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Dear Lane Bryant… a rant

October 25, 2013

Fat FashionMy Boring-Ass Life

Dear Lane Bryant,

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with you all my years of being a fat person. I remember finding you as a young adult and seeing you as the option for business clothing that I couldn’t afford at my minimum wage job. I remember when you figured out that fat women want fashionable clothes too, around 2005 or so. I remember falling in love with your Right Fit jeans that fit people with a 10″ or so waist-hip ratio… then being sad that they were redesigned several times and never did fit as well or make my big butt look as fabulous as that first incarnation.

Casey in 2006 balancing a cooking pot on her head....being silly as per usual

Casey in 2006 balancing a cooking pot on her head… being silly as per usual

Photo description: Photo taken in 2006 in an apartment kitchen with white walls, an open refrigerator door, and a brown cabinet behind me. I am visibly fat with light skin and rosy cheeks. I’m wearing a black sweater with a white dress shirt color underneath along with grey pants. My hair is shoulder length and light brown (my natural color) and I’m balancing a cooking pot on my head.

The past few years have looked tumultuous for your company from this consumer’s standpoint. The prices have bounced around along with the quality, although at your most expensive, the clothes seemed to die a horrible death after only a few wearings and washings. I think you’ve started to listen to your customer base a bit more, or at least it seems you’ve been reading blog activism like Ragen’s post at Dances With Fat about the Lane Collection’s restricted sizing.

As an almost 33-year-old person, I feel like I’ve aged out of some of Torrid’s offerings, but am not ready for Catherine’s assortment of elastic waist pants and excessively floral (some would say matronly) fare. I’m a doctoral student who attends and presents at academic conferences and I want to look professional. I work in administration at my university (and have since 2008) and need clothing that is work appropriate, fits well, and doesn’t cause me to yank at straps, worry about gaping waistlines on my pants, or plunging necklines (I used to be in the “fat but small chested” crowd, but my bra fitting last night puts me in the repeated letter camp now, so I’ll just be an ally for my old team).

I went to one of your stores the other night while cranky (which probably wasn’t in my best interest, as I needed new bras pretty desperately). My city is down to only one location, where I’ve received good-enough service at most of the time (I preferred the location at the mall, as the service was better).

I’m not sure if you folks are out of touch or what’s happening. There were few offerings that I could actually wear to work, and none of them were my style. You had very few basic office items that didn’t have strange embellishments (like non-functional zippers at the shoulders), and the few that were there had plunging necklines. FYI, just because I’m fat and wear a 40DD bra doesn’t mean I want to have cleavage at the office (not knocking those who prefer that look… I work at a reception desk and don’t like people staring down my top). Also, not every fat woman has large breasts.

The other thing I noticed was the bizarre idea of short-length pants. I understand that I’m a dwarf (albeit a tall one thanks to growth hormone as a teen), but I have a friend who is about 5’7″ who wears your short-length of pants. Sometimes the cut of the pants makes hemming them ruin the line of the pants (especially with anything other than a boot cut). Not all fat people are tall!

Also, stop with the fatphobic marketing. Tighter Tummy Technology? WTF people. Despite recommendations I received about your T3 line of jeans and pants from other people with a huge waist-to-hip ratio, I refused to try them on until recently… just because of the name. At a size 20-22, “tighter tummy technology” means a couple things. First, body hate. Second, discomfort from being squished and rearranged.

Thankfully I walked out of there with a couple good fitting bras. While you aren’t cheap in that department, at least you are making something that looks cute and is relatively functional. Keep working on the comfort part of that and making sure that your quality is good enough to justify that kind of price tag. Keep trying with the sports bras too. I gotta keep dancing!

Please keep trying to make this cute thirty-something looking cute while being functional, OK?

~Casey

Casey Sig

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    October 25, 2013 4:13 pm

    I quit shopping at Lane Bryant when I went into one store and was totally ignored. I was 50 at the time, and I got the feeling from the salesclerks that they thought I was too old to be shopping there – that I “belonged” shopping at Catherine’s. Yeah, just because I’m not in my 20s doesn’t mean I don’t want to dress in something other than the large florals/sequins/ruffles that are the norm at Catherine’s. I wanted some of those Right Fit jeans, and I had to figure out, on my own thank you very much, which size/fit I needed. I bought 2 pair, and ended up leaving with nothing else because I couldn’t get any help.
    I wouldn’t shop there now because they’ve quit carrying anything in my size – they stop at a 2X/3X for most of their tops, the pants they carry that might fit me don’t have pockets or have that tummy control crap that is in no way going to make my stomach look smaller but will squish me and make me pissed-off uncomfortable.
    I really think that LB is utterly clueless as to who their clientele actually are and what they want/need/expect in clothing options. But that goes for a lot of plus-size clothing retailers.

  2. Jillian permalink
    October 25, 2013 4:17 pm

    Ugh. I really, really wish Zaftique’s customer service hadn’t killed the company. They were awesome.

  3. October 25, 2013 4:38 pm

    I went to Lane Bryant’s for the last time three years ago. I had researched the jeans online before going to the store, and at 5’3 1/2″ knew that I might need petite size pants. Just like Vesta44, I was summarily ignored. After shopping by myself for a while, I went to the dressing room area, and waited 15 minutes while a clerk folded bras 10 feet away. I did this as an experiment to see how long this would go on. Eventually, a young man shopping with his GF, pointed out my presence to the clerk. Her response was ‘Don’t rush me. I see her.’ I couldn’t believe it. I was 56 at the time, and chalked it up to ageism.

    When I came out of the dressing room, I went up to another clerk at the desk and asked if they had the petite size jeans I came in to try on. Her response was beyond rude. She said that they didn’t carry clothes for stub-legged women since it was so rare. I responded by saying that 5’4″ is the average height in this country, and that I was a mere 1/2″ shorter than average. She told me she didn’t care–I could order my size online.

    When I returned home, I sent a detailed account of my experience to the main office. I never received a meaningful response. I was copied in to multiple forwards for months. Then I was spammed. I suspected this might have been from the rude clerks themselves.

    Oh yes, and the clothes are poorly constructed, fall apart, and are expensive. Makes me wish I could sew.

    • BBDee permalink
      October 25, 2013 10:45 pm

      she actually called you “stub-legged”??? OMG!!! I used to work at a Catherine’s store and my boss would have smacked me one right on the floor in front of everybody if I ever spoke to a customer that way. The sad part is, Catherine’s and LB are owned by the same parent company. My boss at Catherine’s was NOT impressed with LB at all, either their clothes or their store personnel’s attitudes, and made herself rather unpopular with upper management when she said so.

      • October 25, 2013 11:04 pm

        I wish I were making it up. It was the strangest shopping experience I ever had. Maybe I’ll try Catherine’s. I currently shop at Kohls, or online (NOT LB).

  4. lifeonfats permalink
    October 25, 2013 6:19 pm

    I was at Lane Bryant last Saturday to have them remove a security tag on a bra they missed at one of the outlet stores. I had a coupon so I decided to get some things. They had some decent sweaters and I had camisoles to match so I bought a couple of those. I also bought some scarves and a pair of white sneakers for my 50’s Halloween costume. But for the most part, the majority of the clothes really didn’t appeal to me and the prices were outrageous. I do have to say the clerks are pretty friendly and do help. I just wish LB would realize not all of us want to wear low-cut necklines and sequins that are better suited for the club and not in an office setting or for running errands.

  5. October 25, 2013 6:34 pm

    Don’t shop there. Went once actually got help but they didn’t listed to what I was saying. I ended up with a bra that fit my friend. My main problem is the price of everything. Can’t spend that kind of $ earning min wage.

  6. Stephanie permalink
    October 25, 2013 10:53 pm

    Worked there about 6 or 7 years ago. Then I was told by upper management that I was there to sell credit cards, not clothing. If we did not meet our credit quota, we were written up and eventually fired. Never mind that my store met every sales goal and that we were known for having the best customer service in the area. After a couple of months, I had to quit. Since then, they have been sold and I don’t even bother looking at clothing there because it is awful and outrageously experience. I do still buy their bras, but I can only get my size online as they don’t carry them in the store. Lane Bryant is missing the boat and it’s sad.

  7. Stephanie permalink
    October 25, 2013 10:54 pm

    Expensive…grr auto correct.

  8. buttercupia permalink
    October 26, 2013 9:52 am

    I’ve never been treated badly at our local LB, thankfully. Retail being what it is, I believe the diversity of experience communicated here.

    I worked for the parent company many years ago, in a fashion bug, and even then there was a huge emphasis on getting people to sign up for credit cards. I think that’s diminished somewhat, especially since fashion bug closed. I worked at LB too for a few years but that was before they joined up with Charming Shoppes and it was a completely different world then. (mid to late 80s.)

    I shop frequently at LB, but I’m privileged enough to be able to almost afford it. I use coupons and shop clearance as much as possible, I wear a 26 or 28 and never have trouble finding my size in the store but I agree that they really think all fat women are tall. They do carry classic lines and unembellished clothes but you often have to really look for them. And their bras run HUGE.

    If you have an Avenue local, they usually have a good bit of business type clothing but watch out for the dreaded tit-sequins. I was complaining about that to one of the staff last time I was there. It was an interesting conversation that I hope led her to rethinking her stance that it was a good idea to try to distract people from looking at our bodies by throwing ten thousand sparkly things at the neckline.

    I also shop at Catherines a lot, they have quite a bit of non-dowdy stuff and lots of awesome basics. You may have to look for it, but it’s there. I’ve found a lot of good deals by waiting for clearance-my tactic is to shop end of season for the next year and avoid trends. Over the years I’ve built up an awesome wardrobe of relatively timeless looks via Catherine’s, LB, Avenue, and assorted online retailers. YMMV of course.

  9. October 26, 2013 12:52 pm

    Still haven’t made it out to Lane Bryant. The handful of clothes I own with their label came from used clothing stores.

    I have the opposite problem of many women who write here: My waist-to-hip ratio has always been miniscule… to the point where I’ve been able to buy (used) Men’s shorts from time to time and have them fit pretty well. (This dodge doesn’t work as well with pants, however. Believe me, I’ve tried.)

    As for mega-high prices at so many of these stores: I can only assume that they want customers to get company-specific credit cards and buy in quantity– or opt for one of those charge-now-pay-later schemes. None of these motivate me to buy, and in fact I find them off-putting. Seriously, WTF ever happened to Layaway plans?! I could have what I wanted (with a bit of patience), not get reamed six ways from Sunday on interest payments, and the companies could still get the foot traffic they want.

    [grumble]

  10. October 27, 2013 10:53 am

    I hate Lane Bryant, too many years in ugly clothes. I buy my whole wardrobe online by Sanctuarie. Catherine’s and Lane Bryant I am out of their size category mostly but at Catherine’s I bought two dresses loose in the hips which fit and both fell apart within a few washings. I find the quality very shoddy. I hope and pray Sanctuarie will never go out of business, I would have nothing to wear then.

  11. Dizzyd permalink
    October 28, 2013 5:38 pm

    That’s pretty sad all the way around, but any more retail is the crappy job noone in their right mind would want, except the rude trolls who want to get paid to stand around yammering with their friends. The corporate office is to blame as well. Oftentimes, they only want those with the ‘right look’ rather than quality employees.

  12. October 28, 2013 7:47 pm

    my comments are opposite..I need the tall pants. Just cause I am fat doesn’t mean I am short. Also I like a bit of sexy. I hate button down shirts and suits…so I think LB is doing the best they can trying to cater too and be everything to all fatties. You don’t like them then vote with your dollar. Those of us who still love them as a staple will continue to go there. I have yet to find a store that I can go into for a sure thing. Torrid, Catherines, meh..Lb is the way to go for me. It is ok if it isn’t for you. Every store, especially fatty stores need to work harder, but please don’t assume your opinion is the only one. I am still a pretty big fan of LB and will be until someone else steps up to the plate.

  13. LittleBigGirl permalink
    October 29, 2013 4:49 pm

    After reading so many comments from other frustrated petites, I had to add my anecdote:
    I bought 2 pairs of 26/28 pants at LB, but only because I could afford the 2-for-1 sale. I then had to take these pants, WHICH THE LABEL IDENTIFIED AS PETITE, and get them hemmed up.
    I think the problem is not just that they don’t realize we are short, *they assume we all wear heels with our pants*. If I wore high heels the pants would have been fine. Since I got without any heel height 99% of the time I would have been out of luck if I hadn’t had a seamstress I could go to.
    I took the bus a while ago to the same LB store – to find it gone. Coming soon to take it’s place in the mall? An Old Navy store. Now the only official plus size store in the mall is Torrid, and I don’t like their fashion at all.

    I hate shopping online, but for me it is the only place left.
    Finding that golden trifecta of right fit / right style / right price has become pretty much impossible for me these days. It’s really depressing. 😦

    • November 4, 2013 11:54 am

      Some places (not enough, but some) have communal kitchens. In them, you can be in a right-sized space, surrounded by supportive friends who’ll work with you to make a great meal. Also, a bunch of people can pool their resources to buy good quality food and tools/utensils. Together, they can afford a level of education and quality resources that none could afford by themselves.

      I think it would be great if only we could apply this principle to clothes-making: A communal sewing room! Not only would everyone involved finally have articles of clothing that suited their personal needs, they’d have them without supporting sweatshops. (Myself, I enjoyed sewing back in my H.S. days, though I never became an expert. But now, with time/space/money restrictions, sewing for myself is pretty much a pipe dream.)

      • vesta44 permalink
        November 4, 2013 5:30 pm

        ms_xeno – I would love to have a communal sewing space. I have a sewing machine and a serger, and it would be great to have a place for both of them to be set up. Not to mention a place to put all the thread and sewing notions I have, along with all the fabric. Right now, it’s all upstairs, and the stairs are narrow and steep, so with my disabilities, it’s really difficult for me to get up the ambition to do any sewing – and I’ve been sewing since I was 10 years old (I’m almost 60). I also worked in 3 different garment factories, so I have a lot of experience. I’d even be willing to help people learn to sew. I love passing on knowledge like that.

        • Stephanie permalink
          November 4, 2013 6:36 pm

          I am so in with this! I have a machine but have no idea how to use it. Video or skype lessons? I love the idea of banding together to provide something that no one else seems to be willing to offer.

          • November 22, 2013 10:57 am

            In the age of Pinterest, etc. it seems like a real possibility. I can dream, at least… :/

  14. Misfluffy permalink
    October 30, 2013 9:43 pm

    Thankfully there are a lot of plus size stores. I work with a skinny bitch and she is now having trouble finding clothes small enough to fit her. LOL!

    • October 30, 2013 10:04 pm

      Hi Misfluffy,
      If you’d like to comment here, you’ll have to leave the body shame elsewhere. Thanks.

      Peace,
      Shannon

    • October 30, 2013 10:06 pm

      Fucking Fat Bastard.

      When will you fucking learn that I validate emails, dipshit. Nice try, though.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  15. Anita White permalink
    September 11, 2015 5:37 pm

    Lane Bryant clothes used to have gorgeous colors….great prints….asst. necklines…..jewel tone suits….great materials

    Since merging with Cathryns…..yuck

    Mostly black and white
    Ugly prints
    Bad designs
    Dresses made out of thick bumpy knit
    too ugly for a couch, high necklines,
    waistline all wrong, bad design, string
    or ribbon belt.

    Most items are boxy

    They need to rehire buyers…designers
    from 2005!!!!!

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