“No matter what size she is,” Valeria Hyde says of her sister, Patrice Haywood, “she is always fashionable.”
That, in essence, is what led Haywood to open Curvee Girlz Resale & Consignment Boutique, 1401 65th St., a shop offering plus-size women’s fashions, footwear and accessories at affordable prices.
“Me and my sister go thrifting like crazy,” said Haywood, 31. “This started out as me cleaning out my closet. There are stores in Kenosha that claim they have large sizes, but they have a very small selection. ‘Plus’ starts at 14. For 3X, you have to go online.”
Since the store opened March 1, there has been no problem finding a niche market in Kenosha, said Haywood, who lives in Racine as does Hyde. Customers typically couldn’t find clothes elsewhere that fit, looked good on them and were well crafted. In addition, they couldn’t afford or didn’t want to pay higher prices than women of smaller sizes pay for new brand-name clothing, Haywood said.
Store patron Laura Dietrick, 37, of Kenosha, said the same kind of discrimination big women experience in the job market and when socializing, particularly if they happen to be obese for whatever reason, is present in the clothing market. She said those who wear sizes 24 and larger especially have a hard time finding outer wear as well as lingerie, with fitted fashions rare to find or nonexistent on the racks.
“I haven’t shopped in a department store for at least five years because of the bad quality and poor fitting,” Dietrick said. “Even if you go into a store for plus-size women, there’s a generation gap because they cater to older women. You can’t find younger, stylish fashions for fun, going out and business. Here, if I have a wedding to go to, a party, she (Haywood) has everything, and it’s very reasonable.”
Dietrick has been as small as a size 6 and as large as a size 28 and says she is comfortable with herself no matter what size she happens to be. Still, she feels trendy stores shun heavier women.
“If you walk into a store that’s supposed to be for everybody, it makes you feel there really isn’t a place for you in society, that you’re not wanted. And there is a large plus-size community of women,” Dietrick said. “If they don’t have what I want in my size, I won’t shop there again — even if I lose weight. A lot of women start feeling not worthy if they can’t just walk into a store and buy stuff off the rack.”
Hyde, 30, has dropped from size 18 to her present size 12.
Outgoing and gregarious, she has been nodding along with Dietrick’s remarks, has a pleasant sense of humor and laughs a lot. “The bottom half of me is very plus size,” Hyde says, flashing a brilliant smile.
Still, clothes shopping for Hyde often is “heartbreaking and disappointing,” and she has spent hours in a store trying to find something she likes, fits well, looks good and is of high quality. When she does find something, more often than not, it’s out of her price range as the single income earner for her family. She says pricing and availability shouldn’t matter whether somebody wears size 2, 22 or 32.
“We love to look good, but it shouldn’t cost us more,” Hyde said.
“You look like a grandma when you get done (shopping),” Dietrick agreed. “I think when our significant others go shopping with us, and they see our self esteem drop. it’s hard on them, too, because they love us. It’s too depressing for them.”
Haywood says she “was almost in a size 26” before reducing to the size 18 she now wears. In most stores, she said, “you hope you get to the back of the rack first, and you hope that the one pair or piece hasn’t already been sold.”
“I am at a place where I am so happy right now. I wore a dress for the first time in years. I felt like nobody was watching me like you’re an animal at a zoo because I’m heavier. I shouldn’t have to wear mumus and sit in the house all the time. And there are a lot of plus-size women in Wisconsin,” Haywood said.