My former VP of Marketing always used to say, let’s look at this from a 30 ft level. Meaning, step back and not look at it on a detailed perspective. My husband put it best today. He said, how can a buyer or sales person in a clothing store who is 5’9″ understand what the fashion problems are of a woman who is 5’2″? She buys or sells to the customer based on her point of view.
So I went into a store today in Huntington Beach, CA and had an appointment to talk to the new store owner about how to attracting customers that are petite. The conversation didn’t even go further then a couple of sentences from me about how it’s difficult for a petite woman to find clothes more so then ever. Department stores are slimming down, etc, etc. They said that a petite woman doesn’t have problems with the fit and size of their pants. All they have to do is hem them, designers keep tailors in business, they said. What do you do about dresses? I asked them. They wouldn’t sell any of their petite women long dresses, it would completely overwhelm their bodies. They would push the short dresses on them because that’s what they should be wearing. Oh, and women would never wear anything like polka dot pants because the American woman wears basic stuff like plain sold pants and jeans- that’s what you should be designing. Certainly not a petite woman could ever wear pants with a pattern, and never polka dots! It belongs with the Japanese girls who are bolder in their way of dress, they said.
So this conversation went on for about 45 minutes. As you can see, it wasn’t a pleasant meeting. I walked away questioning myself for a while. Do I not have a problem like most other petite women in the US about clothes? Maybe I don’t have any problems finding clothes and perhaps all other petite women like me don’t have problems either. Perhaps this is all self created, self inflicted pain, and we petite women gave the problem unnecessary life and energy. Am I completely out there, disconnected from the “real’ world? Perhaps it’s me? Do I dress a bit out there for the average mother and nievely believe that other women actually want something different? Do petite women truly want another pair of black pants or white dress but they just want to buy it at a new store?What’s an American women supposed to dress like? Is this why there’s a gaping whole in fashion for petite women. Do fashions only belong on the runway and in Japan or Western Europe?
My time at the store could have been a typical bully scene. You know the one, where all the kids give the bully their lunch money because that’s what they do every day and they feel there is no other alternative. The bully just stands there outside as the kids walk single file to drop their lunch money into his open hand.
Then the one new kid comes along and questions the entire situation when the bully sticks his hand out waiting for the money. The new kid has just disrupted the flow and everyone else watching thinks she/he is crazy to question why things have been done like this, just give him the money and walk away their probably thinking. The store owner says she’s been doing this for 20 years, and she can only think of one petite woman who shops in her store and she doesn’t buy petite clothes, certainly not polka dot pants! She is tiny, probably weighs 98 lbs. So she fits in our size 0 or P. Hmmm, what about the average American woman who is 5’4” and 163 lbs? I don’t think those 0 pants are going to zip up.
I certainly do not think that everyone will have an appeal for my clothes. Yet I do wonder why can’t there be variety in our appearance? Is being petite allowing other people to push us into a box that we’ve all come to live with all too long? I see some of the blogs out there where they have suggestions on how a petite woman should dress and some of them are good tips. But is this so stifling that it has a taller person pushing their own projection of who we should be too? Where’s the uniqueness and individualism in all this? Shouldn’t we wear what we want to wear and not what we should wear? I was certainly talking to the wrong people and in the wrong store. I wasn’t ready for the idealism (from a non petite person) of what a petite woman should wear or not wear. Are we not allowed to decide for ourselves what we should wear based on how we feel and who we are truly. Isn’t this where the clothes helps to reflect your sense of self?
Are there any petite women out there who want clothes that’s made for them in mind? Or is the aggravation and frustration that I hear and see about daily on blogs and in daily conversation just that- simply complaints and gripes. And is it that we don’t really want to fight the big bully and change this situation but instead, we just want to have something to complain about- like an aching back or the price of gas? Do we still want to continue giving away our money to the bully and then go huddle in our corner and complain about our situation? Isn’t anyone tired yet of the tan khakis and black pant? Does anyone want a fresh perspective?