It's summer, which means we can't hide in sweaters and sweatpants anymore. Being faced with shopping for a summer wardrobe is a daunting task for the majority of people, but why does it have to be?
1. What do you think is the number one problem associated with fashion today?
Jenna: I just think that fashion as a whole is so cookie-cutter perfect. Each store has a specific body in mind when they sell clothes, and unfortunately most people don't fit that expectation.
Boni: There's always a societal influence on fashion. You can't dress too feminine or masculine, too dressed up or dressed down. Nothing is good enough, and every outfit you wear has a label attached to it that's used to make assumptions about the person wearing them.
Kelsey: Though it is getting better, there's a very strong binary present within the fashion industry. Men are supposed to look one way and women are supposed to look another, and transgender or non-binary people are usually left in the dust when it comes to finding clothing that makes them feel empowered. There are too many rules regarding how a person should look, whether it be because of their size, gender identity, or anything else, and I think that needs to change.
Isaac: I think the number one problem is that fashion puts on a "higher" level of appearance in that having such articles of clothing that are "In style" makes one think they are above someone else. Fashion I feel is mostly associated with Name brand company's clothes and models when in reality it could be any combination of clothes.
Aubree: Society tends to make us think that we have to look a certain way to wear a specific type of clothing. We can't be too big, we can't be too skinny, too tall, too short, nothing is ever good enough. In reality, wear what you want!
2. What is your main concern while going clothes shopping?
Jenna: I am always self conscious about people staring at me and judging my taste in clothing. I want to go shopping without the burden of embarrassment. Let me wear what I want to!
Boni: I mostly struggle with finding clothes that actually fit. Most sizing I feel doesn't account for natural shapes that myself and many other women have. I'm always settling when buying clothes because nothing will look the way I want it to.
Kelsey: I struggle to find clothing that represents my personal style, while also being my size. I have a somewhat average body type, though it's still difficult for me to actually have a successful shopping trip because, like Boni said, most sizing doesn't account for natural body shapes.
Isaac: I don't have too many concerns when I am clothes shopping considering I do not go very often, but when I do I am concerned about the color of the shirt I am wanting to get. When finding pants, it is a tough market to find my waist size in stock since most men in my age range have the same waist size. Other than these two things, I am a simple shopper when it comes to clothing.
Aubree: Still, to this day, I hate going clothes shopping. I love clothes, but I know that there's a 90% chance that I will leave the dressing room in tears and will tear myself down for the rest of the day. I can count the amount of times on one hand where I've left a store feeling content and still confident.
3. How have you seen a lack of representation within the fashion industry?
Jenna: I see lack of representation everywhere I go. Every time I walk into a clothing store, the men's section is always so much smaller than the women's. Why? Also, some stores don't carry plus sizes, and if they do, it is a very small selection.
Boni: I don't think trans men or women are represented nearly as much as they should be. Bigger strides should be made by fashion companies to encourage trans people to dress how they identify.
Kelsey: A very small group of the population is represented within the fashion industry. The two biggest issues I see are, as I mentioned earlier, the large binary that makes it difficult for so many people to feel comfortable, and the lack of appropriate sizing within so many popular stores. Many stores, like American Eagle, have begun to make it a priority to use models who look like real people, but it's still very common to see models who don't represent the larger population. While these models are gorgeous and I have nothing against them, the fashion industry needs to include more body types, more gender identities, and more races in their models.
Isaac: I would say yes. On most commercials I see regarding clothing, most models are of the "regular" size and I do not see much for plus sizes in those said commercials. The fashion industry should be for EVERYONE and the fashion industry should pay more attention to this.
Aubree: I'm on the bigger side, and I always have been. Chain stores like American Eagle are getting better about that kind of representation, but especially in high end fashion, I don't see anyone that looks like me. I may not be "conventionally" beautiful, but different body shapes are all beautiful and all deserve to be recognized.
4. Do you personally feel represented in popular stores?
Jenna: No. I am a small person. I really am. Size 32B chest and a size 0 in pants. A lot of places I go to only offer sizes S-XL, and if they do have XS, it's still too big.
Boni: I don't really feel represented at popular stores. This is partially due to size issues and partially because my personal style isn't always what's trendy.
Kelsey: My original thought when reading this question was 'yes'. I usually end up successful after shopping. In reality, though, there are about 2 stores that I'm usually pretty sure will have jeans that fit me, and when looking for shirts, I usually head for the men's section because I don't like the way women's tops typically feel. It's rare that I can walk into any store and feel confident that I'll find something, and it's difficult for me to branch out and shop in stores I'm not familiar with. So, I guess my answer is 'no'. I'm not represented in popular stores.
Isaac: I do feel represented for the most part. While it is difficult to find a 10 shoe size in men's -since it is very common-I end up rounding to 10.5 which isn't always comfortable having my foot slide in my shoe. When it comes to shirts and long pants, I can typically find my sizes- mostly because there aren't always a ton of options to choose from.
Aubree: People tend to think that plus sizes are always included, but I have a list of stores I don't go into because I know they won't have my size, and I don't even bother trying. It's not worth the heartache to go inside and determine that, once again, they have nothing that will fit me.
5. Does the cost of clothing affect your ability to find clothes you want to wear?
Jenna: Oh my gosh yes. If I pick up an item of clothing and it's too expensive, I put it right back. I wish clothes were cheaper. I like to express my personal style but I feel like I can't do that without spending my whole bank account.
Boni: Unfortunately, yes, cost will always be an unpleasant factor. I try to thrift as much as I can, but that's not really an option when buying bras and underwear. My only option is to buy a $70 bra that fits or struggle with a $20 bra that feels like barbed wire.
Kelsey: So much! Because the stores I shop at are so expensive, I usually only go shopping a few times a year. The stores that are more affordable are usually not the best quality, they have limited sizing, or have clothing that's not ethically made (fast fashion is a huge issue right now).
Isaac: Heck yeah it does. shoes, shirts, shorts, and jeans are not cheap. The best thing to do is to go thrift shopping hoping to find a good pair of pants -in the correct size, too-which can be hit or miss. While I do not shop often, it is always a risk willing to drop $25 on a shirt.
Aubree: This question makes me heated, because plus sizes are much more expensive than "regular" sizes. If I want to buy a shirt, it will be around $40 instead of the $20 it would be for smaller girls. It makes it much harder for me to find clothes that are cute and actually in my budget.
6. What are some brands that are inclusive of everyone? What are some that are solely exclusive to a specific audience?
Jenna: I feel like Target is really good at selling clothes that work with everyone. Brandy Melville on the other hand... not so much. If you aren't a toothpick, you can't even step foot into the door.
Boni: To me, inclusive brands are those who represent all people for an affordable price. I applaud ASOS, Gap, and Fashion Nova for being such a great option for all. Some brands I believe need some work are Tilly's, PacSun, Hollister, and of course the infamous Brandy Melville.
Kelsey: Truthfully, the only place that's really inclusive (affordable, good range of sizing, good quality, etc.) is Target. They've also made it a priority to contribute less to fast fashion and therefore be more ethical and sustainable. Some exclusive brands I've seen are Brandy Melville (they've also been exposed for being very problematic), and anywhere that sells Brandy Melville, so Pacsun, Tilly's, etc. Hollister is getting better, but still definitely needs some work.
Isaac: As mentioned, I would agree that Target is an inclusive shopping space for everyone. I can find a good shirt for $10 while having it be good quality too. When I do walk into target the first thing I see is mostly women's clothing-which is NOT why I am there, but it is nice to see they have a large selection for anyone and everyone. I typically shop where I can find good deals as well.
Aubree: Like Jenna said, Target is the place to go. I spend all of my money at Target, because they always have trendy clothes that are in my size. Two of my least favorite places to go are Buckle and PacSun. I almost always leave those two stores sadder than when I walked in. It's 2020, we celebrate differences, get a more inclusive size selection!
7. What advice would you give to others who are struggling to feel empowered?
Jenna: I say f*** it. Who cares who looks at you while shopping? Who cares what anyone thinks of your body? Wear what you want.
Boni: Stop shopping for other people. Letting anyone else dictate your outfits won't allow you to find what makes you feel as comfortable and beautiful as you should always feel.
Kelsey: Wear what makes you feel good! I promise you, if you're happy, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you. Fake that confidence until you make it!
Isaac: Wear what makes you feel like you. Don't feel you have to conform to what the fashion industry is pushing to you. Heck, it could even be those around you trying to change your style. If you know someone who does struggle with feeling empowered in what they wear then even telling them one compliment on their outfit can change their whole attitude or even their day.
Aubree: I've spent a lot of time dogging on myself. I wasn't pretty enough, skinny enough, good enough. After a while, I couldn't stand being unhappy with myself. Here's some advice: Wear what makes you feel good. Wear the crop top, wear the dress, wear the shorts. I promise, you deserve to feel good in clothes. Who cares what some random on the street thinks? Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful.
As a whole, fashion industries don't promote a healthy body image to anyone, and that needs to change.
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