A few weeks ago, Lizzo posted a video (NSFW) promoting some items that Beyoncé sent over from her new Ivy Park collection. The problem? Lizzo wasn’t wearing the clothes; her friend was. Ivy Park’s line runs XS-XL — Lizzo can’t fit into anything.
If Lizzo can’t get clothing made in her size, how are the rest of us expected to?
Size inclusivity is still in its infancy in Charlotte. This became obvious to me after several frustrating visits to local boutiques while working on Agenda’s fashion round-up. My job was to try on items that fit that season’s trends. But at several shops the only things I could squeeze into were jackets or oversized sweaters.
I got through the article by strategically covering open zippers with my hands and snagging every on-trend item with an elastic waistband. Even though I was frustrated, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve had to compromise in shopping my whole life. At the age of 10, I knew to stick to the face glitter at Limited Too (now Justice). At the age of 32, I know to stick to the shoe section at Vestique.
But why? Why don’t I deserve to have the same shopping experience as women who wear size 0-10?
A quick search for “plus size” on Yelp shows three chains in Charlotte, a few boutiques in Gastonia/Rock Hill, and a hair salon.
Sixty-eight percent of American women wear a size 14 or above which is considered plus size. This means the average American woman has TWO Charlotte boutiques that specifically cater to women her size. (Three if you count the hair salon.)
I spoke with Amy Crowe, owner of Worthy Figures, a plus-size boutique located in Plaza Midwood’s Charlotte Collective. Amy started her store after the realization that her constant dieting and mission of fitting into her “skinny clothes” was toxic and making her miserable. She believes that women deserve to wear clothes that fit well and make them feel good right now.
I asked Amy why there is such a dismal number of plus-size options in Charlotte. “I think it’s the way it’s always been, so boutique owners are going to keep doing things the way they’ve always done it,” she says.
I’m pretty sure 68 percent of American women are with me when I say: Things should be done differently.
“The excuse is always ‘It costs too much,’ or ‘There’s just no market there.’ The market is there, and you will make money,” Amy explains. “The clothes cost the same as what you’re already buying, maybe a few dollars more. These are just excuses people use.”
Amy also says that offering plus-size clothes is often uncharted territory for boutique owners, which is why they stay away. If they aren’t plus-size themselves, they may not know what plus-sized women want to wear. For example, many plus-size women have large chests and may prefer to not wear strapless tops and deal with the dreaded strapless bra.
Amy recommends boutique owners reach out to plus-size women to learn more about their likes and dislikes, just as they would for women who are sizes 0-10. All they have to do is ask.
Is this it? Could 2020 be the year that Charlotte becomes more size inclusive? Could this be the year that I can shop at the same store as my size 2 friend? Is this the year that plus-sized women can walk into a boutique and not be immediately pointed to the poncho section?
I don’t know. What I do know is that when local boutiques do start offering plus sizes, they’re going to see how profitable it can be.
But for now, we wait.