My good friend TC and I were talking not too long ago about how Lane Bryant has gone from fashion-forward-for-the-fats to lacking in anything appealing. Apparently Fatshionista thought so too. Here's her rant on the subject in an open letter to Laneys.
So in that vein, I have decided to write my own Dear Laney's Letter.
Dear Lane Bryant:
For years you have been my haven for fashionable clothing in larger sizes. In fact, I can remember when my mom first brought me to your store in Twelve Oaks Mall (which was replaced by something hideous soon thereafter). I was a young adolescent striving for something fashionable and not frumpy so that my size didn't dictate my life. And I finally found it. Cute jeans that fit right...tights and socks that didn't cut off my circulation...dresses that didn't make me look like a sausage...it was a young teen's dream.
Since then I have been a loyal customer. I've had a Lane Bryant card with a balance for longer than I'd like to remember. Whenever anyone asked me where I got something, I'd proclaim with pride "From Laney's!" For years you were my staple in an otherwise staple-less world. I wouldn't think of going elsewhere for the basics such as jeans, bras and work clothes. When you got the Houston trousers I thought I had died and gone to heaven again. I got my wedding shower dress from your store (on sale!) and most of my work clothes.
The fairytale doesn't always have a happy ending, though. Let me tell you why I'm mad, Laney. I'm going to be frank here: lately, your clothes have sucked really bad. Finding work clothes at your store that are actually tailor made for fat people is like looking for meaning in a Britney Spears song. I can't find a suit that isn't "cropped" or embellished with some sad sort of trendy-plastic pieces that didn't quite make it to any other store. I can't find a basic black dress that doesn't make my size C breasts look like barely A cups (which is a big frustration). And bras? Forget it--you've decided to make trendy things that cut into your sides instead of pieces people will come back for year after year.
I was doing fine with the limited selection on these things, but then you did the unspeakable, Laney. You went back to the pre-1990s big girl print tops made of polyester. Everywhere I turn it's another one of these ill-fitting atrocities in bright blue and yellow or red, pink and orange. Polyester is fine for some things--but not every thing. I've posted one as the picture for this post for your reference.
And while some women I know like your "Right Fit" sizing, it'd be nice if you offered an option. Your right fit is more wrong for me than the previous set of sizes, however inconsistent. And now you've taken away my option of buying pants that are regularly sized because you've right-sized them.
Also, apparently you ran out of polyester making your horrific clearance-bound tunics to make those stretchy work pants I love--the ponte pant. For women with chronic pain issues, these pants were heaven--they'd stretch and forgive and were always the right size. Now you've replaced them with some sort of "Tummy Tuck" pant meant to suck in the fat. Damnit, Laney--I just want to be comfortable.
So here are my tips for you (and these are tips I'd take to heart and start my own clothing store if I had the money):
1. Get back to the basics--you should have career clothes for women in stock in every store. This means suits that aren't trendy, but still fashionable. Button down shirts that aren't neurotically sized. This also means getting rid of at least 50% of your polyester tunics.
2. Make your sizing coherent and reliable. I can't tell you how many times in the past year I've left frustrated after trying on something in a size that should fit me and it's either too big or too small. It's not me--I've been the same for over a year now. It's you.
3. Reward loyalty with loyalty. You know the things that women want because we used to buy them from you. Stop changing them every other season once we get used to it.
4. Only go trendy for half the store. That's right--half. The whole idea of a balanced wardrobe is staples that can be used season after season mixed with trendier pieces that fade away.
5. Invest in good fabrics and workmanship. Your clothes fall apart like a magazine soaked in water. They're good for one or two wears but then you're done with it. This goes especially for your bras. Learn to make comfortable bras. Pad the wires in gel or cotton in addition to making them trendy. Go to designers with new ideas that don't dig into women's sides. We'll pay for it--trust me.
Laney, I'd love to tell you it's me and not you, but that just isn't the case. I don't know if I could break up with you because, to be honest, us fatties are left with little choices. But damnit, Laney, we're going to need to do something or we'll end up in counseling and then divorce court.
Most of all Laney, I just want you to be true to yourself and your original mission. Provide us fatties with something nice to wear and do it at a reasonable cost. If you are stuck on ideas, ask us--we'll gladly tell you.
Till the next time I buy something and return it because it's useless to me....