For millions of people in the United States of America, buying clothes is not a joyful experience. No, these people, and I am one myself, cannot just walk into any store and try on the fashions of the day. Rack after rack of beautiful, colorful, stylish clothes remain a wishful thought for us.
Instead, we walk to the back of the store and try the Petite section, if there is one, because we are short by clothing manufacturers’ standards. Again our hopes are dashed because this section, if there is one at all, goes up to size 14P, if we’re lucky, and we wear larger sizes.
Next we go to the Plus Sizes and there we see a couple of racks of dark colored clothes in old lady styles. (No offense intended to my fellow age enhanced women!) Since this is our last resort, we find a few articles and go into the dressing room to try them on. What a sad experience this turns out to be! The pants legs are dragging on the floor, the sleeves are down to our knees , the crotch is too low and the waist is too long.
So we roll up at the waist, we roll up the sleeves and the pants legs and try to imagine how they’ll look after we pay someone to do the alterations.. If we have planned ahead far enough we will have the time required to get the item altered before we have to wear it, but sometimes we have to attempt the hemming ourselves.
When I was growing up (quite some time ago) my mother made most of our clothes from patterns she bought and adjusted to fit us. Shopping for clothes in those days meant shopping for a pattern and the fabric. Often we had the same style in several different colors because my mother could whip up an item in no time on her trusty Singer Sewing Machine! Unfortunately since my mother was so good at making our clothes, I never needed to learn how to sew very well and I don’t even own a sewing machine. Sure, I can attempt a hem in an emergency situation, but I hate to think of all the lovely items that I kind of goofed on. Sad. Just sad.
I can remember the first time I went to a department store to try to buy an outfit “off the rack,” the first time I felt the humiliation of not being able to find something nice to wear. I went shopping for something to wear to my sister’s wedding. My mother was too busy making the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses to make something for me, and besides, what a thrill to go to Macy’s with my older sister who by this time was buying all her clothes from the stores. To this day I cringe when I see that family picture taken on my sister’s wedding day because I’m wearing the outfit I had to settle for. All that pain, humiliation and shame are right there, as if it was not 40 years ago.
Now no one in my family sews anymore. Instead we go to the mall. It doesn’t matter if I’m at home or across the country on vacation, malls are everywhere and they’re all pretty much the same from Maine to California.. Super Malls with hundreds of stores are popping up. Some people shop from catalogs, shopping on-line is growing like crazy and many people buy their entire wardrobes from TV with Home Shopping Network and QVC, which I might add, does usually have short lengths for the Plus sizes, but not always.