and it totally worked. I had to agonize between 3 different outfits (2 dress and 1 skirt) and I ended up buying 2 out of the 3 outfits! Sometimes I find when you are the only one picking out stuff for yourself you tend to pick out the same stuff over and over again. Bring a pair of fresh eyes with you and you might just find something that looks fucking fantastic on you!
    The deal breaker is you HAVE to bring a friend who has some style and eye for good clothing.

  16. Calling in fat. Ha! That's hilarious. I agree with Miss Pink, that pink things gotta be for a big ol' queen. I can even picture him/her wearing it and in a Shirley Temple hands on knees pose, singing "boop boop be doo".

  17. dresses are straight from the devil. unless of course you have the body of a 12 year old boy, like all those mannequins. wraps are the only things that work for me to cover up the dreaded arm flab, and some kind of extra support undergarment for the belly. if you know what i mean...ugg.

  18. Oh K..I can sooooo feel your pain, and so I offer my words of wisdom and some advice....ya know that place you take your laundry across the street?..they most likely hem pants and skirts and such and while it is an added expense (usually $10 or so), it is sooooo worth it. Also..I have one other word for you....pants..yes the time has come when it's ok to wear pants everywhere and you can still find a dressy look...liberate yourself from dresses and pantyhose not to mention the shoes!
    Good luck and you are FAB whatever you're wearing!

    IIF in Fresno

  19. I don't know, I like the red one! Am I insane?

  20. Good God woman, as usual you've told my story. (Except what waist I do have really is right under my boobs, terribly short torso. I think the red one might work for me but I digress.) Good luck in your search. Maybe we could start a petite size 14+ shopping support group.

  21. "dress makers seem not to understand that if i am a size 14 (or up) i probably have a lot of boob."

    Really? In my world, what they don't understand is that if I am a size 14, I probably have big hips. Why is it that EVERY FUCKING EVENING DRESS is some kind of bias-cut sheath or mermaid style?

    A-line, people! A-line!

    Why is that so hard?

  22. I completely feel your pain and have no idea if this will help. I've had some success with dresses at Jones New York. The shear number that they carry is fantastic. The thing is, you'll have to travel to get to an outlet store. Petaluma Outlets (Call first - they all were flooded) Napa Outlets and St. Helena Outlets all have a JNY store. Macy's and Nordstrom have a small selection but it doesn't even come close to the selection at the outlet stores.

    Come to the North Bay for the shopping. Stay for the wine! (I always need a glass or four after the shopping- sometimes before!)

  23. OMG, I so totally have the same big-calf hem-hitting problem! It never fails that I find THE perfect dress but the hem of it is such that it cannot be hemmed (say, because of some embroidery or fancy border) so I have to just keep looking.

  24. I'm totally bummed that togas went out of style. You could totally wrap them around you and NO ONE looks bad in a toga. (Well, maybe Jim Belushi, but that's another story...)

  25. There is a book called "I'm Not the New Me" by the girl who does the Candyboots website; she has a HILARIOUS chapter on the exact same thing!! You should check it out.

  26. I just went to a wedding wearing an old dress and new wrap. Old dress because I could find NOTHING new that looked decent. The old one's great, but similar friends had seen old dress at another wedding, so accessorized with a great new wrap (also to hide arms that have gotten a little out of shape). And if you have a Nordstrom's, their sales people are usually extrememly helpful. They found me "old dress" that really is quite fabulous (and wasn't too expensive)! (Didn't have time to go to Nordie's before this last wedding, but I'd like to believe they could have worked their magic again if I had.)

  27. I've just read your blog for the first time and this entry will be the one that keeps me coming back...I too have wieght issues and seriously understand your point on buying clothes that are in fact your correct size because it's pretty much like admitting defeat. I felt that way for so long until I realized that buying nice clothes that FIT feels so much better than trying to pretend that you aren't built the way you truly are.

    I'm a size 20, the biggest size I've ever been in my life, and I've just decided to buy nice, cute things (they cost so much money though, what's up with that?) that fit and look nice. I figured that if someone is going to judge me based on my size (which we all do) then the first thing they're going to see is that I look nice. And I believe in myself more when I look nice, so much so that the ignorant confident coma comes over me and I can get through my day without hating myself. And don't get me wrong, not liking your body is the ultimate hatred.
    And by the way, I don't know your pain about dresses because I literally haven't worn one in ten years. I need to practice my confidence trance in that area!!
    I have this piece of advice that you already probably know but I've just discovered: if you buy really good foundation garments, it takes pounds off of your body and everything fits better. Huge, sturdy and unattractive bras, body slimming one-piece girdle type things, underpants that reach up right under your boobs - it all works. It's not cute at all, but it works. Sorry this was so long and personal, I just thought I'd share.

  28. Chiming in very late here. Did you find a dress?

  29. As a large girl, this touched home with me... but that aside m FAVORITE part of this entry was what you named the picture of that HIDEOUS so called "dress".... "goodlord"


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