On being on the wrong side of fashion..

Hi knitting friends!

I’m going to do something I’ve been doing a lot lately, and talk more about life than about knitting, though at least there are some references to knitting (or at least knitwear) in this post. However, if you only come here for the knitting, this is probably another good one to skip. (fair warning.)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about clothes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love clothes. I think that they are a wonderful way to express your originality, and for you to put out your signature style and personality in a place where even people you don’t know can see it. That’s cool, and there’s really an art to crafting a style that is uniquely you. I know that a lot of people see having an interest in fashion as superficial and shallow, but I tend to disagree. If you want to see clothes as a purely utilitarian endeavor, don’t let me stop you, but my clothes are a reflection of my personality, and I like them that way. I think that they’re a fun way to work your artistic sensibilities into your daily life, and what’s wrong with that??

Some of you may already know this, but recently I’ve lost a fair bit of weight (about 15 pounds so far.) I plan to lose a little more, but I’m feeling pretty good and much healthier, and as a result of my weight loss, a lot of my clothes no longer fit, so I’m getting rid of stuff. So far, so good right? One I’m at a place where I want to stay, I will probably go on an enormous clothes-buying binge, but even now I’m keeping an eye out, shopping around, trying to find stuff that I think will look good.

However, I have learned something while trying stuff on in stores. Apparently my body is ALL WRONG. The trends for this season seem to be loose, shapeless, oversized knits, dresses with weird cutouts, baggy things, floaty tops with no shaping, weird, high waisted everything, and zero stretch in any of the fabrics that aren’t knits.

In every single one of these things, I look as big around as my biggest parts. It’s so demoralizing. I want to be one of those cute, chic girls in skinny jeans and an oversized sweater, but there is no way that will ever be me. I look like the michelin man in that outfit, it’s really not cute. Same with the floaty tops, it’s *poof* out over my chest and then it falls straight down from there, and I look super dumpy >.<

Now, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Clothes are designed for really skinny people without curves (i.e. models) and since I don’t look like a model, I shouldn’t be too bummed out that fashionable things don’t look the way I want them to on me. The problem is, that after I go shopping, instead of feeling good about myself and my progress, I feel bad that I’m so far off of “ideal.” Since I’m so much healthier and also smaller, I magically expect that I’ll now look good in whatever is fashionable, and that’s simply not true, and it may never  be. I’ll always have a curvier figure rather than an athletic one, and I’ve really made peace with that. It’s just disheartening when you feel good, and expect to look good, and then you go out shopping and it’s just demoralizing. I know that it’s illogical to be bothered by this, but the thing is, no one really has a “perfect” figure! Is it so much to ask that more accessible brands should be high fashion trends modified for people who are normal? Sweater dresses are great if they are fitted! And they’re so adorable with leggings.  I can do a looser sweater as long as it has some shape to it,  floaty tops are fine if they can be worn with a belt or something to bring them in at the waist, but a lot of that stuff looks stupid with the modifications I would need, or it just doesn’t seem to exist this season. (And I don’t think crop tops will EVER be flattering on me *shudders*)

Looking at this post, it now feels like I’m doing a lot of complaining, and I guess I am, though it wasn’t my intention. I think part of what I’m wondering is if I’m the only one who feels this way? I don’t really think I’m terribly insecure about my body, but shopping for clothes is a real bummer in my book (and I want it to be fun.) Do you feel like trendy clothes are inaccessible to you because you don’t have a stereotypically “perfect” figure? And a broader question is why, if the vast majority of the people have normal bodies, are all the clothes for only one body type??

This all is a rather long way of saying that I’m really glad that I can make my own clothes, and, when I make an oversized sweater, I’m totally adding some waist shaping. Because they’re my clothes and I can do what I want. Even if I can’t buy them the way I like, I can at least make them 😛

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13 Comments

  1. L Gwilliam

    I am skinny. It’s luck of the draw genetically. It still doesn’t mean that the current fashion looks good or is worth buying. Do not be disheartened. Embrace your new self and enjoy your life.

  2. It’s good that you can make your own clothes and even if it takes longer, you can choose the style, the shapes and make modifications 🙂 It will be such a satisfaction to wear your own things, won’t it?
    I also have issues with fashionable trends – although I’m not overweight, my curves don’t fit with most of the no-curves trousers. So I buy less (which is good) and sometimes I have items made for me, so they will fit 🙂

  3. I think the only way to win this game is to go against the trend and create your own style that fits both your personality and body shape. I admire the women who can do this, whether their look is goth, crunchy granola, outdoorsy, retro, romantic, or whatever. I know I’ve been much happier since I gave up on the shops that only sell “fashion.” (Of course, I work from home, so my own look is mostly sloppy!) 🙂

  4. Lauren, believe me when I say I know how you feel. A few years ago I decided to tackle a weight problem I’ve had for a long, long time. It worked, and I lost about 20 lbs just to find myself in the very. same. situation.
    There’s a few things I would like to say because your post resonates with me in ways you couldn’t imagine.
    1) Mass produced clothing is not made to fit anybody because nobody’s got the same body. Some are taller, shorter, rounder, thinner, narrower, curvier, some have long torso and short legs, some have long legs and short torso, long feet, short feet, wide feet, narrow feet, etc. There is NO WAY any sort of mass produced clothing can fit all those possibilities. Their “ideal” is nothing more than a standardized shape that won’t fit right MOST people who try it on.
    2) Because mass produced clothing is bullshit, roll with it and do it YOUR way. If you had clothes you like but don’t fit anymore, try to alter them to your new silhouette. It’s not that hard, I promise! And if you really can’t, buy things that you know fit your style and body, don’t try to force yourself into something just because it’s “trendy”. You’ll be much happier that way, I can guarantee.
    3) If none of the above works for you, try your hand at sewing or find a good seamstress who can alter or make clothes that will fit YOUR body, and nobody else’s. It encourages local economy and nothing beats a piece of custom made clothing, nothing will ever fit you better.
    4) I really understand your frustration when you feel good about losing weight only to find things in big stores don’t fit you any better, but believe me it’s not worth it. Don’t be ashamed, be proud. Because you’ve worked hard to be where you are, and you deserve to feel good in your own skin.
    Cheers 🙂

  5. I am overweight and have weighed everything from 170 – 260 lbs at various points in my adult life… I don’t think I’ve ever felt happy after shopping in a store. What helps, though, is finding a store that tends to carry styles that tend to flatter your shape. When I was at my lightest and could technically fit into non-plus sizes, I still couldn’t shop at the Gap because the Gap was made for straighter bodies than mine. I can, however, always find some nice things to buy at Dress Barn, which despite some if its frumpy older-lady styles, has some real gems in there that flatter my curvier shape. I’ve accepted that I can never shop off the $5 rack at H&M or whatever, and that I’ll have to pay more for ‘grown up’ clothes in more adult style stores because those are the things that fit.

  6. Oh, I can totally commiserate! I have an athletic build (read large shoulders, a booty, and strong legs … I both lift and do kettlebell) so a lot of the cute fashions I see people wearing don’t fit me or flatter my build either. Buying jeans is a total nightmare!

  7. Yeah. Fashion for women is odd, at best. Recently I went shopping with my brother, to get him a fresh set of clothes. The men’s section in H&M was a lot smaller than the women’s section, but we could go in and immediately pick out completely generic items like t-shirts and jeans, and he looked fine. I wanted a nice flannel button-up shirt, and spent an hour looking for something in the much larger women’s section. However, it was completely impossible! Most of the clothes were completely odd, with weird cuts, strange fabrics and just… urgh. Plain ugly! When at last I did find regular button-up flannel shirts, they fit my body like a sack of potatoes.
    Why? I too have a curvy figure, and no matter my weight there will be a difference of 8 inches between my breast-circumference and my waist. That apparently is an enigma for manufacturers of clothes. I fully embrace body positivity, and a part of that is having comfortable clothes that actually fit your body accessible to you. I can see how people – no matter what their weight or size is, look happy and comfortable in clothes that actually fit them.
    So go for the items that fit you and make you happy, and go laugh in the face of fashion. It’s so much better to be comfortable and happy in clothes that fit your actual body. And as you grow into your changing body, find out what your signature style is, and why it makes you happy.

  8. Rebecca

    Well good on you! You are hopping of the consumption machine that sells by making us feel anxious and incomplete. Bravo for the DIY approach. Have you checked out Amy Herzog Fit to Flatter? It is all about knitting for the body we actually have not someone else’s that is used to sell clothes.

  9. socksformum

    How wonderful that you have had a successful weight loss. I say make your own clothes to define who YOU are. I’ve lived long enough to know that what goes around comes around and the current style is only a re-invented older style. Find the one that works for you and flatters your new body! (P.S. Have you shared how you lost weight in another blog? I would love to know since nothing seems to work for me. ;0)

    • I haven’t shared on another blog, but there were really two main things for me. I exercised, even if it was only for half an hour, five times a week, cardio. Then, I limited my calorie intake to 1,500 a day, and tried to make as much of that as possible fresh fruits and veggies and lean protein. Everything else was just small lifestyle changes like taking the stairs and walking places instead of driving, just doing small things to get myself moving and try to be a little more active. I didn’t try any fancy diets or workout plans or anything, because if it gets too complicated I just won’t do it.

  10. I’m pretty average sized — not skinny, but not overweight either. My hip issues mean every aspect of my legs are wildly uneven though. I used to be pretty emotional about it when shopping and how I didn’t meet the ideal, but around the time I hit 30 I decided to just give up my preconceived notions of what shops and styles *should* work for me and started shopping for styles and at the places that *do* work for me (for example, I gave up on Old Navy and shop at Lands’ End now for a lot of things even though I always thought of Lands’ End as being for old people — lol!). I also simplified my wardrobe a lot to fit my life and body. I think it’s way more fun & cost effective to keep a stylish wardrobe that consists of basics with just a couple trendy accent pieces.

    As a side note, a million congrats on the progress with your health. I’ve been on the same road the past couple of months — I’ve done yoga + strengthening first thing in the morning and a long walk with the dog & kids. I just do it every day I feel up to it (some days I can’t because of pain in my leg). I’ve also been using an app to help me watch calories and readjust what my body’s calorie expectations are, so now I actually feel full when I should. I’ve also dropped about 15lbs, but best of all, I’ve regained a lot of muscle tone I’d lost over the last couple years. I feel great!

  11. knittedblissjc

    This is the problem with trends- everything in all the stores in the same season has the same cuts, and if you don’t like it or don’t look good in it, it feel like you can’t find anything in that season. I’d recommend trying different stores than you normally would shop at, or even thrift stores. Independent stores usually have different cuts, are less trend-driven. I remember after I had my daughter and was ready for some new clothes, all the tops were short, boxy, and crew neck- it looked terrible on me. Felt like I had to wait out the trend before I could buy anything new.

  12. Your story is so familiar! It’s so nice to hear that one is not alone in the ready-to-wear market. How I’d like to go shopping with you!

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