Attention fashion designers, buyers, and clothing companies: I exist. Not only do I exist, in fact, but I also like pretty things, and I am beautiful – at least on the inside. I have the right to feel beautiful on the outside too, but at 185cm tall, the fashion industry has declared me non-existent. Frankly, I am over it.
Today I tried on a floor length skirt – Target thought it was a long strapless dress, but what do they know? It was a skirt to me. It’s not just that I want floor length skirts and dresses (although please believe me when I say I yearn for them). I can consign them to the too hard basket if I must (and learn to make them myself if necessary). It’s all the pretty things that I can’t find. A typical day’s shopping reveals shirts with sleeves that barely make it halfway past my elbows. Bustlines that bisect my bust rather than underlying it. Pretty, lacy, feminine bras that only go up to size 14B. Socks in attractive colours in size 6-8. Oh, and jeans that only make it halfway down my calves, and do up somewhere under my hips.
The comments from sales assistants over the years have really impressed me. When asked if they stock any pretty bras in size 16C, one commented “Oh no. Some things just don’t look good in that size, you know.” And when asked for women’s socks in a size 11: “No, they’re women’s socks.” I refrained from asking what she thought I was – never ask a question you don’t want the answer to. The ultimate comment came while shopping for a wedding dress: “Well you’re just too tall, aren’t you?” My bridesmaids were all for committing murder on the spot, but I was so used to that sort of comment that I hardly reacted.
It is perfectly possible to make pretty bras in my size (they have them by the handful in France, but it’s a long way to go for some underwear shopping). For some reason, though few companies do – and even fewer shops stock them. I have come to loathe shopping, as even browsing the racks to find anything worth trying on takes hours, and I often come up empty handed. Not for me the casual wandering in to a shop and trying on a stack of clothing. It’s a long and tedious trawl through the bottoms of the racks (to see which pairs of pants are a little longer than the others through some freak manufacturing accident). An endless rummage through rack upon rack of clothing that is simply not made with me in mind.
The odd thing is I am no longer unusually tall – there are plenty of women as tall as me these days, and some even taller. I know some teenage girls who are going to tower over me when they finish growing. It’s time the fashion industry woke up to this untapped market. To be fair, the footwear industry is slowly getting a grip on the idea. I recently bought a pair of tall boots (my first ever!) and a pair of court shoes. Both on special, and in both cases I had choices – 10 years ago I wouldn’t have found one pair, much less had choices. Progress is a fine thing.
This might all come as a surprise to those of you who are not vertically blessed – after all, isn’t the ideal model magnificently tall? Sadly the clothes models wear on the catwalk are not the off-the-rack variety. They are specially made, and impossible to buy. Also I am not a size 8. (Can you imagine? Size 8 and 185cm tall – you could slip someone like that under the door. Terribly handy if you forget your keys.)
Just because I am tall (never, if you value your life, use the words “huge”, “enormous” or “gigantic” – although “statuesque” is acceptable) does not mean I am unfeminine. I love frilly, lacy, pretty things. Fashion industry, hear this: I want to give you money. Why won’t you let me?