Outfitblogging: Getting Lucky, and Catalog Whispering

By | September 18, 2008

Click through to the Flickr versions for outfit info.

Cooler heads prevailWednesday already

I have a subscription to Lucky magazine. I enjoy Lucky primarily because it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: a big glossy list of Things To Buy (or, more realistically, Things To Buy More Affordable Approximations Of). When I pick up a fashion magazine, I really don’t want to read articles about important and timely topics. I have books for that. Or the internet. Or the New Yorker. Et cetera. I want a fashion magazine to ply me with eye candy, and not ask me to think, or to read more than five sentences at a stretch before showing me another picture. I’m not ashamed of this.

But as much as I enjoy Lucky*, it’s also a little frustrating. Because nothing in it will ever, ever fit me. Now, truthfully, even if it did, I cannot see myself spending $700 on a single dress anyway; the bargain hunter in me shudders at the very suggestion.

I’ve thought many times over the past few years how wonderful it would be to have a fat Lucky; a shopping magazine that was all plus sizes, all the time. What’s dismaying is that I doubt there’d be enough content to fill one. Magazines like Lucky are handy because they trim down the critical mass of available fashion to certain trends, certain pieces that are most desireable, carefully selected from a veritable heap of possible options. If someone published a fat Lucky, there’d be virtually no trimming to do – one would have to feature pretty much every new plus-sized item just to fill the magazine. The range of options just isn’t that wide (pun sort of intended).

That purple dress againMy inner eggplant

Awhile back, our own stitchtowhere, impressed with my ability to tease good pieces out of the most horrifying fat-lady catalogs, dubbed me The Catalog Whisperer, the idea being that I have developed a knack for working with a clothing resource that is, generally speaking, intractable, incomprehensible, and completely in opposition to my personal style. I liked this Catalog Whisperer concept so much that I started tagging my catalog-involved Flickr outfit posts with it. I first began scouring catalogs a few years ago because I was utterly fed up with the distressing and limited mainstream options for clothing in my size, and I stubbornly believed that even the frumptastic pages of Roamans may hold treasure for me, if only I could think creatively enough to see it. And thinking creatively is pretty key to my fatshion philosophy.

The Rotund has a post up today that poked at some things I’ve been thinking about lately in regards to being creative and resourceful with limited plus size options:

I feel extremely aggravated, of late, when people solicit instruction about whether they should keep a certain dress or even just bother to try something on. There is a fundamental difference between “how do you think this looks?” and “should I try a pencil skirt when I weigh xyz and am shaped 123?”

I am seriously comitted to trying almost anything on. Even if it’s in a style I’ve tried before that did not work for me. Even if I’m not sure whether I even like the garment. Even though I know my preferences pretty thoroughly at this point in my life. I still give it all a fighting chance. Because I never know what a garment is going to look like until I put it on; because I don’t believe in having hard and fast fashion rules to live by; and because I would have very little to wear if I didn’t. The absolute worst that can happen is that it looks terrible, and my hard-won self esteem is not so fragile that seeing myself in a terrible dress is going to make me think that somehow, it’s not the dress that looks terrible – it’s me, that somehow the dress has unmasked my true terrible-looking-ness.

People will frequently post to the Fatshionista community saying something to the effect of “I never thought I could wear [insert garment here] until I saw other people shaped like me wearing it,” the idea being that seeing other people with bodies like theirs wearing something gives tacit permission for them to try it. This is great, but the fact remains you always had permission. You lose nothing by trying. You may gain a great deal. Successful fatshion demands a certain commitment to creativity, to being willing to wear things you’ve always been told that you weren’t allowed to wear, or that you had no right to wear, or that wasn’t your style. Yes, you may have to kiss a lot of frogs to get there, but the knowledge you’ll gain about yourself just by opening your options and seeing your body in different ways can’t be bought from any catalog.

* Full disclosure: a sizeable part of my enjoyment is derived from the fact that many Lucky staffers cut their teeth, so to speak, at the magazine that pretty much shaped by adolescence, the inimitable Sassy. Ironically, I fucking hated Jane; by its launch I had well and truly grown out of the teenaged narcissism and self-absorption so commonly found in folks of my (white, suburban, middle class) background, and Jane failed to follow me out of that unfortunate phase. Lucky, to its credit, kept all the style and dispensed with the substance.

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