Some Small Sense

Shopping experiences and store reviews by a very petite woman. Indeed, it sucks. 4'10", 87 pounds, and full grown - is it a surprise I have trouble finding clothes?

October 04, 2006

Petite Choices in Charlotte, NC

Steve Swain was kind enough to send me a link to Popular Shopping Resources For Petite Clothing in the Charlotte Observer. Crystal Dempsey was doing a series about different clothing resources for women with "different body types" (i.e., "deviants" like plus sized, tall, and petite women). Ironically, as I've been finding, paying more to live in a big city gives more choices - except when you're looking for petite clothes. I frankly don't see that much more selection in NYC than in Charlotte, NC.

It was definitely interesting to read the comments and suggestions that Dempsey received. Now, Charlotte isn't a tiny backwoods hick town (despite whatever Southern jokes people may crack), but it isn't exactly known for its cutting edge fashion either. Charlotte is somewhere you'd expect people to be a little more conservative in dress, and a few seasons behind on the latest trends.

New Yorkers will delightfully tear Talbots to shreds. (and then embarrassingly walk in because, hey, there's still occasionally stuff that works!) Perhaps North Carolineans (?) are more forgiving? Maybe not. Beth Johnston mentioned that Talbots clothing was "guaranteed to fit and sort of stylish. The better stuff doesn't look too much like my mother...." Ouch. Well Talbots, be glad that your clients are settling for stuff that isn't too terrible! J. Jill is said to be the "same as Banana Republic, only not trendy." It's not only the sharp-tongued urbanites grousing about frumpy wares!

Interestingly, while stores like Banana Republic and J. Jill were mentioned, the only department store mentioned was Macy's - specifically its International Concepts, I.N.C., line. "You will not find the typical polyester, flowered 'grandma' type styles." Isn't it strange that no one mentioned the Nordstrom in town? Perhaps they don't stock petites in this particular location? Just another reminder that retailers do take regional variances into account (too few petites probably).

Unsurprisingly, great customer service is a big plus no matter where you live. Cinch was recommended despite the lack of petite sizes because "the ladies are terrific at finding what works on the vertically challenged." If only we had great customer service up here (that didn't cost a million bucks)!

The bottom line, though, is that mail ordering is the bread and butter of the petite woman's closet. And although I personally wouldn't buy anything from Lands' End or L.L. Bean (both unstylish and way too big for me), they certainly do supply quite a few petites with the garments they need.



Blogger Jaimie said...

what always frustrates me - is that a manufacturer may make petite, and plus and tall sizes and they have a store right there in your local mall, but the store doesnt' carry any extended sizes, only the regular. Which stinks b/c it's usually the "extended size range" that needs to try things on for real fit. Ordering from a catalogue is just a pain... I understand how you feel...

October 05, 2006 10:14 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Well, basically, it's the you are not a normal size tax. It makes sense on a cost basis for the retailer because it is a more expensive and risky affair to stock a whole different set of garments that may or may not sell (in addition to the standard sizes!) and in the meantime take up valuable storage space and even retail space.

On the other hand, it isn't particularly fair as an individual since you have no control for height and incomplete control over weight.

Basically, someone has to pick up the cost. Try not to make it you.

October 05, 2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

I think the absence of Nordstrom has to do with a lack of sample consumers that shopped there. I don't go to the petet department, but i figure it's probably pretty poular at Nordstrom SouthPark, as is the rest of the store. The Belk and Dillard's at SouthPark also carry a rather extensive line of petite fashions, but were not mentioned either.

I know as a tall man, the only place I can find upmarket brands is at specialty stores like Rochester Big & Tall. Most department stores carry a scattering of Polo and Nautica, but little else that isn't a store brand.

October 08, 2006 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anderkoo said...

This isn't exactly the point of your post, but I would question whether in the era of globalization it's still accurate to differentiate markets by geography as strongly as we used to. New York will always have access to more choice by dint of volume, but I think the era of fashion "lagging" is quickly passing. I speak from total ignorance, of course; my fashion sense is stuck sometime in the late 1990s.

October 13, 2006 12:05 PM  

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