Plus-Size Shops Vs Plus-Size Shoppers

There’s an uproar happening right now in plus-size clothing. Fashionista started it by asking a provocative/insulting question,

what if the problem with the plus-size industry isn’t with faceless businessmen, but with the customers themselves? … Sarah Conley, a plus-size blogger and retail consultant, explains that when retailers are approached by customers to feature more true plus-size models, the companies will often conduct tests. One such brand displayed the exact same clothes on a size 8 model and a size 14 model on its website; the size 8 model sold better every time.

“As much as we think we want to see people who look like us, it’s not really showing through in customer behavior, which is really unfortunate,” she explains. “I think that people who say they want to see a more diverse group of women, whether it’s body shape or size, they’re not always following those wishes and demands with their credit cards.”

In the same way, the higher-priced items that customers clamor for — items designed by big names, items with more tailoring and trendier items — “don’t sell.” There’s also the issue of impermanence: “Everyone I spoke with agreed that women who are told that their body shape should be considered temporary, always in need of a new diet or weight loss plan, aren’t exactly going to plunk down $300 for a dress that, ideally, won’t fit them in a month.”

Jezebel weighed in, so to speak, and gave Fashionista a succinct answer: no. For one thing, sez Jez,

When plus-size blogger Gabi Gregg launched a swimwear collection with Swimsuits For All, the line sold out in hours. Women were more than happy to spend money on fashionable garments designed to flatter their bodies. Again, how can consumers buy clothes that don’t exist?

“Buy American”: Savvy or Sentimental?

A package of bills approved by the New Jersey state Senate, and moving now to the Assembly, would, if approved, “require construction firms, suppliers and other vendors under public contracts to use or supply materials produced in the United States.” Reps want the state to buy American

“Requiring the purchase of U.S.A.-made goods for public contracts is just a matter of plain economic sense,” Sweeney said in a statement this afternoon. Sweeney, an iron worker and union official, said he began looking into the issue after The Star-Ledger reported in September that imported steel was being used to raise the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge, a $1.3 billion Port Authority project financed largely by toll revenues. The bridge project is one of dozens of Port Authority construction jobs included in a 10-year capital plan worth a total of $27.6 billion.

Popular? Sure. Logical and straightforward, even obvious? Not according to Fox News:

“Buy American” is a dumb idea.

Moving From Fast Fashion to a Few Quality Pieces

According to Quartz, we spend about 3 percent of our annual income on clothes (I expected it to be a little higher!). We also have five times the amount of clothes as we did in the first half of the 20th century, and it’s mostly due to the fact that overseas production has made clothes cheap to produce (low-cost fast fashion). But wages of workers overseas are slowly rising, and more consumers are considering the ethical dilemmas that come with cheap clothing. How will this affect the way we buy clothes in the future?

One option is to reconsider our approach to clothing by taking a cue from Europeans who have historically been more more focused on quality rather than quantity. Much of the cheap clothing we consume in droves is like our fast food diets—high in calories (quantity) but low in nutrition (quality). We are a culture that buys a lot of junk. Think about your own wardrobe—consider how many items of clothing you own and how often you wear each of those items. My guess is that most of us wear about 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. That is a lot of wasted space and wasted money.

In the past few years, I’ve changed the way I buy and wear clothes by going the uniform route, though I also like this European approach of buying classic, quality pieces that last a long time. One item that comes to mind is my peacoat—I’ve worn it every winter for the past 14 years or so.

Photo: Maegan Tintari

Why Do We Tolerate Whole Foods-ian Pseudoscience?

Michael Schulson writes for the Daily Beast, questioning why many of us are eager to dismiss the pseudoscience of Creationism but politely tolerate, or even choose to passively half-believe, all the dietary pseudoscience around health food and products sold in places like Whole Foods.

Fear-Based Spending vs Hope-Based Spending

Josh’s fascinating post yesterday about fear-based spending, shelling out for things we probably don’t need on the assumption that we’re “better safe than sorry,” made me think about aspirational spending, shelling out for things we almost certainly don’t need on the assumption that it’s always worth it if we might end up a more attractive, enticing version of ourselves. Do you spend more on the lotion that will reduce your odds of getting skin cancer, or on the cream that promises “firmer skin in five days,” reduced wrinkles, and cheeks that glow like a sixteen-year-old in love?

What are we more susceptible to, really? Fear or hope? The product that might protect us, or the one that might make us the people we wish we were? And do you feel more like you’ve been cheated if your fear-based purchase is a fake, vs. your aspirational purchase? The fear, at least, is real, so if you find out your sunblock is snake oil, that’s worse than discovering that your Olay Rejuvenate is. Right?

Speaking of which, the term snake oil has a colorful history. NPR’s blog Code Switch explains:

Among the items the Chinese railroad workers brought with them to the States were various medicines — including snake oil. Made from the oil of the Chinese water snake, which is rich in the omega-3 acids that help reduce inflammation, snake oil in its original form really was effective, especially when used to treat arthritis and bursitis. The workers would rub the oil, used for centuries in China, on their joints after a long hard day at work. The story goes that the Chinese workers began sharing the oil with some American counterparts, who marveled at the effects.

So how did “snake oil” become synonymous with fraud? Because hucksters started peddling their own versions made with rattlesnake oil, or with a mix of oily ingredients like turpentine, which did nothing.

The Most Surprising Thing About The Fault In Our Stars (According to My Closet)

Anyone who knows anything about John Green’s bestselling novel turned feature film The Fault in Our Stars was probably not at all surprised to learn that the film made $48 million dollars in its opening weekend, outpacing second-place Edge of Tomorrow by 19 million dollars.

I wasn’t surprised by that at all. TFIOS was going to be huge and we all knew it.

I’m not surprised by the inevitable backlash, either, because anything that is successful is quickly savaged.

I was surprised, however, to see what Shailene Woodley as 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster was wearing.

That white dress? The one she wears while she’s lying in the grass? I own it. I bought it at Panache in Seattle for $25 because I wanted something to wear to a Christmas party.

(Want proof? Here is a photo from Sayed Alamy, photog at Guy Eats Octopus, of me wearing the dress while pretending to be a Christmas Dinosaur.)

I am clearly in the know re: fashion.

I am also literally twice Hazel’s age.

I don’t know how to feel about this.

Thoughts While Considering Buying a Bag of Dried Cranberries

Oh look a bag of dried cranberries.

Shopping at Actual Stores Still Beats Shopping Online

Data from the Commerce Department shows that a large majority of our shopping is still done in brick and mortar stores even if it feels like online retailers like Amazon have grown tremendously in its 20 years of existence (is Amazon a Millennial?). It also looks like we're not that into ordering groceries online—maybe because we like things as fresh as possible and also see with our own eyes the produce and cuts of meat we're going to put into our bodies before we buy it, though I'd be interested in hearing of people's experience of ordering booze from the internet.

Weed Sells Like Hotcakes! Who Knew?

It’s high time that potheads get some respect. Turns out, when you make their vice of choice legal, they will indeed turn out to buy it on the open market, even for a higher price, instead of working the old, familiar backchannels. According to Mic.com:

When Washington became the second state to allow legal sales of recreational marijuana last week, Seattle only had a single store, Cannabis City, open for business. It ran out of weed in three days. Cannabis City opened its doors for the first time on Tuesday with 4.5 kg of marijuana ready to be purchased. By the end of Thursday, it had all been bought. It’s even more impressive when you realize that customers were only allowed to buy a maximum of 6 grams each, which means the store made at least 750 individual sales. …

Seattle wasn’t the only city whose store was a (limited) success. Top Shelf in Bellingham, which made the state’s first ever legal sale, set a new record with first-day sales of more than $30,000 thanks to serving more than 1,200 customers. It may be a surprise given how well stores did with their limited product, but not everyone is totally sold on the future of recreational marijuana in Washington. Retailers like Cannabis City have competition, both from medical marijuana (which is cheaper and often relatively easy to obtain) and old fashioned illegal marijuana (which is just cheaper). In addition to the in-state growing restriction, Washington applies a 25% sales tax on recreational weed, making it pretty pricey when compared to those other options.

The Western states aren’t the only ones making news on the subject of recreational drugs.

Inventor of Mother’s Day Absolves You of Buying Stuff

Because I am the best daughter in the world, this is about the time every year where I look at my calendar, curse myself for procrastinating, and then wonder who invented Mother's Day, anyway. Well, according to Mental Floss, Mother's Day was invented by Anna Jarvis in 1908, as a way to memorialize her own mother, who had herself invented a thing called Mother's Friendship Day during the Civil War, as a way to bring together moms from both the Union and the Confederacy. OK FINE.

Regrettable Impulse Buys: Trader Joe’s Edition

Purchased items that may or may not exist at Trader Joe's.