Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dear Purveyors of Vintage Clothing,

Next time a present-day size 10 woman (or, god forbid, 14! 16! plus size!) walks into your store, if you could refrain from sighing dramatically and giving her a cautionary lecture about how "clothes were SO much smaller back in the day, and even ten years ago women did not look like, well, that, and maybe you'd better just leave because we don't serve your kind here*," that would be great. I think a lot of self-worth could be preserved. And you might even sell her something.

Love,
Winona

*So I may be exaggerating a little, but seriously, just a little.

51 comments:

Penny said...

I think it's also bad when you find a dress you like, go try it on and the SA will kindly say, out of the goodness of her heart "you might be better off with a dress that camouflages your tummy... and arms" and she will then stare at your legs with pitiful eyes... I just go back to the changing room and cry...

jozette said...

I can relate. I love getting scanned from head to toe and reading the SA's facial expression: "I seriously hope she's not going to try to fit her size-10 ass in any of these. She'll stretch 'em out. Go to Dress Barn where they make clothes for you."

Bitches. They're just angry 'cause they're hungry.

Elisabeth said...

Ha, I know that feeling.

It's the same with little low-lit boutiques. A feeling of "buy something or get out, fatty" follows you round the store...

lady coveted said...

it's not you, it's her...

there are plenty of vintage clothes for women of all sizes... and besides, women back then wore GIRDLES and CORSETS to fit into their clothes. they called them 'foundation garments'

oh my, and i think spanx 'higher power' is torturous.

Ali said...

I was at a vintage clothing fair the other day and spotted a 1950s cocktail dress which I fell in love with - the woman told me that it would not even nearly fit me, it was far too small in the waist, and she actually really didn't want to let me try it on because she thought I would tear it. I eventually convinced her to let me try and the thing fit me like a glove. it was so great coming out of the fitting room to show her - what a cow, how is she supposed to sell clothes that way? I'm not even a big person!
I love vintage shopping but I have found that an awful lot of people who sell vintage clothes are condescending idiots. not all, but there are a lot out there.

Anonymous said...

Yuck! I hope that woman gets pregnant and never loses the baby weight. Not that I know what that's like...nope, not at all. Sigh. I remember what it's like to be a 10. Those were good days. Also, this serves as a reminder of why I buy faux vintage (and why I like using French words like "faux" in my writing). Good day, ma'am.

-Delaney

Julie said...

Oh, Winona. We could be tummy sisters. I have big boobs, a round tummy, and a nice ass. I am a size 10-12, depending on who makes the clothing. I have never had a problem getting a date, nor have I had to use a shoehorn to get into the car, but by god some people make me feel like I'm a sow because I'm not a 4. Screw 'em. :P

Anonymous said...

Next time that happens do what I did at a store close to my home. Smile and remind them beautiful women like Etta James managed to fit into the clothes and you'll do just fine, thank you oh-so very much darling.

-Erin

WendyB said...

Oh, that stuff just cracks me up. I was once in a store in Hong Kong browsing through a rack of "smalls" when a salesgirl screamed at me, "You -- LARGE!" and then she screamed at my much heavier friend, "You -- we no have for you!" But it's true, people used to be much tinier. Especially alarming: extremely small arms and shoulders in the '70s, even for men.

Abby said...

Wow, I've never had someone be that rude to me in a store. Then again, I don't frequent places with changing room assistants and whatnots. How do they expect to sell clothes if they're going to be rude to customers?
(and while I know the urge to be rude to customers is sometimes overwhelming, that's what a break room is for...)

.brainwash. said...

Please don't lose heart! I have been lucky to have almost the polar opposite experience with vintage stores..! And I have found some great pieces in flattering styles! And Lady Coveted is right about those foundation garments ~ *hahaha!* still: a bitch is a bitch ~ f*%k those scrawny broads if they don't have your size, SOMEBODY ELSE definitely does!!!

Catie said...

Oh, barfbag. It pains me to hear of this happening, least of all in PDX, my hometown?

It is total BS that sizes 10-16 (and up) aren't carried more often in vintage stores. Because they DO obviously exist. That was a choice the retailer made on whether or not to stock them. There are plenty more vintage stores in PDX, ones that sell a better variety of sizes AND are more tactful and helpful and nicer about it!

Throw them the deuces and move on.

ambika said...

I'm no itty bitty person and I've encountered plenty of vintage clothes that were too big for me. There were women of all sized 50 years ago, too and anyone who says differently is just being elitist and shi+ty for no good reason

Alanna said...

people are such jerks, and bullshit that people back in the day were all tiny- marilyn monroe was a size 12.
SUCK IT, SNOBBY VINTAGE PEOPLE.

Casey said...

amen!

Jeda21 said...

Not everybody belongs to club Bulimia. It's unfortunate even vintage places are that way. Imagine all the money they could be making off accessories and apparel sales that DO fit our shapely goddess outlines.

lisa said...

Aww Winona, you're a lovely girl and I'm sorry this unpleasant experience happened to you and so many of the people who've commented on this post. However, as someone who's naturally on the small side and somewhere between a 0 and a 4, can I ask some of the commenters to keep the skinny-bashing to a minimum? These weight-based biases can be hurtful either way.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world of plus-size all the time, and smile in solidarity for all your sisters out there. It's taken me a great deal of courage and energy to just go into regular smaller-size shops, so I can look at accessories and such. I've countered a few times to haughty looks and comments with "it's a GIFT and you've lost the sale", but I don't bother with that anymore.

At a size 20, I do find straight size things that fit me all the time, but I prefer shopping for those at places like Marshalls, not just for the prices, but for the non-nosiness. DKNY and a few lines run really big now.

As other people have posted, people were smaller, definitely less muscled, smaller-boned as well as thinner, as I remember well from my 60s & 70s childhood (facts lost to the misguided press reports). But there were always a few larger women around. And it seems some were wealthier, who shopped at nice department stores for quality, had clothes made, and cared for them. So while there's not a lot out there for the 10-20 size, I have scored a few treasured items over the years, including lovely 40s and 50s coats from rummage sales. And there's also some great cool men's vintage and of course, accessories.

~ K

Henry said...

"...and maybe you'd better just leave because we don't serve your kind here*"

/your droids. They'll have to wait outside.

Rhandi said...

As a plus size girl (quite a bit more than a size 10!), I have to tell you that shopping for clothes anywhere other than Lane Bryant is complete torture for me. Sales people in "normal" stores are either complete rude or just ignore someone my size entirely. I never quite understand that... I'm larger than the "average", how can you miss me? Yet, I often feel invisible. I am sorry that someone as little as you (yes, I said little!) had to feel a portion of that as well. Things like that make me want to go back in that store, find that cruel witch of a sales lady and re-enact that scene in Pretty Woman: "I was in here yesterday... you wouldn't help me. You work on commission, right? Big mistake. Big. Huge! I have to go shopping now..."

marenhyu said...

I'm actually pretty small *looking*, but I'm 5'9" and therefore am a size ten. And my least favorite thing is when the salespeople suggest cute stuff to try on, and then act as if I am a giant person when it doesn't fit. ^^;;

Anonymous said...

marenhyu:

I totally get how you feel bab,e!!
I'm 5'10 and wear a size 9-11 based on the designer...

Most of the time I just say - I'm just tall! And then walk away trying not to think that I'm a fatty (because I am so not even.) Stuff like that is damaging to women of any shape and/or size and it's thanks to women like the one in Nona's story that we have weight-consious women in the first place!!

LOVE YOUR CURVES LADIES!!

- Loves (even though she has no curves (to her dismay))

That One Lindsay Grl

amanda said...

Oh, honey, I feel your pain. I'm a size 10-12, depending on the designer, and the looks I get when I'm shopping make me wonder who raised some of these SAs. Obviously, they missed the memo on being kind to others and not judging people based on their appearances.

I have to tell you, I really love reading "Daddy Likey" because you aren't a size 0, and you have great style. So many of the fashion blogs I've come across are written by stick-thin (but gorgeous in their own right!) young women. It's nice to see someone that looks like I do; you're really inspirational.

The Vancouverista said...

F***k those bitches. They are just supremely jealous of your boobs.

Bizzle said...

I am loath to base my self-worth on someone who hasn't eaten a candy bar in at least a decade, but I do it all the time. Why does it always only take just one snob to smack your ego down for the day/week/month/sob pass the chocolate ice cream?

ALSO FOR THE RECORD, girls have been the same shape throughout history, it's just the sizing that's changed over the past few decades. I don't have any links on me, but check out snopes.com's page on Marilyn Monroe to see their brief spiel on how a size ten is now a size sixteen in our time.

Lily said...

Winona, I must know, was it a PDX boutique, and if so, which one? How ridiculous of her to suggest that literally NOTHING would fit you -- even if that were true (which is completely impossible and weird of her to say) how did she know you weren't planning on shopping for a lovely new handbag or some other non-sized accessory? She just missed a sale by being unbelievably rude and presumptuous.

Belle said...

wtf man, if some chick did that to my friend I would throw them into the nearesy river. which would be painful for them, dragging them out by the hair across a few streets and then into the Hudson. Seriously. Thats ridiculous. D:

Heather said...

Did you hit her in the face? You really, really, really should have. She's in it to SELL CLOTHES, not be an INCREDIBLE LYING BITCH.

Anonymous said...

My size-12-ish friend was just telling me about going to a Victoria Secret. The itzy-bitzy clerk looked my friend up and down with a look of disdain and said "we do not carry many things in YOUR size."

Pah.

Serena said...

Le bullshit, I say! I have the exact same body type and size as my grandma who was swingin' in the 1930s and 40s in adorable dresses, capes, stoles and what-have-yous. That salesperson was obviously just a betch with a pickle lodged firmly up her hoohah.

Adri said...

How rude! And surely counterproductive if you are a SALES assistant.

I've had the same thing, but the other way round and, admittedly, only odd looks and not actual comments. I'm a UK size 8 to 10 but wear a 30DD bra. This means I have to go to the 'fuller bust' sections when buying underwear. But since I look quite small generally, I get funny looks from assistants and other customers. I feel I have to walk round with my chest pushed forward to justify my presence there!

Luwanda said...

Wow. The comments on here are absolutely depressing. "I am loath to base my self-worth on someone who hasn't eaten a candy bar in at least a decade," "Not everybody belongs to club Bulimia" "I hope that woman gets pregnant and never loses the baby weight." Why is it okay to be hateful to skinny people? Yes, there are bitchy skinny people just like there are bitchy full figured people. I know it's frustrating to shop for clothes when nothing fits and associates won't even look your way. But that's no excuse to bash all non-plus sized women.

Cate said...

Winona, fuck that shit, and fuck that bitch. Call the store, and ask for the owner and manager, explain what happened. You could have been in there for a gift, you could have been in there for accessories, or you could have just been browsing. No one--no one!--has a right to speak to you in that manner and get away with it. You are absolutely in the right here, and deserve to get your voice heard.
Also, for all you ladies, having worked in retail for a LOOOOOONG time I have to say that these stories shocked the shit out of me, and that as a sales/changing room associate I would have gotten reprimanded, if not canned, had I EVER behaved that way to a customer. If you are uncomfortable speaking to that person directly, or just want to get the hell out of the store, make a note of the date, time, and that person's name tag, and RAISE SOME HELL. Contact the store manager, the district manager--whomever you need to--to get an apology and to make sure that that particular sales assoc. does NOT EVER speak to ANYONE like that again.
Sorry for all the cursing, this makes me fucking angry as hell. I've been all different sizes in my life--from a 2-4 to a 10-12, and although I can tell the difference in the way people treat me I've never experienced anything that rude. I'm appalled.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, what is all the skinny hate? That is totally even less okay than when a tiny sales clerk pulls shit like Winona is complaining about because if has been done to you, you know how it feels.

thimbles and gingham said...

i'd do exactly what cate suggests, Raise some hell!

Anonymous said...

I agree, I don't understand the skinny hate at all, only the bitchy hate. Some of my best friends I could use to thread a needle.

In the midst of posting, I just this this online shop mentioned on a plus size fashion site. They do retro styles at about the $150 range for a dress. They've gotten a lot of press, so some of you might know them, but it's new to me and looks wonderful. Bit out of my current budget, but I do hope to get something from them someday soon!

http://www.stopstaringclothing.com/

To bizzle...I think you've got that a bit backwards, or I'm reading you wrong? Look at any vintage pattern. Sizes have changed drastically (larger measurements for each size), although there's always been a range on offer, of course. People have generally gotten bigger...look at any historical costume exhibit, but of course there's always been bigger people.
http://www.snopes.com/movies/actors/mmdress.asp

Whenever I want to laugh, I just think...one size fits all!

~ K

LallaLydia said...

It's true that purveyors of vintage fashions -which often smell of old musty rags, unless they're from somewhere like Decades, Inc or Posh Vintage or whatever- think that they are a special breed of connoiseur and have the right to judge you, rather than to sell to you. God forbid too, that you walk in wearing ANYTHING fabricated after 1985 because then you're going to get the LOOK. i.e. "you're not vintage enough for my shmeta business, baby. Get out!" Sorry this happened to you Nona but hey -wasn't Marilyn Monroe a size 12? And let's not even TALK about Jayne Mansfield, yowza!

Emily said...

I'm plus size and work in retail. One of my favorite things to do is to show bigger girls that they can look 100x better than skinny girls if they learn a couple tricks and dress in things that flatter them, not size 2s.

Inez said...

Re: Stop Staring...

Unless they've made changes, i would beware their sizing info accuracy. I bought a size L dress from them a few years ago when I was a size 8/10 and it was too small. I'm not sure what is plus-size friendly there....

mrs brady/flo aka bekah said...

pssshh as if
ohhh ya, I completely forgot that one of the greatest sex symbols of that time, of all time, was marilyn monroe, A SUPPOSED CURRENT SIZE 16! I've gotten the "you're too big for THIS" once-over and I'm a size 6!!!!
what a bitch...let's go throw pastries at her until she melts into a puddle on the ground

oh ya..ps...I HAVE AN ACCIDENTAL MULLET, TOO! BUT I HAVE MORE OF A MOMLET...you may now call me mrs brady or flo (for florence henderson)

Vintage Joyride said...

*sigh*
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, gals (especially being a size 12/14 myself!) but although Marilyn Monroe did wear a size 12 IN HER DAY, that size 12 was equivalent to a modern size 6 or so.
She was not the ambassador of plus-sized gals everywhere, as she's often made out to be.

And yes, they DID make clothes in larger sizes back then - however, the percentage of people who required larger sizes was less than today AND clothes were often passed down and down and down. Altered along the way for the next person. In addition, our average HEIGHT has changed.
And, of course, undergarments were essential. The bust to waist ratio was totally different than today's standard.

There really is no excuse for rudeness, but please do understand that vintage clothing has survived decades and the sellers of it have seen more pieces than you can shake a stick at get shredded by an ambitious gal... who then walks away, leaving the destroyed garment on the ground.

Understanding must go both ways :)

Iheartfashion said...

I had a similar experience in Paris-land of the tiny-a couple of years ago. I was a size 6 at the time, and the saleswoman looked me over as I perused a rack of skirts, then said "Let me see if I have any extra-large in the back." Needless to say, I didn't buy anything.

Anonymous said...

Oh so sorry to hear of your store problem. You know, I'm considered plus size, and I've had some lovely SAs who have helped me find clothes to fit in their stores. The other day I saw a beautiful dress, size small, and I wasn't even sure my 5'8" 110 pound son into it. However, I called back and they were able to arrange to have it made in my size. And this was in one of the snottiest boutiques in NYC.

As for vintage, just after my son was born I was about a size 18 and needed a fancy party dress. I saw a beautiful black velvet 20s dress and I was sure it wouldn't fit. But the shop owner took a good look at me and said she thought it would fit. (A really good SA should be able to get your size just by looking at you.) I tried it on and it fit beautifully and I bought it. It had been handmade, and proved that not everyone in the 20s was so tiny as I had thought.

So keep looking!

Christine

LallaLydia said...

While I'm against the skinny hate because I think all women come in different (and changing!) shapes and colors, and that the last thing women need is female-bashing because we get enough of that from patriarchal society as it is, I WOULD like to point out that 2 motivated ladies in Portland, Oregon have sought to address the dearth of magazines and fashion press for plus sized women. SKORCH Magazine (free and online-google it) does great coverage of fashion shows and trends, gets the scoop on hot items and uses GORGEOUS local models for all their covers. They do a good job. I'll stop now before I come off as either an employee of theirs or a raging mother-earth hippie bent on destroying the Patriarchy. Cheers everybody.

Allie Beckaliciousness =) said...

and i thought i was the only one.
you know what? i like my size ten booty.
thats right.
i love you for posting this, winona!

Emma said...

schanks for commenting on my blog! my um..friend..almost did a little wee out of excitement. friend...yeah...

Viviene said...

It's not a crime to be curvy and lush looking. As a matter of fact there are several vintage clothing sellers that actually cater to those curvy and lush of figure.

Mad Fashionista Vintage and Modern at Specialist Auctions and Born Too Late Vintage at Specialist Auctions are two of those vintage sellers. Both owners are plus size themselves so they are always on the hunt for great plus size vintage.

There are also other sellers at Specialist Auctions that have plus size vintage as well.

Just because some vintage sellers cater to smaller sizes doesn't mean that you can't get great plus size vintage. The size doesn't matter. It's the measurements and wearing the right type of foundation for the clothing.

If you sew there is also a store for plus size patterns called Born Too Late Vintage Patterns. There is a full array of plus size patterns there. There are also other stores there that handle plus size patterns as well.

I am the moderator of the vintage and antique clothing section at Specialist Auctions (http://specialistauctions.com, then click on stores and then click on vintage clothing-sewing) to see all our stores. I also own Born Too Late Vintage and Born Too Late Vintage Patterns.

So do come over and shop with us. We love our curvy and lush customers.

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frisky kitten said...

Well at Re/Dress NYC we never sneer at anyone who's looking to shop. But also probably we have something to fit almost everyone as we specialize in vintage clothing starting at a size 10 and up to a 4x.

www.redressnyc.com

Laura F. said...

Some of these comments really break my heart. I'm saddened to hear of the experiences that people have had with unkind sales associates. But I will echo what a few ahead of me have said: how is bashing women that are more slender than you better than them being rude to you because you're of heavier build? I'm 5'4" and 125 pounds, I have wear a 34DD bra and I'm athletic. I'm not especially proud of my body, because most of it is just genetics... high metabolism, pain-in-the-rear big breasts, etc. But I would NEVER say, nor find it acceptable for someone else to say something like "Stop whining b&#$!es and get on the treadmill!" Yet it's okay for a person to write "Bitches. They're just angry 'cause they're hungry." ?! Way to be exactly like the people you despise.

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