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An Open Letter to Lane Bryant

Dear Lane Bryant,

A month ago, I shopped at one of your retail locations here in Las Vegas. I needed jeans– I was down to two functional pairs before I walked into your store.

I still need jeans. Because I did not and could not buy any at your retail location.

I am 5’1″ tall and am a “size 18” in Lane Bryant sizes. I have a gut and hips– I won’t lie.

I also run 3 days a week, since I know that the fat-haters of the world like to bitch about lazy people who eat too much and don’t work out. I’m actually in pretty good health, weight aside, and the weight is something I have worked on and struggled with my entire adult life.

But this isn’t about me or my weight. It’s about you and my experience shopping– or not shopping– in your store.

I am short. I like Lane Bryant jeans because you carry a short size for curvy women, and they are made well. They hold up. They are also expensive– at about $$60-80 a pair, these are not cheap jeans. I can buy cheaper pants, but the workmanship isn’t up to par, and I have never been disappointed in your quality.

At least, you used to carry a short size. When I asked where the petites were (for those unaccustomed to Lane Bryant sizing, “petite” is the leg length, there– you can get a size 22 petite, which is awesome if you are a size 22 short lady– trust me when I tell you the the world wants short, fat ladies to wear clothes that fit!) the salesclerks helpfully looked through the same stacks of jeans I had just pawed through and desolately said “I’m sorry– but you can order them online!”

“Yes, I know that. That’s not the point.”

I repeated this elsewhere in the store– business slacks (“online!”), even bras (“online!”)

What is the point? Well, there are a couple of points to be made here, and we’ll start with the practical ones:

1) I can order anything online. In fact, I can probably, for the same cost as 1 pair of your jeans, buy 3 pairs of jeans in my size, if I don’t care what they look like or if they last more than 6 months.

2) I cannot, however, try on anything I order online. And that’s a dealbreaker. If I’m throwing $80 at a pair of jeans, I want them to make my ass look awesome. (For the record, the last pair of Lane Bryant jeans I bought made my ass look like Jessica Alba’s… thank you for that.)

Now the less practical ones. These have to do with loyalty to your brand.

3) If I buy online, I have no guarantee that the jeans I get will be to my standards of quality. You’d be surprised at how often I have bought something that turned out to have a damaged seam or just wasn’t up to snuff in terms of quality. Yes, I can return it, especially for those reasons. But I have a sewing machine and skill, so most of the time, I just repair it myself. I shouldn’t have to do that, and if I picked out the jeans myself, I would not purchase any that were defective on the rack.

4) This is the big one. I shop at Lane Bryant for the exact reason of being able to find something in my size. My entire life, I have been “the wrong size” for everything. I’m too short. I’m too fat. I am an inconvenient size for department stores. I am on the low end of Lane Bryant’s sizing, and when my size drops below Lane Bryant’s “16,” there’s an uncomfortable gap before I am in the “department store 16” sizes. It’s an unfortunate truth of my life, and one I have struggled with since I was in my 20’s.

For over 20 years, then, I’ve bought a lot of my clothes at Lane Bryant. Especially my business clothes, which also come in “petite” leg sizes.

Shopping should be a fun experience, where you get to discover things that you like! Instead, for me and many women shaped like me, shopping is an ordeal that often ends in frustration, even tears. We retreat to places of safety and comfort, like Lane Bryant, where we know we will always find fashionable clothes that fit us.

Except… not anymore.

The decision to limit retail stock to “regular” and “tall” means I and my short sisters are left out in the cold. Or on the web. Either way, I’m not getting excited about shopping. I’m viewing it as a chore. I’m also looking a lot more closely at those price tags and evaluating if I can’t make my $80 stretch a little further somewhere else?

By not stocking petite sizes in your retail locations, you are excluding my patronage from those locations. Why, exactly, would I then choose to send my money to your online store?

Lane Bryant: Please reconsider your strategy when it comes to the short ladies.

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1 thought on “An Open Letter to Lane Bryant”

  1. I like close fitting jeans myself. I’m allowed to wear jeans, if black, to work. They’ve become my default work wear. However, when they die, and they do die, it’s a struggle to find replacements. I can buy jeans that fit, if I don’t mind hemming. However, I shouldn’t have to make alterations. If I knew I could spend 30 minutes finding pants that fit instead of 3+ hours going from store to store, you bet I would.

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