Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own only. I have neither been asked for a review nor compensated in any way by the company described herein.
I have a complicated relationship with pants. I like them and I prefer wearing them over dresses and skirts. Something about skirts just doesn’t feel correct to me. Skirts are too girly, too soft, and they make me fear the wind blowing them up where they shouldn’t be. If of the long and flowy type, the excess fabric of skirts gets tangled about my legs and stuck in car doors. I’m clumsy and I don’t need something other than my feet to get bungeed up and trip over. Pants look better to me and make me feel more secure and myself, but sadly they are usually not designed to fit nor flatter my body shape and size.
Pants are always riding up where I don’t want them or sliding down where they shouldn’t be. I’ll choose a cuff that’s so long it’s dragging on the ground over one rising up to reveal my pallid, deceased carp-colored ankle skin, but finding the happy medium between the two seems impossible. Bending over leaves me nervous, as I constantly fear a glimpse of my underwear peeking out the back of my waistband.
I realize I may be suffering from a pathological fear of showing underwear in public. The obvious solution for this would be to stop wearing it, but I digress.
|My phobia realized.
Sitting and breathing in pants at the same time is not usually possible, or at least not comfortable. At the end of the day when I take them off, pants leave angry red impressions of their buttons, zippers, and waistband around the soft, squishy skin of my middle-section.
Needless to say it’s a lifelong struggle, and the struggle is very real. I am always on the hunt for a better, kinder, gentler pair of pants.
This past Saturday I found my way into a Duluth Trading Co. clothing store for the first time. A few people have recommended Duluth to me, and this past Christmas my sister gifted me with one of their no-tug tank tops which quickly became my favorite item to wear under sweaters. Still, I was hesitant as clothing and I historically don’t mix well.
The store was big, clean, bright and clearly laid out; ladies to the left and gents to the right. In the back there was a room for clearance items and a display of antique tools. Good ‘ol boy country music played gently from hidden speakers. Upon entering, I did the same thing I usually do in clothing stores: take a few steps in, glance hesitantly around and decide via mental telepathy without touching a single item of clothes that nothing would fit.
As I was about to head right back out the door my husband intercepted and gave me a gentle push toward the women’s department, telling me to take my time and that he’d be checking out shoes in the back.
I scanned the shelves in a quick, perfunctory manner, confident I’d see nothing in my size. Instead I was left puzzled. The pants sizes were listed in inches; by inseam and waist. I double-checked to make sure I was actually in the women’s section and sure enough, there were a row of bras behind me.
Instead of a meaningless and arbitrary number that means something different to every different clothing designer, Duluth sizes their women’s pants the same way they do men’s pants: by the actual inches of a person’s body. I muttered aloud, “they treat women’s clothing just like men’s,” and the woman shopping behind me gave me a bemused look.
That was shock number one. Which led me to a problem: I’ve been shopping via random, meaningless size numbers for 44 years, I have no idea whatsoever what the actual dimensions of my body are. So I just grabbed the biggest size they had in a pair of cargo pants and assumed the worst.
Additionally, there was no plus sized section. Things were sorted by type and style with all available sizes mixed in together. I’m used to getting banished to the back of stores where shameful fatties belong and a few paltry, illicit racks of plastifabric florals tangle together and on the floor. I had no idea how to even find where the few styles and sizes designated for me were. They couldn’t be mixed in up front with all the cute things and normal person clothes, could they?
Puzzled, I gathered up a sports bra and then prowled the clearance room (it’s an entire room!) for cute, baby-butt soft, stripey long sleeved shirts – again picking up the biggest size I could find in everything and presuming it would all be too small. No half-hidden plus section means no plus clothes, right?
Wrong. Shock number two came when I discovered everything I’d picked out was too big for me. Unless I’m specifically shopping a plus sized clothing store, filled entirely with brands made exclusively for plus sized women, that never ever happens.
The pants were something of a wonder. The next size down fit me and had pockets for days. At least eight of them by my count. Also a little rise of extra fabric in the back to prevent underwear flashing, as if the designer was reading my paranoid little mind. The price, I admit, gave me serious sticker shock, but since I’d been promised they would last “forever” and they did both feel and look wonderful, I wound up taking them home.
The prices of the clearance rack shirts were reasonable, and once I’d sized down appropriately I took home two of those as well.
The bras were huge. After trying on one size down, then two sizes down, I gave up. I’m sure if I kept going I’d have found one to fit but I ran out of patience. I don’t have a deep well of that where clothes are concerned.
I tried on a coat, but everything in the store was too small. Also the price was no-way bonkers too high.
Lastly, I sprung for a pair of insanely priced underwear. One pair cost what I usually pay for about ten. Much to my dismay I now have to admit is the best and most comfortable pair I own. Bastards.
Aside from the steep pricing at war with my innate cheapness, it was the easiest and most pleasant clothes shopping experience of my life. I didn’t feel guilty, or frustrated, or in any way unwelcome. And now I own comfy cute pants that are long enough and have SO MANY POCKETS.
In short, Duluth is welcoming to both straight and plus sized customers with open arms and total equality. Priced the same, mixed all in together on the same shelves, and sized in the sensible way that men’s clothing has been since forever.
Not cheap. Totally worth it.