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Shop On (Size 16) Sister! British Retailer Debenhams Puts Larger Mannequins Right Where They Belong — In Their Windows

In business, women on February 22, 2010 at 11:20 am
Debenhams

Image by zoonabar via Flickr

Curvy women, get out your wallets! An upscale British retailer, Debenhams, has decided to put size 16 mannequins in its windows – instead of the usual size 10 — acknowledging the reality that, as in the U.S., the average woman shopper is a size 14 or 16.

If I lived in the U.K., I’d vote with my legs and my pocketbook and head straight to Debenhams to thank them for their intelligence. I was furious to discover the other day, (having driven to the mall and already paid, as it demands, to park there), that women’s clothing retailer Ann Taylor no longer stocks anything larger than a size 12 in their stores.

J. Crew. has been doing that for years, relegating the pooch-y crowd, no matter the size of their pocketbooks, to their limited catalogs and on-line options. Ann Taylor was — like Talbots — one of the few national chains who get the basic fact that women of all sizes want and need well-made clothing made of lovely, elegant fabrics like wool, silk and linen, not just disposable junior-style nylon crap from H & M.

Just because a woman is bigger than designers or retailers want — and maybe she wants — doesn’t mean she can spend her time in sweats. Retailers who sell lovely clothing to women over a size 12 earn repeat sales, no matter if the woman remains a 14 or 16, or slims down to a more “acceptable” 12, 10 or 8. “In the meantime”, for those trying to lose weight, should not add the punition of finding few attractive choices for the lives women lead right now, not six or 12 or 18 months later after they’ve gotten thin(ner.)

The two Ann Taylor skirts I liked in the store were $90 each, for simple gray or black wool. Add to the insult of being shoved to the retail margins a price-point out of reach for many women in this recession and Ann Taylor’s CEO really needs to re-think this misguided decision.

All women need elegant, flattering clothes that fit — not only when they are a size that stores find flattering to their “brand image.” Women with big(ger) bums also contribute to your bottom line.

  1. “Debenhams, has decided to put size 16 mannequins in its windows – instead of the usual size 10 — acknowledging the reality that, as in the U.S., the average woman shopper is a size 14 or 16.”

    Arrggghhh! I’ll have to commit suicide!!! I’m only a size 4, if that. No, I’m not a dwarf, just a very active woman. Pffttt to you!

  2. Pffft to you, too. I was a nationally ranked athlete and much larger than a size 4 at the time. Active and tiny are not co-related, although many like to think so.

  3. Love how the fat-basher above finds the need to comment on a blog post trying to help women who have a much harder time than her find clothes. I was once a 4, too…’course I only ate one meal a day of raw veggies and grilled chicken to achieve that.

    More to the point…where does a size 14/16 MISSES shop in this country anymore? Any suggestions? Women’s 14 won’t fit (a misses 14/16 is a women’s 8-10), and that’s the smallest size any “fat” stores sell! I CANNOT continue to wear crappy target and old navy clothes to work or I’m gonna get fired. And I REFUSE to give my money to these retailers who think I’m not worthy to enter their stores (but will gladly take my money online!).

    • Sister, I hear you!

      The only chic solution I have ever cobbled together is to wear, and stick, to good-quality knits/jersey — wool, cashmere, silk whenever possible (consignment shops, thrift stores) — with VERY good foundation garments (Spanx) and perfectly-fitting bras. Then the very best, most elegant accessories you can get: simple, low-key, real jewelry, even if only silver hoops. Because larger women are already being so judged and dissed, great grooming and style make up for a lot.

      Great shoes and stockings, too. Much of it is how you present yourself, with confidence and as much style as you can muster. There are so many great ways to accessorize and make even the simplest clothes less boring.

      Wish I had happier advice….Have you read Ashley Falcon’s column in Marie-Claire? She writes for women sizes 16-20 who want to look great.

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