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Soft butch fashions for fat women?

November 17, 2008

The title pretty much says it all. One thing I’ve come to terms with is that I’m really not particularly femme. I like pretty dresses and swirly skirts, just not on me. I can’t move right or I’m always worried that some magic pervert wind will come and show everyone my underpants.

In some ways this is a relief. I was forever buying dresses more for the hope that they would impart some mystical feminine quality to me. I suspect the effect was more low-rent drag queen.

Instead, as I’ve gained a ton of confidence over the past year, I realized that I feel best in what might be called ‘soft butch’ kind of clothes. A nice pair of jeans, a fitted polo and some pumas? Watch out, laydeeeeeeeez, attrice is here to steal your heart. *wink*

But I have so much damn trouble finding things that are remotely androgynous in plus size stores. Everything has to have some sort of flared sleeves or sweeping cut. I can’t even find a simple v-neck tee that doesn’t include some kind of weird rouching or giant buttons or a big flower motif on it.

Why is this? I mean, it could very well be that options for fat women are more scarce all around. But I do feel like when I am in other stores, that it’s much easier to find more clothing closer to the butchy side of fashion. Is it because androgyny is ‘sexy’ on thin women and not on fat women in our society? Part of me suspects this has something to do with it.

This really isn’t any kind of complete thought. I’m just throwing some stuff out here, but I’m wondering if fat women are encouraged to be more feminine to ‘make up’ for the terrible sin of taking up more space than women are allowed? Does anyone else feel like the selection of clothes available in an average lane bryant is a lot more frilly than in the average new york and company?

Any other butch-ish women out there who can point me towards a place to buy clothes? And yes, I’ve tried men’s stuff, but I mostly hate the cut of the clothes.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2008 5:03 am

    Lane Bryant Catalog and Woman Within Catalog have plain t-shirts for women (solid colors, crew neck, vee neck, or scoop neck). Some are regular t-shirt length, some are tunic length, and the price is reasonable. And they come in sleeveless, short sleeves, and long sleeves. I don’t know if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, but I’ve bought a few of them and like them pretty well. My only complaint is that they don’t have very many that are prints, maybe one shirt out of 10 is a print (they do offer horizontal stripes, which I’m not fond of). Solid colors are fine, but I like a print to wear with my solid color pants sometimes (I do NOT like print pants, never have, so I don’t wear the plaid flannel lounging pants that my daughter-in-law loves so much, she practically lives in them). I’m large enough that places like New York and Company don’t carry anything that even comes close to fitting me (28 in pants and 4X/5X in shirts).

  2. November 18, 2008 2:56 pm

    I’m with you on the taste in clothes. I don’t think of it as “soft butch.” I think of it as “clean and elegant.” This is going to sound harsh, but I think that, in addition to the issues you mentioned, it has to do with the social class we’re assumed to inhabit. Above all, most fat lady clothes are unprofessional-looking.

    It may also have something to do with the exaggeratedly feminine shapes of our bodies. Ever read “Judgement of Paris?” That guy totally fetishizes plus-sized bodies, seeing them as symbolically pre-modern and pre-feminist, and he likes us in frilly clothes. There’s no doubt that boyish bodies on women carry their own modernist symbolism, but that doesn’t mean that as a fat woman, my mind, attitude, or presentation belong in the nineteenth century or the 1950s. HUGE pet peeve with me.

    Anyway, it’s easier to find cleaner styles in big city downtown stores and (for more casual styles) in catalogues with classic styles, like Eddie Bauer and Land’s End. If you’re in the 14-20 size range, Target and Old Navy carry a lot of basics like plain tee shirts and sweaters for cheap. I’ve also had a lot of luck at TJ Maxx/Winners – but you have to visit often and dig around.

  3. November 18, 2008 5:32 pm

    I also tend to dress that way. Lane Bryant is where I mostly shop, though occasionally I find pieces elsewhere.

    I have always said that I do not need to draw attention to my bust, hips, or ass; they are sizeable enough to get their own attention, and they do. It isn’t that I don’t do feminine, but even then I prefer pure clean lines and good fabric.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    November 26, 2008 9:44 am

    I love the Avenue it is a great store and has a great variety of clothes. Beleive it or not Walmart also has good things in +sizes….

  5. Crys permalink
    May 5, 2009 7:45 am


    You said it all so perfectly!

  6. Maggie permalink
    September 7, 2009 6:34 pm

    Mens clothing section. Be aware that the sizes are different, I buy a 2x for tshirts when I maybe a different size in womens clothes… ( I havn’t worn any for years).

    It hip for the dudes to look more feminine these days so i’m sure you’ll be able to find a style that suits you.

  7. March 1, 2015 11:30 pm

    A little late commenting and ya, ya, I don’t know if anyone will see this, but I just figured I’d put my two cents in.

    I am also a plus sized female (size 18/20 pants and maybe 2X shirts). By shopping on the guy’s side and girl’s side, I’ve noticed where the line is drawn and what I can and can’t do. Men’s shirts seem to fit me better and I do love looking through and finding shirts without a big flower or the word “love” plastered on it as bright as day. My style is more punk and “if this looks nice on me, I’ll wear it.” I go more for graphic jeans and skinny jeans if I can. I think you guys should go more for the guy clothes if it’s your style, but the best result here I think is to lose weight. Like one of you said, you’re right, in today’s society, plus sized women’s clothing is more dolled up and frilly than even the regular junior’s clothing. It often comes in drab colours and then the clothes that I do actually take a liking to, they’re too little. Don’t even get me started trying to go androgynous in jeans, male or female, when you’re plus sized. It doesn’t even work.

    Planning on losing weight soon. Hope you guys found the best of luck.


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