We have lots of shopping challenges if you fit one of these categories: being tall (5-10 or over) or plus size (size 14 and up) or have large feet (size 10 or over). Well I managed to slide into all three categories being 5-10 weighing in at 225 lbs with an apple shape and wearing a women’s size 11WW shoe. Granted, there are taller women with larger feet but for shopping purposes the challenges are largely the same.
Bustle recently surveyed 448 women to explore shopping challenges, sizing issues, and the intersection of the two. The goal of the survey was to find out people’s feelings about the experience of trying to find clothes that fit — their tips and tricks, their favorite stores, their frustrations, and what they’d like to see change in the industry. The survey results were extensive so I pulled only those parts of interest to our trans community and which you can read here: The Latest take On Shopping If You Are Tall, Plus Size. or Have Large Feet. Be warned that the article is long (6700 words) but it’s well worth your time. You quickly learn that our shopping challenges are also those of women in general and we can learn from their experiences. The article is well written with lots of statistical data, but in an easy to read format.
Now here is my issue with the article. They only looked at mainstream stores and did not look at the boutique and specialty stores that cater to the trans community and these fall into two categories: brick and mortar stores and online stores. The B&M stores include brand stores like Lane Bryant, Catherines, Avenue, Dress Barn, Ashley Stewart, Igigi and other similar locally branded stores and secondly, thrift stores like Goodwill or the many local consignment shops and second hand stores. The specialty shops do provide excellent customer service as most are used to working with trans girls. That also holds true for the larger department stores like Macys and Dilliards.
The online stores that I favor (excluding Amazon) are Ebay and Etsy and the online version of any of the above mentioned stores. Many are listed in the Stores section of our Sister House Boutique. Also included here are some of the trans only stores like En Femme (previously Suddenly Fem), Janet’s Closet and others. The trans only stores tend to be a touch expensive and limited in sizes, but En Femme for instance has a great selection of shoes in the larger sizes
The article also talks extensively about sizing as no two designers/brands ever seem to have the same sizing charts and these are critical to a good fit. Bottom line is you need to KNOW YOUR MEASUREMENTS. Get a friend to help you take them so they are accurate or if you have a good seamstress, she’ll do it for you.
Many of the other observations of the survey hold true across the board including the stores mentioned above, such as limited availability in sizes There are some interesting take-aways in the survey so be sure to read them too.
Although I’m a firm believer in “Retail Therapy”, shopping can be a frustrating experience. But window shopping can give you some wonderful ideas for new outfits…check those mannequins. Lastly, we have an extensive collection of articles on shopping in the Boutique so peruse them and you’ll soon become a CPS (Certified Professional Shopper) and quickly beat all those shopping challenges. Enjoy the experience and it’s more fun with a friend.