Dear Ms. Heasley:
(I have no idea if you’re a Ms. or a Mrs. The internet isn’t being helpful and also it seems creepy to search “is Linda Heasley, the CEO of Lane Bryant, married?” because I don’t want to marry you or stalk you, even. So I’m giving you a Ms. Hope you don’t mind.)
I have been a customer of your store since college. I actually worked, briefly, at your store, while I was a graduate student. (“Briefly” because I was not much of a fan of telling customers they looked good in clothes they clearly did NOT look good in for commissions. Lying for money seemed a little too close to being a whore for me, so I got a job at a pet store instead, where they let me play with animals for a living. Sorry.)
See, I’m a plus-sized woman. That phrase should give you a thrill, ma’am. I’m your bread and butter. If it weren’t for women like me (and I suppose men who purchase plus-sized women’s clothing; I worked at one of your competitors through college, and we had a number of transgender and crossdressing clients who shopped with us; I don’t want to be discriminatory) you wouldn’t have a client base. There actually wouldn’t be any need for your store. And then you’d be out of a job! And you have a lovely smile. I wouldn’t want you to be out of a job. I bear you no ill will.
However, we need to have a talk.
As you are no-doubt aware, there are a number of plus-sized women here in the States. (And possibly overseas. Do you do much business overseas? I’m sure I could research this, but it, again, seems like an odd thing to type into Google.) Lane Bryant is often our closest store for professional plus-sized clothing. Now, not to hurt your feelings, but I do most of my clothes shopping at Peter Harris Plus, because they have your clothes but half to seventy-five percent off, along with a lot of other brand-names. Also, very few people shop there, and they never care if I bring a gajillion clothes into the dressing room even though there’s a sign that says I’m not allowed to. I like when I’m allowed to be rule-flaunty. HOWEVER! Peter Harris Plus doesn’t carry lingerie. Well, it carries long t-shirts you can sleep in. I mean undergarment-lingerie. Bras, in particular.
So, whenever I need bras, I am forced to make the trek to (shudder) the mall, and enter Lane Bryant.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I have many options for bra shopping! Well, no. Because I’m…um…well-endowed, ma’am. I need to try them on before I purchase them, because it’s not often I find one that not only fits, but supports. It’s a gift that was passed down to me from both sides of my family. We’re all boobilicious. Aren’t I just a lucky woman?
Now. You used to carry a very basic t-shirt material bra with a tough as nails underwire. They lasted forever, they fit and supported beautifully, and they were smooth-fitting underneath clothing. In other words, they were perfect. Well, they could have come in a few different colors or patterns, but otherwise, fantastic. And it’s not like anyone saw them but me, Ms. Heasley. The parade of suitors into the Lucy’s Football bedroom is…well, less a “parade” and more a “ghost town.” With scary noises and also maybe tumbleweeds.
So what did you do? Well! Of course, you discontinued them.
I can only assume this is because they lasted forever, so people didn’t come back and purchase them as often as you’d like.
So now the only style that works and fits for me is this lacy/satiny thing. Which could be worse, I suppose. But they don’t last. Because of the frou-frou lacy shit which is flimsy as hell. And did I mention no one sees the damn things? So I don’t need lace. Who the hell’s seeing the lace, the cat? He doesn’t care about lace, unless the lace has cat treats all over it or something. Also, they only come in the boring blah colors. Black, cream, tan. Because why the hell would we want to have FUN COLORS OR PATTERNS.
So this past weekend, ma’am, I went to Lane Bryant. And you had a whole rack of sale bras. A WHOLE RACK! No pun intended with the boob/rack comparison. So I took one of each style of each in my size and thought, dammit, I WILL GET SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE FROU-FROU LACY THING.
Ms. Heasley, who designs your undergarments? No, sincerely. I have to assume it’s not you. You’re the President and CEO, per the internet. You must have a team of designers or something.
What size, exactly, are these designers? And, followup question, do they wear their own product?
I am not a clothing designer. I am artistically challenged. I’ll admit that. I watch Project Runway and I never pick the winners. I actually pick the losers AS the winners, to be honest. I am, however, as I mentioned, a plus-sized woman, who has lived in this body for her entire life. And as such, I know what works on a plus-sized body and what doesn’t.
Here’s what doesn’t work:
- Skinny straps on your bras. I’m talking skinny. Shoestring skinny. Listen, this is not going to hold me in position for the entire day. Not only that, it’s going to cut into my shoulders. HARDCORE cut into my shoulders. Nothing sexier than straps cut so deeply into my shoulders that I have deep red welts, right?
- Padding. Now, maybe for smaller cup sizes, padding would work. And maybe even be welcome. However, how about once you get into the larger bra sizes, you discontinue the padding? See, here’s the thing – I come with my own padding. I know, right? Hard to wrap your mind around. I do not need an extra quarter-to-half-inch of padding in my cups, ma’am. I’m going to start looking like a caricature. Something painted on the side of a plane, perhaps.
- “Balconettes”. If you have smaller breasts, you probably want to push ’em up and out. Mine are already there. I don’t want to push ’em anywhere. I just want to keep them in place and not have a sore back at the end of the day. Balconettes are a demi-cup. They only cover half the breast. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU NEED IF YOU ARE BUSTY. You might as well not be wearing a bra, sincerely. You look like you’re spilling out all over the place, and not in a sexy way. In an ill-fitting bra way.
- Underwire made of twist-ties. Again, much like the skinny straps, this is not going to work. You need underwire that could double as bulletproofing, that you could use to break into armored cars, that you could put someone’s eye out with. Not underwire that bends when you’re trying the bra ON. How is that supposed to last if it can’t even withstand being TRIED ON?
- Patterns that wouldn’t be out of place on a lawnchair. You are aware, right, that even though we’re plus-sized, we’d also like to be sexy? OK, just checking. Sexy doesn’t equal patterns like BRIGHT FLUORESCENT PAINT SPLASHES or HOT PINK HOUNDSTOOTH. Especially on the aforementioned bras that are ill-fitting and terrible.
- Whatever the hell this is. I don’t even know. Even the model looks confused and/or pissed.
Guess what I ended up with after trying on all these terrible, ill-fitting bras, Ms. Heasley?
THE SAME SILLY LACEY SATINY BORING-COLORED BRAS I ALWAYS HAVE TO GET BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONLY PRACTICAL THINGS IN YOUR STORE.
Also, I should probably apologize for being snippy to your overly-cheerful salesperson. However, when she asked, “Any luck?” in a voice as chipper as can be with a HUGE-ASS GRIN while I lumbered out of the changing room all crabby with your poorly-made bras, I couldn’t think of any response other than “No, much like Vegas, the odds are always on the house here at Lane Bryant.” This confused her and allowed me to make my escape.
I also tried on a top that LOOKED cute, but randomly had a large band of elastic that cut across the waistband, and puffed out above the elastic, making me look like a weird mushroom person. WHY WOULD A PLUS-SIZED PERSON WANT THIS?
AND, the last time I went to buy jeans at your store, you no longer had sizes. You had colors and numbers and shapes. As if we were in pre-school. A size 2 red square! A size 3 yellow triangle!
“Which of these is a size 18?” I asked the salesperson. She looked like I had taken a shit on the floor of the store.
“We don’t have size 18. We have sizes 1-6.”
“Yes. I see that you’ve changed your sizing in a confusing way. Which of these new strange sizes is comparable to a size 18?”
“We have sizes 1-6. Also we have colored shapes that coordinate to the fit. Isn’t that innovative? No other store is doing this.”
“Yes. I would imagine no other store is doing this, as it makes it utterly impossible to shop and I’m sure is losing you business. So…in order to find out what size I am, I would have to…”
“Try on some of our new jeans!”
“Do you have a hint as to which size MIGHT be a size 18? I see you’re not allowed to tell me. You’ve had a long swallow of the new-size Koolaid. Maybe you could kind of nod when I get close to the right pair? Or wink? Blink, maybe? No? Great. Thank you. You’ve been very helpful.”
(I was a red triangle. I don’t remember what number. 2, maybe? I’ve never again purchased jeans from Lane Bryant. I think they broke my brain.)
So, to sum up:
- Your bras are terrible, ill-fitting, and impractical.
- Your clothes are strangely cut and unflattering.
- Your sizing for your jeans was created by someone on acid.
- You make your salespeople be crazy up-with-people all the time and one day, one of them will snap and start hurling hangers at the clientele.
- Your clothes are psychotically overpriced for what you’re getting.
These are all fixable things.
- Make bras that fit, support, and if you could, make them ADORABLE, dammit.
- Talk to actual plus-sized women before making your clothes. We will tell you what’s flattering on us and what’s not.
- Put your normal jean-sizing back. I know you think it’ll make us feel smaller if we’re in a size 2, but we’re also not stupid. We know it’s really 2×9. We’re not Math is Hard Barbies.
- Let your salespeople drop the psychosmiles. They’re offputting and make us want to buy LESS, not MORE.
- Make your prices commensurate with what we’re getting. It’s a tough economy. If I can buy three times as much at Peter Harris Plus, you can be sure I’m going to Peter Harris Plus. Again, I am not Math is Hard Barbie.
In conclusion, Ms. Heasley, I’m sorry to say, after this trip to Lane Bryant, I will be looking for alternate venues for my underwear needs. I’m sure there are places online that would be happy for my business, that have a good return policy in case they don’t fit, and actually understand how a plus-sized person’s body works.
However, if you decide to actually design clothes FOR plus-sized women (and/or men, again, not to be exclusionary), you let me know. I might be back.
However, I cannot guarantee I will not snark at your chipper salespeople. Sorry. I try very hard to be nice, but they’re just showing SO MANY TEETH. It terrifies me. I react poorly.
Most sincerely, yours in plus-sized shopping disappointment,
(And bring on the perv-searchers looking for busty women and bra-shots right…about…NOW. It’s the risk you run, talking about the risqué topics in life, I suppose. Sigh, pervs. Just, sigh.)