Let’s Chat: Women’s Clothing

My bra broke this morning. Again. My favorite one, too, because of course my favorite bra would break as I’m putting it on. Because the universe hates people who wear bras, apparently.

I’ve had this thing forever. I bought it right before I started dating the Lawyer, so… He and I broke up the summer before I did The Music Man, which was the summer before I did The Wizard of Oz, which was the June before I moved to San Diego a little over two years ago; so he and I split about four years ago and we dated for about a year and a half… If my maths is correct, I’ve had this bra for about six years now.

And as anyone who wears a bra knows, there’s a really good reason I’ve hung onto this one for so long.

This bra. I want it.

This bra. I want it.

It’s a Victoria’s Secret demi in black with delicate crocheted lace on the top edge of the cups and the interior edge of the straps. Lightly padded with under-wire, this is actually really comfortable. It doesn’t leave me hanging and it doesn’t over-emphasize the size of my breasts. Love it.

But here’s the thing. Because I love it and how it makes me look and the confidence it gives me to go out in public and not feel like I’m looking schlumpy, I’ve had to repair it more times than I can count.

Under-wire transplants from donor bras that were supremely uncomfortable. Multiple instances of needed stitches to keep the under-wire where it needs to stay. Replacing mangled hooks and eyes because I forgot to hand wash it and it went through the laundry with my jeans.

I’ve mended this bra so many times that I’m reasonably confident that I could start making my own and they’d fit better and last longer than the ones I’d find in stores. Actually, I almost ordered under-wire in bulk this morning while doing my make-up. That’s how annoyed I am with what I’ve got to work with.

Women’s clothing in general is entirely annoying and frustrating. And that’s at the best of times. This is all Life According to Alice, by the way. I’m sure there are people out there who have had a wonderfully pleasant experience purchasing and wearing women’s clothing. I am not one of those people.

I’m built weirdly. I guess. According to ready to wear sizes, anyway. Real talk, my measurements are 37-28-44.

Have you ever tried to find a ready to wear dress that accommodates those inches without having to have it tailored in any way? I have and I can tell you that finding a dress that’s a size six/eight in the bodice and a ten/twelve in the waist/hips/skirt is impossible. I’ve started making my clothes (a run off of cosplaying, really) and having to buy patterns in the larger size to accommodate my hips and figuring out how to combine that with the smaller size for my bodice is a challenge I never anticipated having to meet.

I’ve done all right thus far in my making-my-own-wardrobe experiment. However, I did recently make a dress while forgetting to fit it as I went, which was a shame because it’s a cute dress. That now hangs in my little sister’s closet (assuming mom’s put the buttons on it already). Mostly, though, I’ve been sticking to separates to guarantee that things will fit comfortably. Skirts and shirts and sweater type tops, things like that. For Halloween this year, I’ve a challenge ahead of me in that I have to make a modified hoodie and a pair of skinny jeans. Wish me luck, friends, for I wish to be this cute:

I'm doing this fandesign of Harley Quinn. Because she's adorable and I love Harley Quinn.

I’m doing this fandesign of Harley Quinn. Because she’s adorable and I love Harley Quinn.

Shopping for clothing, aside from socks, is probably the single most frustrating thing I could put myself through. Aside from the whole measurements thing, finding something that I find cute and wearable that fits right and doesn’t look terrible on me is like finding the Holy Grail. I’m not sure what the manufacturers are thinking when they design the things they send to the stores.

Target’s one of my best friends because they carry the fruit snacks I love and I can get the skin care/make-up products I need in special hypo-allergenic variations. But the clothing they carry is not something I’m overly fond of.

The Lawyer took me once to pick out some very light sweats for the dance class I was taking. We were there for two hours, I tried on dozens of pants in various styles, and we walked out with nothing in hand. I did have an emotional meltdown, though, so there’s that.

I’m a shorty, standing at a cute 5’3”, so finding something that fits my ridiculous birthing hips and isn’t too long in the leg is next to impossible. And if it fits in the leg, it nearly saws me in half if I can get it to button at all. Hence why I decided to go with trousers in my next cosplay. I need to practice.

Oftentimes, I’ll make concessions regarding some aspect of the article so long as it almost fits.

I bought a pair of skinny jeans for my brother’s wedding (it was super casual and fun and cute and totally them, so don’t judge that the bridesmaids were in skinny jeans and red button down shirts) that I love to wear when it’s not a million degrees outside. But I live in San Diego and we’ve been having a drought in California this summer so days where I don’t feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust if I wear more than just my undies are few and far between. The jeans are comfy and they fit for the most part. They’re a bit long in the leg, but I can fix that by cuffing them. They’re a bit loose in the waist/hip area because I’ve lost weight since purchasing them a year and a half ago, but I can manage that with a belt that I wear anyway, whether the trousers are too loose or not.

The thing I absolutely hate about them? The pockets are fucking tiny.

This is Dumbing of Age by David Willis. And I cannot recommend it enough.

This is Dumbing of Age by David Willis. And I cannot recommend it enough.

I like to carry my debit card and my bus pass and chapstick in my right pocket for easy accessibility, and because I can’t find a purse that does what I need it to do. But I can’t do that in these jeans. The chapstick is too round. The cards are too wide and almost too long. Things just stick out of these pockets and I feel like someone could easily make off with my stuff if they got too close to me.

Women’s pockets, though. Ugh. I don’t understand why we’re expected to have to use a purse when we should just be able to use our pockets. Dudes can use their pockets. I understand that smaller pockets create smoother lines and cleaner silhouettes, but they’re incredibly impractical.

My dude friends were amazed and confused when they found out women’s pockets only go down two inches. They actually didn’t believe me until they tried putting their hands in my jeans pockets. Then they tried putting their cell phones in my pockets, their wallets, their keys. They even tried my back pockets. Which barely holds my Samsung Galaxy S. Barely.

So every time they complain their jacket pockets are too small, I don’t sympathise. At all.

Honestly, I love it when dudes discover an inconvenient truth about my wardrobe. It’s hilarious. Really.

I worked a convention in Sacramento this past Labor Day Weekend and while talking to Daniel about what we were packing to wear, he was like, “Yeah, don’t wear a dress.” Or “Don’t wear your flats; wear comfy shoes.” Or “If you seriously wear the dress, I’m going to flip up your skirt every chance I get.” He doesn’t understand that sometimes a sun dress is possibly the most comfortable thing to wear that day, depending on the weather and my physical state. He doesn’t understand that sneakers are uncomfortable for me because I’m a Barefoot Kid. He doesn’t understand that wearing yoga pants in public at a convention (something he actually recommended) is probably the worst idea ever. He doesn’t get it.

I wore comfy shorts and sneakers and t-shirts with prints of my favorite characters or my skinny jeans and flats instead of the shorts and sneakers. And I made it work. I didn’t complain if my feet hurt because of having to wear shoes at all (I’m so much happier barefoot). I didn’t complain if I was too warm in my jeans. Or if my necklace was twisting and the links in the chain pinched me. I don’t complain because it’s what I have to deal with on a daily basis. Unless I don’t leave my apartment that day.

Honestly, I only ever complained about my bra. And I think everyone who wears a bra has the right to complain about it.

But let’s talk about shoes for a moment, shall we?

My mom loves shoes. She really does. And she has fantastic taste in shoes (and clothes in general, really). Whenever I go to visit and I’ve forgotten shoes for church, she’ll let me borrow a pair. But here’s the thing: my feet are a half size larger than hers, so we’re already headed to slightly compressed feet before I even pick out a pair, and she likes tall heels with open toes or fancy cut outs or lots of straps. Seriously. Her nice shoes are super fancy-pants. So I take the shoes off every chance I get. Which is how her congregation has come to know me a the One Who’s Always Barefoot.

My fancy shoes are fairly simple. Three inch heels, usually, closed toe, no cut outs, simple inch wide straps. I have simple tastes, really. They’re nice shoes, but they’re more on the practical side of fashion. And that’s because I usually initially buy them to wear on stage and I need them to be sturdy and if not entirely comfortable, then close to it.

I used to wear Converse sneakers until they stopped making them with quality worthy of charging me $50 for a pair. If I can wear a hole in the sole after only six months, I’m not spending that much on their shoes again. They used to last me six years before the sole wore out. I used to have to deal with the canvas falling apart first. Not these days.

So I wear $15 sneakers that I don’t care if they fall apart because I only wear them for work and if wearing my flats would be supremely unwise. And I don’t care about my shoes anymore. Because caring was just annoying me and making me sad.

My flats are simple black ones and while not as comfy as being barefoot, they’re pretty close and they look nice with my jeans and my work trousers and all my skirts. Honestly, they’re my most versatile shoes and I was a hold out on even buying them. I’m weird like that.

But honestly, barefoot is the best.

Invisible shoes. Almost as good as barefoot, I think.

Invisible shoes. Almost as good as barefoot, I think.

Since dating the Lawyer, I’ve been fairly clothing-optional and I just honestly would rather just sit around in my undies and a tank top than actually get dressed and look presentable.

Shirts are usually too snug no matter what size they are. They’re boring designs. They’re not flattering on anyone larger than a size two, which is annoying. I know a few girls who are that little and they seriously get all the cute stuff. I don’t hate them for that, I hate the designers for thinking girls who aren’t tiny don’t deserve cute shirts and tops.

Our t-shirt selection is depressing, too. My parents got me a Star Trek shirt for Christmas one year and I love it. It’s a little oversized because mom got it before I showed up at her house three sizes smaller than when I had left, but that’s fine. I mostly wear it as pajamas because it’s vintage soft and super comfy. But I found it in the dudes’ department in Target a few months later.

I love this shirt and I’m not annoyed that mom bought me something from the dudes’ department. I’m really not because I shop there for t-shirts and jackets myself when I can’t find anything I like in the ladies’. I was annoyed that it didn’t seem like making the same shirt or something similarly nerdy in women’s sizes or styles even crossed the manufacturer’s mind. The guys get all the awesome nerdy t-shirts with their favorite comic characters or TV franchise logos on them. I had to dig and dig and dig for my Captain America shirt, searching through loads of poorly designed Mickey Mouse (and I adore Mickey) options and overly sexualized band shirts. When I accidentally stumbled across a viable Phineas Flynn (Phineas and Ferb) cosplay outfit on Target’s clearance rack last night, I was flabbergasted. And of course I bought it since the shorts and the shirt together were less than $10. Least expensive cosplay ever.

The one on the right. Now I just need a Ferb!

The one on the right. Now I just need a Ferb!

I just find the whole phenomenon of dudes getting better t-shirt designs unfair and annoying. When I voiced my annoyance to Kristina when we were wandering through Target one day, some dude overheard and said I should just design the shirts I wanted for women.

But that’s not the point.

Humans have been wearing clothing for a very long time. We should have this figured out by now. Women shouldn’t have to be inundated with options that suck compared to the options dudes have. We shouldn’t have to be emotionally bolstered just to find something that fits.

Manufacturers and designers should know by now that there are different body types out in the world and all of us would like to be able to dress in a way that’s both flattering and cute and makes us feel like actual human beings. We shouldn’t have to find something that was designed for a size 00 but made in a 12 or whatever and when we put it on, it doesn’t flatter anyone. We shouldn’t have to deal with fashion designed for tiny slim people. We should have clothing options that were designed for larger body types, for different body types, for odd body types.

I shouldn’t end up so frustrated that I’m crying in the middle of the Target dressing rooms.


About alicegracey

Writer, Actor, Advice Nerd. At least, that's what it says on my business card these days. Mostly, I just write in order to try to get my brain to shut up. I like to share what I write, but be warned, I don't do happy.
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