Change Room

A tale of great customer service—or a SPIRITUAL AWAKENING?

As a plus-sized woman, clothes shopping is the bane of my existence. I can spend over an hour eyeing the racks at the stores looking for Whitney-friendly wear (loose-fitting or oversized tops, stretchy sweaters, princess-cut dresses, and nothing that can be described as “form-fitting”), only to meet my match in the fitting room. The worst is when the mirrors are outside the change room, forcing me to walk the plank and parade around in front of everyone in the store. This almost always comes with prying eyes from the skinny salesgirls and customers, whose main concerns are if a colour looks good on them and not that they’d look like a stuffed sausage. It’s the same story, repeated again and again—I’ll leave the store with only a broken spirit.

Until one fateful evening in Montreal, that is. After hours of trying on baggy tunics in a bunch of outlet stores, I noticed a brightly lit Betsey Johnson store, appearing as a beacon in an otherwise gloom-filled day. Frilly frou-frou dresses, bedazzled cardigans and sky-high heels hung from racks, sat on shelves and burst from display cases. Wall to wall were rock-chic tutus, gloves, arm warmers, and berets shimmering with decals; purses in leopard prints, shiny metallic silvers, blues, reds, and purples; and bold, sparkling belts and jewelry. I stared longingly at all the clothes that I wished would fit my plus-size physique; this was, in every other way, “Whitney’s Wonderful Emporium.” It was the intersection of so many fun and wonderful places, containing the glamour of a rock show, the whimsy of Willy Wonka’s factory, and the meticulous curating of a museum. And like a real museum, I dared not touch anything. I took one wistful look around me, then turned around to leave.

I didn’t get far before a sales associate stopped me, asking if she could help. Normally, I would have politely said “no thank you,” but I couldn’t abandon those clothes without giving them a fair chance (Did I mention the tutu?). In a small voice I explained that while I loved every single thing in the store, I bore no delusions of petiteness and knew nothing would fit. But the sales girl wouldn’t take no for an answer.

She plunked me in the change room and set out to navigate the wild rapids of frothy dresses, bringing me lacy and delicate garments I would have never dared pick out myself—one wrong move and I would split these in half like the Hulk. But she encouraged me to give them a try.

After building my confidence with a few sunnily-patterned sheath dresses, I found myself worming into a tight black pencil skirt with a jaunty peplum. I was attracted to that skirt, but in the same way I might be attracted to Leonardo DiCaprio—that is to say, from a distance. Actually trying it on could be enough to end a love affair; if this one didn’t fit, that would be the end of this little pretense. With a loose white cashmere poncho on top and a pair of electric blue heels that felt alien on my feet, I was ready for my usual disappointment.

As I emerged, the customer in the change room next to me said “Whoa.” I looked in the mirror and was shocked; I had legs. The skirt fit perfectly and clung to my body in all the right places. I looked tall and polished and felt flat out sexy. For the first time ever, I felt great in a fitting room.

I purchased the outfit and sincerely thanked the sales associate. I wish I could remember the name of the woman who guided me through this intimate awakening. I never go shopping with girlfriends, mostly ’cause we can’t shop in the same stores, so I could never relate to other women who spoke of shopping as some female bonding experience—until now. What was probably a regular work day for this woman helped me overcome some pretty deep personal insecurities. I walked out of the store grinning and high off my epiphany into a twilit evening. Suddenly all these possibilities were in front of me, and I couldn’t stop putting outfits together in my head. Was it an artificial high brought on by consumerism? That’s one way to interpret it, but I finally felt like I could fit in with these cultural arbiters so often relegated to femininity (after all, it’s a lot easier to think about subverting convention when the rules automatically apply to you). I finally knew how Becky Bloomwood felt after a particularly erotic session of shopping at Prada, or the cult of Carrie Bradshaw that swept the nation in the late ’90s.

This was going to change everything.

photography // Brianne Burnell

Crushing on Agent Lover

Marie M. Lodi, AKA Agent Lover, is a real dream boat. Born and raised in Southern California, she spent her younger years indulging in ’80s and ’90s pop culture, and now spends her time keeping up her website AgentLover.com, writing for ROOKIE, brunching with pals, and making her delicious cake hats. She has great bangs, a wicked dress collection, and an amazing sense of humour. Agent Lover talked to WORN about baby hoodrats, Latina girl gangs, teenagers on the internet, and where she finds style inspiration (anywhere and everywhere).

How would you describe your personal style?
1960s Satanic French schoolgirl with just a touch of baby hoodrat.

Do you ever imagine yourself looking completely different than you do now?
My hair has been every kind of colour, so my days of abusing it with bleach and dye are over! I don’t think my hair will be anything else but dark. As for the bangs, I do wonder if I will let myself look like geriatric Bettie Page or if I will eventually grow them out. Only time will tell! As for the clothes… ALL BETS ARE OFF! I might be wearing velvet assless chaps tomorrow, who can say?

When did you start making your Cake Hats, and what was the inspiration?
About four years ago, I did a photoshoot at Madonna Inn. It was a Marie Antoinette-ish, tea party-theme, so naturally I wanted to wear a cake on my head! I found a fake cake at a craft store and attached ribbon to it and that was that. Afterwards, my friends Emi and Nate suggested I should just make my own cake hats. Now, whenever I have a crazy idea in my head, these two are the geniuses who help me figure out how it will come to fruition. After some experimenting and my dad’s culinary knowledge (he’s a chef), the Cake Hats were born!

It seems like you’ve tried to work almost anything into a hairpiece or hat—is there something you’ve been dying to work into some headwear and haven’t had the chance to yet?
Oh man, I think I have covered almost everything! I’ve done huge gold insects, sea creatures, pizza, fruit… and there was this hat that looked like lips with a cigarette sticking out that Emi made for me me, based on a vintage photo a friend had sent. I do love me some food themes so a taco and burger hat are definitely in the future! Maybe a book-themed hat? I will need a library function to go to, of course. The ultimate creation will have to be a hat with a little me on it, wearing a hat with a little me on it, and so on and so on. IMAGINE!


Continue reading