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Things I find irritating: Retail

I’m putting off doing important stuff so here’s a procrastination blog.

These are things that retail and other vendors do that I find irritating:

1.) Charge me more money for clothing because I am tall.  This makes no sense at all. I’m 5’9″ tall, which is 5 inches over the limit for the average American female.  It’s not like I could help being tall.  I just grew like Topsy well into my 20’s.  (2 inches between 23 and 27, go figure).  So, it’s really irritating to go to a site like Eddie Bauer and see that every item for a tall person is $10-20 more expensive.  At the risk of pissing off a lot of people who read this blog, I find it really unfair that a size 14 doesn’t have to pay one cent more than a size 6.  Most people can lose weight with diet and exercise.  But I can’t lose inches in height without surgery.  You’d *think* that if they are going to add more fabric in the middle of the garment without extra cost that they could add a few inches in length without extra cost but for some mysterious, inexplicable reason, this isn’t so. Petites?  Noooo problem.  They have their own section, also not more expensive.  But even if you can’t find exactly what you want if you’re minute, there is more than enough fabric to cut off or take in.

So, to recap, you can be average, plump or tiny but women are not allowed to be tall without penalty.  And 5’9″ isn’t extraordinarily tall.  It’s not like I’m playing professional basketball or beach volleyball.  I’m not 6 ft tall.  My height is model size, not amazon size, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It’s just not that unusual anymore.  There are a lot of us around these days.  The average height might be 5’4.5″ but it’s not like there isn’t a huge gaussian distribution in America where there might not be in a place like Japan.

I’ve talked to various clothing company representatives about why the cost differentiation penalizes the tall and not the wide or itsy-bitsy and I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer that doesn’t sound like a flimsy excuse covering for a money making opportunity.  So, basically, tall women are screwed.

It’s bad enough that there isn’t the same size gradations in women’s clothing as there are in men’s clothing.  You don’t get a variation in sleeve length or in-seams or anything like that in any women’s clothing stores.  And I do understand that men who are really tall have to go to special stores and pay a premium.  But there aren’t any tall stores for women and what is offered in tall sizes is limited and usually dowdy.  Compared to what the average height woman can choose from, the tall woman’s choices are usually more limited items without the style or seasonal colors.  Forget soft, flowy or romantic.  And at many stores, you have to pay more for them.  It’s just outrageous.

2.) Stores that make bigotry a feature.  Anthropologie and its sister retailers (urban outfitters, Free People) went off my buy list earlier this year when I found out that the owner was a fervent Rick Santorum supporter.  That was a shame because Brook looks great in everything in the local Anthropologie store that is a size 2.  She has an Anthropologie quilt on her bed.  I was going to save my green stamps to buy her a nice dress for her Germany trip but couldn’t get past the Santorum thing so Anthropologie was out.

The same thing goes for Chik-Fil-A.  There’s a store in the next town up the road and not too long ago, I was tempted to stop in and buy something because I heard the food is pretty good for fast food.  But since they’ve made such a big effing deal about being “Christians” who wear their anti-gay bigotry on their sleeves with pride and promote their “morality” to their employees, it will be a cold day in hell before I ever set foot in a Chik-Fil-A.

What I find particularly revolting about Dan Cathy’s commitment to families is that he fails to see the children of gay couples as being family members themselves.  Those kids are frequently on the losing end of legal battles over inheritance, pensions, social security, etc, when one of their parents die.  It’s disgusting and hypocritical for Cathy and his ilk to value one set of children over another because of the sexuality of their parents.  Just thinking about it makes my blood boil.

I’m sure this is a selling point to their fundamentalist customers.  Bully for them.  Too bad that the homophobic church lady demographic is shrinking.  On the other hand, Chik-Fil-A will find out exactly how the free market works!



36 Responses

  1. Tall people must feel almost as if they are being discriminated, but maybe this will help. Manufacturers can lower prices when the quantities being manufactured are large. Fixed costs, for example, are spread over the number of units. The more units, the lower the cost. That’s why left handed scissors cost more. A manufacturer cannot recover the cost unless it charges more for the fewer units. Sometimes it pays to be average. You may be as tall as most men, but tall men also pay more for their clothes. It’s not the amount of material that increases most cost. Despite the fact that children clothes don’t use much material, their clothes are also expensive, relative to adult clothes. It takes just as much or more labor to make a little dress as it does adult clothes.

  2. I’m not tall, but I’m with you, R.D. Men’s clothing is rarely more costly for tall sizes, and, in usual men’s lines, clothes come in “short”, “medium” and “long”. I believe there are no fewer variations in the female population.

    To DM, who commented above: It’s just not that uncommon for women to be tall. Also, your argument wouldn’t explain why petite lines are not also more expensive.

    PS Petite lines in women’s store are still pretty new and pretty rare. Small women often have trouble finding clothes scaled to fit them. But you’re right. They don’t tend to cost more.

    • I’m familiar with manufacturing in general, not specifically clothes. When shopping, Maybe the designations of “short”, “medium” and “tall” for men still fall within the averages, and really tall men would not fit into a regular “tall” size. It would be like “extra tall”.

      • Trousers come ready to hem, as the height of the purchaser requires because about 6 inches of fabric allowance is included in the price based on how the pattern being cut fits the yardage. Adding a 1/4 inch per size to the side seams only affects yardage in some styles. Those styles don’t get made in lower quality lines. “Wide” Women are 1X, 2X etc, and yes, they DO cost more as do all T-Shirt sizes 2X and up by $2 or $3 per X. Embroiderers and T-Shirt screeners who purchase shirts by the gross still pay X-tra for the XXXL’s

  3. Size 14 is the average size in America. I don’t know where you shop but the places I go charge the same for a size 14 item as for a size 6 item.

    Tall sizes, petite sizes and plus sizes (16 and up) are all more expensive for legitimate business reasons. It’s annoying but it’s not discrimination unlike the fact that it costs more to dry clean a woman’s jacket than a man’s.

    As for the claim that “most people can lose weight with diet and exercise”, that’s simplifying an incredibly complex problem and is a little like saying that people who’s children are not getting a good public education just need to send their kids to private schools. Duh.

    • This is my point. If you wear a size 14, no matter how much extra fabric it takes to make that garment, you don’t pay more than someone who wears a size 6.
      On the other hand, if all that was available were size 6-8-10, a size 14 has the option of losing weight and the clothes would fit. But if you’re tall, no amount of dieting or exercise is going to get you and extra 3 inches of hem or extend the waistline. Until you’ve bought a dress where the natural waistline hits you underneath the breast, turning it into an empire waist, you have no idea what I’m talking about.
      And your silly comment about dieting and exercise immediately took offense without actually considering the context. I don’t have patience for that, to be honest.

      • Actually, it doesn’t take more fabric to make a size 14 than it does a size 6. Most commercial fabrics are 60″ wide. So if you’re cutting a front and a back from a single width of fabric, it would take the same amount of fabric to cut any size until the circumference of the garment plus seam allowances exceeds the 60″. For most styles that would easily take you to a size 18. But making something longer would add to the fabric needed no matter what size you’re making.

        • As someone downthread pointed out, men’s clothing has many more size variations before you’re booted into the “Tall/Big” category. The fabric width shouldn’t make a difference. This is a problem that is unique to tall women.

          • “The fabric width shouldn’t make a difference”. Obviously, you don’t sew. Maybe something to learn how to do with all of your free time. Then you can have pants any length you want them to be.

    • BTW, I’ve never seen petite sizes paying a premium.
      I’ve seen plus sizes that do but in that case, there is WAY more fabric required.
      But if I’m an 8 just taller, why should I pay more than a 14 or an 8P?

  4. Thirty years ago my 6′ wife drug my 5’9″ body shopping. She asked for shoes in a particular size and the sales clerk told her “They don’t make shoes that big.” She still has not gotten over that. btw, fat man clothes cost more than skinny clothes but the reason appears obvious.

    • See?? I’m sure she knows just what I’m talking about. Fortunately for me, I wear a size 8 in shoes. She and I can get jeans in the right sizes usually. But dresses? They’re always too short and proportioned wrong.
      I’m convinced that the fashion industry wants to make us feel like ugly ogresses who should pay more just for defying expectations.
      And I think there are more of us than the clothing industry thinks. I can’t tell you how much I hate shopping because I can rarely find what I like in a longer size. It’s a missed opportunity.

  5. And another thing: people at the paint department should know how to use the fricking Internet to find paint color equivalents. The color is not in your database because the obscure company that makes it went out of business? Learn how to type “paint color equivalent finnaran and Haley Franklin white” into google. Don’t act like a smug asshole who doesn’t want to step outside your comfort zone. There are other paint stores.
    Lowes just lost a paint sale today.

  6. Ong namo guru Dev namo

  7. Speaking of clothes — look at this dress!!

    • Love it. It looks like the kind of dress the mother wore in the movie Tree of Life.

  8. My daughter is 5’10″(6″ taller than me) and wears size 10 shoes. In high school I could never buy her a coat that fit because her arms were too long. She was about a size 6, and I guess size 6s are suposed to be short. And shoes! she played basketball and volleyball in high school. We lived in a rural area so I would have to drive 150 miles to Denver to find shoes.And they were never exactly what she wanted. I was so glad when Zappos came along, my baby could finally have cute shoes.

    • LOL! My older daughter had the exact opposite problem. She didn’t take after me. She’s of average height and her hands and feet are tiny and childlike. It still amazes me that she wields a mean Wusthoff with her itty-bitty baby hands. At the beginning of 6th grade, she desperately wanted a pair of converse high tops like every girl in school had. So, we went looking for a pair but we couldn’t find any shoes that would fit her teensy size 3 feet. Stride-rite was about the only shoe store that had any shoes that fit her.
      So, there she was, sobbing in the Mall, heartbroken that she was going to have to wear shoes meant for a 6 year old with colorful decals and velcro closures. I spent hours on the internet tracking down a pair of Converse high tops for her and finally snagged a pair that were a bit big for her, I can’t remember where, but they had to ship them to me.
      Yes, Zappos is miraculous.

  9. Men have it worse. All pants manufacturers conspire to make men look foolish — if those men are of a certain age and/or a certain girth.

    When a man is young and in his college trim, the beltline of his pants will automatically hit the proper place, a little ways below the navel. The crotch will also hang at the right spot — in my case, about half an inch below the Sons of Cannon. (You thought I was going to another term for ’em, didncha?)

    As a man matures and his affection for pizza becomes a matter of philosophical self-definition, his belt may explore a bit more geography than it used to as it winds through the loops. Alas, the people who design pants presume that if your waist is wider than 32 inches, then your navel must also have risen to a point about a yard and a half above the crotch.

    A man thus faces a choice:

    1. He can put the beltline where it belongs — below the navel — which means that the crotch of the pants will now hang somewhere around knee-level. This leads to chafing and discomfort.

    2. He can put the crotch of the pants where it belongs (a little below “the boys”), which means that the beltline now almost tickles the nipples. This look was considered stylish in the 1940s. That is no longer the case.

    If you’ve ever wondered why older men wear their pants so high: THAT’S WHY. Pants are just plain made wrong. It’s a conspiracy to make mature men look bad.

    Or maybe it’s all a plot to get us to lay off pizza.

  10. Whine, whine whine. We all have this fit problem in one way or the other. I haven’t had a manufactured dress fit me right since the 70’s, no matter what size I was. I’m square shouldered, and long waisted. Clothes today are cut with a trapezius designed for the shoulders of a goose, and a waist either at my bra line, or around my pubic bone. I can’t get work boots in a mens 5 1/2 or small construction gloves, or heels in wide widths.

    Really, I think clothing today is best reflected by the big box society of Walmart’s “shapeless” fashion. The seamstress, nestled in the labyrinth of the dept. store, is long gone. Even as late as the early 80’s the middle class could count on the seamstress or tailor to customize things.

    It’s time to eschew the big boxes, break the chains of bondage to the 1%, the seek out the sewers and make things in this country.

  11. It’s weird but my husband is Asian and very slender (he eats like a pig and drinks beer, bourbon PLUS he smokes! Very unpc holding a very valuable ancient Chinese secret that his wife wishes he would let her in on or simply sell to Oprah for a cool 10 million) and he has trouble finding clothing in the US that fits him well unless it’s “European” cut and then it’s more than a similar piece in an American cut. The European cut definitely uses less fabric yet is more expensive.

    I agree with you, it definitely takes more fabric to make a size 12 or 14 dress than it does a size 4 or 6. One only need lay two of the same dresses, one on top of the other, to see this.

    Do you have the problem with jeans? I’m only 5′ 3″ and wear a size 10 and the legs are always super long. It’s okay if they’re a classic cut and I can roll the cuff but it they’re bell bottoms or “skinny” jeans I have to have a lot of excess fabric cut and a new hem sewn. What really gets me is that the tailors in my city charge an exorbitant amount of money which seems to me to be a fairly simply alteration ($20 is the norm).

    • re: tailors. Suppose it takes an hour to do the alteration. That’s not much for skilled labor. What if it only takes 15 minutes? The seamstress still had to purchase the sewing machine and maintain it. Oh, and know how to use it which you are either unable or unwilling to do.

      They’re running a business, not a charity.

      • While it’s easy to hem jeans, at not cost to the buyer except practice, it’s impossible to take down pants that have no extra fabric. Jeans are usually not an issue for tall women, the only case where they are not, except for some clothing stores.
        But other pants? Yep, no extra fabric. So, if they are cropped, instead of hitting just above the ankle, they’re tight around the calf. Or if they’re supposed to break across the top of the shoe, they hover. Not a damn thing a tailor or home sewer can do about it.

  12. You mean there is chain of stores called “Chik-Fil-A” ?
    That is very funny as the name is too close to another slang term
    for “pegging” which is “chick-fill-A”. And run by fundies to boot, hah, hah.

  13. Take heart, however much less I might be spending due to being under-tall, I am more than making up for paying a tailor to hem my pants.

  14. Speaking of Chick-fil-a, if it’s not too late, does anyone care whether the mayors of Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco really said what the Boston Globe and other hostile media claim they said?

    I’ve been doing some digging and it appears they didn’t. The alderman more certainly didn’t.

    If anyone cares, I’ll write it up coherently, or try to.

      • Such statements are not a threat to deny permits or take other official action — as the hostile media has claimed.

        • I saw the DailyShow clip. The mayors seem to be saying CFA is not welcome. Does that mean they’re going to prevent them from doing business? Depends. If CFA wants to open a new store and the planning commission makes it difficult, I’d say there is a real problem.
          In Rahm’s case, it’s hard to say. There’s no doubt in my mind that he doesn’t like free speech. His crackdown on Occupy and that global conference (which one was it?) show that violation of the first amendment rights of people he doesn’t like doesn’t keep him up at night.
          OTOH, you could just see it as election year posturing. His old boss has “evolved” on the issue of sane sex marriage and Rahm is just playing his part as a Democrat who is fully behind the LGBT community. Yeah, sure, probably like he was behind the Rick warren thing.
          IMHO, it would be wrong to keep CFA from acting like homophobic assholes. At least they’re up front about it. I didn’t know before Dan Cathy decided to evangelize. Now, there’s not a chance in hell I’ll ever set foot in a CFA. Where there’s homophobia, there’s misogyny.
          Pretty soon, the fundies will be the only ones who will buy there. And as the census data shows, people who have no religion is a rapidly growing demographic.
          So, let the bigots be bigots. If they weren’t already in my family, I would never choose to be friends with these people. I find their values to be mean, vile and unkind.

          • Most of it seems to be distortions of the meanings of the mayors’ statements, which were really about using ‘bully pulpit’ and hoping for customer boycotts. One Alderman in Chicago, Moreno, was already looking at CFA’s application for a new branch in a gay neighborhood. What he actually said was that CFA doesn’t even have a written non-discrimination policy, and he wants to see that “before they go forward.”

            More details and links etc at houseboatonstyx.livejournal.com

          • If the city has a legal non-discrimination requirement, I don’t see anything wrong with asking CFA to comply with it. If they need an exemption, it better be a good reason, like, they are really a religion that uses chicken as a communion offering. But then, they’re going to probably have to meet other requirements.
            It’s the kind of thing that ends up going to the Supreme Court. I don’t know, does Cathy really want to go there? There’s a good chance that he’ll win. With this Supreme Court, there’s really no telling. But the message it would send would be chilling. And you can’t stop with gay people. If they’re allowed to discriminate based on that, then what about preventing african americans to eat at your lunch counter?

          • “But then, they’re going to probably have to meet other requirements.”

            Apparently this is what Moreno has been working on for quite a while, in his legitimate function as alderman for that district. Leading a story by saying he was reacting only to Cathy’s recent personal statement, was slanted reporting.

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