Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shopping at Lane Bryant

Last week a Lane Bryant catalog arrived in my mailbox. Shopping at Lane Bryant is my guilty secret. Lane Bryant is the store for woman's and plus sized clothing. Of course, I'm not sure "secret" is the word that applies here, because anyone can look at me and see I'm a woman's/plus sized person, but I use "secret" in the sense of something I don't like to admit to.  I also don't like admitting that it's something I don't like to admit to. We could do a whole Russian Doll thing with this.

I also don't like buying clothes from catalogs. As much as I hate trying on clothes, I also hate buying something because it looked good on the model in the catalog. Models in catalogs don't look like me. One time I made the mistake of ordering a skirt from a Talbot's catalog because the green in the lemon print looked like it would match the green in my Talbot's blazer. It didn't, but even worse, the skirt with its large front pleat and large scale pattern made me look like a badly upholstered sofa. That was not the look I was going for.

Talbot's has now taken to showing pictures online of its woman's sizes using larger sized models, which is helpful. Lane Bryant does the same, but it doesn't help. Lane Bryant's models are larger than the standard size model, but just like their size one sisters, they don't look like the average women. They are voluptuous. They have curves, but they don't have cellulite, or if they have, it's been airbrushed out of existence. Their fat does not settle around their abdomens, giving them the look of the Michelin Man. If I looked like a Lane Bryant model, I wouldn't be shopping at Lane Bryant, because I'm pretty sure I'd be able to fit into a Misses size 14.

The catalog promises that denims are on sale for buy one, get one free. This is a tempting offer, because I have only one pair of jeans that fits, and they are cropped. At any given time, I only ever have one pair of jeans that fits. I don't know why that is, but now seems to be a good time to rectify the situation. Furthermore, it contains a coupon good for $25-$75 dollars off, depending on how much I spend. I'm likely to spend a lot, because in addition to the new jeans, I need something to wear to hubby's upcoming reunion. 

Brief diversion to talk about hubby's high school reunion.  John is six years younger than I am. He graduated from high school the same year I got my master's degree. On John's and my first date, I discovered that my ex-husband had been one of his scoutmasters. So I am likely to be the oldest woman at the reunion. That doesn't bother me in and of itself, but it means dressing pretty wouldn't hurt.

There are three activities planned: bowling, a trip to a Chinese restaurant, and a get together in a bar. Hubby calls it a bar, but I suspect it's more likely to be a club. He assures me the dress code is casual. Okay, but there's casual like you wear to weed the yard and casual like you wear to your husband's reunion in a bar/club, and the two are about as far apart as prom dresses and prison uniforms. So I need a few new tops, one for the dinner and one for bar hopping. Bowling I think I have covered.

Off I go to Lane Bryant at the mall. The jeans turn out to be easy. They actually have shorter sizes (called "petite") in many of their jeans. They have a boot cut style in stock and can order a straight leg version. The jeans are still a little on the long side because they are cut to be worn with heels, not with New Balance motion control walking shoes with custom, broken foot supporting insoles, but they aren't so long I'll step on them.

Tops are trickier. The reason Lane Bryant uses hour-glass shaped models for their catalogs is that their clothes are designed for hour-glass shaped figures. Those of us with egg shaped figures don't inspire fashion design in any size range past "Toddler". The top I want is too big in the bust, although it fits around the waist, so the neckline droops, and it's the smallest size they have. "Have you ever worn a push-up bra?" the salesclerk asked. Well, yes, back in college and A cups. Then the Summer of Love hit, I threw away my bras, and it was about two more decades before I got back into one. But I love the top. The color and cut are perfect for me. So I agree to try the bra. 

Magic!  The top fits. Why haven't I thought of this before? I think it had something to do with believing I shouldn't have to mess with my natural shape to get my clothes to fit, and that's a praiseworthy sentiment that I maybe should stitch on a sampler and stop living by for a while, because the top looks great on me.

By this time several salesclerks are flitting around looking for items for me to try. One of them has a deep V-neck that looks interesting with my new cleavage, but the fabric has a print that reminds me of Grandma's old house dresses. I think it's the sort of thing you wear to catch the bus from the retirement home down to the casino for the lunch buffet, or maybe for an episode of Real Housewives of the Jersey Shore.  Either way, it's not me, in more than one sense of the words. 

I find an Indian print top for the restaurant, and inexpensive bangle bracelets to go with each top (also buy one, get fifty percent off the second). By the time I leave the store, I have qualified for the $75 off and my husband is dozing in a chair. When I show him the top and jeans outfit, he says it looks "okay". I refrain from throwing a bangle at him. Maybe I should just wear my weeding clothes.


  1. The big in the bust, fits in the waist is a problem for me as well and I am a 8-10 in sizing. So while the plus-size stuff doesn't apply to me, I understand your conundrum here!

  2. I agree. I had the same problem when I was thin. For a long time, I made my own clothes so they would fit right, but that's time consuming.

  3. I'm big in the bust, narrower in the waste. And things STILL don't fit me.

  4. Can you take things in around the waist? I know that gets expensive if you have to pay to have it done, but taking in is more feasible than letting out. It really is a nuisance not being able to buy something that fits, though.