Wear For Art Thou, Outfit?
Every Wednesday on Austinist we feature one of our multitude of ridiculously talented writers, writing written things for your eyes to consume. The opinions expressed by the writer are strictly their own, and are not necessarily shared by the Ist Network or any of its affiliates. For this week, meet: Anna Hanks. Enjoy! — Columnist Editor
Have you ever been out at a club or a show and wondered why many of the otherwise adorable fat girls were wearing such wretched outfits? No, it’s not because larger gals with cute haircuts, darkly vampy nails and trendy shoes hate themselves. It’s because most clothing in larger sizes tends towards cheaply made, painfully dowdy, and unspeakably unattractive. How limited are the choices? Even though I’m vegetarian, I once bought myself a stunning black leather skirt, simply because I found it in my size. Okay, maybe I’m bitter about this issue because I have a perfect figure, circa 1908. Steam-era siren Lillian Russell had nothing on me. I have the kind of lushness that makes otherwise respectable old men follow me around. Your grandpa thinks I’m hot. I’ve had to stop more than one octogenarian from carrying my luggage, mostly because I was worried about giving them the wrong sort of palpations.
This rapt attention from the older set makes it clear that I’m a pin-up girl; I’m just a pin-up girl from a pre-Twiggy era. And this pin-up is totally pissed that she cannot find anything truly fetching to wear. Even though it’s often reported that the “average” American woman is something like a size 14.
That’s why I was initially so pleased when I read in The Austin Chronicle’s After A Fashion that Torrid will be opening at Lakeline Mall on Thursday, February 28. Torrid is sort of like Lane Bryant for the Converse-clad cutie, selling things like Hello Kitty T-shirts in a 3X. Torrid is owned by Hot Topic, the mall retailer of fine anti-establishment gear, like Vans Iron Maiden High Tops.
But the more I thought about it, the more troubled I became about the fact that I had initially been so excited about a store opening. After all, as brilliant philosopher MC Lars reminds us, “Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock.” Well, obviously. Their stock ticker symbol is HOTT, and, at press time, shares closed at 5.49 on a volume of 374,368.While I’m certainly happy Torrid is coming–you know, in case I need one of their prom dresses– I want more than they are offering me. I deserve more than mass-market mall clothing that’s part of a nationwide sales campaign.
I spend very little of my time or money in corporate America, preferring to shop mostly at independent merchants. I also try to only buy things made in countries where it wouldn’t be horrible to be a worker, like, say, France or Sweden. This means not only going to independent merchants like Toy Joy, or Karavel Shoes but looking at where the things they sell are made. It’s actually kinda exhausting. It’s the kind of retail therapy that might send you into therapy.
While I’ll certainly be shopping at Torrid, it isn’t what I’m looking for in a long-term retail relationship. I want a mythical shop where I can go and cover my vintage pin-up girl derriere with style and panache, hopefully in locally made things. While I love Parts and Labour on South Congress, it isn’t often that they stock something in my size. If I had the skill set, I’d sew something groovy for myself, just like Rob Sheffield talks about his late wife Renee doing in the awesome book Love is a Mix Tape. (Sheffield details how Renee started sewing mod mini-dresses for herself when she was unable to find fashions to fit her fuller figure in the stores of Charlottesville, VA.
So while lots of naysayers complain about Austin getting bigger, I think it’s fab that you now can find things in Austin that you couldn’t find before. I’m just totally ready for someone to open a shop where I can get some hip locally made clothing for my vintage pin-up self. After all, being eye-candy for the seriously senior set is my way of giving back to the world, one eyeball at a time.