When the Wall Street Journal published an article about Wal-Mart’s decision to stop selling fabric in some of their stores, the first thing that crossed my mind was “I haven’t bought fabric at Wal-Mart ever!” Someone told me that sewing is a dying art. I’m not really sure about that. For most home seamstresses and tailors, if we’re going to put that much time and effort into something, we’re going to use the highest quality fabric we can afford and it’s not found at Wal-Mart.
But that got me thinking about the differences between home-tailored clothing and ready-to-wear store-bought clothing. Sewing hasn’t changed much through the years. Neither have the patterns that I use. Sure the styles change. But on the back of every pattern is a size chart that is the same today as it was in the 1950s.
Amazingly, for clothes that I buy at the store, I wear the exact same size today that I did when I graduated from high school! When I graduated, I was 5’10” and 110 pounds soaking wet. (I wouldn’t have been able to step on the catwalk in Madrid because my BMI was 15.8.) I have since had three children and put on a few years. (My BMI is now in the healthy range.) According to the back of my patterns, I should be wearing clothing that is at least three sizes larger than what I was wearing in high school. Surely I’m the same size I used to be! Dressmakers don’t lie! Do they?
Hogwash! Somewhere in Milan or Paris or New York there’s a Jack Nicholson-like fashionista yelling at women “You can’t handle the truth!” Do they think that we’re so much more emotionally fragile than men that we can’t deal with our ever expanding waistlines? Men go into stores and buy their clothes by their waist size and inseam lengths. Why do women have to assuage our vanity by buying sizes we haven’t worn in decades? Seventh Avenue isn’t going to let their sizes slide back toward normalcy any more than we Americans will give up our love for hamburgers, French fries and Phish Food ice cream.
Maybe it’s all tied together. There’s some great big giant conspiracy between fashion designers and the food industry. They’ll just keep feeding us oversized portions at a never-ending trough of all-you-can-eat food-bar gluttony. Then they’ll convince us that we’re just as svelte as we were before marriage and kids and two cars and a mortgage by selling us clothing in sizes that have been dumbed down for our acceptance.
I guess I’ll go pick up a new pair of jeans at Wal-Mart. After all, they have a wide selection in my size. Just a few aisles down from the in-store McDonald’s.
Hey There Europa...
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