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Falling out of love with Lane Bryant

September 24, 2014

Fat Fashion

I remember the first time my mom took me to Lane Bryant. It was the summer of 1988 and we were back-to-school shopping. I couldn’t believe there was an actual store that catered to fat girls and women. I was a size 13/14 at the time and for years it had been a struggle trying to find decent clothes to fit me.

This was also my first back-to-school shopping experience that didn’t involve ordering a uniform, as I was heading to public school for 8th grade. I asked my mom to take me out of private school because I was dealing with some pretty bad bullies. They not only mocked my weight, they also mocked my economic status, as I was one of the poorer kids there. Think of a John Hughes movie, but with middle schoolers as opposed to wise-beyond-their-years high school students.

As I browsed the racks in Lane Bryant, I marveled at all the choices I had for clothes. Again, I will remind you that this is 1988, so acid wash and sweatshirts with foreign words ruled the fashion roost. But I had finally found stylish clothes for me and LB became my go-to place (along with Fashion Bug) to fill my wardrobe.

Fast forward 26 years later and my tune has changed. Not so much because Lane Bryant has polarized the world of Fat Acceptance (some love it, others hate it), but because their style and attitude towards fat fashion, and the women who buy it, is so much different, at least for me. A lot of it has to do with my age, and the clothes I gravitate toward.

I’m more of a casual fashion wearer. I hardly wear dresses and similar dressy clothing because of my lifestyle. First of all, I work as a receptionist/office clerk for a government-funded early intervention program. My office is inside a school for special-needs children. The dress code is a lot more relaxed than other workplaces: I can wear sneakers, we’re allowed to wear blue jeans on Fridays, and in the summer I’m allowed to wear flip-flops, sandals, sleeveless shirts, capris and shorts. So there’s no real need for “corporate clothing.”

In the last several years, Lane Bryant has been offering less casual, less every day items and more dressier, trendier designs. This is not a bad thing, there are a lot of women who want this and need this. Lane Bryant is fulfilling their needs and wants. But there has to be a balance and a variety. Sell the trends, but also sell the basics. All the tops don’t have to be form-fitting and see-through that require an extra purchase of a camisole or a tank. All of the jeans don’t have to be trouser and dark wash (although I love the dark wash). The never-ending love affair with graphic T-shirts and bling has to end sometime.

I’m guessing Lane Bryant is changing and trying to attract a younger, hipper more upscale customer — they brought designer Isabel Toledo on board with an expensive new line and created another new line, 6th and Lane, inspired by current runway fashion. I’m also guessing they are phasing out more everyday wear because they already have Catherine’s, which is geared toward an older crowd and their clothing is more relaxed and less trendy, plus they offer extended sizing beyond 26/28. I’ve bought a few things from them and have been pleased; unfortunately, the closest store is over an hour away, so I’ve used their website, and we all know what a crapshoot it is to order online.

I have $25 in Real Woman Dollars (I know, problematic phrasing) to spend this month. After that purchase, it will probably be a while before I come back to them. While it’s great that they’re still around because options for fat women are limited, I think they’re limiting themselves by focusing on a preferred type of shopper.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Purple peonies permalink
    September 24, 2014 1:10 pm

    I’m in a similar situation. I remember when I could get EVERYTHING I needed at LB: my first jeans that fit, my first comfy tshirts & girly-fit hoodies, my first interview suit. I don’t like flashy, patterns (except subtle stripes– my suit was pinstriped and classy), or bling.

    I haven’t found anything enjoyable there in years. A couple of my tshirts are over 10 years old from LB & I’ll be sad when they’re gone. Hoodies too!

    About a year ago, I ran out of jeans (they got so thin, they disintegrated), so I had to rush out and buy something to wear on my lower half that wasn’t yoga pants. I bought 3 pairs on sale at LB. I also needed dress clothes (at least one outfit), so I managed a pair if slacks (that were more like expensive yoga pants) and the only dress shirt in a dark solid color without bling in the whole store (it actually had missing stitching I had to fix myself at home)…. All told, the stuff was a terrible fit, and I ended up donating the jeans because they were unwearable after a few washings. Waste of money, and fuck LB for ripping off fat people. They have us over a barrel and many of us are stuck with them.

    Thanks for the tip about Catharines. I don’t know if there’s one near me but when I have money for clothes again I’ll check them out.

  2. Isabel permalink
    September 24, 2014 2:25 pm

    Old Navy doesn’t have a huge size selections, but I generally like the stuff there and at Torrid better than LB. I do like LB’s underwear. But their stuff shrinks so fast!! I think they do it on purpose. Also, I am a sleeve person, which makes shopping at LB hard.

  3. Lydia permalink
    September 24, 2014 10:41 pm

    I stopped shipping at lane bryant as soon as I discovered online shops and realized I didn’t have to settle for the least hideous thing in the store (if they are considered on trend than I hate the trend). I accepted that I hate wearing jeans (they hurt, they never fit right) and embraced dresses and leggings for everyday. Once you’ve shopped enough you get the hang of sizes and fit for online stores, and I try to take advantage of places that have free return shipping, like ASOS, which is probably why half my wardrobe comes from them.

  4. gingeroid permalink
    September 25, 2014 11:22 am

    I’ve wanted to like Lane Bryant but the clothing is either not my style or I could get it cheaper elsewhere. The only thing I buy are 2 designs of Cacique bras.

  5. O.C. permalink
    September 25, 2014 2:35 pm

    Lane Bryant used to get SO much of my money. Now they don’t. Because…

    … they changed the cut of their pants and jeans so that the crotch seam is now super deep. I can either pull the waistband up to my armpits (literally) or walk around with an enormous pouch in the crotch.

    … they stopped making my bra in my size, the cotton no-wire bra in 44-H. It was the first bra I’ve worn in decades, and now they aren’t making it anymore. I wrote to their customer service to ask why they weren’t making it anymore, and they lied, and said that they still are. But it’s no longer listed on their website.

    … Their clothes are just… ugly. Ugly prints. Often ugly colors. Ugly studs and rhinestones and sparkly shit.

    Oh, Lane Bryant, we had some good times together, but those days are gone.

  6. Mary permalink
    September 29, 2014 11:20 pm

    I love the dresses and denim selection at Catherine’s. The ‘Anywear’ line is great too. The fit is fantastic and they have a great selection of sophisticated but casual styles. Love it there!

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