Do You Want Fries With That?

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.


  1. The only things that I can buy in Wallyworld that fit me are socks. Even my breasts are not of what the fashionistas consider normal size. So I let my fingers do the walking and I go to Justmysize.com. I have become much more adept at finding places that sell plus size clothes that I like, at prices that I can afford. I usually shop at Junonia.com, and I have found a lot of their clothes at one of their certified resellers on EBay, who I now have a really good relationship with, so I always get great deals on what I need. I am also lucky to have found a small businesswoman who can make me shirts and make adjustments so that they are more comfortable in the upper arms and gives me 3/4 sleeves. Yes it costs a little bit more, but to have something that I am comfortable in, I am willing to pay the money for. I am not a sewer. I wish I were that talented, but I watch for good people who are then I buy from them often. It is good for me to have the relationships with them.

    But you know what is funny? People think that I am fat, soley because I eat fast food 3 times a day, which I don't. I have been fat since I was a child. If I could be a size 0 would I want to be? I don't know, it is nothing that I have ever known. I have a doctor that is harping at me to have weight loss surgery to be "normal". But my question is this: If I die in this effort to be normal, was it worth it?

    I am working on me and eating better. Little steps. I am not perfect. But I do the best that I can.

    Sorry to babble on your blog, this is just one of those topics for me.


  2. Most of the fabric at Walmarks was quilty-stuff. And little kid fabric. Actually, more crafty than garmenty. Anyway, they had tables of $1 and $2 a yard stuff that was great for costumes and craftiness. And I bought most of my notions there. They still have a few notions at my Walmarks but not much. I found out my REAL fabric store gives a 10% discount to teachers, so I whipped out my faculty/staff i.d. from my college and prayed they wouldn't ask me what I teach. They didn't. Whew. I'm probably gonna go to hell for 10% off.

  3. I suspect it's gonna get worse before it gets better I suspect. :o(