Frisky Rant: The Problem With Target’s Plus-Size Lilly Pulitzer Collaboration

When Target announced that its latest collaboration would be with Lilly Pulitzer, the godmother of American resortwear and technicolor prints, reactions were mixed. Her fan base — crazy, evangelistic, largely white — was less than pleased, worried that their precious brand would be sullied by the unwashed masses plundering Target’s aisles in search of stretch pants and toilet paper. But, the plus-size fashion community rejoiced, because for the first time in Target’s history of designer collaborations, this collection would be available in larger sizes. Finally! As someone who toes the line between straight and plus size, the Target collaborations have long been something that I can just look at and never really get. Even though Lilly Pulitzer’s vision doesn’t precisely line up with my TBD summer 2015 lewk (Birkenstocks and smock dresses, probs), I was delighted to know that I would at least have the option of trying on a flamingo-print short set, or whatever. My dreams of rubbing shoulders with Mitzi and Bun-Bun at the club in Palm Springs have been dashed, though, because the plus-sizes will only be sold online. That’s fucked up.

Target’s demographic is broad enough to include a wide range of bodies, from the very thin to the very large, and I somehow don’t think that this line would die on the shelves. Though Lilly Pulitzer is the direct opposite of the sartorial vision I’m building for myself,  you bet your bippy that I’d waltz into a Target, try on a sunglasses-print shift dress, and attempt to envision myself with a demure pedicure and a headband, eating crab Louie at the country club. Fashion is aspirational at the minimum, and at its best, transformational. By excluding such a wide swath of the American public, women with real money and the desire to wear whatever they want, as they want it, is irresponsible.

The fact that this collection is even available in plus-sizes is, of course, fantastic. “A huge step for womankind!” crows the blogger, wiping crumbs off her one-size-fits-all blogging caftan. “Such innovations in the year 2015.” And yes, having it available online is certainly better than nothing at all. But here’s the thing to understand about shopping for plus sized clothing: It is essential to try the shit on.

My body exists in the grey area between the largest of the straight sizes and the smallest of the plus. I refuse to online shop because I have to try everything on. I carry a mental list of retailers and my size. I am a 16 in dresses, an 18 in pants and an XL in shirts at H&M. An Old Navy 16 will fit my lower half, but only if there’s stretch. I learned that ASOS Curve is the most inconsistent sizing of all, because a world in which I am swimming in a 14 in one thing but using pliers to get myself into a pair of size 18 jeans is a world that makes little to no sense. How did I learn all of this? Hours and hours of trial and error, of grabbing armfuls of dresses and pants, and barricading myself into a dressing room and just trying shit out.

It’s already frustrating enough to shop for clothing when you’re not a standard size, but to have the selection of what I can actually buy in the store diminish is ridiculous. Target, a store that has a dedicated plus-sized section and stores all over this country, needs to get with it.  Plus-sized women have the money and they want to spend it, but the very act of exiling the clothes that will potentially fit their bodies to shameful, late-night online shopping binges is exclusionary and frankly, ridiculous. I love you, Target, I really do, but you’re bringing me down.