the emperor’s new clothes

Guy wants me to tell you this, before I start the story: He is not fashionable. He
does not like clothes, or care about clothes, and really, he only wears clothes
because he was arrested that one time, and it chafed. Guy wanted me to list all of his fashion faux pas, which he
cheerfully enumerated for me on his fingers, which include the following:
t-shirts with holes, white socks, white socks with dress pants, not knowing he
needed a brown belt and brown shoes and not
white socks with his beige suit, tapered jeans (before I burned them),
too-short jeans (before I burned them), acid-washed jeans (before I jumped up
and down on them, tore them to pieces, and then burned them), and a list of
myriad and various other fashion terrors too terrible to terrorize you with.

I think he dresses fine; he is a jeans and t-shirt kind of
guy, and now that they are cool t-shirts without holes and dark-washed jeans,
he is especially cute. But that is kind of the point, really, of this anecdote:
that he is a jeans and t-shirt guy who never cared about clothes, and still
does not, and never will, who tells me I look nice all the time, but will never
actually notice an outfit that I am wearing. Until this weekend, when he saw me
wear the same shirt and pants, same shirt and pants, giant shirt and giant
pants, giant shirt and giant skirt, same shirt from before. He turned to me
last night at the bar, where I was wearing the Same Shirt, and he said "Honey.
You really, really have to get yourself some clothes."

I really, really fucking do. Today, I am wearing an
ankle-length leopard print skirt that I have been hauling from place to place,
city to city, for the past sixteen years.
I bought this skirt at Lane Bryant, when I was a stupid goth kid wearing stupid
goth clothes and I thought it was the coolest, cutest thing you had ever seen
in your life. It has fit me and not fit me over and over again for over a
decade. It was cutest when it was a clingy kind of pencil skirt, but now it is
this hanging column of fabric in which I look a little bit like an insane PTA
mom, trying to hang desperately on to her youth.

It also doesn’t really fit me at all–it’s sitting around my
hips, and it sort of spins around as I walk. The slit-to-the-knee is at the
front with my first step; two steps later, it’s down the left side. Three steps
later, it’s slit to the knee in the back, and here it comes around again to my
right side! I am like a tiny little leopard print parade in this skirt.

The shirt makes it even more festive; I’ve no idea where I
got this thing. All I know is it appeared in my closet, and it is isn’t twelve
sizes too big for me, and so I am wearing it. Despite the fact that it says
"Hugs and Kisses." And it has got little skulls and crossbones. Which
I have just realized are glittery. Glittery skulls and glittery crossbones. I
am precious. I kind of want to die.

This isn’t exactly how I envisioned it. What I envisioned,
when I was able to envision anything at all about how I would look and how I
would change and be different and my body would transform, was a series of
increasingly awesome outfits with every pound I dropped. I pictured the coats
and the shoes and the trousers and the blouses–I pictured a lot of blouses–and
the dresses. I had fantasies about the spectacular spectacular I would make, in
the wardrobe of beautiful dresses that I would suddenly have and be fabulous
in.

Now that I realized don’t really care if my arms are not
perfectly toned and that I like showing skin, the fantasy opened up even
further to encompass sleeveless sundresses and halter tops and spaghetti straps
and–things! Things I never would have worn before! Magical, beautiful things in
fabulous colors, with whirling lights and whirligigs and maybe a musical
soundtrack.

I dressed well as a fat chick, and I liked clothes immensely,
and I liked to look good and cute and sexy and awesome and have people ask me
where I got that shirt or those shoes and they did and it was always very cool
and made me feel so fancy. But I’ve always had this sense that there was this
whole spectacular world of clothing outside the plus size zone, where every day
was a Festival of Fashion. I think I was imagining marabou feathers and fur
miniskirts and sequins and maybe a parade of stilettos and g-strings. Where is
my parade of stilettos and g-strings?

I will tell you where they are. When I did all my
envisioning, in these scenarios inside my crazy head which you will rightly
call slightly broken, I was not–shockingly!–entirely, smashingly,
astonishingly, desperately and tragically broke. My fantasies somehow always
involved actually having, you know, money to buy these things. No, okay, what I
was hoping for was that my new sexy outfits would appear as if by a miracle. Or
because I am so cool.

Guy brings me dishwashing detergent and cat food, but I
can’t say "honey, please, could you maybe bring me a pair of darling Capri
pants and maybe a snug wool coat that belts at the waist?" I can’t even
thrift, because I am so broke, and I am busy feeling sorry for myself and
living on cans of tuna. I don’t even care about living on cans of tuna. Tuna’s
fine! A handful of soy nuts for dinner, I’ll live! Whatever! But fucking
Christ, I am tired of standing in my closet and deciding between two shirts or
a mumu. Please don’t make me have to wear a trench coat and sneakers to work
tomorrow. It burns.

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  13 comments for “the emperor’s new clothes

  1. June 11, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Lady – you’re on to something here. You know there are thousands of women out there like you who can’t/don’t want to spend $$ on clothes that aren’t going to fit them in 5 minutes. You have this fabulous window to the world here, and tons of loyal readers. Maybe you can get a co-op going…people can post what size clothes they HAVE and what size clothes they need and swap with each other. Just an idea.
    :-)

  2. Teri G
    June 12, 2007 at 1:02 am

    And when he told you that you “really, really have to get yourself some new clothes,” I hope you said, “After you.” He’s a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy, and *he’s* talking smack? Please.

  3. RG
    June 12, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Or, if not swap, then give. I’d be happy to see someone able to use my now-too-large clothes. It would convince me to get them out of my closet. I know thrift stores often just throw things out cause clothes are really overwhelming, and the idea of “what if I need these again” will only be overcome by the idea of someone actually using them NOW. Even if NOW is temporary, two months. Things include a couple of cute hippie skirts, a large white Chicago Symphony polo, decent black tencel pants, a black turtleneck, peach silk blouse…

    Maybe you can take your current clothes to a thrift store and see if they’ll give you store credit for them?

  4. gin
    June 12, 2007 at 10:30 am

    naked lady party – it’s where everyone brings clothes they don’t want / fit /etc… and exchanges them – like rivkeh said. not sure how many of your readers are in bay area, meet at dolores park or something or if that is too stalkerish to get together and have one – have one online. really when you are losing weight you only need a couple new staple pieces until you get to the next size down. i shop ebay vintage clothes all the time and if you have the basic measurements of clothes (bust/waist/hip) instead of sizes – it really helps to find a sure fit.

  5. June 12, 2007 at 11:01 am

    My husband has similar dressing tastes. I always tell him, he’s a lifetime work in progress. The in-between sizes is a tough one. I’m a big fan of Ebay (I bought many of my maternity clothes from there and they were great). Maybe you can buy a few essential items that fit so you can mix and match. Are you good with sewing or have a friend that is? Maybe they or you can make some alterations to some of your clothes to increase their longevity. Good luck!

  6. June 12, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    There’s a consignment store near me that I plan on raiding on a regular basis because it specializes in clothes size 14 and up, and also lets you trade in clothes for either money or store credit. So I wish you lived next door so I could take you there and solve all your problems at once!

  7. June 12, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    There’s a consignment store near me that I plan on raiding on a regular basis because it specializes in clothes size 14 and up, and also lets you trade in clothes for either money or store credit. So I wish you lived next door so I could take you there and solve all your problems at once!

  8. Dolley
    June 12, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Anne, as it happens, I have clothes, some of which were Never Worn, which I need to purge, since I’m getting ready to move. (Although, realistically, I’ll move, THEN I’ll purge, because that’s what life is full of.) Where should I send them? What size are you currently buying? I reckon if it doesn’t fit you yet, it will soon, OR you can take it for the exchange value at whatever your local thrift is, for something that DOES fit.

    In the meantime: Sneaky Fixes. Do you have any 30″, 40″ or 45″ wide, long rectangular scarves you don’t wear? Split them in half across the width so you have two equal pieces (trim them down at the raw edges, not the finished ones, to make them the right length for a skirt for you), stitch them together along the sides, fold down the top and stitch it down to make a casing. Put elastic in the casing. Go you in your new funky straight skirt!

    You can also make a half-circle skirt, which is THE most flattering universal skirt, from a rectangle of fabric. 2 1/2 yards of 45″ fabric will make a skirt suitable for most occasions – and that includes 2 1/2 yards of bedsheet or curtains not currently being used. Fold the rectangle into a square, use a tape measure or a piece of string to form the arc of the half-circle, pinning it where the rectangle is folded. Make a mark partway down to signify the arc for your waist – a 10″ radius is a good start for a 30″ waist; the next mark is for the length of the dress – if you want a 29″ skirt length, your full arc will be 29″ (skirt length) plus the 10″ for the 30″ waist, making a 39″ total length for the leg of the radius. If you want a 33″ waist, then make an 11″ radius for the waist; 12″ makes a 36″ radius for the waist, etc. Whatever you want for the waist, add that to what you want for the length from waist to hem (29″ is just a length I plucked from the air.) You will have enough fabric left to cut a waistband along the selvedge, so it will have a finished edge. Instead of interfacing the waistband, run an elastic through it. Put in a 9″ zipper, and hem the skirt by machine after it’s hung for a couple of days (and you have then evened off where it stretched). Both of these are make-it-in-one-long-evening fixes. Heck, you could probabably cut the waistband off your leopard skirt, turn it down and run an elastic through it so it actually fits your waist again; it won’t matter so much if it’s a bit loose at the hips.

  9. June 12, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    You guys? Are fucking awesome. Thank you so much for your ideas and suggestions, and for being so wonderful.

    Dolley, I will email you.

  10. June 12, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    I wish I had read this post last week. I was traveling around with a trunk FULL of clothes that I’d been meaning to drop off at the 2nd hand store for AGES and being the productive gal I sometimes am, I finally made it there a few days ago. What sizes are you seeking? I’m a clothes whore and might have a fabulous piece or two lurking in my closet that I’d be happy to donate to the cause. As a clothes whore, I can’t stand the notion of having nothing to wear! Let us assist!

  11. June 12, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    I’m really not sure what size I am–it depends on the brand. I’m anywhere from a 16 to a 12 on top, and an 18 to a 14 on bottom. That narrows it down!

    I would be seriously grateful for anything anyone wants to pass on, and I will make sure they all go to excellent homes in the future. I will be a clearing house for fashion!

  12. June 13, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Hellooo! I was just reading your contributor bio and just wanted to say I love the saucy come hither with spoon photo :) Mrrowr!

  13. anon
    June 13, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Oooh, thanks, DietGirl, for pointing that out! I hadn’t seen that. I am SO glad that now I have a face in my mind when I am typing my long-ass comments to her! And such a hottie, too!!

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