Fashion Challenge: Shop Where the Demographic is Half Your Age and a Third Your Size

I got the idea for this post after taking a free yoga class hosted by Aerie of American Eagle. In my mind, the typical shopper for stores like Aerie and American Eagle is between 13-23 and somewhere in the range of a size 4.

While not completely wrong in my assumptions, I was pleasantly surprised by my shopping experience.

I wanted to leave Aerie for last, so I began my challenge at Aeropostale. This was a surreal experience since the last time I was in this store was high school. (16 years ago folks).  I wandered around for a few minutes looking at the inventory. Can someone please explain the following to me?


That is not a size. That right there is why young girls are starving themselves or worse everyday. Shame on you Aeropostale.

I should have walked out right then and there. However, I was on a mission. I was determined to find something an actual human woman could wear. I found several tops and a dress that I didn’t hate and headed to the dressing room. I didn’t bother with bottoms because in store, Aeropostale only goes to size 12. (However, online many shorts go up to 14 and most of the jeans go up to 18).

This was the first top that I tried and it was on sale – buy one, get 2 free. (Oh, ignore the skirt I’m wearing. I should have worn jeans. Oops). I liked this XL top well enough, but unfortunately this was the only one of this style in my size and I didn’t love it enough to pay $29.50.

The dress was also a no go. I think this design would work on someone skinny in their 30’s, but when you have boobs, this shape becomes a sack. A boring, sad, potato sack.

The last top I tried on was the winner. In fact, I actually went down a size for this one. Boy did that give me an ego boost! And added bonus, it was on sale for $10! The little button detailing in back is super cute and with the right jeans or pair of shorts, I can make this totally age appropriate.

My next stop was American Eagle. First, let me say that everyone working there was very friendly. Despite being busy with customers, the employees were pleasant and helpful, so thanks! Great customer service plays a big part in my decision to purchase items.

The first top I tried on was a challenge in and of itself. I literally had to have someone come over to show me how to put it on. Which tells me I am way too old and definitely not hip enough for this shirt. Also, that is ALOT of exposed skin. As a redhead, that much sun exposure could very possibly kill me.

While the top didn’t work, I really liked these shorts. I was excited to find that a size 14 fit. They were still a little snug in the waist, but that was the largest size carried in store. Online, the sizes go up to 18 for most bottoms and 20 for jeans. I’ll probably be ordering these in at least 2 colors.

My biggest achievement of the day was this button down top. I am a broad shouldered, 38DD. I don’t do button downs. I always feel like the Hulk when I try to button a blouse, not to mention the less than professional shirt gap.

However, this top was the majestic unicorn I’ve been waiting for. I ended up ordering this one online because there was a button missing on the one in the picture.

(Those skinny jeans are the devil however).

On my way to Aerie, I decided to stop in next door at Express. While their demographic is broader in its age range, it’s still considered a straight size company. I searched the entire store and didn’t find any XL sizes. I could barely find large. I also didn’t find any pants or shorts above a 10. Although online they do go up to 18. There was also only 1 employee in the whole place, so after waiting to see if I could get her help (and not getting it) I left empty handed. I’m definitely crossing them off my list.

Finally, Aerie. My reason for coming here was because after the yoga class, I was given a coupon for a free sports bra with the purchase of leggings. (You had me at free). Here is where I hit my first real roadblock. While there were plenty of cute leggings in store, it took several minutes to find any in my size and a pattern/color I liked. (I did see a number of fantastic swimsuits. I’ll have to go back).

This first pair were super cute and even had a matching bra. Sadly the bra was more like a bralette on me and damn near trapped me for life.

I doggedly tried on pair after pair and bra after bra and the search finally yielded results. (A huge thanks to Sarah and the other employees at the North Shore Mall Aerie for their incredible service and patience).

Here is what I ended up with from Aerie – it works perfectly as I have a road race on July 4th.

At the end of the day, I wasn’t totally disappointed. I have a couple of new items in my wardrobe and I didn’t completely lose faith in the clothing industry. While there are obviously hurdles yet to be overcome, it was really encouraging to see stores that have in the past, catered to a younger, thinner demographic, at least trying to be more inclusive. So thanks for that!


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