Wear ALL the Stripes! Or Not.

Biscuit doesn't care about flatteringRecently plus-size retailer Roaman’s posted four stripe patterns on Facebook with the request “Help us choose a new stripe pattern for our ultimate tees collection!  Which one is your favorite?” Patterns 1-3 are horizontal strips of varying widths.  Pattern 4 is a diagonal stripe pattern.

I have my frustrations with Roaman’s, in particular their use of models who are too small to actually wear their clothes, but I appreciate that they reached out to their customer base to ask about preferences.  And their customer base responded – some to give a preference, and some to tell them what all fat women do/should want to wear, or to reinforce the idea that people should value looking as thin as possible.  Some examples:

4 if I have to choose. Vertical is more slimming for a big girl.

4. Only because it doesn’t t go around. It has a little angle to it. Big people usually try and stay away from strip unless it is top to bottom

None. You trying to make big women look bigger?
How about lines that go up and down instead of across. Lines going across makes one look bigger.
4- because stripes that go across broad bodies like mine are not flattering at all.
4……horizontal stripes fail to flatter the majority of plus size women…..and while you are at it, be generous with the sleeve length. I am guessing that the majority of your customer demographic does not have young firm arms…
Big & Beautiful women need vertical stripes, all you ever sell is horizontal.
None. Stripes should be vertical for full figures.
bigger women shouldnt wear these stripes at all, it empasizes ones figure
NO horizontal stripes for BIG GIRLS, please!
heavy set people don’t look good in stripes or big flowers
Nobody looks good with stripes going around a big stomach or butt!
None of those stripes! Vertically for heavy women!!! It makes them look thinner!
none stripes in a row make you look fat.
People are allowed to choose clothing for whatever reason they want, including using clothing to create various optical illusions to try to manipulate the way they look to be closer to the current cultural stereotype of beauty.
But that isn’t what these commenters are doing.  These commenters are speaking as if they speak for all fat people.  I think that this is the end result of the propaganda forced on us by the diet companies – not only do they pour money into convincing us to hate our bodies, but they manage to make some fat people (and plenty of thin people as well) into a vast unpaid sales and marketing team.  Making fat women into body police who try to enforce the idea that a smaller-looking body is better than a bigger-looking body, or assume that their feelings about that are shared, or should be shared, by every fat woman.
These women take to the internet, the dressing room of Ye Olde Fat Girl Clothing Store, even the grocery store to spread the gospel of “flattering, slimming, hiding your problem areas.”  Don’t choose clothes because you like them they tell us, choose clothes that make your body look smaller/thinner/more like an hourglass etc. This is the world that creates companies that sell swimsuits in my size 26/28 that bill themselves as a “Miracle” promising to make me look “10 pounds lighter” as if at my size a 10 pound difference is perceptible to the human eye, let alone worth an extra $80 above the cost of a regular suit.I think the Miracle is that they sell any suits at all in my size, but to each their own.

Often confusing their opinions with fact, these women declare themselves the enforcers of fatshion – telling other fat women how they should dress, sometimes even suggesting that if fat women don’t dress in ways that are “slimming” or “flattering” – or do dress in ways that draw attention to them – that they deserve any poor treatment that they get. This perpetuates the dangerously absurd idea that the solution to bullying is for those being bullied to do what their bullies want, rather than to end bullying.

While I am personally a card carrying member of the “F*ck Flattering Club” I’m also in full support of women choosing to wear clothing based on their definition of “flattering” or “slimming” for for whatever reason they choose. What I am not in support of is women suggesting that the way they choose to dress is how every fat woman should/must choose to dress, or that their opinions about what “looks good” are actually fact, or answering a request from a retailer who sells plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) as if they speak for all of fat-kind.  Wear ALL the stripes! Or not. I suggest that we all work together to make sure that the clothes people want to wear are available in their size, and then we can all make choices for ourselves and take a pass on policing the clothing choices of others.

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33 thoughts on “Wear ALL the Stripes! Or Not.

  1. Personally, I’ve always loved horizontal stripes, although my mother would try to police my clothing choices by telling me that I would look even bigger. *gasp* Cause you know that’s the worst possible thing ever!!

    People just don’t seem to understand that when you wear clothing you like, you’re going to feel and look your best. For me, that was an important step on the road to loving my body.

  2. Amen!
    No horizontal stripes and big flowers? I have to object. I own a wonderful summer dress , big flowers and all. It looks great and I don’t care if it’s “flattering” or not.
    In my experience clothing that’s supposed to be slimming or hiding might be of some use as a tent. But I wouldn’t want to wear it.

    1. I once wore a dress to a wedding that had huge flowers and stripes on it. I got a lot of looks, i was comfortable and I looked good.

      To everyone who was staring I wanted to say “Yes I am fat, yes I am wearing huge multi colored flowers and stripes. The problem is?”

    1. I love polka dots! Big ones, little ones, evenly spaced or random. Dots rock!

      And stripes.

      I have some cloth that I intend to turn into a vest, if I have enough cloth and can find the right vest pattern. It’s bright stripes, and yes, I know it will be reminiscent of a circus-tent. But it’s a lovely silk, and those stripes are bright and cheerful, and with the right coordinating shirt and pants, it will look great! Outlandish, perhaps, but so much fun.

      Feel good and happy in your clothes, and you will look good, too.

  3. Honestly, the horizontal vs vertical stripes is almost urban folklore, for starters. I wouldn’t put it past Roaman’s to be testing the water to see if the prejudice against horizontal stripes is still in force among their customers. I like horizontal stripes meself, and, while I like to get dressy sometimes, I’m pretty much a member of the Fuck Flattering Club. I resent being unable to find clothes made for my build, clothes that are just small sizes multiplied up (so they fit my thighs but are twenty inches too long, or pantyhose that I can cut armholes in and wear as a onesie), clothes that fit but nip in my waist (to make me look “thinner” as if rearranging my fat into upper and lower lobes makes me look thinner). And, while I loved wearing black as a twenty-something, I like color now, and I resent being told that black makes me look “thinner,” which it doesn’t, and assuming I want to look thinner, which is silly.
    Thanks Ragen–you hit the nail on the head again.

    1. Last week, I went to Catherines, a plus-sized women’s store (note – women’s, not teens, and you can find professional clothes there, as opposed to teeny-bopper clothes from Lane Bryant).

      I absolutely fell in love with the color coordinates. They had sections, based on particular color groupings that went together, and it was GLORIOUS! I went there for bras. I came out with a new wardrobe, because I simply couldn’t resist all the color in clothes that FIT.

      Plus, now I don’t have to sew everything.

      They even had coordinating underwear. A bra and panties that match my shirt, capris and light jacket? I LOVE IT!

    2. Horizontal stripes don’t make anyone look bigger, they just don’t. It’s applying a concept related to 2d art to 3d people. When you are drawing or painting the direction of lines tells the eye which direction to go, vertical lines you look up and down, horizontal lines your eye goes across. So paintings with a lot of vertical lines look longer because you’re eyes are traveling in that direction. This doesn’t really work in 3 dimensions because we always look at people vertically (because people are vertical lines even if they aren’t straight vertical lines). So vertical stripes can make someone look taller because it intensifies our looking up and down. Horizontal stripes though don’t suddenly make us look side to side because our tendency to look up and down a person is too strong because the vertical line of a person’s body is more visually commanding than the horizontal lines of clothing.

      That doesn’t really have anything to do with whether someone should or shouldn’t wear stripes (wear what you want), it’s just something that as an artist bugs me.

  4. I love stripes. I love them vertical. I love them horizontal. I love them straight. I love them diagonal. I saw a shirt the other day that featured stripes in multiple directions and I wanted it like I want air.

    As far as I’m concerned, they should feature as many kinds of stripes as possible.

    Also, I agree with Isstrout that polka dots are great, too.

    And I want big flowers. As a short woman, I’ve always been told to avoid large prints which will make me look shorter… so ‘they’ say. Solid, neutral or pastel colors were always recommended for me.

    But you know what? When I dress like that, nobody sees me at all.

    Well, I refuse to be invisible. That’s not my thing at all. I like to be noticed.

    And so I wear bright colors, bold prints, big hats, chunky jewelry, and full layers of cloth.

    That’s actually when I get compliments. My guess is that the difference is that I feel great and that makes me look fabulous.

    But even if it didn’t make anyone else like how I look, it makes me happy. That’s the most important thing.

    So bring on the stripes, the polka dots, the big flower prints, the bright colors, the neutrals, the tiny prints, the solids, the flowing lines and the tight fits… bring it all on! Someone out there looks and/or feels her best in it.

    1. Oh, yeah, the short thing. I’m short. But…

      When I was in college, one of my friends came up to me in the hallway, during second semester. She put her hands on her hips, looked down at me (she was tall), and said with a somewhat surpassed tone, “You’re short!”

      I blinked, and looked up at her. “Well, yeah. This is news?”

      She just grinned and said she’d never really noticed before, because I was always, “Larger than life.” I never followed any rules about wearing clothes to make me look taller, and that year, most of my clothes had been sewn from whatever cloth we had available or was on sale, so the “rules” weren’t applied, at all. Just “Does it fit, and will it match something else in the closet?”

      So, basically, it was my personality that showed through as “larger than life.” I seemed tall because of the way I lived and behaved.

      I believe it was at that point that I gave up being hurt by short jokes, because clearly they aren’t applicable to me.

      Now to embrace “larger than life” on a horizontal basis, as well as vertical. Still working on that one, but I’m making progress.

      1. Hee! Yeah, I’m one of those ‘larger than life’ types, too, I guess.

        I once had a guy come up to me and say: Twistie! I just realized! You’re short!

        Considering we were rehearsing a play together five nights a week and had been dating for weeks, I decided he was probably the single least observant human being I’d ever met.

        To this day, (more than thirty years later) he continues to hold the record… but a few other people have suddenly discovered I was short after knowing me for a while. I guess I just don’t ‘seem’ short.

        I like to say I’m concentrated.

  5. I love this post!!! Today, I am LITERALLY wearing ALL THE STRIPES. From head to toe, even my earrings. The only non-stripped thing on me is my pants.
    F*ck Flattering… LONG LIVE THE STRIPES!!!!!

  6. Hahahaha. Look 10 pounds thinner is a joke for bigger women. If I lost 10 pounds, someone might say to me, “Oh did you get a hair cut”. I shall quote Popeye on this one. “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.”

  7. I wear a lot of black ’cause I have goth tendencies, not because it’s supposed to be slimming.

    I like rich colours like purple and deep red and dark green. I like simple styles with little to no frills or ruffles or froufrou.

    I want clothes that fit and work with my shape rather than bunching in weird places ’cause they assumed something about how my body is shaped due to my size.

    I want tops that aren’t so low cut you can see how many lunch crumbs landed in my bra but that aren’t really high cut either.

    I want length in the body of my tops, not the arms.

    I want a little elastic at the back of my trousers to make them fit better at the waist, not fake jeans that are all elastic at the top and dig into my waist.

    I want clothes that come close to fitting my body as it is, not as some people assume it is or think it should be and if they make those clothes with stripes I might just wear them (even through I’m not generally a stripes person).

  8. I wear black pants for one reason only – I get dressed at 4am, and I’m simply not awake enough to match clothes.Black goes with everything. For my work shirts, I wear the wildest, brightest patterns I can find. Hey, I’m the girl with the Bacon Shirt! For my off-work hours, I have shorts and tanks in every color of the rainbow, with bright screaming pink a heavy influence. I like BRIGHT. I love LACE. I like clothes that make me SMILE. Stripes? Bring them on!!

  9. I probably wouldn’t buy stripes, but then I don’t like stripes. It’s not really about size or trying to make myself look thinner. It’s more that I like simple, comfortable, mostly plain clothes in rich colors. A nice pattern is great on occasion, but I don’t need them bedazzled, thanks. So go ahead and give us stripes of whatever direction, but make sure it’s cute and cut well, and also make sure there are plainer clothes in a wide variety of colors for those of us who love simple.

    My pet peeve is tops where the neck is cut too wide and your bra straps frequently show. I’ve given away many perfectly good tops because I’m always fighting the strap issue.

    My other pet peeve is pants, shorts, skirts, and dresses without pockets. I need to be functional, dang it, and clothing without pockets just isn’t very functional.

    1. I hear you on the pockets thing. Last year I started wearing a tiny handbag across my body that has my phone, meds and keys in it. I call it my “pockets” because so many women’s clothes simply don’t have any. Of course the tendency to pack more in is always present, and it’s not convenient if I need to bend forwards to the ground, but it’s doing the job.

  10. I bought a horizontal striped tank at Torrid recently and I am in love! I avoided stripes for too long because of the whole ‘flattering’ thing, but now that I’m a member of the Fuck Flattering Club, my clothes are a whole lot more fun, and I feel better in them!

  11. Please, fellow fat people, don’t speak for me. I love stripes. I love giant florals. I love bright, loud colors. And I damn well love short (or no) sleeves. I’m a loud, flashy person. Being fat doesn’t change that and I refuse to dress in head to toe black because that’s supposed to be slimming when it’s totally not me!

  12. And I want to add that I’m not trying to insult anyone who loves head to toe black. I’m just saying it’s not my style. And all of us should get to dress the way we choose. For me that’s loud, flashy, and bedazzled. Lol

  13. One thing I like about stripes is that they have stain-concealing properties. As someone who can instantly ruin a white shirt merely by looking at a bit of marinara sauce from across the street, I gravitate toward dark solids or stripes when I shop for shirts.

  14. Hilarious that so many people are following stripes advice that came from decades ago. I think I remember reading such a thing in some 60s fashion book. Also, I am pretty sure that the waviness of my vertical lines would give up the fact that I am fat under those “slimming” lines. Ridiculous all around.


  15. Oh, yeah, and that’s another reason I love prints. I am a total slob and prints hide stains. I can’t keep a solid color clean to save my life!

  16. I wore red and white striped socks under my wedding gown so I’m guessing that is going to upset a lot of these people. NOT that I give a flying fig. It was a strapless gown too, with no cover up of my arms. Ooooh! How scary! What I want to know is how do these people even find enough clothes they like and want to wear at a price they can afford in a size that fits them before the inevitable fashion policing bs about stripes and flattering and all the “rules” even comes into it?
    I really struggle to find clothes I like, that fit, in a fabric I can wear and don’t even get me started on shoes. Is there some mythical place I don’t know about where a plethora of clothing choices for fat bodies exists that is so bountiful that anyone can afford to be dismissing things because of some ludicrous rules that I won’t be following anyway? I fully intend to grow old disgracefully. My suggestion to people who worry about this kind of stuff is to learn to deal with disappointment. My days of being told how to dress are done. It’s time to wear ALL the clothes, ALL the stripes, ALL the crop tops and camisoles. All the bikinis. All the bright colours. All the patterns. ALL the costumes. ALL the hats. ALL OF IT! You do what you like.

    1. It’s hard to find those places, but they do exist. Hooray!

      I don’t know where you live, but I know that in Texas, Catherine’s is a great women’s fashion store for large sizes. And although I was focused on a different section, I think I remember seeing some stripes there in the dress section.

      1. Thanks Michelle. There’s a couple of stores up state it looks like. I’m just checking out their website now.

  17. It’s kind of ironic, I rocked a striped dress to an event on Sunday, and I don’t think I’ve ever got so many complements on a single dress. Yup, I’m fat and I wore stripes. Big black and white stripes.

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